Sample Prose Passage Essays for AP English Literature (page 3)

based on 6 ratings
By — McGraw-Hill Professional
Updated on Mar 4, 2011

Rating the Student Essays

High-Range Essay (9–8)

  • Indicates complete understanding of the prompt.
  • Distinguishes between what Gabriel acknowledges about himself and what the reader comes to know about him.
  • Explores the complexity of Gabriel's character.
  • Identifies and analyzes Joyce's literary techniques, such as imagery, diction, point of view, motif, and style.
  • Cites specific references to the passage.
  • Illustrates and supports the points being made.
  • Is clear, well-organized, and coherent.
  • Reflects the ability to manipulate language at an advanced level.
  • Contains only minor errors or flaws, if any.

Note: Rarely, a 7 essay can make the jump into the high range because of its more mature style and perception.

Middle-Range Essay (7–6–5)

  • Refers accurately to the prompt.
  • Refers accurately to the literary devices used by Joyce.
  • Provides a less thorough analysis of Gabriel's character than the higher-rated paper.
  • Is less adept at linking techniques to the purpose of the passage.
  • Demonstrates writing that is adequate to convey the writer's intent.
  • May not be sensitive to the implications about Gabriel's character.
Rating the Student Essays

Low-Range Essay (4–3–2–1)

  • Does not respond adequately to the prompt.
  • Demonstrates insufficient and/or inaccurate understanding of the passage.
  • Does not link literary devices to Gabriel's character.
  • Underdevelops and/or inaccurately analyzes literary techniques.
  • Fails to demonstrate an understanding of Gabriel's character.
  • Demonstrates weak control of the elements of diction, syntax, and organization.
Rating the Student Essays
      How would you rate these essays?
      Now, compare your evaluation of the two student essays with ours.

Student Essay A

This is a high-range paper for the following reasons:

  • Is on task.
  • Shows complete understanding of the prompt and the passage.
  • Indicates perceptive, subtle analysis (line 8).
  • Maintains excellent topic adherence (lines 9, 17, 28, 39).
  • Uses good "connective tissue" (repetition of key words).
  • Chooses good specific references (lines 11, 12, 21, 35).
  • Knows how to distinguish between the author and the narrator.
  • Understands point of view well.
  • Makes suggestions and inferences (lines 7, 20).
  • Demonstrates good critical thinking.
  • Is perceptive about syntax and the style of author (lines 27–33).
  • Links techniques with character (line 34).
  • Demonstrates mature language manipulation (line 34).
  • Understands function of diction and motif (lines 40–44).
Rating the Student Essays

This is obviously a mature, critical reader and writer. Using subtle inferences and implications, the writer demonstrates an understanding of the character of Gabriel as both Joyce presents him and as Gabriel views himself. There is nothing extraneous or repetitious in this essay. Each point leads directly and compellingly to the next aspect of Gabriel's character.

This is definitely a strong, high-range essay.

Student Essay B

This is a middle-range essay for the following reasons:

  • Sets up an introduction which indicates the techniques that will be developed, but neglects to clearly set up the required discussion of how Gabriel views himself.
  • Immediately establishes that the essay will address Gabriel's character as drawn by the narrator and seen by the reader.
  • Addresses three aspects of Gabriel's character without fully developing the analysis of literary techniques.
  • Adheres to the essay's topic.
  • Uses "connective tissue" (lines 21, 28).
  • Uses "echo words" (lines 8, 9, 10).
  • Uses citations from the passages.
  • Isolates some details to illustrate Gabriel's character (lines 31–32, 39).
  • Confuses syntax with diction (lines 12–13).
  • Lacks development of literary technique in paragraph 4.
  • Displays faulty diction and syntax.
  • Does not develop an important part of the prompt—how Gabriel views himself.
  • Incorporates faulty logic at times (lines 44–49).

This essay is a solid, middle-range paper. The writer has a facility with literary analysis. Even though there are flashes of real insight, they are not sustained throughout the essay. There is a strong opening paragraph which makes it clear to the reader what the topic of the paper is. The writer obviously grasps Gabriel's character and the needed details to support the character analysis. But the weakness in this paper is the writer's incomplete development of the relationship of literary techniques to character analysis.

Note: Both essays have concluding paragraphs that are repetitive and largely unnecessary. It is best to avoid this type of ending.

How about sharing these samples with members of your class or study group and discussing possible responses?
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