Practice makes perfect, which makes completing practice free response questions advantageous to the student. Figuring out how you did; however, is more difficult than it seems. As the writer, you have a certain bias that may make it more difficult to grade your own practice essay, but it can be done. If you remain impartial, follow the AP English Language free response question rubric, and apply the ideas in this guide.
How to Draft a Response
Before we talk about how to score your essay, we must discuss how to draft a response to the AP English Language free response questions. The first step is to understand your prompt and passage. Next, you must craft a thesis, or your argument. This is vital, because your entire essay should be based around the claim that you present in the thesis. The thesis should contain a roadmap to the rest of your essay, including your supporting details.
Once you have crafted your thesis, then write a short, quick introduction to that thesis, and insert your thesis after the introduction. This introduction must be concise and supplementary to your argument.
In the body paragraphs the thesis is supported. It is recommended that you do this in three body paragraphs at least. Great ways to do this is by citing proof from the passage or passages and inserting your own logical progression. By utilizing the text you allow yourself to gain credibility as a writer and impress your examiners.
The student will need to complete the three drafts in two hours and fifteen minutes; therefore, it is imperative that the student follows his or her argument and strongly supports it.
If you are practicing writing these free response questions on your own, then it is recommended that you write in a quiet environment that you cannot be disturbed in. This will allow you to focus on the paper as you would in the test location.
Remaining Impartial and Unbiased
When scoring your own AP English Language free response question essay (FRQ) it is important to be an impartial and unbiased as possible. Be sure to spend at least half an hour away from the essay. This will allow you to clear your mind and be able to see the various mistakes and improvements that can be made to your essay easier.
The best way to do this is by writing the response in the beginning of the week, and then setting it aside until the end of the week. Once you pick the essay back up at the end of the week, then you can read the free response as if you are an outsider scoring your paper. This simulates an examiner reading your paper as it will be done for the AP English Language scoring.
Be sure to remember that you should not be too easy on yourself. Growth is important with these practice free response questions, and that cannot be done if you deem your paper “perfect”.
Focusing on the AP English Language Free Response Question Rubric
The next step in scoring your own free response question is to have the AP English Language Argument Rubric in front of you as you read your essay. By doing this, you will not diverge from the given requirements of the College Board.
Ask yourself questions or make a checklist that contains all of the elements that you will need.
1. Is your grammar and mechanics confusing?
Always be sure to note this, because if your grammar and mechanics are too sloppy or confusing, then your score will fall to a 2. If your use of language is understood but contains major errors, then you will receive a 4 or 5. If your language is tolerable with minimal errors, then you could receive a 6, 7, 8, or 9 depending on the other elements of your essay.
2. How many supporting details do you have? Is your argument supported?
Your argument must be adequately supported. Do you do this in your essay? If there is no evidence of support, then give yourself a 1. Work on bringing in reasoning skills and pulling evidence from your passage.
If your essay reflects few supporting details, then give yourself a 5. This means that you have an argument and supported it, but there is more to be desired. The audience has not bought into your argument yet.
To be able to score yourself with a higher score, your support must be thorough. Citing from the text is extremely important as well as explaining why that quote supports your argument.
3. Is your evidence convincing?
Convincing evidence goes hand in hand with supporting details. Having convincing evidence means that you have utilized your supporting details and explained why they are important. Your purpose is to persuade, and having convincing evidence is vital. The examiner should not doubt the validity of your interpretation, because your evidence must convince the reader.
In order to get an 8 or 9 on the AP English Language free response questions, you must find textual evidence, use it, and elaborate on its significance to your argument. The last element is especially important as it is the core of your essay.
If you did not relay the significance of your evidence to the argument at all, then give yourself a 4. This means that you have an argument and you have support, but you have not connected the two yet.
If you did relay the significance to the argument somewhere in the essay, then give yourself 5 to a 7 depending on how often you did this.
4. Is your argument clear?
Clarity goes a long way on the AP English Language free response questions. Your argument must be elevated to the highest priority and explained. This allows the examiner to have no question of what you are claiming.
If you go back and read your essay to find that you are not sure what the argument is, then give yourself a 2. This means that your essay is unsure in your thesis.
To earn a higher score is to be clearer in your argument. Your thesis statement needs to provide a clear claim that you will see and understand every time you read the essay. An essay with a score of eight or nine is direct in its argument and is not subtle in sharing it with the reader. This is the most effective way of delivering the thesis.
5. Do you utilize your sources?
There is an essay called the synthesis essay which is within the free response question section of the AP English Language exam. The synthesis essay rubric dictates that you use at least three of the sources in your essay to get a high score.
If you are writing a synthesis essay and you did not include sources, then give yourself a 2. As you utilize sources proficiently your score will rise. It is recommended to use three or more sources; however, be cautious in using more than five. This will seem excessive and your credibility as a proficient analyst will suffer, because the essay will be predominantly the source material and not your own ideas.
6. Are you off topic?
Staying on topic is essential to the free response questions. Never stray from your argument for any reason, because if you are off topic, then your score will drop to a 3 or even may not be scored at all. If you remain on topic, then you have a chance at a much higher score, which will depend on your use of persuasion.
7. Is your writing effectively persuasive overall?
The purpose for writing the essays for the AP English Language free response questions is to persuade through argumentation and synthesis. Your use of the English language, however, also plays a role in the effectiveness of your response.
Using rhetorical devices and figurative language takes your essay to the next level, and an examiner may bump your score up a number if you are eloquent enough. Therefore, if your essay is especially convincing in its language usage, then take the overall score and raise it one point.
Tips to Remember
There are some elements to keep in mind when you are scoring your own paper. Remember that examiners love to reward students for what they do well. If you see a point that resonated, then keep that in mind as you score yourself.
It is also important to note that the AP English Language exam’s free response questions are a long and arduous task if you do not practice beforehand. Practice frequently throughout the year to gain the benefits you need and keep on scoring!
Photo by Popular Science Monthly [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
By the way, you should check out Albert.io for your AP English Language review. We have hundreds of AP English Language practice questions written just for you!
Multiple Choice — 52 to 55 Questions | 1 Hour | 45% of Exam Score
- Excerpts from non-fiction texts are accompanied by several multiple-choice questions
Free Response — 3 Free-Response Questions | 2 Hours, 15 Minutes (includes a 15-minute reading period) | 55% of Exam Score
This section has three prompts:
- Synthesis: Students read several texts about a topic and create an argument that synthesizes at least three of the sources to support their thesis.
- Rhetorical analysis: Students read a non-fiction text and analyze how the writer's language choices contribute to his or her purpose and intended meaning for the text.
- Argument: Students create an evidence-based argument that responds to a given topic.
The total Section II time is 2 hours and 15 minutes. This includes a 15-minute reading period. The reading period is designed to provide students with time to develop thoughtful, well-organized responses. They may begin writing their responses before the reading period is over.