THE AP EUROPEAN
HISTORY FREE
RESPONSE
QUESTION
The Free Response Question
The FRQ is an essay that must be written in 35 minutes
You must write two on the College Board Exam
• On the College Board Exam you will have two groups of three
essay prompts.
 You must choose one essay from each group of three.
• The two FRQs constitute 27.5% of your score on the College
Board Exam.
 13.75% each
The essay is scored out of nine.
• Ordinarily a 6 out of 9 would be awful, but in APEH a 6 on an essay puts
you right on pace for a 5 on the exam.
The Rubric
Strong Essays earn a 8-9
• THESIS: Clear, well-developed, answers the prompt and guides the essay
throughout
• UNDERSTANDING: Demonstrates thorough understanding of complexity
of topic
• EVIDENCE: Supports thesis with frequent, specific, and relevant
evidence/examples/proof
• ANALYSIS: Effectively analyzes, interprets, makes inferences of
evidence/examples/proof
• ERRORS: May contain insignificant and infrequent errors that do not hinder
arguments OR no errors entirely
• ORGANIZATION: Essay is well-organized (contains introduction, topic
sentences, unity of paragraphs, conclusion)
The Rubric
Good Essays earn a 5-7
• THESIS: Has a thesis (perhaps superficial/simplistic) which addresses
prompt
• UNDERSTANDING: Demonstrates general understanding of the topic
• EVIDENCE: Supports thesis with evidence/examples/proof, sometimes
general or narrative in description
• ANALYSIS: Analyzes, interprets, makes inferences of
evidence/examples/proof, often general or narrative
• ERRORS: May contain minor errors that do not interfere with
comprehension
• ORGANIZATION: Essay contains most elements of organization
The Rubric
Poor Essays earn a 2-4
• THESIS: Limited, confused, or poorly developed thesis which
may simply restate the prompt or is weakly organized
• UNDERSTANDING: Demonstrates simplistic understanding of
the topic
• EVIDENCE: Contains limited evidence/examples/proof which is
usually general or narrative in description
• ANALYSIS: Contains limited or simple analysis, interpretation,
inferences of evidence/examples/proof
• ERRORS: May contain major historical errors
• ORGANIZATION: Essay contains limited elements of
organization
The Rubric
Awful Essays earn a 0-1
• THESIS: No thesis or a thesis that does not address the topic
• UNDERSTANDING: Demonstrates little or no understanding of the topic
• EVIDENCE: Contains inappropriate/inaccurate or no
evidence/examples/proof
• ANALYSIS: Contains no analysis of evidence/examples/proof, or is
inappropriate/inaccurate
• ERRORS: May contain numerous errors; both major and minor
• ORGANIZATION: Essay contains no organization nor structure
Structure of the Essay
The essay consists of an introduction paragraph, body
paragraphs, and preferably a concluding paragraph.
The intro establishes your viewpoint and outlines what
your body paragraphs will be about in a thesis statement.
The body paragraphs back up your viewpoint and thesis.
The conclusion wraps up the essay, and answers the
question “so what?”
Step #1
Read the question multiple times until you understand what you
need to do.
Discuss how Renaissance ideas are expressed in the Italian art of the
period, referring to specific works and artists
For this presentation we will develop an essay for this prompt and
sometimes use other prompts momentarily as examples
Directives of the Question
The second step in writing an essay is to see what action
the essay prompt is telling you to do.
• Failure to pay attention to these directives will result in a lower score.
Analyze: Break a subject down into parts, assess the
connections between facts, answer how and why
• "Analyze the major social and technological changes that took place in
European warfare between 1789 and 1871.“
Assess/Evaluate: Determine the validity of a statement,
analyze positives and negatives, form an opinion
• “`Luther was both a revolutionary and a conservative.' Evaluate this
statement with respect to Luther's responses to the political and social
questions of his day.“
• “Assess the extent to which the Protestant Reformation promoted new
expectations about social roles in the sixteenth century. Refer to at least
two social groups in your response.”
