Ap Lang Definition Essay Sample

The Advanced Placement essay exam is one of the best ways to check the English proficiency of the particular student. If you master some of the experts AP English essay prompts, you will succeed with your task. Having some powerful AP English essay examples on hands may help to write a winning personal statement – these challenges have a lot in common.


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How to Write AP English Essay Prompts: Know the Challenge in Face!

One of the most important AP English language essay prompts is the definition of this special task: A challenging college course made of 2 separate courses to train reading, comprehension, writing, and creativity:

  1. Language and Composition
  2. English Literature and Composition

Rhetoric and literature analysis are two components the student need to succeed in a further essay writing career. A synthesis essay is at the heart of the course’s exam. This essay is a written discussion that draws on a single/multiple sources (s) such as scholarly articles, essays, textbooks, magazines, newspapers, documentaries, websites, etc.

AP English Language Essay Prompts & Grading Rubric

The exam essay prompts are different for both courses. An essay prompt refers to the specific topical article a student has to analyze and synthesize in order to come up with analytical pieces as one whole. It is important to remember the essay structure and essay grading rubric to succeed.

A student can either develop a high-scoring essay, a mid-range essay, or a complete failure essay (low-scoring piece). This article focuses on the winning exam scenario. The rubric will look this way in case you are interested in hitting the highest score (8-9 points):

  • Effectively stated point of view
  • Relevant exam essay content
  • Complete understanding of the offered AP English essay prompts
  • Well-developed position towards the topic discussed in the given prompt(s)
  • Instead of driving the sources, the essay focuses on the claim
  • The main essay idea sounds persuasive & meaningful
  • Only specific evidence for every mentioned idea is present
  • “So what?” question is the clue to an essay
  • A coherent and concise essay content
  • Does not have any grammar, spelling, punctuation, or formatting mistakes

Keep in touch with the process with the help of special learning mobile phone apps. Download some helpful writing apps to get ready!

AP English Essay Examples of 1st Part Questions

The 1st group of examples includes those associated with the Language & Composition part. Be ready to work on 3 essays. A couple of pieces should evaluate the offered literary text. A student will need to read the attached poem, narration, mini story, or essay by a famous American author to succeed. One more assignment requires responding to a given prompt the writer had to observe before the exam. A student will face:

  • Up to 20 questions on the contemporary literature
  • Up to 20 questions on Victorian/Romantic literature
  • No more than 10 questions related to XVII-century Elizabethan epoch in art

If the teachers make it possible, try to add a bit of fun to your responses. Discover some of the great ways to save a day thanks to humor.

Expert Advice:

“I work in the admissions team that grades the AP English exam essays several years, and I can say there is no need to focus on the contemporary literature. The college boards do not consider most of the XX century authors. A student may cover just the most popular and top-rated pieces from the Middle English period – those authors are not regular guests in AP exams.”

Lola Brendon, an AP English course teacher and expert online writer at JustDoMyHomework

Practice AP English Exam Essay Example

It is time to move to the Literature part of the examination, and have a look at other AP English exam essay examples of prompts. To get ready, experts recommend taking the time-tested steps:

  1. Find numerous poems and proses to train the reading & comprehension skills. Try to read and analyze them in mind ASAP. Mind that it is important to select the literary pieces from many various epochs as required by the exam’s instructions.
  2. Train a lot by reading a prompt a few minutes before moving to the offered piece and before getting to write. Annotate it. Many students benefit from searching for the particular keywords & key phrases – they are helpful during the writing process.
  3. Annotate the passage by keeping in mind the chosen keys and major themes.

AP English Language and Composition Exam Essay Prompts

It is important to practice different AP English language exams, and composition essay prompts before joining the examination. One of the good examples might be a famous poem by Robert Frost:

Nature's first green is gold
Her hardest hue to hold
Her early leaf's a flower
But only so an hour
Then leaf subsides to leaf,
So Eden sank to grief
So dawn goes down to day
Nothing gold can stay.


After reading & analyzing this piece, think about the answers to multiple-choice questions.

