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The prompt may mention specific techniques or purposes, but some leeway of discussion is left to the student.The argument prompt typically gives a position in the form of an assertion from a documented source.Students are asked to consider the assertion, and then form an argument that defends, challenges, or qualifies the assertion using supporting evidence from their own knowledge or reading. Formerly, the test was scored by awarding 1 point for correct answers, while taking off a 1/4 point for incorrect answers. However, the College Board discontinued the policy for all AP Exams in 2011; now they only award 1 point for each correct answer, with no 1/4 point deductions.
Each essay is assigned a score from 0-9, 9 being high.
Scoring is holistic, meaning that specific elements of the essay are not assessed, but each essay is scored in its entirety.
Students have 60 minutes to answer all 55 questions, and the section accounts for 45% of the students score.
The Free-Response section of the test consists of three prompts, each of a different type: synthesis, passage analysis, and argument. With the introduction of the synthesis essay in 2007, the College Board allotted 15 additional minutes to the free-response exam portion to allow students to read and annotate the three prompts, as well as the passages and sources provided.
Prompts, Scoring Guides, Student Sample Essays, and Commentaries are available on the College Board Exam Sites for each Advanced Placement social studies area. Similar but different enough to make each worth viewing. invites four or five knowledgeable outside contributors to discuss news events and other timely issues. Excellent source for opposing opinions on current events, whether you or your students are the ones designing the prompt packet.
DBQ Scoring Guides are particularly helpful, since they specifically list evidence available to support the prompt -- from source details and expected prior student knowledge. I would suggest that only two of your sources could come from this reference.
After reading the passage, students are asked to write an essay in which they analyze and discuss various techniques the author uses in the passage.
The techniques differ from prompt to prompt, but may ask about strategies, argumentative techniques, motivations, or other rhetorical elements of the passage, and how such techniques effectively contribute to the overall purpose of the passage.
AP Language Synthesis Research Assignment (Sandy Jameson) -- Complete packet for students to develop their own synthesis essay prompts and sources as a group project and includes suggested topics.
Then, individually develop an annotated bibliography and write a sample response.