Directives
Compare: Analyze two or more things in order to show
similarities and differences
• “Compare and contrast the attitudes of Martin Luther and John Calvin toward
political authority and social order.”
Contrast: Examine two or more things in order to show
differences
• “Contrast European diplomacy in the periods 1890 to 1914 and 1918 to 1939,
respectively. Include in analysis goals, practices, and results.”
Structure of compare/contrast essays
• It is important to have your body paragraphs centered on topics
• You do not want to separate the two things being compared and write separate
paragraphs for each.
• In the above example your three paragraph topics are already laid out in the
prompt: goals, practices, and results
The Layers of a Question
In order to properly answer the essay question you must break the
prompt down and see all of its layers.
• Sometimes these things seem obvious, but when students are rushed to write
an essay they will often forget about part of the question and lose points.
• Take the time to underline key phrases and determine what needs to be
included into your essay.
“Discuss how Renaissance ideas are expressed in the Italian art of the
period, referring to specific works and artists.”
• This question asks you to discuss (the same as analyze)
• Time period: Renaissance, anything straying from this time period will not be
scored
• Location: Italy
• The writer must identify “Renaissance ideas” and must show how these ideas
influenced “Italian art” using specific art pieces and artists
The Layers of a Question
“Compare and contrast political liberalism with political
conservatism in the first half of the nineteenth century in
Europe”
What is the directive?
• Compare and contrast
What is the location?
• All of Europe
When?
• The first half of the nineteenth century
What must you do?
• Find similarities and differences between political liberalism and political
conservatism
Brainstorm
After reading and re-reading the question, identifying the
directive, and analyzing all the layers of the question, you
must brainstorm.
Think of everything that is related to the topic given.
• Try to decide what information is relevant to the question.
• Try to think of three subtopics.
• Put the relevant information into the subtopics.
Keep your brainstorm organized by creating a T-chart.
Brainstorm
To categorize information think of PERSIA
Political
Economic
Religious
Social
Intellectual
Artistic
Oftentimes these can be used as subtopics.
Brainstorm
Discuss how Renaissance ideas are expressed in the Italian art of the period, referring to specific works and artists
Humanism  Art reflecting
antiquity
Emph on individ.  portray
great indiv. in art
Secular spirit  realistic port.
of the world
• Humanism – increased study
of ancient Greek and Roman
civilization, rejection of Middle
Age thought
•Power of humanity/individ.
•Massacio – dev. Of
perspective, Tribute Money
• Brunelleschi and Donatello
visit Rome, inspired
•Rise of Portraiture – Mona
Lisa, Ginevra de Benci
•Patrons of art put into art
•Busts,characters
•Brunelleschi’s dome
•Michelangelo – David
•Donatello – David
•Raphael – School of Athens
•DaVinci – Vitruvian Man,
cadavers
•Chiaroscuro, sfumato
•Botticelli – mythology,
Primavera, Birth of Venus
Use abbreviations to shorten the time taken on the brainstorm, this example does
not use enough abbreviations because I wanted the viewer to understand my
notes.
Timing
The reading and re-reading of the question,
analysis of the directive, finding the layers of the
question, and brainstorm should take the first five
minutes of your essay writing time.
• 5/35 total minutes
Writing the essay should take the remaining thirty
minutes
The Introduction Paragraph
Discuss how Renaissance ideas are expressed in the Italian art of the period, referring to specific works and artists
The introduction paragraph establishes your viewpoint and
contains a well-developed thesis.
The first sentence establishes what your essay will be
about.
• Do not hint at a thesis statement in this sentence,
• DO NOT restate the question.
A good first sentence:
• The Italian Renaissance created new ideas that most visibly
manifested themselves in the arts.
The Thesis
Discuss how Renaissance ideas are expressed in the Italian art of the period, referring to specific works and artists
The thesis statement follows the first sentence
•
•
•
•
It is one or two sentences long.