  1. A rhyme in the given literary piece is present to:
  • Allow easier reading
  • Taking part in a literary convention
  • Expanding a simile
  • Developing imagery
  1. Eden in the line number 6 stands for:
  • The mourning
  • Religious aspect of the author
  • Woman with the same name
  • Judeo-Christian approach
  1. Under ‘Nothing gold…,” what do you understand?
  • Wealth is transient
  • People are evil by their nature
  • Gold tarnishes without special efforts
  • Things that are good will remain this way
  1. Pick a sentence, which reflects the essence of the mood in the offered text?
  • The underlying mood is exciting & fun
  • The mood is outraged/emotional
  • The mood is romantic & calm
  • The mood is melancholic/depressive

The prompt may be given as the one, which requires a broad response. Some students believe such instructions are more complicated.

Think about how the structure of a particular literary piece adds up to the essence of the topic. Pretend the offered structure is villanelle and try to come up with the original explanation of its reflection of the work. Cover such aspects as repetitiveness. Do not forget to include the poem’s line numbers that prove your point.


That is everything an average student needs to know about AP English exam essay prompts. To succeed, we recommend getting extra essay help. No parent or classmate will be able to prepare you better than a professional online essay writing service full of certified writers. Order a custom essay from the native-speaking English team now!

One of the competencies you need to develop for AP Language and Composition is a thorough understanding of rhetorical strategies and techniques. This is because you will both be expected to identify these strategies and techniques in the writing of others and to use them in your own writing.

But given the huge number of rhetorical terms there are, how do you know which ones you need to know and understand? Do you need to know what anaphora is? What about synecdoche?

In this article I’ll provide two lists: one of essential key AP Language and Composition terms to know for the exam, and one list of useful bonus words that will serve you well on the exam. Then I’ll advise how to learn and use these terms for AP success!


Essential AP Language and Composition Terms

The following list of 37 terms, based on consulting both the AP English Language and Composition Course and Exam Description and free-response material from past years, provides an important overview of the major AP Lang rhetorical devices and techniques you need to know. With all of this AP Language and Composition vocabulary at your disposal, you’ll be a top-notch rhetorical analyst in no time! 

Each entry has a definition and example or further explanation. Don’t be intimidated by the size of this list—many of these are terms you are probably already familiar with!


Essential Rhetorical Analysis Terms





Explaining something complex by comparing it to something more simple.

"An amateur playing in a professional game is like an ibex stepping into a lion's den."


The combination of reasons, evidence, etc that an author uses to convince an audience of their position.

Too comprehensive a concept for a single example! In effective rhetoric, every phrase serves to further build the argument.

Aristotelian appeals

Three different methods of appealing to an audience to convince them—ethos, logos, and pathos.

See ethos, logos and pathos.


The writer's personal views or feelings about the subject at hand.

Difficult to convey in a short example, but something like "the deplorable state of this school" would convey that the author has a negative attitude towards the school.


Who the author is directing his or her message towards

When you create a resume, your audience is potential employers.

Compare and contrast

Discussing the similarities and differences between two things to some persuasive or illustrative purpose.

“Hybrid cars have a much smaller carbon footprint than traditional midsize vehicles.”


The implied meaning of a word; words can broadly have positive, negative, or neutral connotations.

conscientious = positive connotation

fussy = negative connotation


The extra-textual environment in which the text is being delivered.

If I am delivering a congratulatory speech to awards recipients, the immediate context might be the awards presentation ceremony; the broader context might be the purpose or significance of the awards themselves.


The argument(s) against the author's position.

If I want to eliminate the dress code, a counterargument might be that this will place a burden on students of a lower socioeconomic status, who must now afford an entire school wardrobe or risk unwanted attention.

Deductive reasoning

A form of logical reasoning wherein a general principle is applied to a specific case.

If all planets orbit a star, and Theta II is a planet, then it must orbit a star.


The literal, dictionary-definition meaning of a word.

The denotation of "chair" is "a place to sit."


The style of language used; generally tailored to be appropriate to the audience and situation.

You might say "What's up, loser?" to your little brother, but you would probably say "How are you doing today?" to your principal.


Setting up a source as credible and trustworthy.

"Given my PhD in the subject and years of experience in the field" is an appeal to ethos.


The information presented meant to persuade the audience of the author's position.

If I were arguing that Anne is a good student, I might reference her straight-A report card and her 1500 SAT score as pieces of evidence.

Figurative language

The use of language in a non-literal way; i.e. metaphor, simile, etc.

"The sky's like a jewel box tonight!"


The specific type of work being presented.

Broader categories include "novel" and "play," while more specific genres would be things like "personal essay" or "haiku."


Any descriptive language used to evoke a vivid sense or image of something; includes figurative language.

