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APPENDIX A: Sample Grading Rubrics


Total points per discussion: 10

Self-Reflection Journal entries

Total points per self-reflection journal entry: 3


Draft essays.

This grading rubric is designed for the first draft of an essay. It focuses more on content and organization, and it focuses less on grammar and mechanics.

Total points per draft essay: 10

Revised Essays

This grading rubric is designed for the second draft of an essay. It focuses more on grammar and mechanics, and it focuses less on content and organization.

Total points per revised essay: 10

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rubric for synthesis paper

Synthesis Essay

Caleb S.

Writing a Perfect Synthesis Essay: Definition & Examples

16 min read

Published on: Mar 1, 2023

Last updated on: Nov 29, 2023

Synthesis Essay

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Do you have a ton of research to synthesize but don't know how? Or maybe you're not sure what a synthesis essay is and how to write a good synthesis essay. 

We know writing a synthesis essay is not an easy task to do; it’s challenging for most of us. But it can be perfectly done with the right guidance and preparation. 

In this blog, we'll walk you through all the necessary information to craft a perfect synthesis essay. So you can get done with your assignments confidently! 

Let’s get started.

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What is a Synthesis Essay?

Synthesis essay definition states:

It is a piece of writing that takes a unique perspective on a central idea, topic, or theme. Then backs it up with evidence from multiple sources.

A synthesis essay is an important part of academic writing. The main purpose of this essay is to show your ability to prove an argument.

To make sense of these arguments, you need to use different credible sources. It demonstrates your basic understanding of the main subject. This type of essay help to enhance your critical, analytical, and research skills.

A synthesis essay is made up of ideas and conclusions based on the information reviewed. Also, this essay asks you to summarize the topic and add your own thoughts about it in relation to what you have read.

Furthermore, the synthesis essays can be similar to analytical essays , argumentative essays , or compare and contrast essays .

Synthesis Essay Types

There are three types of a synthesis essay:

1. Argument Synthesis Essay

This essay's purpose is to debate or argue on a certain topic or issue. It justifies its claims by providing evidence in the body of the essay.

In contrast to the explanatory essay, you will perform the same thing as if you were writing a typical argumentative paper. First, state your argument, make supporting statements, and back up each claim with reliable facts.

2. Review Essay

A review essay is frequently written as a preparatory essay to an argument synthesis. Review essays are commonly used in social science and medicine classes.

It is a discussion of what has already been published on a topic, with a critical examination of the sources mentioned.

An unwritten thesis statement is added to it, which is not final and indicates that further study is needed in that area.

3. Explanatory Synthesis Essay

In this essay, the writer helps the reader to grasp deeper knowledge about the topic. Rather than arguing or debating on some points, the goal of this essay is to explain a certain topic.

Like any other essay, it needs backing up with supporting claims and credible sources.

How to Start a Synthesis Essay?

The following are some helpful techniques for writing an essay. These will help you start the process and avoid common errors that plague many writers.

1. Choosing a Synthesis Essay Topic 

A prompt for a synthesis paper must be arguable. Based on your project, you may be required to select primary content. Select a book that may include contrasting perspectives. Here are some important tips for choosing a topic for a synthesis essay.

  • Look through the themes and ideas. Read from sources and investigate specific topics thoroughly to see if any of them catch your interest.
  • Select a topic and collect relevant and valuable references for your synthesis paper.
  • Outline your synthesis essay using concepts or ideas from the sources. This should make writing a lot simpler and save you a lot of time.

It is necessary to find an arguable topic to make your synthesis essay effective. Another reason is that these topics have been discussed in public for decades. 

Examples of good synthesis essay topics are;

  • The process of hiring in the age of social media
  • Social networks promote suicide
  • Should higher education be free?
  • Is it necessary to remove marks in education 
  • The importance of getting a good education
  • 3D printers are not used efficiently nowadays.
  • Is technology really helping people?
  • Why has technology made surgery safe and effective?
  • What is the cause of widespread obesity in teens?
  • What is the role of gender today?

2. Analyze Your Topic

Here's how you can fully understand your synthesis essay topic.

  • Grasp the Idea of a Synthesis Essay

A synthesis essay's purpose is to establish meaningful connections between sections of a work. When conducting research on a topic, you have to look for connections to build a strong viewpoint on the subject. The ultimate goal of the essay is to present and prove a claim about a topic .

  • Select a Topic Appropriate for a Synthesis Essay

The subject and topic must be extensive enough to include multiple relevant sources. If you have a free hand in deciding what to write about, some preparatory research may assist you in researching and choosing the right topic. 

  •  Select and Study Your Sources Carefully

Research and find relevant information and sources. Generally, choose at least three references for your essay. It's a good idea to learn one or two additional sources for better understanding but no matter what it is, make sure that you study it properly.

Remember that it is better to read three sources properly than five sources poorly.

Compile each source by writing notes in the margins. This allows you to keep track of your thoughts, fresh ideas, and so on. 

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  • Reread the Source Material 

Reread your source material for elements that will help to support your argument. 

