5 Steps to a 5: Writing the AP English Essay (2016)

Step 1. Set Up Your Study Program

Chapter 2. How Is This Book Going to Work?

IN THIS CHAPTER

Summary: Familiarize yourself with the function and purpose of this book

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Key Ideas

image Create your personal writing profile

image Understand the basic training program

image Meet the graphics you’ll encounter throughout the text

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Creating Your Personal Writing Profile

This book will be your personal training manual for writing the AP English essay. Because we’re going to be your personal AP writing trainers, we will ask you to do the first thing any good trainer would do. We’re going to ask you to assess your needs. First, why are you here? What do you hope to gain from spending time and effort working your way through this text?

My primary goals are:

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Make certain your goals are reasonable and realistic. For example, having a primary goal of winning the Nobel Prize in Literature during your year as an AP English student is not realistic—a terrific dream, but not a reasonable goal for this year.

The next step is to create a profile of you as a writer. To do this, you need to respond to the following statements.

My Personal Writing Profile

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Take a few moments to consider your responses. If you answered these statements honestly, you have created a fairly accurate profile of yourself as a writer. Are you satisfied with your writing portrait? If you are, you don’t need us—give this book to a friend! If you’re not (to be honest, almost no one ever is), commit yourself to a training program—and invite a friend to work out with you.

About the Basic Training Program

Why the Basic Training Program?

We believe we have something unique to offer you. For over 25 years we have addressed the needs of AP students just like you, and we’ve had the opportunity to learn from these students. Therefore, the basic training program we offer in this book reflects genuine student concerns and needs. This is a student-oriented program. We will not overwhelm you with pompous language, mislead you with inaccurate information and tasks, or lull you into a false sense of confidence through cutesy shortcuts. We stand behind every suggestion, process and question we present. There is no busy work in this book.

This basic training program is designed to serve many purposes. It will:

•  Clarify requirements for the AP English Essay for both Language and Literature

•  Provide you with essay practice

•  Show you models and rubrics on which you can model and evaluate your own work

•  Anticipate and answer your questions

•  Enrich your understanding and appreciation of the writing process

•  Help you pace yourself

•  Make you aware of the Five Steps to Mastering the AP English essay

We believe that reading should be an exciting interaction between you and the writer. You have to bring your own context to the experience and you must feel comfortable reaching for and exploring ideas. You are an adventurer on a journey of exploration, and we will act as your guides. We will set the itinerary, but you will set your own pace. You can feel free to “stop and smell the roses” or to explore new territory.

There are no tricks to critical thinking. Those who claim to guarantee you a 5 with gimmicks are doing you a disservice. No one can guarantee you’ll get a 5. However, the reading and writing skills you will review, practice, and master will give you the very best chance to do your very best. You will have the opportunity to learn, to practice, and to master the critical thinking processes that can empower you to achieve your highest score.

Acting as your personal writing trainers, we have created a program to help you reach those goals you listed at the start of this section. Remember, this book does not replace your AP English instructor, and it does notreplace the work you must consistently and responsibly study and complete in your own AP English class.

We highly recommend that you work your way through the entire book. However, be aware that this training program is designed to “pump up” all AP English students. Therefore, it will be up to you to make the important decisions about which chapters and sections of chapters to complete and how much time you will devote to any given chapter, section, or activity.

Reaching higher levels of achievement demands training, practice, and commitment. You’ve already taken the first step in your training to be an accomplished AP English essay writer. Now, let’s get to work.

About the Icons Used in This Book

This book contains special graphic elements to help you find and identify important ideas, strategies, and tips. Here is a guide to the icons used:

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Key Idea: This icon points out a very important concept or fact that you should not pass over.

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Strategy: The strategy icon calls your attention to a problem-solving strategy that you may want to try.

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Tip: The tip icon indicates a hint you might find useful.

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Workout: The workout icon identifies practice exercises within each chapter.

Important terms are printed in bold in this book and key information, definitions, and concepts are shaded. All this is designed to make this book as easy to use as possible, especially if you don’t have much time to prepare for the AP exam.