How to Write the AP Lang Synthesis Essay with Example

September 5, 2023

AP Lang synthesis essay, AP Language

If you’re highly interested in learning more about writing analysis, then chances are you enrolled in AP Lang. Essentially, AP Lang is an advanced course for high schoolers that combines interest and knowledge in English with critical thinking. In the class, students learn how to analyze and synthesize a variety of texts to construct well-reasoned arguments. If you take AP Lang, then you can opt to take the AP test at the conclusion of the school year. On the exam, students write the AP Lang synthesis essay to demonstrate their learned abilities. In this article, we’ll look at what the AP Lang synthesis essay requires and show an example to provide better understanding of what to expect on the exam.

AP Lang Exam Basics

The AP Lang exam is separated into two sections. In the first section, students have one hour to answer a series of 45 multiple-choice questions. Here, about half of the questions are based on passages students read. The other half are focused on the best revision techniques. Essentially, the answers for the latter 20-22 questions are geared toward revising mock essays.

In this article, however, we’ll focus mainly on the second part of the exam: the AP Lang synthesis essay.

In this second section, students have two hours and 15 minutes to write three essays of their own design. The three open-ended questions in this section are intended to be free-response and allow for a variety of approaches. Each question is intended to allow up to 40 minutes to complete.

For the AP Lang synthesis essay, students are presented with a scenario of the College Board’s design. The scenario will provide its own thesis statement. Usually, scenarios relate to real-world problems like environmental concerns, media, or government policies.

For each scenario, students are provided with 6-7 outside sources. These sources could be in the form of an image, visual graph, or written paragraph. For written paragraphs, the sources are usually no more than 500 words.

Students are then expected to incorporate at least 3-4 of these outside sources into their essay response. The outside sources are intended to be used as supporting evidence for the student’s chosen stance or argument. Students are able to either agree with or disagree with the thesis presented in the original scenario.

AP Lang Exam – Scoring

In the second part of the AP Lang exam, students can earn a possible 6 points on each essay. 1 point is earned for the development of a thesis. Up to 4 points can be earned for evidence and commentary. The final 1 point is earned for sophistication of thought.

AP Lang Exam – Takeaways

Ultimately, the goal of the AP Lang synthesis essay is not whether the student is “right” or “wrong” in their argument. The key is that students are able to reasonably and clearly support their argument using the provided sources as evidence .

The College Board looks for your ability to identify relationships between texts , form a coherent argument , and interpret external sources .

Synthesis Essay AP Lang Examples

If you’re not sure how the questions will look on the AP Lang synthesis essay section, we’ll provide an example. After the example, we’ll break down the strengths and weaknesses of the response. That way, you’ll have a better idea of what the College Board is looking for.

Additionally, the College Board has released previous AP Lang synthesis essay examples you can review. They even have essay questions as recent as 2022 . For further support, a scoring commentary and comments from the Chief Reader are also available to view. Additionally, there are other examples you can view from earlier years .

Note: A good strategy to study for the synthesis essay AP Lang exam is to review your rhetorical devices and literary devices . Understanding how these devices function can be essential in constructing a cohesive essay.

Synthesis Essay AP Lang Examples – Sample Question

Below is a sample question from the AP Lang synthesis essay and a response to the prompt. This question was taken directly from a 2022 exam . However, the response to the question will be originally crafted for the purpose of this newsletter. As well, all supporting evidence will be originally created and does not correspond to any previous test.

The Question

Since the early 2000s, the United States government and a number of corporations have sponsored initiatives to improve education in the STEM disciplines: science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. The emphasis on STEM subjects in elementary, secondary, and higher education reflects concerns that United States students are less proficient in these areas than are students in other countries. Additionally, there is a belief that mastery in STEM fields is now essential in order to join a highly technical and specialized workforce. However, not everyone is convinced that a STEM-focused curriculum is necessary and/or effective.

In your response you should do the following:

  • Respond to the prompt with a thesis that presents a defensible
  • Select and use evidence from at least three of the provided sources to support your line of Indicate clearly the sources used through direct quotation, paraphrase, or summary. Sources may be cited as Source A, Source B, etc., or by using the description in parentheses.
  • Explain how the evidence supports your line of
  • Use appropriate grammar and punctuation in communicating your

How to Approach the Question

Maybe your first thought upon seeing this block of text is to feel overwhelmed. But don’t panic. There are effective ways to approach the question so you will be more prepared in your response.

