How to Analyze NOT Summarize! One of the hardest jobs for an AP student is to learn the difference between analyzing a piece of literature and presenting evidentiary material to support the points he/she wishes to make and simply retelling the story. Retelling the story is NOT literary analysis. 1. Take for granted that the AP exam readers know the story as well as, if not better than you do. NEVER RETELL THE STORY FROM THE BEGINNING TO THE END. You are being tested not so much for proof that you actually read the book, but for comprehension, creative thinking, original ideas, and commentary on the literature. YOUR JOB IS TO COMMENT ON THE MATERIAL, NOT MERELY REPORT WHAT HAPPENED IN THE BOOK. 2. Make at least three or four good points that you can then back up with facts from the narrative. Take each point and magnify it – cite the situation. If the prompt gives you a laundry list of literary devices such as tone, structure, imagery, etc. to discuss then discuss them. The list is there for a reason, and the reason is to help you. 3. Your job is to discuss not that which is obvious, but that which is subtle. By offering detail on each of the points you have selected to discuss you will have the makings of a decent analysis. You may then summarize, paraphrase, or quote sections of the narrative that SPECIFICALLY deal with the point (s) you are making. Avoid the use of the word “plot” in your essay. Instead use narrative. Constantly using the word “plot” is like waving a red flag at the AP readers. Remember to elevate your diction. 4. Move beyond the literal to the metaphorical. The various elements of a novel are there for a significant reason. They add meaning to a work of literature. Look beyond the obvious in your analysis. Ask yourself how the setting and characters are significant. Look for the sub-rosa text. 5. LEARN TO QUOTE: Commit to memory quotes from the works of literature you feel are important and may be used on the AP exam. Quotes substantiate your essays beautifully and cannot fail to impress the readers if you have this tool at your fingertips. 6. Do not define literary terms and devices in your essay. The AP readers know the definitions already. Instead identify any literary devices you find and discuss how they add meaning to the work. It is not necessary to NAME the terms or devices. Identify the devices and discuss them in terms of their significance and effectiveness. 7. Analyze; don’t praise. You are not writing a movie review. Don’t recommend anything! Leave out the hyperbole about the novel, its characters, and/or the author. 8. Eliminate such words as “maybe,” “possibly,” “probably,” “almost,” etc. You want to sound convincing and definitive in your argument, not weak and unsure. 9. Take risks! Do not play it safe; offer a remarkable thesis and prove your argument definitively. Convince the AP readers you know what you are talking about by creating an essay that is knowledgeable, insightful, and brilliant by ANALYZING NOT SUMMARIZING!