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Steps to Draft AP Lang Synthesis Essay

Feb 4, 2024

The synthesis essay AP lang is part of the AP language and composition exam. It is one of the courses in the juniors’ curriculum, making it compulsory for them to appear for the exam. Judging the argumentation skills with the ability to establish a line of reasoning, answering the exam requires students to follow a pattern. Easily cracked with the practice, here is how you should go on to learn to write the perfect answer. 

What Does the AP Language and Composition Exam Look Like?

The AP Language and Composition Exam is taken in the duration of 3 hours and 15 minutes and comprises two sections. 

  1. The first section is multiple choice questions where the reading and writing abilities of the students are assessed through a total of 45 questions. The section holds 45% weightage and must be completed in an hour. 
  2. The second section is free-response questions, where there are three questions holding 55% weightage. The time offered here is 2 hours and 45 minutes, where 15 minutes are allotted to the reading period. There are three essay questions here, with 40 minutes allotted to each. The first question is the synthesis AP lang essay, the second is the rhetorical analysis, and the third is an argument. 

How is the AP Lang Synthesis Essay Question Asked?

The first free-response question puts forward a specific topic and six to seven sources of information. The students are offered a variety of information where two are visuals, and at least one is the quantitative source. The remaining sources are excerpts from the text, and each of these sources will be around 500 words. The candidates are expected to synthesise their essays and reflect their viewpoints based on and backed by at least three provided sources. 

What Are the Factors or Criteria of the Assessment of the Synthesis Essay?

The synthesis essay is assessed by the invigilator considering the following points: 

  • The presence of a thesis statement in response to the prompt could start a series of argument
  • Utilisation of at least three sources to support the evidence. The sources must be clearly cited or indicated in parentheses
  • Ability to relate the evidence and thesis 
  • Capability to exhibit an understanding of the rhetorical situation 
  • Usage of proper grammar and its rules in the essay 

How To Write a Synthesis Essay AP Lang?

This is the prime question when dealing with the synthesis essay AP Lang. Let’s begin by breaking it down into smaller and more understandable components: 

Step 1: Prompt Analysis

Since you have only a completely new question and sources in hand, the first step will be to analyse the available information. Re-read the prompt at least twice or thrice and identify and note down the prime fact each prompt is conveying. For instance, the first para will be an introduction making you familiar with the topic and the second will offer insights and help you build a view or take a specific side. The third paragraph can be instructions on what is expected in the essay. 


Step 2: Choose the Source

For proper choice usage, you must know what each source encompasses. It leads to the recommendation of going through each source. Reading the source is recommended to ensure you know which sources back your side and which don’t. Summarise this information on each source with a word about which side they are on. Glancing over the sources will also aid in deciding the utilisation of sources in the topic and is efficient compared to randomly choosing the sources without reading. It needs to be done during the reading time and is aimed at saving the essay writing time. 

Step 3: Begin with the Thesis Statement

You need to begin by conveying your side or stand and must establish a line of reasoning for scoring good marks. It should be strictly related to the topic provided and must not wander about the general situations. The thesis statement needs to be clearly mentioned and should not be a copy of the complete or part of the prompt. The reader must understand at the beginning what the essay will be about or what they should expect, along with the reason for your thoughts in your write-up. 


Step 4: Structure Your Essay

An essay is supposed to be sequential. Structure with an outline is the only method to do it. This will not go on your fair copy but will be a guide on how you will approach writing the essay. You are expected to divide the essay into an introduction, body, and conclusion. The introduction will carry a brief context of the topic and sources, along with communication about your stand or side on the topic. 

The body can be divided into three paragraphs. Each paragraph will begin with supporting or opposing information, followed by the evidence and your thoughts on the same. The conclusion will be an overview or summarisation of the reasoning presented in your essay and a final line proving your point. 


Step 5: Fill the Outline With the Essay

You have the structure of what exactly you will be covering in the essay. You know how it has to go, and now the only thing left is writing the essay. Fill up your structure like the blanks. You will be communicating and reflecting your mind and thoughts to the invigilator with the essay. Ensure to depict how the evidence takes or opposes the side you are on. You can get help by incorporating quotes from the source. Overall, you will be explaining the source and clearly indicating the sources used within the parenthesis or by mention in the essay, as it is the criteria determining your marks. 

What Are the Do’s and Don’ts While Writing a Synthesis Essay AP Lang Exam?

Here are some important do’s and don’ts to follow: 

  • Don’t limit your source usage to minimum requirements. Use at least four of them.
  • Don’t end up plagiarizing by summarisation or copying the question part. 
  • Do use your freedom to agree or disagree. 
  • Do go through all the sources for better choices. 
  • Do use quotes to enhance readability 
  • Do cite the sources used 
  • Do write the thesis statement 
  • Do write the notes when going through the topic and sources 


The AP lang synthesis question is a part of the second section carrying more weightage in the exam. Being one of the three free-response questions, the candidates are expected to put forward their perspective and stand while tracking back their reasoning to the sources. Going through the complete prompt and all the sources tends to assist in scoring. Further, writing assistance is available on creating a structure to fill it up with your essay. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the maximum possible score in the synthesis part?

The synthesis part is of 6 points, where a maximum of 1 mark is awarded on thesis development, a maximum of 4 is awarded on evidence and commentary, and a maximum of 1 mark is awarded on the sophistication of thought.


Can I score well in the AP Language and Composition exam?

Yes, you can score well. However, it necessarily requires practice, a broad way of thinking, and properly deciding the flow of ideas in the essay.

How many questions are there for reading and writing?

There are 23 to 25 questions for reading and 20 to 22 questions for writing part in section I.

AP Lang Synthesis Essay


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