It’s a good strategy to first isolate the thesis . What is the main idea of the text, and what is its argument?

Try it out. Reread the prompt and see if you can identify what the statement is asking you to develop an opinion on.

Think you’ve got it? In this example, we will be focusing on whether or not a STEM-focused curriculum in K-12 education is necessary and/or effective. In short, we will be arguing either for (highlighting the benefits) or against (highlighting the pitfalls) a STEM-focused curriculum.

How do we know what this statement is asking us?

Well, the statement provides a lot of background information. For example, we receive a definition of what STEM stands for. As well, we know that since 2000, there has been a greater initiative for STEM-focused classes.

When you read the prompt for the first time, it’s a great strategy to learn how to differentiate between background and contextual information from the heart of the argument .

A good way to learn how to isolate the argument is to look for transition words. Usually, these appear near the end of the question. Words like “however” and “yet” are signals that the statement is offering a differing opinion. Typically, the statement will tell you which two positions it’s offering for argument. These opinions are usually signaled by contrasting transition words.

So, now that we know what the question is asking us, what is the best way to respond?

Synthesis Essay AP Lang Examples – Sample Answer

The following is an essay response I crafted to the above question. After reading the sample, I will break down what it does well and what areas can be improved.

A STEM-focused curriculum is not as essential to providing a meaningful K-12 education. Because the majority of high school students are not proficient in STEM-focused classes, prioritizing these classes causes harm to student’s mental health and academic performance.

As seen in Source A, 60% of high school seniors in the Midwest only scored a C average in math and science-based classes (Langston). This statistic suggests that the majority of students do not resonate with STEM classes and therefore perform poorly. Earning a low score in any class does not bode well for students’ mental health.

When looking at the primary argument in Source C, it’s clear that most high schoolers prefer creative outlets to fact-based research (Kohler). Allowing students the opportunity to be more creative and initiate conversations about coursework lets students be more active in their learning. When students can discuss the nuance in their opinions, more personal growth happens. These conversations are not always easy to have in STEM-focused classes.

As well, when looking back to Source A, it’s clear that high school students in the Midwest earned higher grades, on average, in their English and art classes (Langston). This figure suggests that students perform better in these classes because they relate more to the source material. When relating to what they learn, they perform better in class.

In conclusion, STEM-focused curriculum is not as essential in K-12 education because most high school students do not relate to their STEM classes. When students do not earn satisfactory grades in these classes, it negatively affects their future college applications and job prospects.

Synthesis Essay AP Lang Examples – Answer Breakdown

So, what does this essay response get right, and where can it be improved? Let’s start with what the response does well.

First, the response establishes its thesis right away. Usually, it’s a good idea to clearly state your argument within the first paragraph. Not only is this a good practice because a reader can easily identify your stance, but also you can refer to your thesis as you write to make you stay on track.

With your thesis, it’s also a good idea to include one to two supporting sentences with the reasons why the thesis is concluded . Like in this example, I wrote that STEM-focused classes should not be prioritized because they can negatively affect both mental health and academic performance.

Another positive aspect of this response is that it is sure to not only reference but also cites its sources . It’s important that the reader understand where your information is coming from. That way, the readers can ensure you are interpreting the sources correctly.

AP Lang Synthesis Essay (Continued)

However, when rereading the instructions, it’s clear that this response fails the basic requirement of referring to at least three sources. Always make sure to reread the instructions to ensure you meet the standard requirements for incorporating source material.

Further, this AP Lang synthesis essay does not fully support its arguments . Ideas are simply stated and are not expanded upon.

For example, I mentioned a few times that earning low grades in STEM classes leads to negative mental health for high school students. However, there is no source referenced that either confirms or denies this claim. Therefore, there is no sufficient evidence to support my argument. It relies purely on inference.

Additionally, this AP Lang synthesis essay does not arrive at a sufficient level of sophistication of thought . Basically, sophistication of thought means avoiding broad generalizations and vague claims. The more specific you can be, the better your argument will sound.