Examine your sources for important statements, figures, thoughts, and facts that support your thesis. Make a note of them when you come across them. This will be very useful throughout your writing process. 

3. Develop a Thesis Statement 

Your thesis statement will be the central idea of your essay. It should cover the topic and express your viewpoint on it. After reading the sources and conducting your research, form an opinion on your topic. 

It should be stated as a complete sentence. Based on the essay, your thesis statement could be the first sentence of the essay or the last sentence of the first paragraph.

  • Structure Your Thesis Statement Creatively 

To present your thesis, use a more creative structure. You can use a more elaborate structure than the one outlined above. You can develop your essay using the following approaches:

Straw man: In this approach, you will present the counter-arguments first. Then demonstrate their weaknesses and flaws. 

Such an approach demonstrates your awareness of the opposition as well as your readiness to respond to it. You present the counter-argument immediately following your thesis statement, followed by evidence to refute it. And conclude with a positive argument that supports your thesis.

Concession: In structure, concessions in essays are similar to the straw man. But this approach acknowledges the validity of the counter-argument while demonstrating that your argument is stronger. This structure is suitable for presenting papers to readers who hold opposing views. 

Illustration/ Example: It could be a thorough narrative, synopsis, or quotation from your source material that provides support for your position. However, you should not make your paper a collection of examples at the expense of supporting your thesis statement.

Comparison and Contrast: In this approach, similarities and differences between two subjects or sources demonstrate both aspects. It requires a thorough reading of your source material to identify both subtle and major points of comparison.

This type of essay can present its arguments source by source or by points of similarity or difference.

4. Create an Outline for Your Essay

An essay outline is a method for outlining the framework of your essay. Here’s what you have to do. Outlining can help you structure and plan your synthesis paper. 

The standard outline of a synthesis essay is divided into three sections:

Need detailed guidance on how to write a synthesis essay? Check out this video?

How to Write a Synthesis Essay?

For writing a great essay, you have to do extensive research on your subject. This essay connects sections of multiple works and develops a strong viewpoint on a subject.

There are some major steps of the process:

1. Start Writing Your Essay 

After getting done with the preparation part, start to write your synthesis essay. 

2. Write Your First Draft Using Your Outline as a Guide

But be prepared to change your strategy if you discover fresh ideas and information. And make sure it supports your thesis and the source material. 

Your essay should have an introduction paragraph with your thesis statement at the end of it. A body with evidence that supports your main topic and thesis statement. Lastly, a conclusion that summarizes your point of view.

3. Use Transitions 

To make the content flow logically, use transitions between paragraphs. Transition words are an excellent method to highlight areas where your sources complement one another. 

Longer quotes of three lines or more should be presented as block quotes to draw emphasis to them.

4. Wrap Up Your Essay 

Here you have completed the writing process, but still, you need to make sure that your essay is flawless. 

5. Revise Your Essay

This is the time to enhance transitions between points and paragraphs and to reinforce arguments. You should strive to make your argument as concise and clear to understand as possible. It is beneficial to read your essay aloud so you can spot problematic phrases or unclear ideas.

Request someone else to proofread your paper. Have you heard the cliché "two heads are better than one"? Is it still valid?

Ask a friend or coworker what they would add or eliminate from the paper. Most importantly, does your thesis statement make sense, and are your references clearly supporting it?

Answer these questions in your essay.

6. Proofread Your Content

Examine your document for any grammatical, punctuation, or spelling mistakes. 

Are all the terms, names, and words accurately spelled? Are there any extraneous English language or sentence fragments? As you go, correct them.

Read the essay loudly to ensure that you don't accidentally add or remove words when reading in your mind. If possible, ask a friend or classmate to edit your writing.

7. Must Cite Sources

Use footnotes to mention information in the body paragraph and bibliography of cited books at the conclusion. Footnotes and in-text citations should be used for any information that is quoted, paraphrased, or cited.

8. Title Your Essay 

The point of view expressed in your thesis statement and supporting arguments should be reflected in your title. Therefore, choose a title that suits your essay rather than constructing your essay to fit the title.

Synthesis Essay Format

The format of your synthesis paper is chosen by your high school, college, or university professor. MLA, APA, and Chicago styles are the most often used styles.

The APA format is followed in the disciplines of science, education, and psychology. Chicago is commonly followed in the field of history, fine arts, and business. And MLA is the style of citation used in the humanities.

APA Style Format

The following are some APA style important details:

  • Add a page header to the top of each page.
  • Times New Roman, 1” margins, 12 pt. Font, double-spaced.
  • The format of a synthesis essay should be separated into four sections: title page, abstract, main body, and references.
  • Insert a page number in the upper right corner.

Chicago Style Format

The following are some Chicago style key points:

  • Use double-spacing between the paper's lines.
  • Make margins of one inch.
  • Font size: 12 pt. Times New Roman font style.
  • Create text that is left-justified with a rugged edge.
  • Mention the full name of a person, place, or organization.
  • At the start of the paragraph, use half-inch indents.
  • The bibliography should be on its own page.

