Free Essay

English Essay Tips

In: English and Literature

Submitted By
Words 1254
Pages 6
AP students agonize over essay writing, knowing that their essays account for a major portion of their score on the exam. Understandably, there is concern. They want to do well. I wish there were a magic formula to essay success, but there isn't. I have tried to come up with a essay planner that works, but the trouble with something like that is that it cannot possibly account for all the variables that exist when a particular student reads and responds to a passage. Therefore, this little essay is an attempt to steer my AP students towards a philosophy of essay writing instead of trying to have an approach or a system.
Where to begin?
A few thoughts on beginning any essay
________________________________________
Before all else, as writers we must have something to say. And if it's not important or significant, then it is not generally worth saying. From what I can tell, all passages used on AP tests have something to reveal to readers. Before we write one single word about imagery or diction, we MUST figure out what that something is. What does this author have to say to us about being human, about our shared experiences, about our fears, our sorrows, our victories? Find this and you will have something to say. This something is what I call the "So What" and without it, your essay will be meaningless.
So, if there is a step one, it is this: read and understand the passage given. This understanding of the meaningful, of the So What, is what will allow you to write an insightful essay. When you have something to say, your voice will be heard in your writing and you will have a place to go. When you have something to say, all else falls into line to fit that purpose. When you realize, for example, that the passage from Obasan is about (for one thing) heroism in small acts of kindness, then you can write about the images that helped you see that. When you realize what the author wanted you to know, it suddenly becomes easier to see how she/he crafted the work to reveal the truth to you. You will see, almost as a revelation, that the structure of the passage gives us the universal contrasted with the individual. The hopelessness of the whole is contrasted with the hopefulness of the one. But until you see the human purpose in the writing, you won't have anything to say.
It seems the hardest thing for AP students to do is write literary analysis. Okay, then lets not call it that. Let's just say we're writing our ideas about a particular piece of writing. Why is it that when I supply thought-provoking questions about a novel or other work that the answers (small little essays, really) are often well-developed, thoughtful, empathetic responses that are, essentially, literary analysis, but when I present students with an essay prompt designed to effect the same result, the results are dismal and disappointing, not only for me but also for the writer. I am disappointed because I know what you can do. You are disappointed because you don't understand why you can't write.
You can write. You have simply fallen into the trap of trying to be a writer. Let's see, how do I explain this. When you just write what you think and know, you can write. When you try to write what you think I want (or worse, what the invisible omnipotent AP readers want), you can't write. Hmmm. Interesting. So it is a matter of your perception of the outcome and the pressure to perform that results in, perhaps, a negative emotional connection to the task, making it therefore, impossible!!!! I do understand your frustrations. I do. If I could change how you feel, I would. I guess this essay is my attempt to try to get you to think differently about how you approach writing in this class.
What if you begin each essay, this is step two now, thinking, "I am going to write what I think and what I know. These are my ideas about this work and I have something to say about it." Don't necessarily think about your audience (I can't believe I'm saying this). Write what you believe, not what you think I want you to say. When you remove the feeling that you have to be a writer and simply write, your prose will be more natural, more coherent and will be a vehicle for your voice. This is, after all, what we (I and those AP readers) want.
The typical AP essay (one that gets a big shiny 9 star) will have the following qualities:
• insightful analysis of the passage (define the effect of the passage and demonstrate how the author conveys the effect (through literary elements)
• control of rhetoric (you can argue a point: state a claim, support it and explain it; make specific references to the text)
• control of conventions (no comma splices or egregious errors in agreement, etc.)
• control of structure (you will be expected to have an introduction and a conclusion)
Does this list sound scary? Why? It's not asking for anything you cannot do. Very few 12th grade AP students have trouble with conventions. Whatever specific problems you have we will try to make right, so cross that one off your list of concerns. You also don't have to trouble yourself too much about structure: think essay, not paragraph, not answer to a question--think essay! That's two down. You have been learning to support your claims for years now, so why would you suddenly forget how to do that? Whenever you state something is true, you must show how or why with textual evidence and you must make your thinking evident to your reader, so you have to explain. Your thoughts are self evident to you (that's why they're self evident), but you MUST explain to your reader. But this is nothing new.
What is new in that list is this: define the effect of the passage and demonstrate how the author conveys the effect. We're back to the beginning now. This is step one: read the passage and figure out the So What. What is it this author has to say to us? This is absolutely the most important thing you must do. Without this there is no reason to write an essay at all. Without this insight, I will give your essay back and say, "So What?" To point out that the author has created an extended metaphor is meaningless unless you can explain the value of that metaphor in his/her overall purpose.
So let's start from here. Think about your writing as the opportunity to voice your ideas about engaging pieces of writing in an intelligent way. If you ever wonder why we read the kind of literature we do, the depressing stuff about human beings in situations that make them think about all the important questions, it is precisely so that you can think about all the important questions and from those great plays, novels, stories and poems and from our discussions, your ideas, your beliefs will further evolve. Then, when you get a little nugget (a prose passage or a poem) on an AP test and have to think about what it means, you will surely have a pretty good idea. Go with that. Write what you think. It is as simple and as difficult as that.
© Dawn Hogue, 2004

