How to write a Thesis Statement AP Literature and Composition What is it? Your thesis is the basic stand you take, the opinion you express, and the central point you wish to make. Its your controlling idea, tying together and giving direction to all of the separate elements in your paper. Your primary purpose is to persuade the reader that your thesis is valid.
Thesis Statement The thesis statement, which condenses the essay's main argument into one sentence, serves as a guide, or target, for the writer. Writers rely on strong, specific thesis statements to create well-crafted essays. AP exam scorers look for essays that fully respond to the prompt and clearly take a side, so develop an effective thesis statement for your essay before you begin writing. The thesis for an AP essay must include all parts of the question along
with the position you will prove. The thesis statement is typically located at the end of your opening paragraph. (The opening paragraph serves to set the context for the thesis.) The thesis statement is the engine which drives the entire essay. Remember, your reader will be looking for your thesis. Make it complete, clear, strong, and easy to find. Most Important!!!! The most important thing to understand before you create your thesis statement is
that it MUST contain two parts, a subject (also called a topic) and an opinion or assertion about that subject. Attributes of a good thesis: It should be contestable, proposing an arguable point with which people could reasonably disagree. A strong thesis takes a stand and justifies the discussion you will present. It is specific and focused. A strong thesis proves a point without discussing and your argument about it. It clearly asserts your own conclusion based on evidence. Note: Be flexible. The evidence may lead you to a conclusion you didnt think youd reach. It provides the reader with a map to guide him/her through your work.
It avoids vague language (like it seems). It avoids the first person. (I believe, In my opinion) It should pass the So what? or Who cares? test (Would your most honest friend ask why he should care or respond with but everyone knows that?) For instance, people should avoid driving under the influence of alcohol, would be unlikely to evoke any opposition. Lets start When defining your thesis, start by writing a one-sentence version of the thesis called a thesis statement. For example, 1. Professor Smith (subject) is a classic absentminded professor (opinion about subject).
2. Professor Smiths colorful personality (subject) makes her a great lecturer (opinion). Limited Subject Thesis Statement 1. Professor X Professor X is an incompetent teacher. 2. Commercials Television commercials can be great entertainment. Writing with a thesis gives a paper an intrinsic dramatic interest. You, as the writer, commit yourself. You have something at stake: This is what I believe, and this is why Im right. You
say, Professor X is incompetent. Your reader says, Tell me why you think so. You say, Ill be glad to. Your reader says, Im listening, and youre ready to go. A Thesis is not 1. A Thesis is not a Title Title: Not a Thesis
An Enlightening Experience Thesis Statement My first day at Katella High School was an enlightening experience. 2. A Thesis is not an Announcement of the Subject Announcement: Not a Thesis This paper will attempt to explain why the boys split into two hostile groups. Thesis Statement
The boys split into two hostile groups because of their inherent violent nature 3. A Thesis Statement is Not a Statement of Absolute Fact A thesis makes a judgment or interpretation. Theres no way to spend a whole paper supporting a statement that needs no support. Fact: Not a Thesis 1. Jack felt anger towards Ralph and eventually formed his own group. 2. Bellevue High Schools colors are Blue
and Gold. What a Good Thesis Is A Good Thesis is Restricted. It deals with restricted, bite-size issues rather than issues that would require a lifetime to discuss intelligently. The more restricted the thesis, the better the chances are for supporting it fully. Samples Poor Statement The boys are either mean or savage. Better Statement
Rogers actions represent the basic cruelty inherent in every human being. Poor Statement People are too selfish. Better Statement Teenage selfishness is seen at its worst at 2:35 in the afternoon, when all student- drivers are trying to leave the parking lot. A Good Thesis is Unified. It expresses one major idea about its subject. The tight structure of your paper depends on its working to support that ONE IDEA. POOR: People trapped on islands arent