MLA Style Format

The following are some MLA style significant points:

  • The title must be centered.
  • Font: Times New Roman, 1” margins, 12 pt font size, double-spaced
  • Mention your name, professor's name, the course number, and the date (dd/mm/yy).
  • On each page, the top right corner displays the last name and page number.
  • The final page provides a “Works Cited” list.

Synthesis Essay Rubric

A rubric is essentially a list of criteria that your professor will use to grade your paper. 

Knowing how each criterion is weighted can help make sure you get the best grade possible on your synthesis essay. 

The Basics of the Synthesis Essay Rubric

The basic elements of any synthesis essay rubric include organization, focus/development, and language use/style. 

  • Organization refers to how well you structure your paper. It should flow logically and have clear transitions between sections. 
  • Focus/development looks at how well you develop your argument throughout the paper. Are you able to clearly explain why each point supports your thesis?
  • Language use/style focuses on grammar, punctuation, and spelling. Was the paper proofread thoroughly or did careless errors slip in?

For example , your synthesis essay thesis statement is

“Capital punishment should be abolished in all states." 

Do you provide evidence from different angles, such as legal history, religious beliefs, or moral arguments to back up this claim? 

Does this evidence prove why capital punishment should be abolished?

How to Write a Synthesis Essay - Ap Lang

Are you an AP Lang student who’s been assigned the dreaded synthesis essay? Here’s how to write a successful synthesis essay for AP Lang. 

  • Understand the Prompt 

The first step in writing any synthesis essay is to read and understand the prompt. It’s also important to note any specific requirements such as word count, formatting style, or sources that must be used in your essay. 

  • Organize Your Argument 

Once you have all the information necessary, it’s time to start organizing your argument.

Start by identifying any common themes or ideas between the various sources of evidence and create an outline with these points at its core. 

  • Write Your Essay 

Now comes the fun part—writing! 

You should now have a comprehensive outline of all the points and evidence you want to include in your essay. So use this as a guide when crafting your argument. 

Make sure that each point has supporting evidence from credible sources and that everything flows logically from one point to another. 

Finally, don’t forget to proofread and edit before submitting so that there are no errors in grammar or spelling. These small details can make all the difference! 

Synthesis Essay Tips

Working on a synthesis paper requires a thorough study of a particular given prompt. To evaluate it properly, you must first understand the prompt’s goal, argument, author’s claim, and rhetoric.

To compose a successful synthesis essay, here are some helpful tips to keep in mind.

  • Use Multiple Reasons

It is well recognized that the use of various reasons (generally two) is a very successful approach.

Present one argument against your strong thesis statement. This type of evidence presents an introduction and description. The advantage of this method is to teach awareness of the other side of the argument. It is followed by the opposing view and a decisive factor.

This is one of the most basic ways of organizing. It enables you to summarise the sources that are most relevant to you. The problem is that this technique excludes any of your individual thinking.

  • Compare and Contrast

Comparing reveals similarities, while contrasting reveals distinctions. It is feasible to show an in-depth analysis of your chosen topic. It allows writers to compare and contrast two sources at the same time.

Write quotations from sources in your own words. This approach also allows the usage of quotable sources. Ensure to cite the reference when you use the reference.

This method depicts the opposing point of view. It demonstrates that the positives outweigh the negatives.

Writing a synthesis essay is not as difficult as it may seem. You can also try our AI essay writer to generate plagiarism-free content and make the process easier. 

However, if you are having trouble understanding the concepts or writing a synthesis essay, it is best to hire professionals.

Our synthesis essay writing service is the perfect solution to your problems. We have a team of skilled writers who will help you through each step of the essay-writing process.

You contact our professional essay writing service at CollegeEssay.org for help and assistance. Our essay writer service is always ready to ace your assignments. 

So don't hesitate and order your essay now!

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you end a synthesis essay.

A strong ending fulfills these 3 things: 

  • Restate your thesis. 
  • Summarize or synthesize key points. 
  • Make your argument's context explicit. 

What is a synthesis paragraph?

A synthesis is a textual debate that includes support from multiple sources with opposing viewpoints. This type of work requires analysis by using different sources and determining their relevance to your thesis.

Why is synthesis important?

It is important because it allows us to: 

  • Test and validate hypotheses. 
  • Comprehend key processes. 
  • Plan future research efforts. 

How to conclude a synthesis essay?

Synthesize rather than summarize your argument. No need to go over your entire paper again. Instead, include a brief summary of the main points of the paper and explain to your reader how you've made points.

What is an example of a synthesis?

Making connections or putting things together is all that is required. We naturally synthesize information to assist others in seeing connections between things. For example, synthesis occurs when you report to a friend what other friends have said about a film or book.

How many paragraphs is a synthesis essay?

According to the standard outline provided, you should stick to the basic five-to-six paragraph structure. In rare cases, there may be more paragraphs in the main body.

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Caleb S. has extensive experience in writing and holds a Masters from Oxford University. He takes great satisfaction in helping students exceed their academic goals. Caleb always puts the needs of his clients first and is dedicated to providing quality service.

