I collected all the problems that my AP Lit kids have with their essays and wrote them into a pledge--with companion pictures. I make the kids read it in unison each day at the start of class. It's very funny, but right on target, and it keeps all the problems to avoid in the fronts of their minds. When I write an AP exam essay.
The pledge reads:
I solemnly swear to follow my prompt and nothing but the prompt,
--the whole bleepin’ prompt--
No matter where it leads me.
I realize that my prompt has many parts,
very insecure parts that all need attention.
Thus I solemnly swear to take my time
And to carefully understand every insecure part of my prompt
I also realize that my prompt is created in a series of statements.
And that I must answer all the questions that those statements imply.
I solemnly swear that I shall, no matter how tempted, not stray from MY PROMPT!
Because my prompt needs me,
and because I love my prompt,
I shall never:
Ignore my prompt
Deviate from my prompt
Forget parts of my prompt
Turn my prompt into a prompt that I would rather have
Cower in fear from my prompt so that I might address a prompt that I create in my imagination.
I solemnly swear:
Not to wander aimlessly in my introduction
Not to be vague and wimpy in my discussions
Not to proceed without a clear and powerful claim
Not to make my points without textual evidence
I solemnly swear
Not to avoid discussing the hard parts of the passage
the readers might just be testing who can handle them...
All of the aforementioned,
I do solemnly swear,
so help me,
5--the AP God!