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All three AP English Language essays were formerly scored on a holistic rubric with a 1-9 scale. Because a score of 6-9 had very little impact on score (most people who received a 6+ on all three essays would get a 4 or a 5), the new analytic rubrics are graded from a 1-6. πŸ“š

The six points are subdivided into one point for the thesis, up to four points for evidence and commentary, and one point for sophistication.

The synthesis essay, rhetorical analysis, and argument essay share the same 6-point rubric, but have different ways of giving points.

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Here’s the point breakdown that will help you tackle AP Lang essays like a champ πŸ†: Β 

Synthesis Essay πŸ”—

You earn one point for writing a thesis that responds to the prompt (not restating). You can also (optionally) develop a line of reasoning.Β 

An example of two theses that would get the thesis point are:

  1. Libraries will benefit and develop our society in the long term.
  2. Libraries serve important roles in today's society: they hold historical significance and teach people how to be properly engage with civics, they help build and reinforce communities, and libraries provide resources for the less fortunate. Overall, libraries should be funded and should continue to serve these roles in the future.

You earn up to four points for evidence and commentary. πŸ”

  • 1 point for providing evidence from 2+ sources that are relevant to the subject of the prompt AND includes little/no commentary
  • 2 points for providing evidence from 3+ sources that are relevant to the subject of the prompt AND includes commentary that repeats, misinterprets, or oversimplifies the cited evidence
  • 3 points for providing evidence from 3+ sources that are relevant to the thesis AND includes limited, uneven, or incomplete commentary that explains the relationship between the evidence and the thesis
  • 4 points for providing evidence from 3+ sources that are relevant to the thesis AND includes well-developed commentary that explicitly and consistently explains the relationship between the evidence and the thesis.

You earn one point for including sophistication. πŸ‘‘

You can earn the sophistication by satisfying at least one of the following:

  • Creating a thesis that requires nuanced consideration of text evidence
  • Situating your thesis within a broader context (often known as contextualization in AP history subjects like AP World and APUSH)Β 
  • Including a concession, rebuttal, or refutation of other arguments
  • Making effective rhetorical choices that strengthen the persuasiveness of the argument
  • Using a vivid, persuasive, or convincing prose style that is appropriate for your argument

Rhetorical Analysis πŸ“–

You earn one point for writing a defensible thesis that articulates the rhetorical choices a writer made.

An example of two theses that would get the thesis point are:

  1. In her essay discussing America's racial divide, Rice uses many strategies to appeal to the ethos, logos, and pathos of the reader.
  2. The author's main point was to get the message across that regardless of our differences, we are all capable of anything. She did this successfully in her speech by relating to the audience and talking about key figures in history, though she could’ve made it even stronger by integrating more personal experiences/stories.

You earn up to four points for evidence and commentary. πŸ”

  • 1 point for providing restatements of ideas in the text with little to no commentary
  • 2 points for providing text references (direct quotes or paraphrases) that are relevant to the thesis AND includes commentary that repeats or misinterprets the evidence
  • 3 points for providing text references (direct quotes or paraphrases) AND provides uneven, limited, or incomplete commentary that explains the relationship between evidence and thesis
  • 4 points for providing text references (direct quotes or paraphrases) AND provides well-developed, explicit commentary that consistently explains the relationship between evidence and thesis

You earn one point for including sophistication. πŸ‘‘

You can earn the sophistication by satisfying at least one of the following:

  • Creating a thesis that requires nuanced consideration of text evidence
  • Situating your thesis within a broader context (often known as contextualization in AP history subjects like AP World and APUSH)Β 
  • Including a concession, rebuttal, or refutation of other arguments
  • Making effective rhetorical choices that strengthen the persuasiveness of the argument
  • Using a vivid, persuasive, or convincing prose style that is appropriate for your argument
  • Recognizing and accounting for contradictions / complexities within the text

Argument Essay πŸ“

You earn one point for writing a thesis that responds to the prompt (not restating). You can also (optionally) develop a line of reasoning.Β 

An example of two theses that would get the thesis point are:

  1. While Barbara Jordan correctly depicts an era of tension, she omits the significant fact that private wants and national identity coexist throughout history.
  2. We as a nation have become too regionalist and no longer work for the best of this nation. I agree with Jordan's claim that 'private wants' threaten our national security.

You earn up to four points for evidence and commentary. πŸ”

  • 1 point for providing evidence or examples that are relevant to the subject of the prompt AND includes little/no commentary
  • 2 points for providing evidence or examples that are relevant to the subject of the prompt AND includes commentary that repeats, misinterprets, or oversimplifies the cited evidence
  • 3 points for providing evidence that is relevant to the thesis AND includes limited, uneven, or incomplete commentary that explains the relationship between the evidence and the thesis
  • 4 points for providing evidence that is relevant to the thesis AND includes well-developed commentary that explicitly and consistently explains the relationship between the evidence and the thesis.

You earn one point for including sophistication. πŸ‘‘

You can earn the sophistication by satisfying at least one of the following:

  • Creating a thesis that requires nuanced consideration of text evidence
  • Situating your thesis within a broader context (often known as contextualization in AP history subjects like AP World and APUSH)Β 
  • Including a concession, rebuttal, or refutation of other arguments
  • Making effective rhetorical choices that strengthen the persuasiveness of the argument
  • Using a vivid, persuasive, or convincing prose style that is appropriate for your argument

There you have it! Now you’re on your way to success for the essay section of the AP Lang exam.


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