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Synthesis Essay Rubric Knowledge and skills: / 100<br />

Excellent Good Fair Poor<br />

Builds a compelling, insightful, and<br />

convincing analysis/argument with<br />

a balanced mix of analysis and<br />

examples from both sources.<br />

Builds a logical analysis/argument<br />

with a mix of analysis and<br />

Minimal analysis/argument, mostly<br />

a list of examples; little attempt<br />

to synthesize sources.<br />

Refers to the topic but offers no<br />

analysis or argumentation.<br />



All examples are accurate,<br />

specific, concrete, and<br />

relevant. All argument is<br />

substantiated with textual<br />

evidence.<br />

Most examples are accurate,<br />

specific, concrete, and relevant.<br />

Appropriate references or<br />

citations are provided. In all but 1<br />

or 2 places, argument is<br />

Uses examples from the sources,<br />

but they tend to be inaccurate,<br />

general, vague, or<br />

irrelevant. Additionally, examples<br />

may not always be used when<br />

needed.<br />

Uses few or no examples; bases<br />

argument on unsubstantiated<br />

opinion. Additionally, may only use<br />

examples from one source.<br />

Begins with an engaging title and<br />

opening. Introduction clearly<br />

states the thesis of <strong>essay</strong>, which<br />

is effective to the <strong>essay</strong>’s<br />

purpose.<br />

Begins with an introduction that<br />

clearly states the thesis of the<br />

<strong>essay</strong>, which is adequate to <strong>essay</strong>’s<br />

purpose. Introduction is missing<br />

title and hook, however, leaving<br />

reader unengaged.<br />

Introduction and/ or thesis<br />

statement may be unclear or<br />

inadequate to purpose.<br />

Additionally, introduction may be<br />

uninteresting.<br />

Thesis statement missing. Essay<br />

may be untitled and introduction<br />


Organization leads reader<br />

smoothly through argument with a<br />

variety of embedded transitions<br />

and effective lead-ins to<br />

examples.<br />

Organization leads reader through<br />

argument with transitions;<br />

however, transitions may be<br />

elementary at times (i.e. “next”,<br />

“in conclusion”, etc.) Additionally,<br />

some lead ins may be inadequate.<br />

Organization disjointed or hard to<br />

follow; few or no transitions.<br />

Missing several lead-ins or leadins<br />

No flow to <strong>essay</strong>, just a collection<br />

of unconnected thoughts and<br />

Ends with a satisfying conclusion<br />

that reiterates thesis and leaves<br />

reader thinking about a big<br />

picture idea, but does not<br />

introduce new ideas.<br />

Ends with a conclusion that<br />

reiterates thesis but expands<br />

minimally or does so in a way that<br />

introduces a new idea.<br />

Ends with a conclusion that merely<br />

repeats thesis.<br />

No conclusion<br />



Correct sentence structures,<br />

diction, and mechanics show<br />

command of language skills.<br />

Delivery conveys message.<br />

Author presents ideas formally<br />

and professionally.<br />

In most places, sentence<br />

structures, diction, and mechanics<br />

work effectively to convey<br />

author’s message.<br />

Author makes few errors in<br />

formatting and professionalism.<br />

Many faulty sentences and<br />

misused words make <strong>essay</strong> unclear.<br />

Numerous distracting mechanical<br />

errors Delivery interferes with<br />

message.<br />

Author made many mistakes in<br />

Errors in sentence structure,<br />

diction, and mechanics render<br />

reader unable to interpret<br />

Author neglected to use MLA<br />

formatting and has numerous<br />

errors in formality (personal<br />

pronouns, contractions, numbers,<br />

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2008 literary analysis - Arapahoe High School

