AP Exam Writing Tips

The following is a product of several conversations with actual AP Readers.  AP Readers are the people who read, evaluate, and score the essay portion of your test.  Here are some pointers and suggestions:

AP Exam writing

  • AP Exam writing is persuasive writing. Construct and argument and have enough evidence to support your points.
  • BE CAREFUL:  it is not a critical judgment they are looking for.
  • Form a thesis statement based on the questions requirements.
  • Develop the argument made by the thesis with enough points(3-4) to be convincing.
  • Include specific details from the image to support your thesis.
  • You cannot receive full credit if the example you chose came from the Paleolithic era.

The following are some questions AP Readers ask themselves as they are grading your essay:

  • Does the student understand the question?  Did they read the question, understand what was being asked, and then answer appropriately?
  • Do they choose appropriate examples; not oddball or clever, but good ones?
  • Do they address ALL PARTS of the question?
  • Do they demonstrate the necessary knowledge they should have acquired in fulfilling the task?
  • Do they develop their argument with enough points to support their argument?
  • Do they support their arguments with specific evidence (either from artworks or from reading selections)?
  • Do they maintain their focus and don’t stray from the question?

The following are some suggestions from AP Readers:

  • If you have to ask “would this work?” don’t do it.
  • Communicating is bottom line; clear is good.
  • Don’t choose oddball or clever examples.  They would rather read 1000 essays on the same artwork if that is the best choice for the question.  Oddball or clever can get you into trouble.
  • “Use what you know to answer what you don’t know.”
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