Synthesis Essay AP Lang – In Conclusion

In the end, it’s always helpful to read the prompt thoroughly before writing. As well, making notes while you read could be a good strategy to pinpoint main ideas both in the prompt and the sources. That way, you can reread the material quickly. Similarly, sketching an outline may also be helpful. In addition, you should always carefully read the instructions to ensure all guidelines are followed.

As long as you avoid broad generalizations and use enough supporting evidence for your claim, you will be on the right path!

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Meghan Dairaghi

With a BA in English and an MFA in Creative Writing, Meghan has served as a writing tutor at the University of Missouri St. Louis and Maryville University. Additionally, Meghan has held editorial roles at River Styx and Boulevard, and was a prose reader at Farside Review . Most recently, her work has been featured in Belle Ombre , Flypaper Lit , and Mag 20/20 , among others, and she was nominated for the Mary Troy Prize in Fiction. 

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ap language and composition sample essays

How to Write the AP Lang Synthesis Essay + Example

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What is the ap lang synthesis essay, how will ap scores affect my college chances.

AP English Language and Composition, commonly known as AP Lang, is one of the most engaging and popular AP classes offered at most high schools, with over 535,000 students taking the class . AP Lang tests your ability to analyze written pieces, synthesize information, write rhetorical essays, and create cohesive and concrete arguments. However, the class is rather challenging as only 62% of students were able to score a three or higher on the exam. 

The AP Lang exam has two sections. The first consists of 45 multiple choice questions which need to be completed in an hour. This portion counts for around 45% of your total score. These questions ask students to analyze written pieces and answer questions related to each respective passage.  All possible answer choices can be found within the text, and no prior knowledge of literature is needed to understand the passages.

The second section contains three free-response questions to be finished in under two hours and 15 minutes. This section counts for 55% of your score and includes the synthesis essay, the rhetorical essay, and the argumentative essay.

  • The synthesis essay requires you to read 6-7 sources and create an argument using at least three sources.
  • The rhetorical analysis essay requires you to describe how a piece of writing evokes specific meanings and symbolism.
  • The argumentative essay requires you to pick a perspective of a debate and create an argument based on the evidence provided.

In this post, we will take a look at the AP Lang synthesis essay and discuss tips and tricks to master this part of the exam. We will also provide an example of a well-written essay for review.  

The AP Lang synthesis essay is the first of three essays included in the Free Response section of the AP Lang exam. The exam presents 6-7 sources that are organized around a specific topic, with two of those sources purely visual, including a single quantitative source (like a graph or pie chart). The remaining 4-5 sources are text-based, containing around 500 words each. It’s recommended that students spend an hour on this essay—15 minute reading period, 40 minutes writing, and 5 minutes of spare time to check over work.

Each synthesis essay has a topic that all the sources will relate to. A prompt will explaining the topic and provide some background, although the topics are usually broad so you will probably know something related to the issue. It will also present a claim that students will respond to in an essay format using information from at least three of the provided sources. You will need to take a stance, either agreeing or disagreeing with the position provided in the claim. 

According to the CollegeBoard, they are looking for essays that “combine different perspectives from sources to form a support of a coherent position.” This means that you must state your claim on the topic and highlight relationships between several sources that support your specific position on the topic. Additionally, you’ll need to cite clear evidence from your sources to prove your point.

The synthesis essay counts for six points on the AP Lang exam. Students can receive 0-1 points for writing a thesis statement, 0-4 based on the incorporation of evidence and commentary, and 0-1 points based on the sophistication of thought and demonstration of complex understanding.

While this essay seems extremely overwhelming, considering there are a total of three free-response essays to complete, with proper time management and practiced skills, this essay is manageable and straightforward. In order to enhance the time management aspect of the test to the best of your ability, it is essential to divide the essay up into five key steps.

Step 1: Analyze the Prompt

As soon as the clock starts, carefully read and analyze what the prompt asks from you. It might be helpful to markup the text to identify the most critical details. You should only spend around 2 minutes reading the prompt so you have enough time to read all the sources and figure out your argument. Don’t feel like you need to immediately pick your stance on the claim right after reading the prompt. You should read the sources before you commit to your argument.

Step 2: Read the Sources Carefully

Although you are only required to use 3 of the 6-7 sources provides, make sure you read ALL of the sources. This will allow you to better understand the topic and make the most educated decision of which sources to use in your essay. Since there are a lot of sources to get through, you will need to read quickly and carefully.

