• Some helpful terms to know:
linguistic paradox (click link)

Exam Tips: English Language

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Observations of the Chief Reader

The Chief Reader, Marilyn Elkins, provided the following advice after the 2001 AP Reading:
  • Students should read essay prompts as texts, making certain that they have understood what they are being asked to do before they begin writing.

  • Tell your students that they must first decipher a text's meaning; then, and only then, can they go on a successful search for strategies and techniques. To begin without doing so leads to a list of parts that may be only tangentially related to the primary effect of the text. Such approaches generally lack insight about the relationship between the parts and the whole, and are often rather superficial in their observations.

  • Students need to understand the difference between "telling" details and details that merely pad arguments. Make sure they understand that more details are not necessarily better, and that three examples may or may not be better than two.

  • Don't require students to refer to novels or other literary texts to gain credence for their arguments. Instead, teach them to use evidence for which they can clearly articulate their rationale. This approach produces the best evidence, regardless of its source. No matter how high-minded some evidence may sound, it is simply not convincing if the writer cannot fully explain its relevance.