Similar Documents

Free Essay

Toefl Tips

...Go anywhere from here. JAPAN Princeton Economics AustrAliA TOEFL iBT Tips ® United StateS PURDUE U POLITECNICO dI MILANO HONG KONG LAW How to prepare for the TOEFL iBT. www.ets.org/toefl UCLA CANADA ENGINEERING ART FRANCE Teaching YALE Germany MEDICINE U of British ColUmBia MCGILL SINGAPORE UK U OF TOKYO KOREA TOEFL® iBT Tips TOEFL iBT Tips—from ETS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Open More Doors with TOEFL® iBT, the Key to Academic Success . . . 4 Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 The TOEFL® Test—The Key to Academic Success . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 TOEFL Scores Open More Doors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 The New TOEFL iBT . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 What’s New About the TOEFL iBT? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Why Were Changes Made to the TOEFL Test? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 About the TOEFL iBT . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 Overview . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 Format . . . . . . . ...

Words: 20457 - Pages: 82

Premium Essay

English 3

...English 11 EN 981 = Semester One / EN 991 = Semester Two COURSE DESCRIPTION The central purpose of this course is to extend students’ growth in all communication arts. Reading, writing, listening, discussing, speaking, using language, understanding media, using technology, and employing research skills will be applied to help students enhance their abilities to become creative and critical thinkers. Language Arts B.11/12.1 B.11/12.2 B.11/12.3 C.11/12.1 C.11/12.2 C.11/12.3 D.11/12.1 D.11/12.2 E.11/12.1 E.11/12.2 E.11/12.3 E.11/12.4 E.11/12.5 F.11/12.1 Key Learning Targets Create substantial pieces of proficient writing to effectively communicate with different audiences for a variety of purposes, including literary analyses. Apply the writing process to create and critique writing composed in a variety of situations. Edit and critique writing for clarity and effectiveness. Use advanced presentation skills on self-selected and assigned topics. Evaluate oral messages for accuracy, logic and usefulness. Summarize and evaluate the validity and relevance of ideas, arguments, hypotheses and evidence presented in a discussion. Identify and analyze the history, origin and usage of English words and phrases. Compare and analyze the use of symbol systems and expressions in other cultures’ languages. Use advanced computer skills to assist in the acquisition, organization, analysis and communication of information. Develop and apply criteria to evaluate......

Words: 2102 - Pages: 9

Premium Essay

Independent Learning

...Reflection of Independent learning At the beginning, I think my listening skill needs to be improved and my vocabulary is too small too. So I wanted to improve my English listening skill and enlarge my vocabulary through this independent learning activity. What’s more, I also wanted to know some techniques of taking tests, and know differences between British English and American English, and what features does British English or American English has. Last, since I’ve never done a presentation before, so I wanted to grasp some skills and tips to apply on my presentations. In order to achieve those goals, I selected many activities which train the listening skill such as learn English through movies, lyrics training BBC Podcasts, and help to enlarge my vocabulary such as word dynamo, Free rice. I also selected some activities which contain simulated tests and some tips about how to write an outstanding article. Besides, I thought that activities sharing the presentation skills also worth to take, so I put them into my calendar. Then, according to my calendar, I do corresponding activities from the independent learning website. When I practice my listening skill by doing the activities I selected, I tried to listen to each word that had been spoken in the activities, and listen to the same movie or song twice, then take the corresponding tests it has. When I do vocabulary activities, I would look up the dictionary when I encounter an unfamiliar word, and read the word out......

Words: 596 - Pages: 3

Premium Essay

English 111 Reflection

...TRYING TO BECOME A BETTER WRITER At the beginning of my English 111 class, I was unsure of my writing skills for college, thus English 111, which is a writing class, was intimidating to me. I had been out of school for over thirty years, and my memory of my writing in high school is not so clear. So at the beginning of the year, Dr. Kennedy asked us what we wanted to get of our class this semester. It was not hard for me to say I wanted to improve my writing skills. The skills I learned in English helped me improve my writing in other classes as well. Learning how to take notes with the double entry journal and Kia styles were a big help in my psychology and art history classes. Accordingly, the MEAL plan was a big help with getting...