Annotating will be your best friend during the reading period. Highlight and mark important concepts or lines from each passage that would be helpful in your essay. Your argument will probably begin forming in your head as you go through the passages, so you will save yourself a lot of time later on if you take a few seconds to write down notes in the margins. After you’ve finished reading a source, reflect on whether the source defends, challenges, or qualifies your argument.

You will have around 13 minutes to read through all the sources, but it’s very possible you will finish earlier if you are a fast reader. Take the leftover time to start developing your thesis and organizing your thoughts into an outline so you have more time to write. 

Step 3: Write a Strong Thesis Statement 

In order to write a good thesis statement, all you have to do is decide your stance on the claim provided in the prompt and give an overview of your evidence. You essentially have three choices on how to frame your thesis statement: You can defend, challenge or qualify a claim that’s been provided by the prompt. 

  • If you are defending the claim, your job will be to prove that the claim is correct .
  • If you are challenging the claim, your job will be to prove that the claim is incorrect .
  • If you choose to qualify the claim, your job will be to agree to a part of the claim and disagree with another part of the claim. 

A strong thesis statement will clearly state your stance without summarizing the issue or regurgitating the claim. The CollegeBoard is looking for a thesis statement that “states a defensible position and establishes a line of reasoning on the issue provided in the prompt.”

Step 4: Create a Minimal Essay Outline

Developing an outline might seem like a waste of time when you are up against the clock, but believe us, taking 5-10 minutes to outline your essay will be much more useful in the long run than jumping right into the essay.

Your outline should include your thesis statement and three main pieces of evidence that will constitute each body paragraph. Under each piece of evidence should be 2-3 details from the sources that you will use to back up your claim and some commentary on how that evidence proves your thesis.

Step 5: Write your Essay

Use the remaining 30-35 minutes to write your essay. This should be relatively easy if you took the time to mark up the sources and have a detailed outline.  Remember to add special consideration and emphasis to the commentary sections of the supporting arguments outlined in your thesis. These sentences are critical to the overall flow of the essay and where you will be explaining how the evidence supports or undermines the claim in the prompt.

Also, when referencing your sources, write the in-text citations as follows: “Source 1,” “Source 2,” “Source 3,” etc. Make sure to pay attention to which source is which in order to not incorrectly cite your sources. In-text citations will impact your score on the essay and are an integral part of the process.

After you finish writing, read through your essay for any grammatical errors or mistakes before you move onto the next essay.

Here are six must-have tips and tricks to get a good score on the synthesis essay:

  • Cite at least four sources , even though the minimum requirement is three. Remember not to plagiarize and cite everything you use in your arguments.
  • Make sure to develop a solid and clear thesis . Develop a stable stance for the claim and stick with it throughout the entire paper.
  • Don’t summarize the sources. The summary of the sources does not count as an argument. 
  • You don’t necessarily have to agree with the sources in order to cite them. Using a source to support a counterargument is still a good use of a source.
  • Cite the sources that you understand entirely . If you don’t, it could come back to bite you in the end. 
  • Use small quotes , do not quote entire paragraphs. Make sure the quote does not disrupt the flow or grammar of the sentence you write. 

ap language and composition sample essays

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Here is an example prompt and essay from 2019 that received 5 of the 6 total points available:

In response to our society’s increasing demand for energy, large-scale wind power has drawn attention from governments and consumers as a potential alternative to traditional materials that fuel our power grids, such as coal, oil, natural gas, water, or even newer sources such as nuclear or solar power. Yet the establishment of large-scale, commercial-grade wind farms is often the subject of controversy for a variety of reasons.

Carefully read the six sources, found on the AP English Language and Composition 2019 Exam (Question 1), including the introductory information for each source. Write an essay that synthesizes material from at least three of the sources and develops your position on the most important factors that an individual or agency should consider when deciding whether to establish a wind farm.

Source A (photo)

Source B (Layton)

Source C (Seltenrich)

Source D (Brown)

Source E (Rule)

Source F (Molla)

In your response you should do the following:

  • Respond to the prompt with a thesis presents a defensible position.
  • Select and use evidence from at least 3 of the provided sources to support your line of reasoning. Indicate clearly the sources used through direct quotation, paraphrase, or summary. Sources may be cited as Source A, Source B, etc., or by using the description in parentheses.
  • Explain how the evidence supports your line of reasoning.
  • Use appropriate grammar and punctuation in communicating your argument.