"The water was a pearl-studded sea of azure tipped with turquoise."


When something is suggested without being concretely stated.

"Watch your wallet around Paul," implies that Paul is a thief without coming out and saying "Paul is a thief."

Inductive reasoning

Making a generalization based on specific evidence at hand.

All of the planets in this solar system orbit a star, so all planets probably orbit stars.


At the most basic sense, saying the opposite of what you mean; also used to describe situations in which the results of an action are dramatically different than intended.

"I do so hope there are more papers to sign," is something that might be said ironically.


Placing two very different things together for effect.

"There they stood together, the beggars and the lords, the princesses and the washerwoman, all crowding into the square."


Appealing to someone's sense of concrete facts and logic.

Citing peer-reviewed scientific studies is an appeal to logos.


The reason or moment for writing or speaking.

When giving a graduation speech, the occasion is graduation.


How the different parts of an argument are arranged in a piece of writing or speech.

Think about the outlines you write in preparation for drafting an argumentative essay and you'll have an idea of what organization is.


An Aristotelian appeal. Involves appealing to someone's emotions.

Animal shelters ads with pictures of cute sad animals and dramatic music are using pathos.


The author's persuasive intention.

If you are trying to convince your mother you should get a dog, your purpose in addressing an essay on the subject to her would be to convince her that you should get a dog.


Re-using a word or phrase repeatedly for effect or emphasis.

"We run, and we run, and we run, like rats on a wheel."


The use of spoken or written word (or a visual medium) to convey your ideas and convince an audience.

Almost everything is an example of rhetoric!

Rhetorical triangle

The relationship between the author, the audience, the text/message, and the context.

The author communicates to the reader via the text; and the reader and text are surrounded by context.


The persona adopted by the author to deliver his or her message; may or may not actually be the same person as the author.

Similar to the difference between author and narrator in a work of fiction.


The author's own personal approach to rhetoric in the piece; similar to voice.

We might say the Taylor Swift's songwriting style is straightforward and emotive.


Using a symbol to refer to an idea or concept.

"Fire" is commonly used a symbol for passion and/or anger.


The way sentences are grammatically constructed.

"She likes pie," is syntactically simple. On the other hand, "As it so happened, when Barbara got out of class early she liked to have a piece of pie—key lime or pecan, always—at the corner diner; while she was there she watched the people passing by the window and imagined herself inside each of their lives, riding in their heads for moments and moments until the afternoon was whiled away and she'd become fifty people," is syntactically complicated.


Combining sources or ideas in a coherent way in the purpose of a larger point.

A typical research paper involves synthesizing sources to make a broader point about the topic.


Overarching ideas or driving premises of a work.

Some themes you will probably hear in your high school graduation speech include leaving behind a legacy, moving into the great unknown, becoming an adult, and changing the world.


The use of stylistic devices to reveal an author's attitude toward a subject.

Only a narrow distinction from attitude. The phrase "the deplorable state of this school" reveals a negative attitude, but the word choice of "deplorable" is part of the author's tone.


An author's unique sound. Similar to style.

Think of the way that you can recognize a pop singer on the radio without hearing who it is first.


Let your voice be heard!


Bonus AP Language and Composition Terms

Here are 18 bonus AP Language vocabulary terms that, while not absolutely essential to your success on the exam, will be very helpful. They identify some common but obscurely named rhetorical techniques and some additional rhetorical and argumentative strategies.

These terms also each have a definition and an example or explanation.


Bonus Rhetorical Terms





Using words with the same first letter repeatedly close together in a phrase or sentence.

"She purchased the pretty purple parka."


Making a brief reference to the cultural canon—e.g. the Bible, Shakespeare, classical mythology, etc.

"Like Eve in the Garden of Eden, George was not good at resisting temptation."


Offering a brief narrative episode. This device can serve many functions in a text—for example, introducing an issue, serving as evidence, to illustrate a point, and so on.

"When I went to buy my morning coffee, I ran into an old friend. He told me he had won the lottery and he was about to buy a yacht. Two months later I heard he had declared bankruptcy."


Agreeing with the opposing viewpoint on a certain smaller point (but not in the larger argument).

“While I admit that hybrid cars have higher carbon production costs than conventional automobiles, this is dramatically offset by the much-smaller lifetime carbon footprint of the vehicles.”


A text with an instructive purpose, often moral.