Synthesis Essay Rubric Knowledge and skills: / 100 Excellent Good Fair Poor Builds a compelling, insightful, and convincing analysis/argument with a balanced mix of analysis and examples from both sources. Builds a logical analysis/argument with a mix of analysis and examples from both sources. Minimal analysis/argument, mostly a list of examples; little attempt to synthesize sources. Refers to the topic but offers no analysis or argumentation. SYNTHESIS AND DEVELOPMENT All examples are accurate, specific, concrete, and relevant. All argument is substantiated with textual evidence. Most examples are accurate, specific, concrete, and relevant. Appropriate references or citations are provided. In all but 1 or 2 places, argument is substantiated with textual evidence. Uses examples from the sources, but they tend to be inaccurate, general, vague, or irrelevant. Additionally, examples may not always be used when needed. Uses few or no examples; bases argument on unsubstantiated opinion. Additionally, may only use examples from one source. Begins with an engaging title and opening. Introduction clearly states the thesis of <strong>essay</strong>, which is effective to the <strong>essay</strong>’s purpose. Begins with an introduction that clearly states the thesis of the <strong>essay</strong>, which is adequate to <strong>essay</strong>’s purpose. Introduction is missing title and hook, however, leaving reader unengaged. Introduction and/ or thesis statement may be unclear or inadequate to purpose. Additionally, introduction may be uninteresting. Thesis statement missing. Essay may be untitled and introduction uninteresting. ORGANIZATION Organization leads reader smoothly through argument with a variety of embedded transitions and effective lead-ins to examples. Organization leads reader through argument with transitions; however, transitions may be elementary at times (i.e. “next”, “in conclusion”, etc.) Additionally, some lead ins may be inadequate. Organization disjointed or hard to follow; few or no transitions. Missing several lead-ins or leadins inadequate to purpose. No flow to <strong>essay</strong>, just a collection of unconnected thoughts and examples. Ends with a satisfying conclusion that reiterates thesis and leaves reader thinking about a big picture idea, but does not introduce new ideas. Ends with a conclusion that reiterates thesis but expands minimally or does so in a way that introduces a new idea. Ends with a conclusion that merely repeats thesis. No conclusion CONVENTIONS/ MECHANICS Correct sentence structures, diction, and mechanics show command of language skills. Delivery conveys message. Author presents ideas formally and professionally. In most places, sentence structures, diction, and mechanics work effectively to convey author’s message. Author makes few errors in formatting and professionalism. Many faulty sentences and misused words make <strong>essay</strong> unclear. Numerous distracting mechanical errors Delivery interferes with message. Author made many mistakes in formatting and professionalism. Errors in sentence structure, diction, and mechanics render reader unable to interpret author’s message. Author neglected to use MLA formatting and has numerous errors in formality (personal pronouns, contractions, numbers, etc.).

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Synthesis Overview

10 min read • november 18, 2021

Justin Nazario

Justin Nazario

Overview of the Synthesis Question

Section II of the AP English Language and Composition exam includes three free-response questions that you must answer in 2 hours and 15 minutes.

This guide will focus on Question 1 of Section II of the exam, the Synthesis question . As with all AP exams with free-response questions, the Synthesis question has its own rubric and scoring that we will detail later in this guide. 

To summarize, however, your essay should include/ demonstrate the following:

An easy to identify thesis 

Use of three or more of the provided sources

Explain how the sources used defend the claim in a complex manner

Writing that is sophisticated and collegiate

In the sections that follow, we will go over exactly what each part means. One thing to keep in mind is that the sources you choose should only strengthen your claim-- not step in and be the claim. Avoid overly citing from the sources to the point that your voice takes the backseat.

Luckily, the same skills of sophistication and complexity translate into the other essays you’ll write for this exam. Once you have developed your own voice, the rest is a matter of organization.

As stated before, you have 2 hours and 15 minutes to answer all three of your free-response questions. It seems like a lot, but it flies. To prevent getting behind schedule, it’s important to manage your time wisely.

A good breakdown to consider when pacing yourself is the following:

10 min. (to read sources) + 5 min. (planning) + 35 min. (writing) = 50 min.

How to Rock the Synthesis Question: The Rubric

The synthesis question is scored on a six-point rubric , and each point can be earned individually. This means that you can get points in one category, but not in others. It all depends on how well you accomplish each level on the rubric .

The Synthesis Question Rubric

Your thesis is the statement of your essay that introduces your claim to the reader. This is where you come forward and explicitly say: here is my position on the argument, and here are my reasons for feeling this way. 💭Above all else, you must respond to the prompt in its entirety. 

As in most essays, the introduction is recommended to be in the opening paragraph of your essay. ☝If it’s not in the introduction, you run the risk of confusing your reader, but your thesis can be anywhere in your essay. It can be as long as you’d like, so long as you present your main ideas in the order you will be discussing them in.

In order to receive the point, you need to both answer the prompt and present your own argument and claim to said prompt. A simple way to do so is to use words from the prompt to drive your thesis forward, but avoid just restating the thesis without adding your claim . You’ll lose out on the point if you forget to weave your argument into the thesis.

Your thesis and introductory paragraph are really where you introduce your style and voice as a writer. You have the opportunity to speak to your reader-- say something. Answer the prompt in complex, rich sentences that convey your use the sources to their highest potential. 👏

A great thesis does not have to be a paragraph long: as long as it answers the prompt, you’ll be alright!

Evidence and Commentary

This section on the rubric is split up into two categories: use of sources and commentary on the sources.

The College Board requires that you use at least three of the sources in order to earn the maximum amount of points. To “use” a source, you must cite text from the source or paraphrase an idea expressed by the author of the source, and then must explain its significance to the overall claim. (More on that in a moment.)

You must also establish a line of reasoning that the sources answer and/or incorporate into your elaboration. To make it a bit simpler, you need to explain how the source proves or challenges your claim. This can be accomplished in one sentence or several-- regardless, you need to explain why you chose to use that source to prove that claim. 

The second part of this category is the commentary section. Here, you must consistently establish the line of reasoning for each of the sources you introduce and do so with complexity. In all reality, this is just making sure that you are using each source for a reason, and not just fact-dropping information to earn the point. 


