Please grade my AP English Lang. essay!!!

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Discus: SAT/ACT Tests and Test Preparation: May 2004 Archive: Please grade my AP English Lang. essay!!!
By Johnmayerfan (Johnmayerfan) on Saturday, May 01, 2004 - 10:35 pm: Edit

Please help me. My teacher hasn't graded our essays on this scale before and I really don't trust myself to know what to do. On a scale of 1-9, or at least a category (high, medium, low), what would you give me?

Here is the prompt from the actual collegeboard.

1. (Suggested timeˇ4不40 minutes)
In 1588 Queen Elizabeth I of England made the following speech to her
troops. They were assembled at Tilbury, a town on the Thames River, to
repel an expected invasion of England by troops serving the king of Spain.
Read the speech carefully. Then write an essay in which you identify the
purpose of the queen’s remarks and analyze how she uses the resources of
languageˇ4不such as diction, imagery, and sentence structureˇ4不to achieve
her purpose.

My loving people,
We have been persuaded by some that are careful of our safety, to take
heed how we commit our selves to armed multitudes, for fear of treachery;
but I assure you I do not desire to live to distrust my faithful and loving
people. Let tyrants fear, I have always so behaved myself that, under God,
I have placed my chiefest strength and safeguard in the loyal hearts and
good-will of my subjects; and therefore I am come amongst you, as you
see, at this time, not for my recreation and disport, but being resolved, in
the midst and heat of the battle, to live or die amongst you all; to lay down
for my God, and for my kingdom, and my people, my honour and my
blood, even in the dust. I know I have the body but of a weak and feeble
woman; but I have the heart and stomach of a king, and of a king of
England too, and think foul scorn that Parma or Spain, or any prince of
Europe, should dare to invade the borders of my realm; to which rather
than any dishonour shall grow by me, I myself will take up arms, I myself
will be your general, judge, and rewarder of every one of your virtues in
the field. I know already, for your forwardness you have deserved rewards
and crowns; and we do assure you in the word of a prince, they shall be
duly paid you. In the mean time, my lieutenant general shall be in my
stead, than whom never prince commanded a more noble or worthy subject;
not doubting but by your obedience to my general, by your concord in
the camp, and your valour in the field, we shall shortly have a famous
victory over those enemies of my God, of my kingdom, and of my people.


and here is my essay:

1588. The Spanish are expected to invade England. Queen Elizabeth I order English troops to assemble at Tilbury, on the Thames river, to make sure the invasion doesn’t happen. Morale is low. What is the Queen to do? She gives a speech to her subjects in hopes of inciting them to action, boosting courage, and preventing the invasion. She uses the resources of language, particularly diction, imagery, and unique sentence structure to achieve this.

To achieve her purpose, Elizabeth chooses precise diction that she know will produce a certain intended effect. She begins the oration by directly addressing her audience; she calls them her “loving people.” Later, she praises them again as she refers to them as “faithful,” “loyal,” and having “good-will.” Moving on, she makes her audience feel particularly confident of victory under her rule because she says she is willing to “live or die amongst you all (the subjects).” She assures them of her devotion to them as she says she will “lay down for my God, and for my kingdom, and my people…even in the dust.” Elizabeth is also able to win her subjects’ trust by promising them much-deserved “rewards and crowns” that shall be “duly paid.” Now that her audience feels praised and confident, Elizabeth aims to anger them and stir them to action when she says that she thinks it is “foul score that Parma or Spain…should dare to invade the borders of my realm…I myself will take up arms.” The people are feeling that they should fight alongside their queen if even she is willing to fight for the cause. Ending the oration with another reassurance of their victory, Elizabeth claims England will “shortly have a famous victory over those enemies.” The desired effect has been reached through Elizabeth’s precise choice of words.

In order to assure her subjects, Elizabeth employs visual imagery. She tells her people that she has “the body but of a weak and feeble woman; but I have the heart and stomach of a kind.” The image appears in the subjects’ heads that Elizabeth is actually much stronger than she appears and that they should be more confident of their victory.

