Writing AP Essays

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Pre-Writing is crucial to organizing your ideas and developing a strong essay.

  • Read and annotate the prompt. What exactly is it asking you to do?
  • Read the passage and annotate the text according to the prompt.

A strong Thesis Statement should have or do all of the following:

  • Address the title and author of the work you are writing about
  • Address the opposition (the other side of your argument)
  • Identify your main point (hint: the unpopular idea is more argumentative and can produce stronger essays when well developed).

Sample Thesis Statement (from Bench Prep)

Although many people think that Mistress Hibbons chose her own fate in Hawthorne’s novel, The Scarlet Letter, Puritan society causes her to be drawn to the devil.

  • Notice how the title and the author are woven into the thesis statement; they are not clumsily mentioned in the beginning of the sentence.
  • The opposing argument has been addressed (although many people think…) and countered (Puritan society…)


  • Make every sentence count!
  • Avoid generalities and vague ideas.
  • Mention the piece that you are discussing immediately.
  • Only use three to four sentences to reach the thesis.
  • Always end with a strong thesis statement!

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Body Paragraphs

  • Indent each paragraph
  • Always start with a clear topic sentence
  • Use specific quotes from the text instead of paraphrasing
  • Make sure your support sentences contain analysis, not summary!
  • For step by step directions on how to write an eleven sentence essay, click here.

Using Textual Evidence

  • Don’t overuse quotes!
  • A short phrase or sentence is more easily understood than a long quotation.
  • Look for the “kernel” or the most important part of the quotation and extract it.
  • Always include analysis and support with a quotation. How does the quote support your topic sentence and your thesis statement?


  • NEVER skip the conclusion, even if you’re running out of time!
  • Restate your thesis using different words than you used in your introduction.
  • Write one to two sentences linking your argument to a bigger idea. Why is this significant to literature or life on a larger scale?

Check out this awesome blog for some helpful tips and tricks for rocking the AP Lit exam!


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