It fully answers the question and establishes your subtopics (body paragraph topics).
WITHOUT A STRONG THESIS IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO EARN A GOOD SCORE
Answer the essay prompt that is given to you. Do not bend the prompt to be what you
want it to be.
The thesis must fully answer the question
•
•
•
•
•
Because there are generally three body paragraphs the thesis should include three topics.
The thesis should answer how and why.
The thesis is general, DO NOT INCLUDE SPECIFIC EXAMPLES
An example of a strong thesis:
Renaissance humanism led to the creation of art that reflected the art of antiquity, and
the Renaissance emphasis on the individual led to the rise of art that more accurately
portrayed individuals. Furthermore, the Renaissance secular spirit which emphasized life
on Earth as opposed to the afterlife led to a greater attempt by artists to realistically
portray the world.
The Introduction Paragraph
“Discuss how Renaissance ideas are expressed in the
Italian art of the period, referring to specific works and
artists.”
Good example:
The Italian Renaissance created new ideas that most
visibly manifested themselves in the arts. Renaissance
humanism led to the creation of art that reflected the art
of antiquity, and the Renaissance emphasis on the
individual led to the rise of art that more accurately
portrayed individuals. Furthermore, the Renaissance
secular spirit which emphasized life on Earth as opposed to
the afterlife led to a greater attempt by artists to
realistically portray the world.
A Bad Example
“Discuss how Renaissance ideas are expressed in the Italian art
of the period, referring to specific works and artists.”
Renaissance ideas are expressed in the Italian art of the period.
These ideas were shown in the art of the day, such as the art of
daVinci, Michelangelo, and Raphael.
Why is this a bad example?
The first sentence simply restates the question.
The thesis does not identify Renaissance ideas.
The subtopics named are specific artists, which the question asks to be
included somewhere in the essay. However, no correlation is made between
the effect of Renaissance ideas on these artists pieces.
The Body Paragraphs
The body paragraphs include all of the information
that proves your thesis.
Each body paragraph relates to one of the
subtopics.
• By proving each subtopic, you will prove the thesis.
• The first body paragraph relates to the first subtopic, the
second body paragraph to the second subtopic and so on
and so forth. Keep things in order.
Body paragraphs consist of a topic sentence,
sentences with evidence and analysis, and a
concluding sentence.
General Tips
Do not use the first person (I, me)
Do not use the words “in my opinion” or “I believe”
• Instead, simply state your points and prove them
The Topic Sentence
The topic sentence is a reintroduction of the subtopic
statement.
• Do not simply rewrite the subtopic. Reword it instead.
It has one idea and it is one sentence. Do not make this
sentence too complicated.
Must completely support the thesis.
Subtopic from intro: Renaissance humanism led to the creation of art that
reflected the art of antiquity
Topic Sentence: Renaissance humanists admired the culture of ancient Greece
and Rome, therefore Renaissance artists revived the artistic styles of antiquity.
Evidence and Analysis
The body paragraph will include evidence and analysis.
• First introduce the information and define it.
• Next analyze it to show that it supports the thesis.
• Sometimes info and analysis can happen in the same sentence.
Body Paragraph #1
Renaissance humanists admired the culture of ancient Greece and Rome,
therefore Renaissance artists revived the artistic styles of antiquity. Renaissance
intellectuals began to study the works from antiquity as opposed to the works to
Middle Age philosophers. This emphasis on the works of ancient Greeks and Romans
became known as humanism. Many Renaissance artists studied the art of ancient
civilization and rejected the artistic styles of the Middle Ages. Brunelleschi and
Donatello, two artists of the early Italian Renaissance, travelled to the remains of
ancient Rome and Greece in order to study the art of these ancient civilizations. After
returning to Florence, Brunelleschi designed the famous Dome for the Florence
Cathedral. The Dome’s circular structure and massive size was inspired by the rounded
Roman architecture that Brunelleschi had studied. After being inspired by the
sculptures of antiquity Donatello went on to create his most famous work, “David”.
