The AP English Language rhetorical essay can be nightmare inducing for some AP students, but there is no need for fear. In this exam review we will lay out helpful strategies to get you through the rhetorical essays in no time.
Rhetorical Strategy #1: Dissecting the Prompt
The first rhetorical essay strategy is to dissect the prompt. Understanding what the rhetorical essay wants from you is essential. It is important for you to read the prompt carefully for every essay, but critical reading is even more essential to the rhetorical essay. Your rhetorical prompt that you will be given for the AP English Language exam will contain two elements. The first element is the concrete task that the prompt is asking of you, which is always to analyze the passage that follows. The second part of the prompt is a more abstract task that is not directly asked for in the prompt, but it is implied. By completely understanding both parts of the prompt, you will be able to give a complete essay that will get you to a higher score.
One example of a prompt from an AP English Language rhetorical essay is this one from the 2008 exam. The prompt reads:
“In the following passage from The Great Influenza, an account of the 1918 flu epidemic, author John M. Barry writes about scientists and their research. Read the passage carefully. Then, in a well-written essay, analyze how Barry uses rhetorical strategies.”
Here you can see the concrete task that the examiners are asking. They want you to analyze the passage for rhetorical strategies; however, you must figure out what you are analyzing the passage for. That is the more abstract concept that you need to dissect the prompt to find. In the case of Barry’s passage you will need to analyze how he uses rhetorical strategies in order to portray scientific research. We know this, because if you look at the prompt, it specifically states what Barry did in his work, which was to write about science and research. That is your abstract task.
Once you have found your concrete task and your abstract task, a great strategy is to write it down to keep you focused throughout your essay. Using the example above this would look like the following:
Analyze how Barry uses rhetorical strategies in order to portray scientific research.
That sentence is what you must follow when writing your essay, and if you successfully keep to this task, then you will move closer to that high score.
Rhetorical Essay Strategy #2: Stick to the Format
This next rhetorical essay strategy is the key to great organization and structure that will put your test anxiety to bed. There is a simple paragraph structure for the body paragraphs of the AP English Language rhetorical essay that will allow you to think, write, and score higher, faster. You need to begin each body paragraph with an assertion or claim. That is the point that you are trying to make clear to your audience what you will be proving. A great example of this is from the 2006 AP English Language rhetorical essay. Below is student 2B’s opening sentence for her first body paragraph.
“The diction of the passage fully relays Hazlitt’s position about money (student 2B).”
You can see how the student directly asserts what he or she will be proving in this statement. The next step in constructing your body paragraph is to give one to two pieces of textual evidence. Be sure to state why these quotations relate back to your claim, otherwise they will be deemed irrelevant by the examiners. An example of this is the next sentence in student 2B’s body paragraph about diction. Here, the student brings in elements from the text to support his or her claim about Hazlitt using diction.
“’Rejected’, ‘contempt’, ‘disparaged’, ‘scrutinized’, ‘irksome’, ‘deprived’, ‘assailed’, ‘chagrin’; the endless repetition of such discouragement shows just how emphatically Hazlitt money is requisite for happy life (student 2B).”
The final part of this strategy for conquering the body paragraphs of your rhetorical essays is to end those body paragraphs with a thorough analysis. This is the aspect of the exam where you can put your way of looking at the text into your essay.
An example of this is at the end of student 2B’s body paragraph where he or she states, “The irony of the last sentences is negative, conveying the utter hopelessness of one without money. Though one may have none in life, pitiless men will continue to mock one’s circumstances even after death! (student 2B)”
This analysis of the text adds to the textual examples above and continues to bring in new logic from the student.
When this format of a body paragraph is followed, then it is extremely effective. The essay becomes clear, assertive, and easy to follow for the examiners. Follow this rhetorical essay strategy and you are even closer to getting that 5 on the exam.
Rhetorical Essay Strategy #3: LORA
As you are looking at your AP English Language rhetorical essay prompt and passage it is important to remember the mnemonic device, LORA. LORA stands for Language, Organization, and Rhetorical Appeals. These elements will help you form your argument.
When you read through your passage you want to think about how the author is utilizing language. Is he or she using figurative language effectively? Is there imagery within the passage? Does the diction of the passage make it more rhetorically persuasive? You should not use all of these, but picking one and analyzing it clearly in one paragraph will keep you focused on how the author uses rhetoric, which is the main task of this essay.
An example of this was in the 2006AP English Language rhetorical essay. Student 2A begins his or her first body paragraph with, “One of Hazlitt’s most effective methods of promoting the importance of money is his strong diction (student 2A).” This student begins his or her essay with focusing on diction as how the language is used. He or she then goes on to explain why diction betters Hazlitt’s argument, which is exactly what you must do for your own rhetorical essay.