Elizabeth adds a unique spin on her sentence structure in this oration, using parallel structure and the repetition of ideas to solidify her message. She wants her subjects to feel that there is a good chance of victory and she promises to fight “for my God, and for my kingdom, and my people, my honour, and my blood.” “I myself will take up arms, I myself will be your general, judge, and rewarder of every one of your virtues in the field,” Elizabeth reports as the troops are assured by her assertiveness. Elizabeth says that they are assured a victory because they must fight against“those enemies of my God, of my Kingdom, and of my people.” The audience is, once again, reminded of their ruler’s devotion to the cause. The audience is reminded through repetition of the idea that they must fight in order to win and achieve their assured victory.

People always say that a stupid leader makes a stupid country. If Elizabeth is actually what she claims herself to be in this speech, perhaps England really will see their “inevitable” victory over Spain, or perhaps not…

So, on a scale of 1-9, what would you give me?

Everything is as it appears on my paper (except neater of course). I realize there's some problems with syntax, but my spelling is and always has been virtually perfect, so that at least doesn't detract from my presentation.

By Karadarkblood (Karadarkblood) on Saturday, May 01, 2004 - 10:47 pm: Edit

6-7. I'd say that your language is getting slightly too informal to constitute an eight or a nine. Good identification of literary devices, rhetorical strategies, ect. Definately a higher-level paper, but the syntax could be slightly more elevated (i.e. try for more active sentences and more elevated, smoother transitions). Wanna know something really crazy? I got assigned that exact same essay for homework this weekend too ;) bizzare.
Good luck on the exam - I'm starting to freak out - it's only two days away!!

By Ubercollegeman (Ubercollegeman) on Saturday, May 01, 2004 - 10:53 pm: Edit

I don't like it. The entire essay has some fairly serious problems grammatically and stylistically (the intro paragraph needs serious work and sounds very awkward), but those problems are not the essay's biggest flaws. The key to these essays is ANALYZING language. You're citing everything, but you need to analyze it as well in depth. Having a list of rhetorical devices is no good when you don't take your essay to the next level.

If I were an AP grader, I'd give it a 4, maybe a 3 if I were feeling mean. It is safe to say that you aren't getting anything above a 5 even from the nicest graders, though. A 5 is arguable, but I don't think it's there. Analysis should be the life of your essays. Unfortunately, you don't have much of it. The general stylistic errors that I find somewhat glaring also bring down the essay.

DO NOT PANIC THOUGH! Really, to get those 6s (at this point I would not expect to get any 8s or 9s simply because the style is not there, and 7s are long shots), you just need about two sentences after each paragraph that really talk about Elizabeth's language. Connect back to a strong thesis and you're set for a 6. Just do that and you can expect to see a solid set of 6's on your three essays, which is more than enough to pass. It's enough for a 5 if you're good enough at MC..

Edit: I know I sound really mean, especially after Kara's post stands in direct contrast to mine. Choose to take my advice or not; it's really up to you. I'm pretty comfortable with Language though. I took a model test with essays graded by my teacher and got a raw score of over 130 out of 150 (with 23/27 possible essay points), which is way more than enough for a 5. I believe a 5 was 107/150.

By Feuler (Feuler) on Saturday, May 01, 2004 - 10:56 pm: Edit

Hey, that's neat, I just did this exact same timed write on our mock AP last week.

As for scoring, I'm no AP grader but I've gotten high enough scores I think I have an idea of how it works, and I'd say about a 4-5, leaning towards 5. Your thesis and main points hint at some deep analysis of how precisely Elizabeth uses language, but they seem a little bit general, and don't really get to the heart of it. You have the right general outline and quotes for a really good essay, but your analysis comes up a tad short. Your use and control of language is very strong (i.e. it doesn't have a lock-step mechanical tone like many people do on these sort of essays), which is the primarily reason I would lean towards a 5 rather than a 4.

So that's my take on it, which is no means credible, but I hope you find it helpful.