usually captivating, but people have always liked learning about their stories, and many fine writers have written about their plights. BETTER: Islands provide enchanting settings for stories that appeal to the basic human desire for adventure. Lets Try to Make it Better POOR: The new __________ is excellent. BETTER: ( you write) A Good Thesis is Specific. There is not enough time to be vague! The new gym is impressive,
for example, could mean anything from impressively beautiful to impressively ugly. With a thesis statement like Our principal is cool, you would probably have to spend more words defining cool than discussing the principal. Even when theres no likelihood of confusion, vague ideas normally come through as so familiar or dull or universally accepted that the reader sees no point in paying attention to them. The thesis statement has TWO MAIN VALUES: 1. It serves as a test of whether your main idea meets the requirements above; and
2. It is a constant, compact reminder of the point your paper must make, and it is therefore an indispensable means of determining the relevancy or irrelevancy, the logic or lack of logic, of all the material that goes into the paper. A Checklist for deciding if your thesis is effective: __The thesis statement presents an opinion that is sufficiently limited. __The thesis statement answers So What by saying something meaningful. __The thesis statement presents an arguable
statement which can be supported and is worth exploring. __The thesis statement answers all parts of the question or prompt. __The thesis statement asserts a single idea. (No more than one!) __The thesis statement is located at the beginning of the paper. Here are the Thesis Essentials: Title of Work (The Great Gatsby) Author (F. Scott Fitzgerald) Literary Device- (In this case) Character (Tom Buchanon) -This is the part of the thesis that requires
you to identify a literary device. This part of the AP prompt is interchangeable. It could be a symbol, a setting, a scene, allusion, metaphor (etc.) Purpose: How and why Fitzgerald uses Tom's past to illuminate the idea that material wealth inevitably leads to a decline in moral values. ( This statement answers how Tom's relationship to the past contributes to the meaning of the work as a whole.) Template One ____________________ uses ______________, (Authors Name) ______________ and ___________________ to show_____________________________________.
*The first blank is for the authors name; the second two or three are for rhetorical devices; the final blank is for a thematic idea. Be as precise as you can when identifying rhetorical features and themes. Avoid merely restating the question. Template Two In ___________s __________ __________ (author) ( genre) (title) The character ___________ is ____________ (name) (synonym of evil)
for his or her ____________________; (explain immoral behavior) however, he or she is developed more sympathetically through _________________________________. (describe authors technique) Template Three In ________s _________ ____________, (author) (genre) (title) the ________________ scene(s) of (synonym for violent)
____________________ emphasizes the (describe event) Works theme of _____________________. (statement about humanity or the human condition) Poetry Prompt 2013 2013 AP ENGLISH LITERATURE AND COMPOSITION FREERESPONSE QUESTIONS 2013 The College Board. Visit the College Board on the Web: www.collegeboard.org. ENGLISH LITERATURE AND COMPOSITION SECTION II Total time2 hours Question 1
(Suggested time40 minutes. This question counts as one-third of the total essay section score.) Carefully read the following poem by Mary Oliver. Then write a wellorganized essay in which you analyze how Oliver conveys the relationship between the tree and family through the use of figurative language and other poetic techniques. The Black Walnut Tree My mother and I debate: we could sell the black walnut tree to the lumberman, and pay off the mortgage. Likely some storm anyway
will churn down its dark boughs, smashing the house. We talk slowly, two women trying in a difficult time to be wise. Roots in the cellar drains, I say, and she replies that the leaves are getting heavier every year, and the fruit harder to gather away. But something brighter than money moves in our blood-an edge sharp and quick as a trowel that wants us to dig and sow.