An easy way to do this is by prefacing your citation with how the source relates to your argument, and then elaborating afterward.  Consider this example:

“The indoctrination of immigrants into American society is representative of a divide in American politics and culture, a line created by the two party system. (Source 2) Through the conditioning of immigrants to the ways of American society, there is a systematic erasing of native culture and ways in order to push American agendas onto people of other backgrounds and identities...”

The example drops the citation right in the middle of the paragraph in order to introduce the paraphrased idea, but divide it from the elaboration that follows:


The final row in the rubric is sophistication , or the level and complexity of your writing. This point is earned over the course of your essay and must be consistent in order for you to get the point.

This one is a little more complex to earn than some of the other points on the rubric . Contrary to the other rows, this is not something you need to directly set out to do, but something that needs to be developed over the course of your essay-- when you read a well-crafted sentence, you can tell. When you don’t read a well-crafted sentence, you can tell.

College Board has 4 notes on responses that typically earn this point:

Typically notice variations and conflicts within the sources , and explore said variations and conflicts

Express the restrictions of a source’s argument and does so within a larger scope and context

Demonstrate specific and powerful use of language so as to express professionalism and maturity

Use voice that is consistently lively yet coherent

Let’s break down each bullet.

The first bullet states is asking that your response acknowledges the difference between sources. Let’s say Source A is about how peanut butter is good for dogs but Source B says that peanut butter is actually harmful for dogs-- by expressing the counterpoints of the two sources, and discussing the broader context of the source and arguments presented in the two, you are demonstrating sophistication and can earn the point. The ‘explore’ part of the bullet is what makes or breaks it.

Make sure you don’t just drop things without explaining their significance or value!

The second bullet is relating the sources and information presented in them to both one another and the overall prompt. Ask yourself: What does this source talk about that this one doesn’t? How is the scope of this source relating to the prompt? What does this source say that this one builds off of? It’s about finding relationships between the sources and how, together, they make a set and rely on one another for validation or dejection. 👪

The third and fourth bullets are notes on your writing. The College Board wants to read essays and responses that are high quality and complex, not ones that lack development or are lackluster. They are really looking for responses that feel whole and complete, expressing entire thoughts rather than fragments of ideas that can get scattered and lost in translation. 

This mainly comes with practice and reading your peers’ work. Look for things such as sentence structure, diction, and punctuation. Do most of their sentences follow the same order and flow? Do they use the same three words to describe one thing or are they using a wide array of vocabulary? Think of how you can apply these things to your own writing, as well.

How to Rock the Synthesis Question - Process

Before you start writing....

Take time to plan your essays. If you just jump into writing without jotting down some ideas or a battle plan, you’re going to find yourself lost in the middle of your body paragraphs .


A very simple idea for planning your essay is by using a template:

Main Idea #1

Supporting Detail #1

Evidence #1

Evidence #2

Elaboration (2-3 Sentences)

Supporting Detail #2

By organizing your ideas into an umbrella shape, you can get an idea of how your essay is going to read by the progression of your ideas. Remember that the order you present your ideas in must be the order you discuss them!

Another tip is to be 100% of what it is the prompt is asking of you. If the prompt is asking you to develop an argument or position on an event or idea, do exactly that. The sources tend to lend themselves towards one side of the argument, so be sure that whatever side you pick is well-supported with evidence from the sources. You can’t use any outside knowledge or anything that is not directly stated or implied by the sources. 

As mentioned before, it is extremely useful to use words in the prompt to formulate your thesis.

For example, if the prompt asks you what a country needs to consider before it engages in war with another country, you could formulate your thesis by saying “prior to engaging in war with another country, one must consider…” in order to directly respond to the question. This avoids confusion and allows you to easily pinpoint, for yourself, your thesis.

Think of all of Section 2 as a speech– this is the only section of the exam where you get to speak to the scorers. They are reading your handwriting, seeing your words and erase marks: make an impression! They are scored by a rubric , but they are also looking for voice and sophistication . Don’t brush off these essays and give minimal effort, they want you to pass.

Writing the Essay

Your introductory paragraph should realistically comprise of your thesis and introduce your response to the prompt. Your introduction can be just one sentence with your thesis, or you can build context by prefacing your argument or claim with things you learned from the sources. Avoid using “I”. 

Your body paragraphs should be where you spend most of your time writing. Remember what the rubric says about relationships and connections between the sources. Look for key similarities and differences that may lend you to choose a main idea from the set. They all have something in common!

After you have an idea of your main points, start with a topic sentence that is essentially a thesis for the paragraph. Explain what you’re going to discuss and how it relates back to the prompt (or broader context, if applicable).

After introducing your topic sentence , begin using your evidence and elaborating in complete, complex sentences. If you planned your essay well enough, you may even be able to just copy what you have written down and just spend time elaborating on the sources. This maximizes your time and gives you some space to develop an even more complex argument . 2-3 sentences of elaboration is the sweet spot if you cover all your bases.

After you’ve done the steps above, do the same for the next body paragraph.

Once you reach your conclusion , state for the final time your thesis and the points you mentioned in your body paragraphs . Someone should be able to read your conclusion and get a good idea of what it is you discussed in your response, so make it informative and a good representation of your work!