Words: 1263 - Pages: 6

Premium Essay

Kaplan Notes

...KAP Notes TIP #7 - Science: Find Support in the Passage - look to background information in the passage if terms are confusing TIP #6 - Science: Look for Trends in Data - try to find a trend in the given informationThe interior angles of a triangle = 180* TIP #5 - Math Section: Label Your FIgures! Fill in diagrams with given information and what you can figure out. Trig Identity 1: sin^2(x) + cos^2(x) = 1-cosecant is the inverse of sine-secant is the inverse of cosineThere are only 4 trig questions on the ACT...and the usually focus on SOH CAH TOA TIP #4 - Math Section: Memorize the Trigonometric Identities - practice trigonometric identities until you know them fluently.The Math section on the ACT arranges questions in order of difficulty: low, medium, and high...high difficulty questions come toward the end of the section.The equation of a line that the ACT encourages most is y = mx + bParallel lines have no solution...they never intersect, so their slopes are equal.When in doubt, DRAW IT OUT! TIP #3 - Math Section: Create a Visual for Complex Problems - use given information to create a visual of the problem.*Always be sure to answer the question that is being asked...sounds simple, but make sure you know what you are solving for!PEMDAS = Parentheses, Exponents, Multiplication, Division, Addition, Subtraction TIP #2 - Math Section: Treat Functions Like Regular Equations - substitute and follow the order of operations.On the ACT, always answer every......

Words: 419 - Pages: 2

Premium Essay

Essay

...How to determine custom essay editing company that is legitimate This is the company you will find great editors to provide you with custom essay editing service. Students whose first language is not English may find speaking and writing in English as a difficult task for them. Most of these students are international students who have enrolled in various universities in America and in the UK. The main teaching language is English, American and Standard English respectively. It is essential for students to master well the language of instruction because it is a medium through which they are required to write their assignments and speak in classroom. Competence and fluency in English language will help students to read and understand the teaching material provided to them. It is important therefore for students to ask for support from custom essay editing services which deal with the tips of writing good essays among other academic papers and also to write for them assignment essays. Our writing and editing services is created both for students and professionals. We deal with both the non academic and academic editing and writing services to fulfill your needs. At our custom essay editing, you will find editors who are qualified in linguistics and English language. We are ready to provide you the custom essay editing service at any time of the day or night because we operate as a 24/7 service. Our custom essay editing service comprises of creative thinkers, skillful......

Words: 574 - Pages: 3

Premium Essay

Research

...The Basics of Writing English Term Paper The most difficult task for students is writing an essay of any kind. One of them is English term paper. English paper writing is intended to describe different concepts or events. Term paper requires several typed pages in length. It is due at some certain term – either a quarter or semester. Students are constantly lacking the creativity, they can not produce an essay at a professional level. More often, applicants need help, assistance and some guidance. However, this is a serious problem for those who are studying well, but cannot show his/her good basic writing skills. With the help of English term paper writing, students are required to compose an essay for assessment of their knowledge. They show their knowledge in grammar, punctuation, spelling and logical sentence organization as well as materials studied at certain period of time. If you do not have a tutor to give some recommendations and you cannot create term paper independently, you may always find English term paper example online. It will help you to make up some outline format first, then the other sections of the English paper writing. In order to develop your skills in writing and thinking, you may also follow useful tips designed specially to make your English term paper writing more clear, logical and consistent: - The most important part of English term paper writing is the first paragraph. Think over it carefully in order to stimulate the readers’......

Words: 544 - Pages: 3

Premium Essay

A Simple Exchange of Niceties

...Written assignment about “Reunion” Write an essay in approximately 700 words in which you analyze and interpret John Cheever’s “Reunion”. In your essay you must include the following points: * A characterization of the boy * A characterization of the father * The relationship between the boy and his father * The ending Tips about writing analytical essays: * An essay in English is not the same as in Danish. In English it is a broader term referring to an analysis of a given text - and a structure with an introduction, an analysis and a conclusion. * Start off by writing an introduction where you introduce: * The overall theme(s) of the essay * Make a short presentation of the short story you are going to write about. The introduction may sound like this: “In this essay, I am going to analyze the short story “Reunion” by John Cheever in which the main themes are… and … My main focus will be on the characters and their relationship as well as the ending”. (You may use this introduction or a variation of it in your essay) * Avoid a summary (your reader knows the story!!!). * Do not use headlines in the middle of the essay. * Handle one aspect/point at a time. * Analyzing means reading between the lines to find the author’s message. * When you characterize a character make sure you focus on what lies beneath the surface, fx how he relates to others, his behavior and needs and how he develops in the story. ...