So we talk, but we don't do anything. That night I dream of my fathers out of Bohemia filling the blue fields of fresh and generous Ohio with leaves and vines and orchards. What my mother and I both know is that we'd crawl with shame in the emptiness we'd made in our own and our fathers' backyard. So the black walnut tree swings through another year of sun and leaping winds, of leaves and bounding fruit,
and, month after month, the whip- Literary Analysis The So What Factor Chunk Claim Thesis Statement Topic Sentences (What you wish to prove)
Data Direct Quotes Summar y Paraphra se Details Warrant or Commentary Opinion,
insight, analysis, reaction, explicatio n, feelings, reflection Your turn: You have 6 minutes to read the prompt and the poem, then write a thesis using the tips you learned today and the prompt given. Be prepared to share with the class. If you finish early, review your tone, diction, syntax, and
details for accuracy and interest. Also, check that all of your conventions are corrected. (Remember, the whole test is only 40 minutes) Example One The Black Walnut Tree is a conflict between the literal and figurative, the practical and sentimental. In a matter-of-fact almost dismissive tone, the mother and daughter debate selling the tree to pay off their mortgage. But with a transition to more figurative language comes a switch to a more symbolic view of the black walnut tree: it is a symbol of their family
heritage and fathers labor, and though the mortgage weighs heavy, cutting down the tree would be a sort of betrayal. Example Two Mary Olivers The Black Walnut Tree from Twelve Moons, is a poem describing a mother and daughters conflict in deciding whether or not to remove a family tree that could potentially ease their financial struggles. Oliver uses figurative language, metaphor and simile to convey the relationship between the tree and the family which gives the work its purpose.
Example Three Yards are a symbol of families that live in the houses they guard. Families spend countless hours working on them to show the community who they are. In the poem The Black Walnut Tree by Mary Oliver, this relationship between yard and family is brought to light, specifically on a particular tree. Through the use of figurative language and other poetic techniques Oliver conveys the relationship between the tree and family as one of respect. The family, a mother and daughter, are faced with the decision to take it down. Their actions depict how they feel about the tree.
Prose Question 2013 AP ENGLISH LITERATURE AND COMPOSITION FREE-RESPONSE QUESTIONS Question 2 (Suggested time40 minutes. This question counts as one-third of the total essay section score.) The following passage is from D. H. Lawrences 1915 novel, The Rainbow, which focuses on the lives of the Brangwens, a farming family who lived in rural England during the late nineteenth century. Read the passage carefully. Then write an essay in which you analyze how Lawrence employs literary devices to characterize the woman and capture her situation.
Your Turn You have 6 minutes to read the prompt and the prose, then write a thesis using the tips you learned today and the prompt given. Be prepared to share with the class. If you finish early, review your tone, diction, syntax, and details for accuracy and interest. Also, check that all of your conventions are corrected. (Remember, the whole test is only 40 minutes) Example One D.H. Lawrences The Rainbow captures a womans
desire for exploration and liberation of the unknown amidst a community of short-sighted men, entrapped by the mundaneness of their own existence. The woman ultimately seeks to venture form the comfort of the quoted rural like setting to the creative and magic land beyond, eager to indulge and learn beyond the confines of her familys farm, which teams with only the pulsating heat of creation. Through the use of rhetorical questions, repetition, and interesting imagery, Lawrence effectively demonstrates the womans novel concept of desire of understanding the unknown and her underlying pursuit of liberation. Example Two
D.H. Lawrence portrays the woman of the novel, The Rainbow as a woman who wants more in life than whats she lived through. The author characterizes her as a farm woman who is intrigued and consumed by the idea of life outside rural England. Ultimately, she appears as if she longs to leave, almost as if shes been confined and imprisoned. Lawrence is able to develop this character in such a limited and short passage of his novel through the contrasting diction and seamlessly switch the narration when comparing the men to the woman and when comparing the vicar to her husband.
Example Three In D.H. Lawrences novel, The Rainbow, the characterization of the women is strongly pronounced by literary devices and techniques. Lawrence uses an order and a juxtaposition of males and females to extragate their differences. A repetition of certain words and phrases is also used by the author to further stress the roles assigned to the specific sexes further differentiating them from each other.
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