And once you’ve reached this point, you’re all done! Give your essay a read and fix any mechanical or grammatical issues that you may stumble upon. After that, move on to the next essay and keep your head high-- you’re one step closer to finishing the exam! ✋


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rubric for synthesis paper

How to Write the AP Lang Synthesis Essay

rubric for synthesis paper

AP Lang test is the logical conclusion to the introductory college English composition course. And its most important (and often difficult) part is the AP Lang synthesis essay. Despite it being the very basic layer of your future composition skills, it’s a very complicated challenge to approach unprepared. Besides, it's details may change year to year. So let’s have a look with our coursework writing team at what your AP Lang exam 2022 might look like.

What is AP Lang?

AP Lang is a relatively lengthy test. There are several AP rubrics that a student must be well-versed in to hope to pass it. The first section includes reading and writing, while the second is slightly more freeform and includes three different types of essays.

Among those three, the most interesting and, coincidentally, oftentimes the hardest to deal with is the AP Lang synthesis essay rubric. Today will focus on it specifically to make sure you know exactly what you’re going to be facing during your test.

What Is a Synthesis Essay AP Lang?

At its core, the AP Lang synthesis essay is a pretty straightforward part of the AP Lang test. It might look pretty similar to the reading section of the exam. However, simply finding the right information isn’t enough. When writing a synthesis essay, you should not only gather the data but also distill it into your personal opinion.

This fine line may seem difficult to spot, but it is there. And it’s that small difference that can make or break your exam run. So try to follow the steps one by one and not lose focus. Writing a good synthesis essay is as easy as following the rules. If you feel this task is too difficult for you, you can leave us your ' write an essay for me ' request and we will do it for you.

AP Lang Synthesis Essay Outline

Looking through AP Lang essay examples, you might notice that the overall structure doesn’t really differ too much from your standard essay outline. You have your introduction, your body, and your conclusion. But the important thing to note is where your arguments are supposed to come from.

You’re not supposed to just go off on a rant. The task requires you to base your supporting evidence on at least three sources. And you will have to ensure your essay has solid roots. Here’s what a basic AP Lang exam synthesis essay outline should look like:

  • Introduction

Provide sufficient context for the topic you are about to cover. You can do a quick overview of prevailing opinions you have grasped while browsing through your source materials.

Write a short and compelling thesis statement. This will be your ground zero for the rest of the essay. So make sure it reflects your opinion. What is a thesis statement you can read in our special article.

  • Body Paragraphs

Dedicate at least one paragraph to every source you’re using. Start with presenting the evidence you have gathered from that source and go on to explain how it formed your opinion on the topic and why it should be considered.

Quickly go through your line of reasoning and reinforce what you have already covered. Finish up with restating your thesis as you’re supposed to logically arrive at it after all the evidence you have presented. That’s how you write a conclusion properly.

Different Forms and Types of Synthesis Essay: Explanatory vs. Argumentative Synthesis Essays

When it comes to writing a synthesis essay AP Lang, there are several types of essays you should consider. The most common ones are the AP Lang argument essay and explanatory essay. The clues as to how each of them should look are hidden within their names but let’s go over them to clear any confusion.

An explanatory essay’s goal is to go over a certain topic, discuss it in detail, and ultimately show a high level of understanding of the said topic. You don’t necessarily have to get into a heated argument with the reader trying to convince them of something. All you need to do is create an impartial overview.

On the other hand, an argumentative essay has to do with personal opinions. And while there is a time and a place for bias, it still has to be as impartial and factual as possible. When proving your point, try not to devolve into emotional arguments but stick to logic and cold truths. This will make your argument way more solid.

Synthesis Essay Structure

In the general case, you don’t really need to look for a synthesis essay AP Lang example to get a solid grasp on how its structure should look like. You can safely fall back on your high school essay writing knowledge, and you’ll be mostly safe.

What you should pay attention to is your writing style and content. A synthesis essay is identified less by its structure and more by the way you form and present your arguments to the reader. It’s when you get a specific essay type (like an argumentative essay) that you should pay attention to slight changes in format.

Argument Essay Structure

The best way to understand argumentative essay structure is to study any well-written AP Lang argument essay example. Standard AP Lang essays have very distinctive features that are very easy to spot and emulate. They follow a very rigid form and employ specific rhetorical devices that you’ll be able to pick up after you analyze them once or twice quickly.

How Many Paragraphs Should an AP Lang Synthesis Essay Be?

The number of paragraphs in an AP Lang synthesis essay can indeed make a difference. Your arguments should be concise and pointed. Spreading them out throughout many paragraphs may seem like a good idea to fill in the space. But it’s actually detrimental to your final score. You can get a basic understanding of what your score is going to be using an AP Lang score calculator.

The same goes for too few paragraphs. Don’t even try to squeeze your entire line of thought into a single body paragraph. Generally, the minimum number of sources you should address is three. Any less, and you are getting a lower score. So try to keep it somewhere in the middle. Three to five body paragraphs is an optimal number. Don’t forget to add an intro and a conclusion to it and you’re all set. A well-written essay has a clear and easily identifiable structure.