Aesop's fables are an example of a didactic work.


Referring to something with a veiled phrase instead of saying it directly

"She let Bob go," is a euphemism for "she fired Bob."


Providing examples in service of a point.

“The Town Beautification Funds are being sorely misused; the streets are full of litter, the parks are full of broken equipment, and City Hall's facade is drab and crumbling.”


Overstating a situation for humorous or dramatic effect.

"My backpack weighs tons!"


A commonly used phrase that signifies something very different than its literal meaning.

"This costs an arm and a leg!" is an idiom which means "This is very expensive."


Using "sound-effect" words (e.g. "clap," "buzz).

"We heard an ominous hiss from the kitchen."


A phrase or assertion that appears to contradict itself (but the contradiction itself may have its own meaning).

Paradoxical phrases include "dark angel," "fresh rot," "blissful hell," etc.


Repeated structural elements in a sentence.

"We went to sea; we went to war; we went to bed."


Using the form of something to mimic and make fun of it.

Weird Al is the master of the musical parody genre.


Giving human characteristics to a nonhuman object or idea.

"The sun was shining happily today."


Mockingly stating the opposite of what you mean. Easier to convey in the spoken word than via writing.

"Did you come up with that all by yourself?" might be delivered sarcastically after someone delivers a poorly-thought out idea.


A genre of humorous and mocking criticism to expose the ignorance and/or ills of society.

Stephen Colbert is a popular modern satirist.


Referring to one part of something as a way to refer to the whole.

"Ask for her hand" is a synecdoche for marriage; the "hand" stands in for the whole woman.


Deliberately minimizing something, usually for humorous effect.

"My mom's a little bit irritated I crashed the car—I'm grounded for the next twenty-four months."



The Angry Storm: a story of personification.


How to Learn and Use AP Language Terms

You might be tempted to bust out some flashcards, do some aggressive memorization, and call yourself finished. However, that’s really only the first step of the three-step process of actually learning AP Lang terms.


Step 1: Learn Rhetorical Terms

As you initially try to familiarize yourself with these terms and what they mean, it’s fine to make flashcards. You could use the term on one side and the definition on the other, or the definition and the example from the chart on one side and the term on the other—whatever’s easier for you. You could make physical flashcards if you like to learn things with a tactile element involved, but for the sake of convenience you might consider making online flashcards at a site like Quizlet, where a free account lets you make and save flash cards and then quiz yourself with a variety of games and strategies.

When you know the terms and their definitions inside and out, you’re ready to move on to the next step.


Step 2: Identify Rhetorical Strategies and Devices

Next, you need to work on identifying rhetorical strategies and devices in actual written works. Make an effort when you read to seek out examples of the different rhetorical techniques at work. And think about the larger context of the piece: what’s the author’s purpose in writing this piece? Is the speaker the same as the author? What genre is it? What devices are being used repeatedly? You might try jotting down your thoughts about how pieces you read are using rhetorical devices.

When you feel you can consistently identify these strategies at work in the writing of others, it’s time to try your hand at using them yourself.


Step 3: Deploy Rhetorical Strategies and Devices

Once you feel you have a handle on identifying a given device/concept in other pieces, it’s time to think about using it in your own writing. Consider your own purpose and argument when you write. Think about audience. Deploy hyperbole and irony. See what works and what doesn’t. Trying to apply the terms will help you learn the concepts much better than simple memorization.


Deploy rhetorical parachutes!


Final Thoughts: AP Language and Composition Terms

There are so many rhetorical terms that it can be hard to determine which ones you need to know for AP Language and Composition! This list gives you an overview of all the essential AP English Language and Composition vocabulary.

When you’re trying to learn these concepts, it’s better to try to apply them—by seeing how other authors use them and using them in your own writing—than to just memorize the terms and their definitions. The important thing is to understand the concepts, not just know the terms!


What's Next?

We can help if you’re not sure how to study for AP exams.

If you’re also taking AP Literature, see our ultimate guide to the AP English Literature test and our AP Literature Reading List.

Looking for practice tests? See our complete lists for AP Human Geography, AP Literature, AP US History, AP Chemistry, AP Biology,AP Psychology, and AP World History. Or see our guide to finding the best AP practice tests for any exam. 


Want to improve your SAT score by 160 points or your ACT score by 4 points? We've written a guide for each test about the top 5 strategies you must be using to have a shot at improving your score. Download it for free now:


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