The organization of the author is the next part of your answer to the prompt. You want to look at how the author organized his or her ideas within the passage to support his or her own argument. By pointing out the organization, or structure, of the work and how it adds to the overall persuasiveness, you will bring two of the three most important elements of rhetoric together in your essay.
After organization you need to look at the rhetoric appeals. You may know them by the names logos, pathos, and ethos. It is suggested that you cover as many of these as possible; however, if time does not permit or if the passage uses one more than the other, then you should focus on one appeal.
One example of using pathos in an essay is from student 2A from the 2006 prompt. “Hazlitt plays on the audience’s heartstrings for more than enough time to convince them of the importance of having money (student 2A).” While it would have been better for the student to directly say that this is pathos, he or she does thoroughly explain the appeal to the passions, or pathos.
When taking the AP English Language rhetoric essay you just need to remember these three rhetorical essay strategies: dissect the prompt, follow the format, and always include LORA. If you can follow them, then you are already on your way to a 5 on the AP English Language exam.
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Many high school students will ambitiously decide to take AP English as their main language elective. Assuming they have made this decision, it is almost a definite fact that most of the students will take the AP English exam. When writing the exam, the test will require you to write three unique types of essays.
From the three possible essay styles, one of them is the rhetorical analysis essay. If you have ever seen the movie Inception, be prepared to experience a similar type of mind-boggling. There is a high percentage chance that you have never worked with this type of essay before. No worries, Our essay service will teach you everything you need to know about writing a stellar rhetorical analysis!
Table Of Contents
What Is A Rhetorical Analysis Essay
Remember I mentioned the movie Inception? Well, the concept of “a dream within a dream” is mimicked here, just with a slight alteration. Essentially, a rhetorical analysis is a type of essay that requires you to “write about the writing”.
If you have a question mark looming over your head, do not worry as this will all make sense with a little bit of reading. In this type of analysis, in order to uncover the strategies and persuasive styles that they are using to get some reaction from a crowd. Most of the time, the example topics are speeches given by influential figures. In other words, when given an essay prompt on the exam, the instructor is asking you to analyze the text and explain how all the “written parts” work together.
Since the AP exam is a time-limited task, swift and effective preparation is key to creating a powerful piece of academic writing! Considering the fact that your allotted time has to be broken down into reading, analyzing and writing, multi-tasking with reading and analyzing is a must. As you begin reading the introductory information, start taking notes of important information that will simplify the analysis process.
- Who is the author?
- What is their intended target audience?
- What is their purpose for writing this speech/document?
- In what setting are they located while giving the speech? Why specifically this setting?
Having these questions in mind and uncovering their answers will simplify the process of analyzing their strategies. At the very least it gives you something to work off, and having this information allows you to understand their methods of persuasion and how it affects the ethos, pathos, and logos.
The ingredients for persuasion, as Aristotle called them, can be broken down into three categories. There are the ethos, pathos, and logos. The ethos appeals to ethics, and this is all about providing traits and reasons as to why the speaker is a credible source of information. The pathos appeals to emotions and is a sneaky way of convincing an audience by creating an emotional response. Last but not least, we have the logos (my personal favorite) which appeals to logical and rational thinking and tries to persuade the audience through reasoning.
- “Doctors all over the world recommend this type of treatment!”
- “You’ll make the right decision because you have something that not many people do: you have the heart."
- “Thousand of years of history has taught us that war never changes”
In every AP English exam, the literary prompt will contain examples of at least one of the three persuasive methods. After using the background info to help guide you, it should not be too difficult to figure out which tactic the speaker uses. Obviously, one should practice writing rhetorical analysis essays before taking the exam!
Rhetorical Essay Outline
After reading, analyzing and jotting down supportive notes, the remaining time that you have is what will really earn you that 5 on the AP Exam! You have the figured out the strategies thanks to your meticulous note taking, and now it is all about putting pen to paper.
Following the proper structuring is the most reliable method of satisfying the professor's requests, so using the 5-6 paragraph style is your best bet. Depending on the amount of solid strategies you have found, the body paragraphs you will have to create should equal the same amount. Regardless, the intro-body-conclusion format of the paper outline remains the same!
As most of your time will be devoted to creating informative body paragraphs, the introductory paragraph should be short and sweet. To start it out briefly, summarize the main argument of the speaker. Afterward, reference “what is said” and “how it is said” to develop your own crafted opinion a.k.a thesis statement. This will explain the tone and mood as well as intrigue the reader about the rhetorical strategies you shall explain later in the text. Last but not least, put together an enlightening thesis that explains the persuasive styles used by the speaker, and their overall effect.
