AP English Language

STEP 5
Build Your Test-Taking Confidence

PRACTICE EXAM 2

Sample Student Essays

Rubrics for Flag Amendment Synthesis Essay

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9 essay has all the qualities of an 8 essay, and the writing style is especially impressive, as is the analysis and integration of the specifics related to the proposed flag desecration amendment and the given sources.

An 8 essay effectively and cohesively addresses the prompt. It clearly takes a position on the proposed flag desecration amendment and supports the argument using carefully integrated and appropriate evidence, including at least three of the given sources. The essay will also show the writer’s ability to control language.

7 essay has all the properties of a 6, only with a more complete, well-developed, and integrated argument or a more mature writing style.

6 essay adequately addresses the prompt. The argument is on the proposed flag desecration amendment and integrates, as well as makes use of, appropriate evidence, including at least three references from the given sources. These elements are less fully integrated and/or developed than scores in the 7, 8, 9 range. The writer’s ideas are expressed with clarity, but the writing may have a few errors in syntax and/or diction.

5 essay demonstrates that the writer understands the prompt. The argument/claim/position about the proposed flag desecration amendment is generally understandable, but the development and/or integration of appropriate evidence and at least three of the given sources is limited or uneven. The writer’s ideas are expressed clearly with a few errors in syntax or diction.

4 essay is not an adequate response to the prompt. The writer’s argument indicates a misunderstanding, an oversimplification, or a misrepresentation of the assigned task. The writer may use evidence that is not appropriate or not sufficient to support the argument, or may use fewer than three of the given sources. The writing presents the writer’s ideas, but may indicate immaturity of style and control.

3 essay is a lower 4 because it is even less effective in addressing the question. It is also less mature in its syntax and organization.

2 essay indicates little success in speaking to the prompt. The writer may misread the question, only summarize the given sources, fail to develop the required argument, or simply ignore the prompt and write about another topic. The writing may also lack organization and control of language and syntax. (Note: No matter how well written, a summary will never rate more than a 2.)

1 essay is a lower 2 because it is even more simplisticdisorganized, and lacking in control of language.

Student A

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Student B

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“yea” or “nay.” Hopefully, the representatives will see the contradictions and turn down the amendment for the good of the American people and their freedom.

Rating the Student Essays: Flag Amendment

Student A

This high-range paper:

• Effectively introduces the argument and indicates the opposition in paragraph 1

• Opens with an interesting example of parallelism

• Clearly establishes the writer’s position against the amendment

• Exhibits strong control of language: diction, syntax, transitions, rhetorical questions

• Builds a cohesive and convincing argument against the amendment by effectively introducing, combining, and commenting on appropriate sources

• Employs transition to further the development of the points in the argument: however, then, but, ultimately

• Creates mature concluding sentences in each paragraph that drive home the writer’s position

• Smoothly integrates and cites sources material

• Presents a coherent, strong voice and tone

Student B

This mid-range essay:

• Opens convincingly by including outside information to indicate the writer’s position against the amendment

• Incorporates and properly cites at least three sources to support the argument

• Adequately comments on the synthesized material and includes some relevant outside information to reinforce the sources used

• Indicates an understanding of the process of writing a synthesis essay

• Demonstrates control of language through diction and syntax

• Recognizes the bias in source material

• Adds to the argument by creating an analogous situation: the child testing the parents

• Understands tone and intent

Rubrics for “Fog” Essays

High-Range Essay

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• Successfully identifies the purpose of each passage

• Effectively compares the style of each passage

• Refers to appropriate examples from each passage

• Effectively analyzes devices such as diction, organization, syntax, and manipulation of language in a clear voice

• Good connective tissue

• Focused organization and development

• Few, if any, flaws

Mid-Range Essay

• Correctly identifies the purpose of each passage

• Adequately compares the style of each passage

• Uses specifics from each passage to analyze rhetorical devices

• Adequately links examples to the analysis of the style and purpose of each passage

• Less well-developed than the high-range essays

• A few lapses in diction or syntax

Low-Range Essay

• Inadequate response to the prompt

• Misunderstands, oversimplifies, summarizes, or misrepresents the purpose and style of each passage

