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AP Lang Synthesis Essay Writing Guide

AP Lang Synthesis Essay Writing Guide

AP Lang Synthesis Essay

Welcome to the world of Advanced Placement Language and Composition (AP Lang), a challenging course designed to enhance your writing skills and critical thinking abilities. One of the crucial components of the AP Lang exam is the Synthesis Essay, where students are asked to synthesize information from various sources to create a cohesive argument. In this comprehensive blog post, we will explore what AP Lang is, understand the purpose and structure of the Synthesis Essay, and offer invaluable tips to help you excel in this demanding task.

What is AP Lang?

Advanced Placement Language and Composition (AP Lang) is a college-level course offered to high school students, aiming to develop their language proficiency and analytical writing abilities. The course is designed to enhance students’ understanding of rhetoric, argumentation, and language usage, preparing them for advanced studies in various disciplines. You can use this article as guide when writing AP Lang Synthesis essay.

Understanding AP Lang Synthesis Essay Rubric

The AP Lang Synthesis Essay is scored on a 9-point rubric, with 1 being the lowest score and 9 being the highest. The rubric assesses the student’s ability to effectively synthesize information from multiple sources, develop a coherent and persuasive argument, and showcase strong rhetorical and analytical skills. Here is an overview of the key components of the AP Lang Synthesis Essay rubric:

  1. Thesis (0-1 point)
  • 0 points: The thesis is absent or merely restates the prompt without taking a clear position.
  • 1 point: The thesis presents a well-defined position on the topic and effectively responds to the prompt.
  1. Understanding of the sources (0-4 points)
  • 0 points: The essay fails to adequately synthesize the provided sources or misrepresents their content.
  • 1-2 points: The essay shows some understanding of the sources but lacks depth in synthesizing information from them.
  • 3 points: The essay demonstrates a sufficient understanding of the sources and effectively incorporates them into the argument.
  • 4 points: The essay showcases a sophisticated understanding of the sources and skillfully integrates them to support the argument.
  1. Use of evidence (0-3 points)
  • 0 points: The essay lacks relevant evidence from the sources to support the argument.
  • 1 point: Limited use of evidence from the sources weakens the argument’s credibility.
  • 2 points: The essay provides an adequate amount of evidence from the sources to support the argument.
  • 3 points: The essay offers substantial and convincing evidence from the sources to reinforce the argument.
  1. Understanding of the prompt (0-1 point)
  • 0 points: The essay does not address the prompt or misinterprets its key elements.
  • 1 point: The essay demonstrates a clear understanding of the prompt and addresses its specific demands.
  1. Coherence and organization (0-2 points)
  • 0 points: The essay lacks coherence and does not follow a logical organizational structure.
  • 1 point: The essay shows some attempt at organization but may have minor lapses in coherence.
  • 2 points: The essay is well-organized, with a clear and logical structure that enhances the argument’s effectiveness.
  1. Use of language and rhetorical devices (0-2 points)
  • 0 points: The essay exhibits weak language use and limited application of rhetorical devices.
  • 1 point: Some language and rhetorical devices are used, but they do not significantly enhance the argument.
  • 2 points: The essay employs strong and effective language with skillful use of rhetorical devices to strengthen the argument.
  1. Control of conventions (0-1 point)
  • 0 points: The essay contains numerous errors in grammar, punctuation, and sentence structure.
  • 1 point: The essay has minor errors but maintains a generally acceptable level of conventions.

Total score: The total score is calculated by adding up the points from all seven components.

It is essential to thoroughly understand the rubric to perform well in the AP Lang Synthesis Essay. By practicing synthesis essays and receiving feedback, students can improve their skills and excel in this challenging aspect of the AP Language and Composition exam

What is a synthesis essay AP Lang?

A Synthesis Essay in the context of AP Lang (Advanced Placement Language and Composition) is a type of essay that challenges students to synthesize information from multiple sources to create a cohesive argument or viewpoint on a given topic. It is one of the three free-response questions in the AP Lang exam, which is offered to high school students to enhance their language and composition skills at a college level.

