The End of Course exam is 45% of the student’s grade for AP Seminar and consists of two essays written in a two-hour period.
Part A is a 30-minute response that asks three questions about a text:
- Identify the author’s argument, main idea, or thesis.
- Explain the author’s line of reasoning by identifying the claims used to build the argument and the connections between them.
- Evaluate the effectiveness of the evidence the author uses to support the
claims made in the argument.
- One clear, detailed sentence that names the author, illustrates her central claim and provides any caveats if they exist.
- Be as specific as possible, but don’t go into too much detail. This should look like a good thesis for an analysis essay.
- Typically two paragraphs.
- For the Line of Reasoning, you need to identify the sub-claims of the piece and show how they are linked to one another.
- For these linkages, look for how they build on one another, are sequential/chronological, rely on cause and effect, or demonstrate other clear relationships. A typical essay might look like one you’d write, with a series of concessions or caveats to the main claim.
- Most likely one or two good paragraphs in which you evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the argument and line of reasoning.
- A logical structure, if you think the piece is well-argued, could be to first address its weaknesses followed by its strengths. I’d use the reverse structure if the piece has more weaknesses than strengths.
- Elements to look for: Logos, Pathos, Ethos, quality of evidence, logical fallacies, problematic conclusions, representation of data, etc.
Attacking the Prompt
- Read and lightly annotate the packet, looking for key quotes, interesting statistics, and effective anecdotes. Be thinking of what the theme is as you approach the reading. Don’t spend more than 10-12 minutes reading and annotating!
- Decide on the broad theme of the works.
- Construct your argument, which will most often be a plan to solve a problem.
- Your plan does not need to be a specific policy. It can be a philosophical aim or personal change.
- Decide on a plan you know you can write about. Pick an area where you have personal and academic familiarity.
- Use the philosophical evidence strategically. While the packet will often include an old philosophical or political text, they can be tricky to incorporate. A simple, effective strategy would be to pull an idea from the text and use it in a modern context. For example, Adam Smith argued in the 1700s that the truest form of virtue was meaningful work (Source C), but Americans seem to have taken his advice too far and now act as if work is the most important element of being human.
- Ignore sources that are irrelevant to your argument, but use the sources liberally and try to include three in your response.
I Probably Can Solve Climate Change Structure
One simple structure to use for these responses that should be effective most of the time. The introduction should be STAMPY and bookend the conclusion and you can allocate paragraphs however seems most appropriate, but I’d recommend that the body be 5-7 paragraphs. If you have more evidence or analysis for one section, give it more paragraphs. 🙂
- Problem: What is wrong/in need to repair/broken.
- Causes: What is responsible for the problems.
- Solutions: Your policy/philosophy/way of life change
- Caveats: Concerns about your proposal. Make sure to answer these or show that benefits outweigh.
Keys to Scoring High
- Evaluate the evidence. Don’t always just cite the sources. Consider its limitations and any problems that exist with its conclusions/research.
- Use kernels of text, not long quotes. Most of the essay should be your analysis, argument, and insight, not a summary of the source material.
- Drop in outside references to history, current events, literature, and other knowledge. It’s best to keep these academic and informed, not pop culture.
- Assume the reader is well-educated. You don’t need to explain/summarize things that are well-known. For instance, if a reference to To Kill A Mockingbird makes sense in your essay, don’t summarize the plot. You might write this instead: “In her novel To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee effectively skewers the fundamental injustice of any legal system operating in a racist society, a stark lesson for those who argue American justice is color blind almost sixty years after its publication.”
- Use the full time available to you. While it’s possible to score a passing grade with a short response, you have enough time to write a nuanced, well-supported argument. Use it.