In order for the author of the passage to completely explain and develop his or her argument, rhetorical devices must be utilized. Identifying rhetorical devices may sometimes be difficult, but through this AP English Language guide you will see the five easiest ways to identify rhetorical devices and how to apply them. We will be using the Question 2 prompt from the 2013 AP English Language exam, which examines the relationship between people and nature.
1. Read Carefully
Reading carefully may seem common sense; however, this is the most crucial strategy in identifying rhetorical devices. We are sure that you have heard that you must read carefully before, but in this case you must read carefully for persuasiveness. If you find that some aspect of the work is particularly convincing, then there is a rhetorical device at work. This simple strategy of finding rhetorical devices will allow you to quickly find these devices, which is often half the battle.
A great way to practice detecting rhetorical devices is by reading through as many AP Language rhetorical essay passages as possible. We will be using the 2013 AP Language exam. Read through the passage until you find a specific word or phrase that strikes you as compelling. We found the following line in the 2013 passage.
“Perhaps we’ll someday tell our grandchildren stories about our version of the nineteenth-century Conestoga wagon… In our useful boredom, we used our fingers to draw pictures on fogged glass as we watched telephone poles tick by.”
These sentences are vivid images that pulled you in, and you internally know that this is persuasive without needing a name for the rhetorical device. For the AP English Language rhetorical essay you will need to be able to identify that section that contains the rhetorical device as we have done here as well as matching the name of the device to the passage.
2. Know Your Rhetorical Devices
In order to be able to identify rhetorical devices, then you must first have a working knowledge of the most common rhetorical devices. After all, you cannot identify what you do not know. By knowing the various terms for an effective argument you come one step closer to being able to identify them in context.
There are countless terms for the different rhetorical devices, but we will show you how to use a few of these.
When you learned how to read for rhetorical devices we discussed this passage: “Perhaps we’ll someday tell our grandchildren stories about our version of the nineteenth-century Conestoga wagon… In our useful boredom, we used our fingers to draw pictures on fogged glass as we watched telephone poles tick by.”
Here is a great example of the author bringing in an emotional appeal to the reader. You, as the reader, feel nostalgic as you read this, showing just how the author can manipulate the emotional state of the reader to fit his or her purpose. In order to score full points on the AP English Language rhetorical essay section, you must also identify the name of this rhetorical device. In this case, the term’s name is pathos, or an emotional appeal to the reader.
3. Know the Audience
Being able to figure out who the intended audience is for the passage can be a very helpful strategy in identifying rhetorical devices. That is important to know, because certain groups of people have different rhetorical devices that work on them.
One example of this is persuasive, scientific writing. In that case the audience would be more scientists, which is a group of people that need facts, and data to be persuaded. Here the author would not use rhetorical devices such as pathos, because scientists do not put much faith in the emotions. Scientists are better persuaded by logos, or the appeal to a person’s logic.
On the other hand, in the 2013 rhetorical essay that we have been analyzing, the audience is adults that grew up before the digital age. This group of people could be persuaded using other rhetorical devices that are not as logical, such as pathos. So, if you know the audience, then you can search for specific rhetorical devices in the text instead of becoming lost within the passage.
4. Annotate the Text
Notes are your friend during the AP English Language rhetorical essay, and you are encouraged to annotate the passages that are given to you. By writing down notes or circling key words and phrases, you can focus on more than just remembering the last thought that ran through your head. Circling and indicating what you found will keep your brain analyzing the text for rhetorical devices instead of getting stuck thinking about one.
Annotating is an elegant way to jot down your thoughts. Even if all you do is underline the sentence that strikes you as persuasive, then you are one step closer to identifying that rhetorical device. When you are jotting down notes be sure not to spend more than five minutes reading the passage, otherwise you may run out of time writing your rhetorical essay.
5. Read the Passage Twice
The final strategy for identifying rhetorical devices is to read the passage twice. This goes along well with annotating the text, because the persuasive elements of the passage that you found on the first reading. By reading the text again you can jog your memory on which rhetorical devices that you want to include in the essay.
Many students often skip over this important strategy for identifying rhetorical devices, and their essays suffer for it. You need to thoroughly read the passage to properly identify rhetorical devices and how they influence the overall argument.