Donatello’s “David” was the first life-size, freestanding nude sculpture since antiquity.
“David” also showed the figure in a contrapposto stance-the weight concentrated on
one leg-which had been used by Classical artists. Due to the humanist spirit of the
Renaissance, Italian artists, such as Botticelli, took new interest in Greek and Roman
mythology. Botticelli’s “Birth of Venus” portrays the moment that the goddess Venus is
born. Zephyrs blow her to the shore as she rides on a shell. Venus covers herself in a
manner that is reminiscent of ancient sculptures of her. His use of nudes and figures
from ancient mythology show the strong influence humanism had on his art. The works
of Brunelleschi, Donatello, and Botticelli illustrate the connection between humanism
and the arts during the Italian Renaissance.
Body Paragraph #2
Renaissance thinkers began to appreciate the individual and all of man’s potential,
thus human beings became the center of attention in most Italian Renaissance art. This new
emphasis on individuality was epitomized by the rise of portraiture during the Renaissance.
Leonardo da Vinci gained fame for his ability to accurately depict a person’s character in his
work. His “Mona Lisa” is a portrait of a woman with an enigmatic smile and eyes that seem
to maintain eye contact with the viewer. The “Mona Lisa” successfully captures the mystery
and character of the woman being painted. In “The Last Supper” da Vinci illustrates the
moment that Jesus revealed to his Apostles that he would be betrayed by one of his
followers. The fresco depicts each Apostle’s actions at this moment in order to show all of
their distinct personalities. Raphael-another artist of the High Renaissance-gained fame from
his frescoes done in the Vatican including “The School of Athens”. This fresco depicts a
fictitious gathering of ancient and contemporary philosophers and artists. Each philosopher’s
character is accurately depicted. Michelangelo, who was known for his melancholy, is shown
sulking in the foreground. Well-respected citizens were also portrayed in Renaissance art
showing that artists sought to honor the great figures of their time. Patrons of art, including
the Medici’s, would often appear as minor figures in works of art. Likewise, monumental
sculptures were built in honor of those with political power. Michelangelo-the third major
artist of the High Renaissance-became known for his portrayal of human power. His colossal
statue, “David”, and his “Creation of Adam” affirm the beauty and strength of the human
body. Thus, the works of the three High Renaissance artists-Leonardo, Raphael, and
Michelangelo-epitomized the Renaissance idea of individuality by portraying emotion and
human strength.
Body Paragraph #3
Renaissance intellectuals valued life on Earth and did not put off all of their
happiness for the afterlife. Because of this secularism artists attempted to more accurately
portray the world. New artistic technical advances allowed for a more realistic portrayal of
the world. The use of perspective gave paintings an illusion of depth by using vanishing
points and reducing the size of objects in the distance. In Masaccio's “The Tribute Money”
the vanishing point exists behind the head of Jesus, giving the entire scene a more realistic
look. Uccello's scenes of battle including his paintings of the “Battle of San Romano”
exhibit his obsession with perspective as a way to accurately portray reality. Leonardo da
Vinci and Michelangelo developed chiaroscuro, the technique of contrasting light and dark,
to give objects roundness and depth. Sfumato, the technique layering of thin glazes of
paint, also allowed artists to more precisely illustrate nature. Both chiaroscuro and sfumato
are exhibited in da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa”. Artists would also dissect corpses in order to gain a
better understanding of the human anatomy. The precise anatomy of the body of Christ in
Michelangelo’s “Pieta” was achieved in part through Michelangelo’s dissection of corpses.
Leonardo da Vinci’s “Vitruvian Man” also shows the precise observation that artists
devoted to the human body. The uses of perspective, shading, and the study of human
anatomy allowed for different methods of illustrating reality.
Conclusion
Discuss how Renaissance ideas are expressed in the Italian art of the period, referring to specific works and artists
For
the conclusion include a setting sentence, then a sentence for each
subtopic, then a concluding sentence.