By Jblackboy05 (Jblackboy05) on Saturday, May 01, 2004 - 11:45 pm: Edit

Were you taught Jane Shaffer method? If so then avoid this in your essay. You will recieve a low score. Use more active verbs, higher vocab, and use mature insight when discussing the piece, AP LOVES THIS!!!

By K0w (K0w) on Sunday, May 02, 2004 - 12:53 pm: Edit

hahaha i just took this essay in my hon brit lit class. exactly like the prompt word for word. neway, plz drop the passive voice, nd add more style. i dont think "what is the queen to do?" will give u ne points. also, don't write "people always want.." never write would, could should, want call etc." its took weak. try to be more confident nd write some fancy words like "desire, exclaims. elevate the diction some more. beef up the paragraphs some more too, like in the 3rd one. too anorexic! also, try to write in a 3rd person pov because it sounds like u're talking to the reader like "perhaps elizabeth is ..., perhaps not." maybe its just early in the morning, but it sounds really awkward nd sounds like writing from a normal class rather than a ap. personaly, i give this around a 4 or 3. but don't worry! u still have one more day to fix this up!

By Musefinity (Musefinity) on Sunday, May 02, 2004 - 02:45 pm: Edit

Score: 5-6

Hey, Johnmayerfan. Um, I thought people were being a little overly harsh with your essay. A 3 is what I would give to an essay which does not analyze the passage AT ALL but merely talks about the presence of techniques and not what they help to convey overall.

To get a 9 you can have crappy diction as long as you really analyze the passage is what PR and Barrons both said. This one girl from a real sample essay wrote something like "Author X was either depressed or mad when he wrote this because blah blah blah he didn't want to sound like a total blah blah blah," and she got a 9. So my advice is to not take TOO much to heart the people that said you need to really elevate your diction. Maybe just a little, but don't use inflated diction or anything.

THE GOOD: You frequently draw from the excerpt and mention a lot of devices she used. You explained what the passage was about and how Elizabeth strenghtened her message through language.

THE BAD: You need to talk a little bit more about WHY she uses her techniques. Yeah, she wants them to calm down and stop freaking out about the war, but what does she want from her people--and more importantly her nation--overall? I had a hard time with this, too. I didn't really understand what your last paragraph was saying. At first it sounded like you were calling Elizabeth stupid, but she was smart as hell. I mean she kicked the Armada's ass with dinky little English ships and was more effective as a WOMAN than previous MEN had been with the country. I didnn't know what you were trying to say.

Just relax and let it flow for the test tomorrow. You will do fine!

BY THE WAY, I stole your prompt and wrote an essay of my own for practice which I posted on this board. I'm not in an AP Language class so I REALLY needed to practice writing an essay. Would you mind reading it under "Did I do this AP Language essay right? Please rate." and telling me what you thought I did wrong/right? Thanks!

By Sulskman (Sulskman) on Sunday, May 02, 2004 - 02:49 pm: Edit

I disagree. I give it a 7. AP readers place more emphasis on originality than you think. AP readers read the same essay over and over, and when they say something different they get very happy. I like how your thesis isn't just a repetition of the question and your sentence structure is mature. Remember AP READERS READ 1000S OF BLAND ESSAYS THAT ALL LOOK ALIKE, BE CREATIVE AND INTELLIGENT TO MAKE IT STAND OUT!

By Johnmayerfan (Johnmayerfan) on Sunday, May 02, 2004 - 04:15 pm: Edit

hehe, well, i thought my essay was at least a mid-level essay...

Ok, the problem i think with me is that I don't really "get it." I don't feel like I can really analyze or gain a whole lotta insight from this prompt (or any other prompt). I did two real mc practice tests from collegeboard and missed 8 on one and 7 on the other, although under pressure I might miss more. Assuming, my essay are this quality, what would I possibly get? I need at least a 4.