• Insufficient or inappropriate use of examples to develop the demands of the prompt

• Lack of adequate control of elements of essay writing

“Fog” Passages—Student Sample A

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“Fog” Passages—Student Sample B

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Rating Student Sample A

This is a high-ranking essay for the following reasons:

• Effectively presents and discusses the purpose and intent of each passage (end of paragraph 2), (end of paragraph 3)

• Thoroughly addresses the stylistic differences between the two pieces (paragraph 2), (paragraph 3)

• Strongly supports his or her position with appropriate details from the passage (paragraphs 2 and 3)

• Well-focused throughout

• Mature voice and clear style

This high-ranked essay that is both informative and direct is so well-focused that the reader can almost see the writer’s mind at work. And, as a result, the audience comes away with a clear understanding of the differences between the style and purpose of the two excerpts.

Rating Student Sample B

This is a mid-range essay for the following reasons:

• Clearly indicates an understanding and an application of the prompt (paragraph 1)

• Good control of sentence structure

• Provides specifics from each text to support the analysis (paragraph 1), (paragraph 3)

• Clear transitions

• Clear topic adherence

• Obvious development lacking connections to insights resulting from a close reading of the texts

• A few syntax and diction errors

This mid-range essay is a concise, “bare-bones” presentation. Its strength lies in its clear focus and appropriateness of support. However, these citations are more like listings rather than serving as the foundation for discussions of their implications.

Rubrics for the Thoreau Passage

High-Range Essay

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• Correctly identifies Thoreau’s attitude about the value of advice given by elders

• Effectively presents a position about Thoreau’s attitude

• Clear writer’s voice

• Successfully defends his or her position

• Presents carefully reasoned arguments making reference to specific examples from personal experience, knowledge, reading

• Effectively manipulates language

• Few, if any, syntactical errors

Mid-Range Essay

• Correctly identifies Thoreau’s attitude about the value of advice given by elders

• Understands the demands of the prompt

• Clearly states the position of the writer

• Presents a generally adequate argument which makes use of appropriate examples

• Less well-developed than the high-range essay

• Ideas clearly stated

• A few lapses in diction or syntax

Low-Range Essay

• Inadequate response to the prompt

• Misunderstands, oversimplifies or misrepresents Thoreau’s attitude

• Insufficient or inappropriate use of examples to develop the writer’s position

• Lack of mature control of elements of essay writing

This prompt presented students with the opportunity to sound off about their place in the pecking order. Interestingly enough, the majority of the student writers disagreed with Thoreau or, at least, qualified his remarks. Relatively few chose to speak about parental advice, but they were willing to admit the influence of teachers, scientists/explorers, and grandparents. Often the anecdotal material rambled and needed to be connected back to the ideas of Thoreau. However, even with these shortcomings, the majority of the students obviously found this excerpt and prompt to be easily accessible.

Thoreau Passage—Student Sample A

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Thoreau Passage—Student Sample B

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Rating Student Sample A

This is a high-range essay for the following reasons:

• Clearly establishes a position regarding Thoreau’s assertion

• Thoroughly develops the argument with hypothetical and literary references

• Good topic adherence

• Excellent connective tissue

• Thorough development of the argument that reveals a well-read writer

• Mature voice, diction, and syntax

• Indicative of a willingness to stretch with regard to manipulation of language (paragraph 3, sentence 1) and support for the writer’s position (paragraph 4)

This high-range essay is clear, coherent, cohesive, and compact. It reveals a confident, smooth writing style. There is nothing extraneous contained in this concise, well-organized presentation.

Rating Student Sample B

This is a mid-range essay for the following reasons:

• Establishes a clear voice (paragraph 2)

• Indicates an understanding of the text and the prompt

• Addresses the prompt

• Presents a reasonable argument in support of the writer’s assertion

• Demonstrates topic adherence

• Interesting use of parallel structure (paragraph 1)

• Needs transitions (paragraphs 2 and 3)

• Paragraphing errors (paragraphs 2, 3)

• Several syntactical errors

The writer of this mid-range essay chose to develop his or her argument with an extended example. The conversational tone, although simple and straightforward, clearly supports the writer’s position.