Six years ago, when I was in an AP English Language and Composition class in high school, in-class essays were the bane of my existence. The difficulty stemmed from the intense and frequent AP English Language and Composition practice test essays that we completed in class. There were so many, and we had to complete these practice essays at least once a week! However, as much as I despised doing these weekly practice essays, I completely understood why my teacher imposed these assignments on our class. The assignments were necessary to us to become fluent writers.
Six years later, I recommend to my students that they write as much as possible. I tell my students that it doesn’t matter what he or she is writing about at first. My goal is to have my students become comfortable processing their thoughts through the written word. The practice of writing habitually—in a journal, blog, or a letter to a friend—will furnish the student with the ability to apply thought to the page. When the student becomes used to string-of-consciousness essay writing, the essay portion of the exam would not seem as frightening or insurmountable.
I also advise students to regularly write about the subjects they are studying in school, as writing out the ideas on paper will help them to remember information that could appear on tests. Keeping a journal or detailed notes about what is going on in class will definitely help the student to be able to work out intricate ideas and analysis through writing. Later on, this experience with analysis will also help students to ace their exams.
When a student takes an AP exam with a writing component, they should prepare before writing. Some teachers and tutors suggest that students follow formulaic pre-planning steps, such as creating bullet points or clustering ideas. Both of these methods involve brainstorming. In the bullet points method, the student can jot down ideas and keep these ideas in order by putting a bullet point in front of each separate idea. In a similar exercise, a student can create a cluster of related ideas separated by circles. After this brainstorming exercise, the student can then begin the outline for the paper with a thesis and a topic sentence for each paragraph.
Despite the importance of pre-planning, the ability to process thought into words is arguably the most important step to achieve high marks on the AP Exam Essays. Pre-planning can only take the student so far; if a student knows how to turn thought into prose, he or she will most definitely succeed. Writing practice will prepare the student to answer all necessary components of the essay prompt with style and efficiency to well in their preparation for AP Exam Essays.
Blog Post by Rachel S. Stuart a Tutor and Featured Blogger for Academic Advantage Tutoring
I have always been a proud “nerd.” When I could, I always helped my friends with their homework because I just loved to teach them how to think about the world differently. In particular, history and writing have always been my specialties. When I was a little girl, my aspiration was to one day be a history professor! I hope to begin Master’s classes in the field of education and continue to be fascinated by changing technology in the classroom and different ways of engaging my students’ creativity!
Honors and awards: Phi Beta Kappa, Highest Honors in History Honors Program at Emory, Recipient of the Theodore H. Jack Award, Phi Alpha Theta, Pi Sigma Alpha, Dean’s List at Emory.