SO my main problem I think is I haven't been taught to "think" while I'm reading the thing. I am in an ap english class but you have to understand that hardly anyone even so much as takes the exam, and I think there's been one person who has gotten a 5 in the history of the course. I had good writing and verbal scores on my sat i and ii's (750+ on each), and I think I have mature sentence structure (although my syntax is not perfect, I know); I just think I need help analyzing and gaining insight and getting more from the passage than the superficial, what meets the eye. I could add more sentences on analyzation, but they would probably just repeat what I just said or say something completely off topic. I'm afraid that the "insights" I sometimes arrive at seem kinda crazy (I think I'm actually now afraid to share what I think) and may or may not have any corroboration from the passage itself.

Musefinity-i'm on my way now to your post!

Thanks to everyone who contributed though. I honestly thought no one would even reply.

Ubercollegeman-what insights do you gain from this same prompt? how do you approach passages to gain insight?

By Musefinity (Musefinity) on Sunday, May 02, 2004 - 04:27 pm: Edit

Yeah, I think you will definitely get a 4, especially if you're only missing 7 and 8 on the MC. That's a really good score.

By Ubercollegeman (Ubercollegeman) on Sunday, May 02, 2004 - 04:37 pm: Edit

Well, I'm not going to spend forty minutes writing an essay, but I'll outline my approach for you. My teacher grades these essays like a Nazi (even with our incredibly high pass rate near 100%, the average essay score in the class is around 3-4, might be why I'm giving you such a bad grade :)).

Oh yeah, rereading your essay, I think I was a little harsh. A 3 is out of the picture, but I still don't think it's above a 5. 5 is about right.

Anyway, the outline:
Whenever I see the word "God," it's instantly a potential "appeal to religion/shared ideals/whatever" type of analysis. "Tyrants" also goes under that a little.
You hit the parallelism right, but you should've analyzed differently. The parallel structure equates God, kingdom, and people as one. Elizabeth holds all three in the same light, honoring people, stuff like that. Elizabeth also repeats that structure near the end. You can probably BS your way towards an analysis of that repetition :D.

The queen's purpose is to inspire the English people to fight for Britain against all odds. Keep in mind the historical context--Spain's navy, at the time, was much stronger. England only scraped out a victory because of a fortunate hurricane that destroyed the Spanish Armada. Although this historical information is not pertinent to the prompt, it's good to stick it in the intro to show off knowledge.

Also, keep the imagery analysis, but build on it. After you do that, you've got about a coherent two-page essay worthy of a 7 at least.

By Johnmayerfan (Johnmayerfan) on Sunday, May 02, 2004 - 04:44 pm: Edit

ok, thanks guys. I should mention that I don't remember much of my history on this subject. Musefinity got the analysis you're saying right, so perhaps you should get higher than a 6-7, musefinity. Argh, my problem is that I don't see what you see, and apparently, I suck at bs.

WOuld you grade me again if i put another essay on here?

Ubercollegeman-what other things do you look for in the prompts? What do you do for the DCQ ones? Can you make up statistics?

Also, off the subject a bit, but do they give you enough paper to write a lot on all three essays. Ubercollegeman, I wrote a page front and back and a second page front only on this prompt (which is usually how long my essays are) on wide ruled paper, and i have big handwriting, is this long/short enough?

By Ubercollegeman (Ubercollegeman) on Sunday, May 02, 2004 - 05:01 pm: Edit

Most of the higher grade essays are close to a collegeboard sheet front and back. I'm not saying length is the key on these essays (it most DEFINITELY IS NOT), but it just tends to be that way. Maybe better writers just tend to write more as well :D. What I'd definitely not do is write anything less than a page though.

Johnmayerfan, that's about a collegeboard sheet front and back, I think. Sure, I'll read it. DCQ is more about personal style and ability to pull pertinent examples than anything else. The better examples, the better score you'll get. It also helps to choose unique examples. Do not use Hitler, Gandhi, or Martin Luther King Jr. I can guarantee you they get about a million prompts about those three guys every year, and nobody likes reading the same thing over and over again. Just use your head when picking examples. Also, do not extol the Taliban as the greatest thing that ever happened to the Middle East. You can write a BRILLIANT, FANTASTIC "9" paper and get docked major points by upsetting the reader.