The new ideas of the Renaissance led to a flowering of a new Renaissance
artistic style in Italy. Philosophers of the Renaissance created a renewed
interest in ancient Greece and Rome known as humanism, so Renaissance
artists attempted to emulate the style of these ancient civilizations.
Renaissance Italians also believed strongly in individuality and in human
strength, therefore artists attempted to accurately portray individuals’
personalities and strengths. The secular spirit of the Renaissance led to
an increased emphasis on life on Earth, so artists strove to imitate nature
in their art. Thus, the changing European ideas fostered by the
Renaissance had a profound effect on the artistic styles of Italy.
Thesis Practice
Read and re-read the question, look at the directive, break down the layers then read
the thesis and decide if it fully answers the question.
Analyze the aims, methods, and degree of success of the Catholic
Reformation (Counter-Reformation) in the sixteenth century.
The Counter-Reformation in Europe was implemented to halt the Protestant Reformation
and build back the power of the Catholic Church through education, clergy reforms, and
missionary practice. The Counter-Reformation was successful in saving the integrity of
the Roman Catholic Church, but it did not end Protestantism. Protestants had exploited
the faults of the Roman Catholic Church, and that was the first thing the counterreformation dealt with.
Good thesis, okay thesis, or bad thesis?
Good thesis: This thesis was part of an essay that earned a nine. According to the college
board this is a “clear and analytical thesis that establishes aims (respond to the Protestant
Reformation) methods (clarify doctrine, reform abuses) and outcomes (failure to stop
Protestantism or unite Europe)”
Thesis Practice
Analyze the aims, methods, and degree of success of the Catholic
Reformation (Counter-Reformation) in the sixteenth century.
In response to the growing Protestant Reformation the Catholic Church used methods
such as religious orders to greatly salvage and further the image of the Church.
Good thesis, okay thesis, bad thesis?
Bad thesis: This essay went on to receive a two. “The thesis is weak”. Aims stated=to
greatly salvage and further the image of the church. This is an incoherent statement.
Methods=the church used methods such as religious orders. Degree of success=not
mentioned.
Thesis Practice
Evaluate the changes and continuities in women’s public roles during
the Renaissance.
During the Renaissance the role of women in society changed from a domestic one to a
somewhat influential one. Many of the changes came about due to the change of society
at that time. Women became avid supporters of the arts, they also became educated
under the humanist movement and some even became influential on a grand scale such
as Catherine de Medici.
Good thesis, okay thesis, or bad thesis?
Okay thesis: This essay went on to receive a five. The thesis focuses on the changes
public roles of women. However, it misses half the question because it does not evaluate
continuities in women’s public roles.
Thesis Practice
Analyze how Galileo, Descartes, and Newton altered traditional
interpretations of nature and challenged traditional sources of
knowledge.
The Scientific Revolution brought about new ways of viewing the natural world. Three
men who challenged traditional interpretations of nature and knowledge were Galileo,
Descartes, and Newton. These three men did so through observations and innovations.
Good thesis, okay thesis, bad thesis?
Bad thesis: This essay went on to get a three. The thesis is awful. The author simply
repeats the question and does not add his own thoughts except for his vague comment
on “observations and innovations”
Thesis Practice
Using examples from at least two different states, analyze the key
features of the “new monarchies” and the factors responsible for their
rise in the period 1450 to 1550.
Key features of the development of new monarchies from 1450-1550 included
pacification of the nobility, control of the church, increase in trade and economic
prosperity, as seen in the 15th and 16th century English and Spanish monarchies.
Good thesis, okay thesis, bad thesis?
Good thesis: this essay went on to receive a nine. The thesis fully answers the question
by identifying features of the monarchies that led to their rise (pacification of the nobility,
control of the church, increase in trade and economic prosperity) and by naming two
different states (England and Spain).
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How to do a FRQ - Kenston Local Schools