Words: 275 - Pages: 2

Premium Essay

Corporate

...Instant. About 4,38,00,000 results (0.24 seconds)  Search Results 1. Essay - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Essay Essays are generally scholarly pieces of writing written from an author's personal point of view, but the definition is vague, overlapping with those of an article, ... ‎Essay (disambiguation) - ‎Article - ‎Five paragraph essay - ‎List of essayists 2. News for ESSAY 1. Indian essay competition to be held in Australia IBNLive ‎- 1 hour ago Over 5000 primary schools in Australia are set to hold a first of its kind essay competition this month on similarities and differences between ... 2. JICA launches national essay contest for HS students GMA News‎ - 4 hours ago 3. Sentencing Put Off in NYC College Essay Rape Case TIME‎ - 16 hours ago More news for ESSAY 3. Writing Tips: Essay Builder - WritingDEN www2.actden.com/writ_Den/Tips/essay/index.htm Explores the parts and provides step-by-step directions for writing essays. 4. Essays - Paul Graham www.paulgraham.com/articles.html Essays .... What the Bubble Got Right · The Age of the Essay · The Python Paradox · Great Hackers · Mind the Gap · How to Make Wealth · The Word "Hacker". 5. Essay Exam - Study Guides and Strategies www.studygs.net/tsttak4.htm Techniques and strategies for succeeding in essay exams. 6. Essay | Define Essay at Dictionary.com dictionary.reference.com/browse/essay Essay definition, a short literary composition on a particular theme......

Words: 467 - Pages: 2

Premium Essay

Writing Compoaition

...experiences in writing started in my childhood. Being born and raised in a Hispanic country it was very challenging to learn the English language. My mother pushed me very hard and taught me English through writing. Thinking in Spanish and writing in English not only helped my writing but also helped me adopt my new language. As years went by my writing matured and I became proficient in the English language. My proficiencies in writing English became detrimental in reference to my childhood studies. My studies as a child were not the typical studies of an average student. I was raised in a Christian curriculum home school setting. My parents used to host bible studies in our home and sometimes my dad would make me write the study for the class he was going to give. That time of my life was very challenging but my dad always pointed me in the right direction. Once I became fluent in writing in English, It became my main source of communication when corresponding to my loved ones from Iraq during my deployment. Never thought that writing would be this important in my life until I found that it was my only source of communication to the outside world. Even though my family was fluent in Spanish, writing in English also became important considering I then made new friends in the united states as well. Writing my loved ones from Iraq was just the tip of the ice burg when it came to a writing experience during my...

Words: 556 - Pages: 3

Premium Essay

Analysis

...Campsall Here's how to write your best essay ever... Whatever the essay you have been asked to write, the key to making it as effective as it can be is to write it as a wellstructured and well-supported argument. You will find that an ‘argument’ essay is easier to plan, more fulfilling to write and for your teacher (or the examiner)... a pleasure to mark (and that’s no bad thing!!). It’s important to get one thing out of the way at the outset: an essay question has no ‘right’ answer. You can breathe easy on that one. It’s just not like that. This is English and we leave those kinds of ‘right answers’ to the mathematicians and scientists. An English essay is not an ‘answer’ in that way at all, rather, it’s an informed opinion; but, like all opinions, it’ll require explanation, argument and support. It requires you to argue your case. What’s the first thing you do when you set about starting an essay? Many people start by searching through the text on which their essay is based in the hope of finding suitable quotations to help ‘answer’ the essay question. Well, there’s no getting away from this basic process, but there are ways to make it altogether more efficient, useful and most importantly, more likely to earn a higher grade. More on this later. The Argument Essay The secret of a good essay? Write it as an argument for what you believe! What is there to argue about? Plenty! You’ll be arguing to support your point of view on the essay question - one that you’ve boldly......