"Make up statistics?" Mm..I wouldn't try it personally. A lot of these graders are very seasoned teachers or even college professors who know a lot. You can make up statistics as long as they're not obviously false. I've done it before and didn't get caught, but I also tried to make up something about an entire event and DID get caught. Very embarrassing, haha. If you throw up another prompt and essay I'll take a look at it.

And it was very scary how I read musefinity's essay right after I just outlined my approach. They are almost exactly the same. Very weird..

By Johnmayerfan (Johnmayerfan) on Sunday, May 02, 2004 - 05:15 pm: Edit

so, what did you think of hers?
i'm going there after this, so if you've already posted on there, disregard the above comment.

hmm, i thought the whole idea of getting a good grade on these essays is that you show you know HOW to write the essay. i would assume validity isn't that important as long as you show that you know statistics and facts back up the argument. Also, what do you mean you made up something about an event? how would they even know that you didn't actually experience it? what happened though? did you get a bad score?

eh, i still have to come up with a quality essay to put up here, how long are you gonna be on the net?

one thing i wanted to ask you, i'm missing 7-8 on real collegeboard tests on mc, around 20 on cliff's, etc. and writing essays similar to this. that's good enough to get a 4 right? how much leeway do i have?

By Ubercollegeman (Ubercollegeman) on Sunday, May 02, 2004 - 06:02 pm: Edit

The hugest problem with this essay is that it stinks of Jane Schafer. Everything is so overly structured that it sounds monotonous. There are a few other stylistic problems too. The introduction would be better if it matched with the prompt's tone. It doesn't--the queen's sentences are long and inspiring while yours are telegraphic and dramatic. Also, the use of the word "stupid" really kills you in the end. The analysis is also considerably weaker than that of musefinity's essay. For example,

"The desired effect has been reached through Elizabeth’s precise choice of words."

That sentence doesn't mean anything. At all. You could say that about anything.

"Elizabeth says that they are assured a victory because they must fight against those enemies of my God, of my Kingdom, and of my people. The audience is, once again, reminded of their ruler's devotion to the cause."

You pretty much just cited it and said something that could apply to anything.

My advice would be, don't be afraid to ATTACK the prompt. Don't just restate what Elizabeth says and call it analysis, and don't say "this achieves the effect." Say "this achieves the effect BECAUSE." That little thing is the difference between 7 and 5.

By Ubercollegeman (Ubercollegeman) on Sunday, May 02, 2004 - 06:03 pm: Edit

Oh yeah, and to answer that other question, I generally miss around 5-7 on real CB tests. Missing 7-8 is good enough for a 5 as long as your essays are up to par. It's good enough for a 4 even with fairly lousy essays.

By Musefinity (Musefinity) on Sunday, May 02, 2004 - 06:04 pm: Edit

Johnmayerfan, so are the Cliffs tests harder than the real thing? I didn't know whether they were harder or easier so I don't know what range I'll get on a real test. I missed 12 on Test 5 in Cliffs, is that good? What'd you miss?

By Johnmayerfan (Johnmayerfan) on Sunday, May 02, 2004 - 06:18 pm: Edit

I think i missed like 17!!!


I'll be very glad when tests are OVER!

ubercollegeman-what do you mean by "fairly lousy"? what score? would mine be "fairly lousy"? Also, I have a lot of leeway on the essays if I'm missing so little on mc right?

also off topic, the proctor has to give you a break right? i mean, it's required right? and that means the whole thing'll be around 3 hrs and 15 min?

By Musefinity (Musefinity) on Sunday, May 02, 2004 - 06:24 pm: Edit

Wow, okay, I'm very assured now that you missed 17. I thought scores of minus 7-8 on the real exam would be out of my league so I was kind of jealous when you posted. I got a minus 6 in Literature but I assumed that exam was easier, and that was my BEST score not my average.