The primary purpose of the AP Lang Synthesis Essay is to evaluate a student’s ability to analyze various sources critically, identify connections and patterns, and effectively integrate evidence from those sources into a well-structured and persuasive essay. The essay prompt typically presents a central issue or theme and provides a selection of sources, such as articles, essays, editorials, graphs, or charts that offer different perspectives on the topic.

Students are required to read the prompt carefully, understand the key ideas, and assess the provided sources thoroughly. Then, they must develop a clear and concise thesis statement that takes a position on the topic and serves as the backbone of their essay. The synthesis essay should not be a mere summary or compilation of the sources but a thoughtful analysis and interpretation of the information presented.

Crafting an Outline for Your AP Lang Synthesis Essay

Creating a well-structured outline is essential for tackling the AP Lang Synthesis Essay effectively. An outline helps you organize your thoughts, plan your essay’s structure, and ensure that you include all the necessary elements. Here is a sample outline for the AP Lang Synthesis Essay:

a) Introduction

  1. Hook or attention-grabber
  2. Background information on the topic
  3. Thesis statement:
  4. State your position on the topic
  5. Mention the main points that support your argument

b) Source Analysis and Connection

  1. Source 1
  2. Briefly summarize the main argument or perspective
  3. Discuss how it relates to your thesis or supports your position
  4. Source 2
  5. Briefly summarize the main argument or perspective
  6. Discuss how it relates to your thesis or supports your position
  7. Source 3
  8. Briefly summarize the main argument or perspective
  9. Discuss how it relates to your thesis or supports your position
  10. Identify common themes or connections between the sources

c) Development of Your Argument

  1. Present your thesis and restate it in the context of the sources
  2. Introduce additional evidence or examples to support your thesis
  3. Address any counterarguments or alternative viewpoints

d) Synthesis of Sources

  1. Discuss how the sources work together to strengthen your argument
  2. Analyze any contradictions or differing viewpoints among the sources

e) Rhetorical Strategies and Language

  1. Identify and discuss rhetorical devices used in the sources and how they contribute to the argument
  2. Use rhetorical strategies in your own writing to enhance your argument

f) Conclusion

  1. Restate your thesis and summarize the main points of your essay
  2. Offer a concluding thought or call to action

Examples of AP Lang Synthesis Essays

Studying well-crafted AP Lang essay examples can provide valuable insights into the structure and style of a successful essay. Here are some general examples of topics that students might encounter in the AP Lang exam. Keep in mind that these are fictional examples, but they reflect the types of prompts students may encounter

  1. Prompt: “In recent years, there has been a growing concern about the impact of social media on mental health. Using at least three provided sources, synthesize the information to develop an argument about the effects of social media on mental well-being.”
  2. Prompt: “Climate change is a pressing global issue. Analyze the strategies presented in the provided sources that governments and individuals can adopt to combat climate change. Synthesize the information to propose your own solution to address this critical problem.”
  3. Prompt: “The use of technology in classrooms has become more prevalent, but opinions about its effectiveness vary. Evaluate the arguments made in the provided sources regarding the integration of technology in education. Synthesize the information to take a position on the role of technology in enhancing or hindering learning outcomes.”
  4. Prompt: “Freedom of speech is a fundamental right, but it is not without limitations. Analyze the perspectives presented in the sources regarding the boundaries of free speech, particularly in the context of hate speech and disinformation. Synthesize the information to develop a nuanced argument about striking a balance between free expression and harmful speech.”

Remember, these are just sample prompts, and the actual AP Lang exam may contain different topics or variations of these themes. Students are expected to analyze and synthesize the provided sources and develop a well-reasoned argument in response to the prompt.


As you embark on this journey, remember that each step you take towards mastering the AP Lang Synthesis Essay brings you closer to becoming a proficient writer and critical thinker. Embrace the challenge, stay committed, and let your passion for language and composition shine through. Good luck on your AP Lang journey!

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