There are 12 essays assigned for the
year. Two are an analysis of a critical essay. Three are actual AP
prompts from previous tests. The remainder are AP-like prompts that
connect to the literature we read. Each of these essays help students
develop their skills in writing about literature. Essays are 50 points
each. See the essay summary
in the syllabus.
To help students improve consistently
in their writing over the year, each student will keep a writing log in a
binder that will show progress and areas needing improvement. The most
important aspect of the log, however, is that it engages the student in
the process of thinking about writing.
For the log, get a binder (1"
is preferred, not larger) and begin collecting the documents for each of
the 10 "regular" essays (you do not need to put your critical essay
responses in this log. Keep all
essays in chronological order (first to last), separated by a sheet of colored
paper or a tab divider for each essay. The divider page should be labeled
with the name of the essay (or main topic/novel). All documents should be full pages.
(So if the writing prompt was given on a small piece of paper, tape it or
staple it to a full sheet).
The writing log is due near the end of each
semester and is worth 50 points each time.
The binder must have these
documents in the beginning:
copy of the AP scoring rubric
copy of Ms. Hogue's editing marks and
copy of the directions for the writing
log and requirements
grade and comment sheet
Documents needed for each of 10 essays:
--a page with the prompt attached
--all drafts of the essay (including
--any prewriting or processing notes
you made for yourself
--log comments. The point of this
part is for you to discuss with yourself the strengths and weaknesses of
your writing. Answer several of these questions for each essay:
What problems (if any) did I have in
understanding the prompt? Explain.
What was my "so what?" point?
Remember, "so what" refers to the main idea the writer was trying to
communicate as you see it. It is the idea that is universal, timeless,
and human. It is what we can learn more about ourselves by
understanding. Your thesis statement is NOT your "so what."
How was my CSE? What could I have
Where lapses in organization
occurred, what was the cause?
Have I introduced my quotations
carefully, giving context and weaving them in grammatically and
What do I need to take from the
teacher's comments for this essay to work on for next time? How do I
plan to do that?
What did I do better this time (or
worse) than last time?
If I have chosen to revise this
essay, what do I plan to do differently. What significant changes will
make the essay much improved over the first draft?
What else have I learned about myself
as a writer from this essay?
Do I have a need for teacher
conference? Write down what you need to discuss and make an appointment.
After the conference, record what was discussed and what you plan to
take from the discussion to improve your writing.
Review the writing about literature
section in Perrine often so that you start thinking about writing about
literature as the book wisely suggests you do.
Essay Analysis Directions
After reading a critical essay on a
work you have read either this year or last year, write an analysis of the
essay in which you
Identify and explain the author's
thesis. In other words, restate his or her thesis as written and then put
it in your own words with more explanation if needed. Include this
information in your opening paragraph in which you also give the name of
the essay and the author. Make a smooth transition to the next paragraph.
Show how the author supported this
thesis. This is the longest part of your analysis. There is not just one
way to organize these paragraphs, but a good suggestion is to give his/her
main supporting points and how she/he supported them in some logical
order, perhaps even giving each main point its own paragraph. So, you
could have three to four paragraphs in this section. Be sure that you are
showing how the thesis was supported. You will use tags like (say the
author's name is Mary Brown) "Brown believes," "Brown explains," "Brown
gives the example," etc.
Finally, end with a paragraph in which
you do one of two things:
Say whether or not you agree with the
author's thesis and give solid, text-based reasons for your opinion.
Say how reading this essay gave you new
insight into the work. Explain clearly how and in what ways.
These analyses are not typical 5
paragraph essays. Do not add superfluous paragraphs. Develop each
paragraph fully according to directions. Proofread before handing in.
Also, be sure that you understand what you've written. And, ask yourself
if someone else will understand what you've written. These essays are
worth 50 points each.
Setting up the assignment
You do not need a title page. See the
composition format. Your analysis also needs its own title (not
a label like Critical Analysis of John Smith's essay on Catcher in the
Rye). After the title, include the bibliographic information for your
MLA style. Skip two spaces and begin your analysis.
Grading rubric for critical
essay analysis essay
Links to help with
specific writing tasks
Never, Never List
Never begin a sentence with
Never begin a paragraph with
Never start a sentence with
the word "me," which is, of course, also a pronoun.
Never use a word you don't know
the meaning of or a word that is not comfortable for you to use
(especially if your purpose is to impress instead of explain).
Never ramble. Keep a tight check
on your digression. If you find yourself out there in ramble-land,
rein in your brain--stay focused on the main idea.
Use sentence fragments, even
for effect, in scholarly writing.
- Never "suck up" to the writer by
stating how great he or she is. It is unlikely that you have read
everything this author has written, so your assessment of his or
her work is not going to be valid anyway. And, it sounds hollow.
And, it doesn't add anything to your argument. Focus on the text
as if you don't know who wrote it.
Excise These Words
or Phrases from your Vocabulary
Questions Good Thinkers Ask
Understand the prompt.
Use the literary present tense. In
literature, a character is living in the present.
Assume your reader has read the text.
Assume your reader has a full understanding
of literary elements and conventions.
Focus on the text, not on a personal feeling
or reaction to the text. Personal insight is important to your understanding,
but ignoring the text in favor of personal response will result in an "empty"
Learn from your mistakes. Be analytical in
assessing what you do well as a writer and what you need to improve on.