AP Language & Composition Question 1: Part 1

The first question in the AP Lang exam often leads students to feel anxious and unsure. What on earth is a synthesis essay and how do I approach it? Well here is the good news: the synthesis essay is the easiest question on the AP Lang exam – no really! All you need to do is follow these straightforward steps I will outline. I will use the 2016 exam (which can be found here) and the sample responses (which can be found here) to explain.

Step 1: Read and sort!

Start off by reading all the sources. Now, when I say read I mean a very specific kind of reading – read for evidence. Your job is to examine each source and try and a) find something that the source has in common with anther source AND b) try and find details that could strengthen an argument. This entire process shouldn’t take you very long, about 10-12 minutes.

Once youhave read all the sources group them into 3 different categories. It’s okay to have a source appear in two different categories. but that should be the maximum. Here is my sorting:

1 – There are employment and business benefits for those who are multilingual: Source A and F

2 – There are various cultural awareness benefits to being multilingual: Source F and B

3 – There are cognitive and educational benefits that accrue from being multilingual: Source A and D

Now that we have sorted the sourced into various categories we are basically done! The hard work is over and now we can move on to the second phase of planning – topic sentences and the overall thesis of the paper. More to come in Part 2!



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