This is the handout Charlene Tess used for years in her classroom to help students learn to write a critical essay required on Advanced Placement Exams.
It will help students complete the task in the 40 minutes of time allotted them on the tests. The packet includes a student written sample essay.
Read a sample passage from the AP Exam, brainstorm with students, and then write an essay together and post it on the board or project it onto a screen.
This lesson in no way includes everything an AP student needs to know in order to successfully write a 40 minute essay on the AP Exam. It is, rather, a tip sheet for the students to use as a guide when the teacher is confident they are ready to write their essays.
The hints in this lesson assume that the students are familiar with the literary terms that they will locate and discuss in whatever passage they analyze on the test. Examples of such terms, to name a few, include: allusion, attitude, choice of details, devices of sound, diction, figurative language, imagery, metaphor, irony, etc.
The hints in this lesson also assume that your students have a wide base of knowledge and a familiarity with the extensive list of authors recommended by the College Board.
But, when they are ready to practice writing a 40 minute essay, this tip sheet will help them organize their thoughts and write their essays.
Throughout the term, have students write an essay at least once a week and time them. Before too long, they will be finished in 40 minutes.
Be sure your students know how to write a thesis statement before they write a critical essay.. Here's a helpful exercise to help your students learn to write a strong thesis statement.
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