The Free Response Essay
What is it?
• The free-response essays asks that you formulate an
opinion on a topic that you are given.
• You will be asked to defend (agree with), challenge
(disagree with), or qualify (discuss both sides) or to
evaluate a position given (discuss whether or not you
agree or disagree)
For example:
Recently, the AP test has been giving quotes
and asking the reader to develop a position on
the information that is presented in the quote.
How to Attack the Prompt
• First, read all of the information from the prompt to get all
aspects of what you are supposed to cover—don’t forget
to look at historical or biographical information given to
• Find some way to annotate the information. Highlight,
underline, etc.—just don’t skip it!
Has a good perspective
since he is from the
country we broke from
After the revolution—America
is forming
Give the reader the
perspective that the writer is
starting from
Now, look at what you are being asked to do in
the assignment section of the prompt:
You are being asked to do two things:
1. Understand and address the way
Paine feels about America
2. Formulate an opinion about it
How to Construct Your Answer
• Always start with some kind of prewriting—it doesn’t
matter what you do, just do some planning. You only
have 40 minutes, so you need to figure out where to go
with the prompt.
• Make sure that your essay covers every aspect of the
prompt’s question.
Intro paragraph
• Make sure that you have a solid thesis statement that
addresses the prompt.
• Your information in the intro should be concise and should
address the basics/background in the prompt—it should
not give your entire paper away.
Construction cont.
• You are asked to provide evidence to support your
answer—this can be in the form of personal experience,
history, media, literature.
• Be careful—your personal experience is not enough to
substantiate an entire answer. Also, anything that you
use should relate to the question on a higher level.
More construction
• Your answer may contain first person, but you should not
use “I” too much in the paper.
• You don’t always have to write like this:
“I believe that Paine makes a good point when he
Because you can write this and have a better answer:
“Paine makes a good point when he states:…”
Conclusion paragraph
• This paragraph should close down your paper, not
summarize it.
• This is a good place to give information that does not
need a lot of explanation and seems fairly obvious.