Identifying rhetorical devices in the AP English Language rhetorical essay is imperative for a high score. In order to accomplish that, you need to be sure that you read critically, know you audience, annotate the text, read the passage more than once, and be absolutely sure that you know your rhetorical devices before you walk into the exam. If you can accomplish all of these, then you are going to identify rhetorical strategies like a professional.
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Many high school students will ambitiously decide to take AP English as their main language elective. Assuming they have made this decision, it is almost a definite fact that most of the students will take the AP English exam. When writing the exam, the test will require you to write three unique types of essays.
From the three possible essay styles, one of them is the rhetorical analysis essay. If you have ever seen the movie Inception, be prepared to experience a similar type of mind-boggling. There is a high percentage chance that you have never worked with this type of essay before. No worries, Our essay service will teach you everything you need to know about writing a stellar rhetorical analysis!
Table Of Contents
What Is A Rhetorical Analysis Essay
Remember I mentioned the movie Inception? Well, the concept of “a dream within a dream” is mimicked here, just with a slight alteration. Essentially, a rhetorical analysis is a type of essay that requires you to “write about the writing”.
If you have a question mark looming over your head, do not worry as this will all make sense with a little bit of reading. In this type of analysis, in order to uncover the strategies and persuasive styles that they are using to get some reaction from a crowd. Most of the time, the example topics are speeches given by influential figures. In other words, when given an essay prompt on the exam, the instructor is asking you to analyze the text and explain how all the “written parts” work together.
Since the AP exam is a time-limited task, swift and effective preparation is key to creating a powerful piece of academic writing! Considering the fact that your allotted time has to be broken down into reading, analyzing and writing, multi-tasking with reading and analyzing is a must. As you begin reading the introductory information, start taking notes of important information that will simplify the analysis process.
- Who is the author?
- What is their intended target audience?
- What is their purpose for writing this speech/document?
- In what setting are they located while giving the speech? Why specifically this setting?
Having these questions in mind and uncovering their answers will simplify the process of analyzing their strategies. At the very least it gives you something to work off, and having this information allows you to understand their methods of persuasion and how it affects the ethos, pathos, and logos.
The ingredients for persuasion, as Aristotle called them, can be broken down into three categories. There are the ethos, pathos, and logos. The ethos appeals to ethics, and this is all about providing traits and reasons as to why the speaker is a credible source of information. The pathos appeals to emotions and is a sneaky way of convincing an audience by creating an emotional response. Last but not least, we have the logos (my personal favorite) which appeals to logical and rational thinking and tries to persuade the audience through reasoning.
- “Doctors all over the world recommend this type of treatment!”
- “You’ll make the right decision because you have something that not many people do: you have the heart."
- “Thousand of years of history has taught us that war never changes”
In every AP English exam, the literary prompt will contain examples of at least one of the three persuasive methods. After using the background info to help guide you, it should not be too difficult to figure out which tactic the speaker uses. Obviously, one should practice writing rhetorical analysis essays before taking the exam!
Rhetorical Essay Outline
After reading, analyzing and jotting down supportive notes, the remaining time that you have is what will really earn you that 5 on the AP Exam! You have the figured out the strategies thanks to your meticulous note taking, and now it is all about putting pen to paper.
Following the proper structuring is the most reliable method of satisfying the professor's requests, so using the 5-6 paragraph style is your best bet. Depending on the amount of solid strategies you have found, the body paragraphs you will have to create should equal the same amount. Regardless, the intro-body-conclusion format of the paper outline remains the same!
As most of your time will be devoted to creating informative body paragraphs, the introductory paragraph should be short and sweet. To start it out briefly, summarize the main argument of the speaker. Afterward, reference “what is said” and “how it is said” to develop your own crafted opinion a.k.a thesis statement. This will explain the tone and mood as well as intrigue the reader about the rhetorical strategies you shall explain later in the text. Last but not least, put together an enlightening thesis that explains the persuasive styles used by the speaker, and their overall effect.
As the part of the essay that will have the most content, the body paragraphs have a lot of questions that need to be answered. In this part of the essay, you are explaining how the speaker develops his thesis and which devices and strategies he applies. Based on the amount of different strategies he uses, a paragraph should be devoted per strategy.