By Johnmayerfan (Johnmayerfan) on Sunday, May 02, 2004 - 06:27 pm: Edit

i thought you posted once that you had missed like 6 on a real exam?

hehe, Musefinity, what will we be like tomorrow?

Ubercollegeman-come back, please! (sob) ah ha....

By Johnmayerfan (Johnmayerfan) on Sunday, May 02, 2004 - 06:34 pm: Edit

also, what's wrong with my sentences? i have trouble telling what's passive and what's not...

Also, ubercollegeman, this sentence

"The desired effect has been reached through Elizabeth’s precise choice of words."

was an attempt by me to summarize what I had just said/tie back into the idea that she was achieving her purpose.

oh, please come back!

also, by leeway, i meant like I can miss a whole lot more mc and still get a 4 right? or miss a whole lotta essay and still get a 4 right? is missing 7-8 a really good score for mc? would that make me closer to a 5 than a 4? cuz if it does, i think i'm ready to stop studying. People are telling me you can't prepare for this kind of test, but perhaps they're wrong?

By Ubercollegeman (Ubercollegeman) on Sunday, May 02, 2004 - 06:43 pm: Edit

If you miss 7-8 on the MC you could probably get away with straight 4's on all the essays to get a 4. Either that or a combination of 4's and 5's.

Concluding sentences are good, but that sentence just doesn't really accomplish anything. Every sentence you write should serve some kind of purpose. That essay is better than "fairly lousy."

If you're aiming for a 4, I think you'll get it very easily. You even have a decent shot at a 5. I think anything <=3 for you is out of the question.

By Shhh (Shhh) on Sunday, May 02, 2004 - 09:51 pm: Edit

stop being creative. dont use rh questions in your essay. get to the point. u have a lot of excess stuff in the introduction alone.

"She uses the resources of language, particularly diction, imagery, and unique sentence structure to achieve this. "

what kind of diction? what kind of imagery? use adjectives.

"To achieve her purpose, Elizabeth chooses precise diction that she know will produce a certain intended effect"

sounds like you dont know what her purpose/intended effect is.

By Shhh (Shhh) on Sunday, May 02, 2004 - 09:52 pm: Edit

i cant believe your teacher is not grading your essays on a 1-9 scale. thats a terrible injustice

By Shhh (Shhh) on Sunday, May 02, 2004 - 09:53 pm: Edit

whats the jane shaffer method?

By Shhh (Shhh) on Sunday, May 02, 2004 - 09:55 pm: Edit

"People always say that a stupid leader makes a stupid country. If Elizabeth is actually what she claims herself to be in this speech, perhaps England really will see their “inevitable” victory over Spain, or perhaps not… "

does this have anything to do with the question?

Visual imagery? who would have thought!

sorry if i sound harsh, im trying to be teacher like

By Musefinity (Musefinity) on Monday, May 03, 2004 - 12:16 am: Edit

Yeah, Johnmayerfan, I think you are definitely solid for a 4. I had a friend from another school grade both essays (sorry) without telling him I wrote the second one and he gave it an 8 saying: "Both of those are seriously multiple times better than anything I've graded in English." And he graded the valedictorian's paper who will definitely get a 4-5 on her exam. I think CollegeConfidential kids tend to be hard graders anyway.

Anyway, I hope you read this before you take the test. Oh yeah, the minus 6 I got was on an AP LITERATURE test, not an AP language one. I still don't fully understand the difference between the two but whatever. Good luck!

By Greenleaf144 (Greenleaf144) on Monday, May 03, 2004 - 12:19 am: Edit

did anyone get the barrons version for the Language exam? What do you think of the MCs?

By Johnmayerfan (Johnmayerfan) on Monday, May 03, 2004 - 04:32 pm: Edit

Musefinity-actually I didn't read this before I took it but thanks anyway! I'm sure we both did great, so it's all good. I'm done with high school standardized tests, so i'm happy:) good luck on lit on thursday!

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