As the part of the essay that will have the most content, the body paragraphs have a lot of questions that need to be answered. In this part of the essay, you are explaining how the speaker develops his thesis and which devices and strategies he applies. Based on the amount of different strategies he uses, a paragraph should be devoted per strategy.
When finding a piece of evidence (quote) that matches up to the criteria of a literary device, then craft one paragraph specifically around that quote. Explain the persuasive strategy used and how the quote shows this. Your explanation should generally answer one of these four questions:
Some other things that should be taken note of within the body paragraphs are shifts in tone and diction and the varying length of sentences. Though these are smaller and do not impact your understanding of the concept of rhetorical analysis as much, knowing them shows your instructor that you have a strong grasp of style. Lastly, do not forget to make proper citations!
After fully supporting and developing your various arguments, it is time to wrap up the essay with a strong conclusion. First of all, explain how this work affected the audience and the essay as a whole. In other words, show the result that came from this impact speech!
Afterward, fully conclude your argument on each individual rhetorical device, and link them as a whole to show their significance as a unit! As a final sentence, provide an impactful overall concluding statement that showed the importance of this speech and its strategies that helped to shape history!
Overall Writing Tips
Phew, you are finally finished writing this super intense and strenuous essay with only five minutes left. Time to sit back and relax as you are finally done this section….. OR you could use this last few minutes to make your writing as flawless as possible! The second option sounds better? I agree, so let us talk about a five-step checklist that will immensely impact the quality of your essay!
- Grammar: Though this may sound like some captain obvious info, nobody likes to read a work that has punctuational errors and sentence structure problems! Keep a fair mix of short and long sentences and make sure to avoid abbreviations. This is Formal Writing remember!?
- Vocabulary: Having a wide range of vocabulary is a sure-fire way to gain some style points from the instructor. It shows that you are multidimensional and can write in a diverse number of ways. Have a quick glance at a thesaurus beforehand to keep that mental space occupied!
- Coherency: The smoother your essay sounds while it is being read, the better the content will seem. Having strong and appropriate transitions keep the essay from getting cluttered as well as using a wide range of punctuations. Do not just jump from point to point; rather, ease the reader into your next thought with smooth language!
- Use Present Tense: When writing formally or for any academic essay, make sure to use present tense writing. It helps to avoid confusion and keeps things straightforward, as well as the fact that writing should feel “at the moment”
- Respond To The Text: This can not be stressed enough. If you have ever heard your teacher say “guys, do not write a plot summary” then you already know where this is going. Avoid listing the literary devices and providing quotes along. Explain the IMPACT of each literary device and SHOW how the quote supports it specifically!
- Name Your Essay Right: It is crucially important to give your essay a suitable title as it is the first thing your reader will see. Moreover, after reading the title of your essay, they will decide whether or not it is worth their attention.
Rhetorical Analysis Example
To gain a better understanding of this writing stye, it would be useful to learn from an example.
Essay Writing Advice From Our Professional Team
Joe Baker, from EssayPro
If you are taking an AP class and you have to do a rhetorical analysis essay, then a good rule of thumb is to use a mnemonic device called DIDLES. DIDLES is an acronym for Diction, Imagery, Details, Language, and Sentence Structure. As soon as you sit down to annotate your text for rhetoric, keep note of the terms above. Diction will help you understand the syntax and tone of the piece. Imagery will point you to the specific places that the author chose to show rather than tell; details will demonstrate what exactly the author wanted you to pay attention to. Language is a good signifier of what mood and voice the author have, and sentence structure will help you notice whether the writing style of the author better.
While you read, don’t forget to annotate and ask yourself questions such as: is the language colloquial or professional? What does the author want to show me with this description? Why does the author include these specific facts/details? And more importantly, how does DIDLES (the bigger picture) evoke ethos, logos, and pathos from the reader. Write down everything that goes through your mind while you read and your rhetoric should be top notch.
Still Struggling to Grasp the Concept?
We get it, rhetorical essay writing is probably a new and confusing option in your writing arsenal. This is definitely one of those essays that require hours of practice to master. Luckily for you, EssayPro, top-notch paper writing service, has a team of professional paper writers that have been writing rhetorical analysis essays for several years. They too have dealt with the confusion of finding these hidden persuasive strategies, so the tips and tricks that they carry are priceless for our students. Chat with the writer and get qualified paper writing help! Whatever questions you may have, EssayPro is ready to help!
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