[1] The situation has been known for years, and still very little is being done: alternative power is the only way to reliably power the changing world. The draw of power coming from industry and private life is overwhelming current sources of non-renewable power, and with dwindling supplies of fossil fuels, it is merely a matter of time before coal and gas fuel plants are no longer in operation. So one viable alternative is wind power. But as with all things, there are pros and cons. The main factors for power companies to consider when building wind farms are environmental boon, aesthetic, and economic factors.

[2] The environmental benefits of using wind power are well-known and proven. Wind power is, as qualified by Source B, undeniably clean and renewable. From their production requiring very little in the way of dangerous materials to their lack of fuel, besides that which occurs naturally, wind power is by far one of the least environmentally impactful sources of power available. In addition, wind power by way of gearbox and advanced blade materials, has the highest percentage of energy retention. According to Source F, wind power retains 1,164% of the energy put into the system – meaning that it increases the energy converted from fuel (wind) to electricity 10 times! No other method of electricity production is even half that efficient. The efficiency and clean nature of wind power are important to consider, especially because they contribute back to power companies economically.

[3] Economically, wind power is both a boon and a bone to electric companies and other users. For consumers, wind power is very cheap, leading to lower bills than from any other source. Consumers also get an indirect reimbursement by way of taxes (Source D). In one Texan town, McCamey, tax revenue increased 30% from a wind farm being erected in the town. This helps to finance improvements to the town. But, there is no doubt that wind power is also hurting the power companies. Although, as renewable power goes, wind is incredibly cheap, it is still significantly more expensive than fossil fuels. So, while it is helping to cut down on emissions, it costs electric companies more than traditional fossil fuel plants. While the general economic trend is positive, there are some setbacks which must be overcome before wind power can take over as truly more effective than fossil fuels.

[4] Aesthetics may be the greatest setback for power companies. Although there may be significant economic and environmental benefit to wind power, people will always fight to preserve pure, unspoiled land. Unfortunately, not much can be done to improve the visual aesthetics of the turbines. White paint is the most common choice because it “[is] associated with cleanliness.” (Source E). But, this can make it stand out like a sore thumb, and make the gargantuan machines seem more out of place. The site can also not be altered because it affects generating capacity. Sound is almost worse of a concern because it interrupts personal productivity by interrupting people’s sleep patterns. One thing for power companies to consider is working with turbine manufacturing to make the machines less aesthetically impactful, so as to garner greater public support.

[5] As with most things, wind power has no easy answer. It is the responsibility of the companies building them to weigh the benefits and the consequences. But, by balancing economics, efficiency, and aesthetics, power companies can create a solution which balances human impact with environmental preservation.

More examples can be found here at College Board.

While AP Scores help to boost your weighted GPA, or give you the option to get college credit, AP Scores don’t have a strong effect on your admissions chances . However, colleges can still see your self-reported scores, so you might not want to automatically send scores to colleges if they are lower than a 3. That being said, admissions officers care far more about your grade in an AP class than your score on the exam.

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ap language and composition sample essays

  • AP English Language and Composition Exam Sample Essay Questions

August 1, 2021

After an hour of answering multiple-choice questions , you’ll have two hours to write three essays : 

  • A synthesis essay in which you use sources to argue your point of view on a given issue. 
  • An analytical essay that examines, interprets, and explains the meaning and structure of prose passage. 
  • An argumentative essay that supports, refutes, or qualifies an opinion expressed in a statement or brief passage. 

Before you’re given the signal to begin writing your essays, you’ll have 15 minutes to read the questions and the sources for the synthesis essay. However, you don’t have to spend the whole time reading. During those 15 minutes you can plan your essay, underline noteworthy ideas, formulate a tentative thesis, or prepare a brief outline. You might even glance at the other essay questions. Essentially, the time is yours to fill as you wish but with one exception: you may not start writing your essay. That begins only after the proctor gives you the green light. 

Write the essays in any order. The choice is yours. The suggested writing time for each essay is 40 minutes.