How to Write AP Lang Synthesis Essay: Guide

How to Write the AP Lang Synthesis Essay

In order to write a decent essay, all you have to do is follow these simple steps. Performing a rhetorical analysis essay example, AP Lang won’t give you insight into how it was built from the ground up. But looking at this list might.

Step 1. Read the Prompt

It may sound like a no-brainer. But it’s actually more important than you can imagine. Don’t skip right past this step. It’s very easy to misunderstand the task under stress. And if you do slip up in the beginning - the entirety of your work after that is wasted.

Step 2. Analyze the Sources Carefully

The same goes for your sources. Take your time reading them. Try to spot every smallest detail, as even a single one can help you better incorporate your evidence into the body of your essay. You can begin outlining the general points of your essay in your head at this point.

Step 3. Come Up with a Strong Thesis Statement

Your thesis statement is the baseline of your writing. Make it short and clear. Try not to overthink it too much.

Step 4. Fill in Your Essay Outline

Start filling out your outline step by step. You don’t have to go from top to bottom. If you feel like you’re struggling - skip to the next part and return to the problem paragraph later. The use of rhetorical devices AP Lang is also pretty important. So once you flesh out your essay a bit, spend some time trying to come up with the perfect wording.

Step 5. Finalize

The first finished version of your essay is a draft. Don’t be hasty to turn it in. Read over it a couple of times. Make sure everything is in order. You can switch some of the parts around or rewrite some sections if you have the time. Ideally, at this stage you should have enough time to eliminate all grammatical errors that may still be present in your essay. Polish it to perfection.

Useful Tips

Here are some useful tips that might make the writing process a bit easier for you:

  • Use either APA or Chicago style to cite your sources
  • Have a schedule to understand how much time you have for each section
  • Leave as much time as you can for editing and proofreading
  • You can never over study the source material. Spend as much time as you can reading into it
  • Don’t linger on the surface of your essay subject. Dive in and show your complex understanding of the material
  • Avoid using private life anecdotes to support your case unless the essay type specifically allows it. These don’t make for a convincing argument.
  • Use as many supporting arguments as you can but make sure they are actually solid and relevant to your thesis
  • Check with your thesis from time to time. The entirety of your text should align with it

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AP Lang Essay Prompts

Here are some interesting prompts. Some of them could be found in the previous iterations of the test; you may have spotted them in some of the AP Lang essay examples. Others are there to help you practice for the AP Lang exam 2022.

  • The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, dedicated in 1979, was founded in memory of the president and contained archives pertaining to his administration. On June 24, 1985, then President Ronald Reagan joined members of the Kennedy family at a fundraising event to help the Kennedy Library Foundation create an endowment to fund and support the presidential library. The following is an excerpt from the speech Reagan gave at that event. Read the passage carefully. Write an essay that analyzes the rhetorical choices Reagan makes to achieve his purpose of paying tribute to John F. Kennedy.
  • On August 29, 2009, then-President Barack Obama delivered a eulogy at the funeral of Senator Ted Kennedy in Boston, Massachusetts. Kennedy served in the United States Senate from 1962 until his death. Obama served with him in the Senate from 2005 until Obama was elected president in 2008. The following is an excerpt from Obama’s speech. Read the passage carefully. Write an essay that analyzes the rhetorical choices Obama makes to achieve his purpose of praising and memorializing Kennedy.
  • On April 9, 1964, Claudia “Lady Bird” Johnson, who was at the time the First Lady of the United States, gave the following speech at the first-anniversary luncheon of the Eleanor Roosevelt Memorial Foundation. The foundation is a nonprofit division of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library dedicated to the works of former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, who passed away in 1962. Read the passage carefully. Write an essay that analyzes the rhetorical choices Johnson makes to achieve her purpose of paying tribute to Eleanor Roosevelt.

In your response, you should do the following:

• Respond to the prompt with a thesis that analyzes the writer’s rhetorical choices.

• Select and use evidence to support your line of reasoning.

• Explain how the evidence supports your line of reasoning.

• Demonstrate an understanding of the rhetorical situation.

• Use appropriate grammar and punctuation in communicating your argument.

AP Lang Essay Example

Here is a decent if a bit shortened, AP Lang rhetorical analysis essay example you can use for reference.

Literature to Prepare for AP Lang

How to Write the AP Lang Synthesis Essay

And here is a list of some great AP Lang books that will help you prepare for the exam. Not all of them are immediately useful, but most will help you enhance your writing and analytical abilities to get a better score in the end.

  • The Odyssey
  • Don Quixote
  • A Midsummer Night's Dream
  • Pride and Prejudice
  • Wuthering Heights
  • Oliver Twist
  • Crime and Punishment
  • Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

If you have thoughts of "who could do my paper for me," do not forget that you can contact us. Or, if you have a finished paper and you need to make edits to it, leave us a ' rewrite my essay ' request and we will do it as soon as possible.

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