Words: 5570 - Pages: 23

Premium Essay

Importance of Becoming a Writer

...based on one persons of different ways of looking at things and why they are so important to the general listening that On becoming a writer Written by B. Baker I chose this topic because I am in hopes that would learn more about becoming more comfortable with writing. I figure there have to some kind of tips in here that will allow me to pick something I can relate to. I am going to need all of the tips and pointers can find to help me survive this writing class. The purpose of this essay is to give us some insights on the ways of the writer and to help enlighten our thoughts and how conceive things. The other main points and their details are there to show me what writers go through and how to work with it. This is there to make my education better. I also learned that I will only get what I want to get, from my classes. This is the class that I need to get the most from. I am going to apply what I have learned from this class. I am glad I picked this topic. I am convinced that I was supposed to read this essay. I cannot tell you how it has freed my mind; I just know that is why the author wrote this article. It seems that my attitude about English has been changed. I am sure I have a little while to go before I have totally freed from the stress and tension on writing a paper. The article was written for people who are having trouble trying to say what they are thinking or for those...

Words: 450 - Pages: 2

Premium Essay

Docu Search

...seconds)  1. Write English Essay - Free Essay Writing Samples Online‎ Adwww.curriki.org/writing-essays‎ 1. Get Samples for Teachers & Students * Support Child Education * Register With Us * Open Educational Resource ------------------------------------------------- Top of Form Bottom of Form Search Results 1. www.scribendi.com a short literary composition on a particular theme or subject, usually in prose and generally analytic, speculative, or interpretative. 2. anything resembling such a composition: a picture essay. Essay | Define Essay at Dictionary.com dictionary.reference.com/browse/essay More about Essay Feedback Essay - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia en.wikipedia.org/?title=Essay Essays are generally scholarly pieces of writing giving the author's own argument, but the definition is vague, overlapping with those of an article, a pamphlet and a short story. ‎Michel de Montaigne - ‎Five paragraph essay - ‎Application essay - ‎Introduction Writing Tips: Essay Builder - WritingDEN www2.actden.com/writ_Den/tips/essay/index.htm Explores the parts and provides step-by-step directions for writing essays. Essay | Define Essay at Dictionary.com dictionary.reference.com/browse/essay a short literary composition on a particular theme or subject, usually in prose and generally analytic, speculative, or interpretative. 2. anything resembling such a composition: a picture essay. Images for essayReport images More images for essay Essay Structure......

Words: 1466 - Pages: 6

Premium Essay

Long Report

...Cody Westwood 6/17/2015 Amanda Miller English 101 A Lot of Chili and an Interview. Throughout life one will most definitely find themselves nervously googling how to prepare for a job interview. Or find themselves as the host of a super bowl party with no idea what food to make to or how to make it for a large party of people. That is why the authors of “How to Interview” and “…Chili for Fifty” wrote their essays, to help others. At a first glance someone wouldn’t think that the essays have anything in common. Once one takes a deeper look into them it can be found that both essays can be useful to a young adult audience and offer helpful steps to completing separate tasks in everyday life. This is all done by using different writing techniques. Although both have a similar purpose the way each task is explained is different. For example, in”…Chili for Fifty” Eric Michalski says “… you could boil a cow’s head in. (Don’t ask how I know.)”(Michalski 359), “I hate Jalapenos” (Michalski 361), and “If you plan on moving the chili pot, which you shouldn’t, potholders are useful.” (Michalski 359). These examples show that Michalski uses a more informal tone, almost as if the reader is having a conversation with the author about how to make the chili. This makes the essay more enjoyable to read with his personal touch. In the article from Monster.com on interviewing the text is laid out in a more formal manner. The author uses bolded headings such as “Be Prepared to talk......

Words: 1128 - Pages: 5

Free Essay

Novemeber

...Linguistics & English Language (University of Edinburgh) 2013-2014 How to Write an Essay in Linguistics The following guidelines range from very general to very specific. They are also more specifically geared toward writing essays in sociolinguistics or empirical methods rather than other areas of linguistics, though many of the same general principles apply. It is to your benefit to try follow these guidelines from the start of your first draft; the closer you follow them, the easier it will be for your instructor to make useful comments on your drafts, focusing on content, rather than style; on linguistics, rather than writing ability. It will also save you a lot of time because there will probably be less restructuring needed between your first draft and your final draft. GENERAL STRUCTURE: 1. Tell us what you’re gonna tell us. 2. Tell us! 3. Tell us what you told us. At a very basic level, this is all you need to know. The main point here is that your paper is not a mystery novel; there should be no ‘big reveal’ at the end. Rather, you want to set up the reader’s expectations so that they know up front what you’re trying to argue and, while reading your paper, will see if they’re convinced by how you make your arguments. The first step roughly corresponds (to the first paragraph of) your introduction and the third step roughly corresponds to (the first paragraph of) your conclusion (remember that this is an art, not a science, and these are......

Words: 4038 - Pages: 17