AP classes are college-level courses offered at high schools across the United States. These classes are recognized by more than 90 percent of colleges and universities. In order to receive credit for a class though, students must take an AP exam at the end of the course, which includes an essay for social science, history and English courses.
Students need to show that they have a deep and broad understanding of the subject they are writing about. As a result, students should start studying for the AP exam several weeks in advance so that they can review all of the material that was previously covered in class. The people who review AP essays are looking to see that students can provide specific facts and evidence to support their arguments, and not just general ideas.
Writing a strong essay requires more than just knowing the right facts. AP essays are timed, and students should accustom themselves to writing under these strict constraints. The amount of time for each essay depends on the test, but students should prepare to write most essays in 30 to 45 minutes. Writing practice essays also helps prepare students for the types of questions that they may be asked. The College Board, which runs the AP exams, offers sample essay questions through its website.
Carefully Read the Question
In an effort to begin writing as quickly as possible, students often fail to read the essay question carefully. In order to receive full credit, students need to make sure that they answer all parts of the question completely. Taking the time to reread the question and think about what the test is asking can help students write better essays.
Even though the test is timed, taking a few minutes to write and craft a plan for the essay is time well spent. Students who plan out their essay can help ensure that their writing is clear, organized and detailed enough to answer all parts of the question. This is also a good time to think about the evidence needed to support the essay’s thesis or argument.
Students should begin with an introductory paragraph that clearly states their thesis for the essay. Following paragraphs should make their points clearly and early on in the paragraph to avoid confusing the reader. Each paragraph should directly support the thesis and provide specific evidence instead of broad generalizations. Writing a short conclusion helps sum up the essay’s points and re-emphasize the thesis.
Although students have little time to execute their essays, it’s still a good idea to proofread quickly if time permits. Doing so helps catch spelling and grammar errors that may detract from the essay.
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