When finding a piece of evidence (quote) that matches up to the criteria of a literary device, then craft one paragraph specifically around that quote. Explain the persuasive strategy used and how the quote shows this. Your explanation should generally answer one of these four questions:
Some other things that should be taken note of within the body paragraphs are shifts in tone and diction and the varying length of sentences. Though these are smaller and do not impact your understanding of the concept of rhetorical analysis as much, knowing them shows your instructor that you have a strong grasp of style. Lastly, do not forget to make proper citations!
After fully supporting and developing your various arguments, it is time to wrap up the essay with a strong conclusion. First of all, explain how this work affected the audience and the essay as a whole. In other words, show the result that came from this impact speech!
Afterward, fully conclude your argument on each individual rhetorical device, and link them as a whole to show their significance as a unit! As a final sentence, provide an impactful overall concluding statement that showed the importance of this speech and its strategies that helped to shape history!
Overall Writing Tips
Phew, you are finally finished writing this super intense and strenuous essay with only five minutes left. Time to sit back and relax as you are finally done this section….. OR you could use this last few minutes to make your writing as flawless as possible! The second option sounds better? I agree, so let us talk about a five-step checklist that will immensely impact the quality of your essay!
- Grammar: Though this may sound like some captain obvious info, nobody likes to read a work that has punctuational errors and sentence structure problems! Keep a fair mix of short and long sentences and make sure to avoid abbreviations. This is Formal Writing remember!?
- Vocabulary: Having a wide range of vocabulary is a sure-fire way to gain some style points from the instructor. It shows that you are multidimensional and can write in a diverse number of ways. Have a quick glance at a thesaurus beforehand to keep that mental space occupied!
- Coherency: The smoother your essay sounds while it is being read, the better the content will seem. Having strong and appropriate transitions keep the essay from getting cluttered as well as using a wide range of punctuations. Do not just jump from point to point; rather, ease the reader into your next thought with smooth language!
- Use Present Tense: When writing formally or for any academic essay, make sure to use present tense writing. It helps to avoid confusion and keeps things straightforward, as well as the fact that writing should feel “at the moment”
- Respond To The Text: This can not be stressed enough. If you have ever heard your teacher say “guys, do not write a plot summary” then you already know where this is going. Avoid listing the literary devices and providing quotes along. Explain the IMPACT of each literary device and SHOW how the quote supports it specifically!
- Name Your Essay Right: It is crucially important to give your essay a suitable title as it is the first thing your reader will see. Moreover, after reading the title of your essay, they will decide whether or not it is worth their attention.
Rhetorical Analysis Example
To gain a better understanding of this writing stye, it would be useful to learn from an example.
Essay Writing Advice From Our Professional Team
Joe Baker, from EssayPro
If you are taking an AP class and you have to do a rhetorical analysis essay, then a good rule of thumb is to use a mnemonic device called DIDLES. DIDLES is an acronym for Diction, Imagery, Details, Language, and Sentence Structure. As soon as you sit down to annotate your text for rhetoric, keep note of the terms above. Diction will help you understand the syntax and tone of the piece. Imagery will point you to the specific places that the author chose to show rather than tell; details will demonstrate what exactly the author wanted you to pay attention to. Language is a good signifier of what mood and voice the author have, and sentence structure will help you notice whether the writing style of the author better.
While you read, don’t forget to annotate and ask yourself questions such as: is the language colloquial or professional? What does the author want to show me with this description? Why does the author include these specific facts/details? And more importantly, how does DIDLES (the bigger picture) evoke ethos, logos, and pathos from the reader. Write down everything that goes through your mind while you read and your rhetoric should be top notch.
Still Struggling to Grasp the Concept?
We get it, rhetorical essay writing is probably a new and confusing option in your writing arsenal. This is definitely one of those essays that require hours of practice to master. Luckily for you, EssayPro, top-notch paper writing service, has a team of professional paper writers that have been writing rhetorical analysis essays for several years. They too have dealt with the confusion of finding these hidden persuasive strategies, so the tips and tricks that they carry are priceless for our students. Chat with the writer and get qualified paper writing help! Whatever questions you may have, EssayPro is ready to help!
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