Sample Essay Questions

The following sample essay questions have been taken from previous AP English Language and Composition exams.

2014 AP English Language and Composition Essay Questions

  • In recent years college graduates in great numbers have failed to find jobs for which their education has prepared them. As a result, many people, including high school students and their parents, question whether a college degree is worth the expense required to attain one. Others, however, argue that a college education is not meant solely to prepare students for a job or career. After reading six sources related to this issue, write an essay that discusses whether a college education is worth the cost. Synthesize information from at least three of the sources into your essay. 
  • In 1780, Abigail Adams wrote a letter of advice to her son John Quincy Adams, then traveling in Europe with his father, John Adams, the future second president of the United States. Read the letter carefully. Then, write an essay that analyzes the rhetorical strategies that Mrs. Adams uses to advise the young man. 
  • Research by experts in education reveals that the creativity of children from kindergarten through sixth grade has suffered in recent years. A decline in creativity is alarming, especially when present and future world problems related to climate, economics, war and peace, and much more will require increasingly creative solutions. One proposal to reverse the decline in creativity is to actively teach creative thinking in school. Opinion is divided on whether this approach is worthwhile. State your view on this issue by writing to your school board. Explain what you mean by creativity and argue for or against starting a course in creativity.

2015 AP English Language and Composition Essay Questions

  • Many schools, colleges, and universities have instituted honor codes meant to discourage such practices as cheating, stealing, and plagiarizing. Students violating established codes are subject to a variety of punishments. After reading six sources related to the issue of honor codes, compose an essay that supports your position on whether your school should establish, maintain, revise, or eliminate an honor code or honor system. Your argument should incorporate ideas, quotations, paraphrases, or summaries found in at least three of the six sources that accompany this question. 
  • To commemorate the tenth anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s assassination, labor union organizer and civil rights leader Cesar Chavez wrote an article that discusses nonviolent resistance as a means to achieve certain social goals. After reading Chavez’s words, write an essay that analyzes the rhetorical choices he uses to develop his argument. 
  • Friendly phrases such as “How’s it going?” and “Nice to meet you” are known as polite speech and are usually not taken literally. In an essay, develop your position on the value or function of polite speech in a culture or community with which you are familiar. To support your argument, use evidence drawn from your reading, experience, or observation.

2016 AP English Language and Composition Essay Questions

  • With the spread of globalization in recent decades, English has become the primary language for communicating in international finance, science, and politics. As the use of English has spread, foreign language learning in English-speaking countries has declined, making the use of only one language—English—the norm. Carefully read the six sources accompanying this question and then write an essay that takes a position on the claim that people who speak only English and no other language are at a disadvantage in today’s world. In your discussion, synthesize appropriate quotations, ideas, paraphrases, or summaries found in at least three of the sources. 
  • In 2004, upon the death of former president Ronald Reagan, the ex–prime minister of Great Britain, Margaret Thatcher, who had worked closely with Reagan, delivered a eulogy to the American people honoring her former colleague and friend. Read the eulogy carefully, and then write an essay that analyzes the rhetoric Thatcher used to convey her thoughts and feelings. 
  • Back in the nineteenth century, the Irish author Oscar Wilde noted that “Disobedience, in the eyes of anyone who has read history, is man’s original virtue. It is through disobedience that progress has been made, through disobedience and through rebellion.” In an essay, argue your position on Wilde’s claim that disobedience and rebellion promote progress. Support your views with evidence drawn from your reading, studies, experience, or observation.

2017 AP English Language and Composition Essay Questions

  • The growth of the Internet has, among other things, changed what and how people read and in so doing has generated controversy about the need for and future of traditional public libraries. Some observers question the relevance of today’s libraries, while others see opportunities for libraries to grow and thrive in new ways. After reading six sources related to the future of libraries, write an essay that discusses your position on the future role, if any, of public libraries. As you develop your argument, be sure to incorporate, or synthesize, material from at least three of the sources that accompany this assignment. Whether you quote directly from a source or put its ideas into your own words, clearly identify each source you use either in the text of your essay or in a footnote. 
  • At the beginning of a speech to the Women’s National Press Club in 1960, the American journalist and politician Clare Booth Luce expressed her objections to a tendency of the press corps to give readers sensationalist stories rather than maintain journalistic integrity by writing serious, consequential news stories. After carefully reading her opening remarks, write an essay that analyzes the rhetorical strategies Luce used to prepare the audience for the disapproval that was central to the remainder of her speech. 
  • In Empire of Illusion, the author Chris Hedges, referring to the world of politics and the consumer culture, argues that “the most essential skill . . . is artifice.” That is, as Hedges explains, successful politicians “no longer need to be competent, sincere, or honest. They need only to appear to have these qualities.” In other words, deception succeeds. After reading a short passage that develops Hedges’s views, write an essay stating your opinion on the issue. Use appropriate, specific evidence to develop and illustrate your position.

2018 AP English Language and Composition Essay Questions

  • The power of a government to confiscate people’s private property for public use is known as eminent domain. Although eminent domain is centuries old, it remains a contentious issue throughout the world. Read the six sources on the following pages. Then, using at least three of the sources, write a coherent essay that supports, opposes, or qualifies the principle that the govern- mental right of eminent domain is useful and productive. When quoting, paraphrasing, or summarizing material, be sure to identify each source in parentheses either with its letter (A, B, C, etc.) or with a description. 
  • In 1997, U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright delivered the commencement address at Mount Holyoke College, a women’s college in Massachusetts. After reading a given excerpt from the speech, write a well-developed essay that identifies and analyzes the rhetorical choices Albright made to help convey her message to the audience. 
  • In her book Gift from the Sea, the author and aviator Anne Morrow Lindbergh (1906– 2001) reflects on how people make choices: “We tend not to choose the unknown which might be a shock or a disappointment or simply a little difficult to cope with. And yet it is the unknown with all its disappointments and surprises that is the most enriching.” After carefully considering Lindbergh’s position on choosing the unknown, write an essay that develops your own view on the value of exploring the unknown. Support your position with appropriate and specific evidence.

2019 AP English Language and Composition Essay Questions

  • Our society’s increasing demand for energy has drawn attention of governments and consumers to large-scale wind power and away from traditional materials, such as coal, oil, and natural gas. Yet, the creation of large commercial wind farms has created controversy for a variety of reasons. Carefully read the following six sources, including the introduction to each one, and then write an essay that develops your position on the most important factors that an individual or agency should take into account when determining whether to establish a wind farm. As you develop your position, synthesize material from at least three of the sources. 
  • In 1930 Mohandas “Mahatma” Gandhi led a nonviolent march in India protesting Britain’s colonial monopoly on the taxation of salt. The Salt March, as it was called, triggered a civil disobedience movement that won India independence from Britain in 1947. Just prior to the march Gandhi had written to Viceroy Lord Irwin, who represented the British crown in India. The passage that follows is the conclusion of that letter. Read it carefully and then write an essay that analyzes the rhetorical choices Gandhi made to present his case to Lord Irwin.
  • The term “overrated” is commonly used to diminish concepts, geographic places, roles, books, movies, etc., that the speaker thinks fail to live up to their reputation. Choose something that in your judgment is overrated and then write a well-developed essay explaining your views. Use appropriate evidence from your reading, experience, or observation to support your argument.

AP Biology Resources

  • About the AP Biology Exam
  • Top AP Biology Exam Strategies
  • Top 5 Study Topics and Tips for the AP Biology Exam
  • AP Biology Short Free-Response Questions
  • AP Biology Long Free-Response Questions

AP Psychology Resources

  • What’s Tested on the AP Psychology Exam?
  • Top 5 Study Tips for the AP Psychology Exam
  • AP Psychology Key Terms
  • Top AP Psychology Exam Multiple-Choice Question Tips
  • Top AP Psychology Exam Free Response Questions Tips
  • AP Psychology Sample Free Response Question

AP English Language and Composition Resources

  • What’s Tested on the AP English Language and Composition Exam?
  • Top 5 Tips for the AP English Language and Composition Exam
  • Top Reading Techniques for the AP English Language and Composition Exam
  • How to Answer the AP English Language and Composition Essay Questions 
  • AP English Language and Composition Exam Multiple-Choice Questions

AP Human Geography Resources

  • What’s Tested On the AP Human Geography Exam?
  • AP Human Geography FAQs
  • AP Human Geography Question Types and Strategies
  • Top 5 Study Tips for the AP Human Geography Exam



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