Short Story Analysis

Free Response Questions, Student Samples, and Grading:

CollegeBoard Link to Practice

Cardinal Wosley

The Street

A Symbol

"A Story"

2008 Questions

A Foil

2011 Questions


Your In-Class Scoring Rubric With Numerical TranslationSee AP Grader Rubric Below Chart for Additional Detail

1st 4w
2nd 4w
3rd 4w
4th 4w
These essays are clearly outstanding. They offer creative and original ideas and insights that are extensively elaborated and refreshing. They go beyond general commentary, referring to the texts, explicitly or implicitly, offering specific details (blending quotes where appropriate) to support their analyses; they offer compelling connections between technique and effect. The introduction grabs the reader’s attention, and the writer makes use of transitional sentences and clauses to navigate ideas. The conclusion discusses the significance of the thesis. The writer makes use of sophisticated vocabulary, sentence variety, parallel structure, modification. The language is concise and lucid, verbs are active, and punctuation is effective.

Essays earning a score of 9 meet the criteria for 8 papers and are especially sophisticated in their argument or demonstrate particularly impressive control of language.
These essays are proficient: they provide a clear thesis with organized paragraphs. The ideas are developed, but there may be problems with the textual examples. These essays refer to the texts, explicitly or implicitly, but offer less detailed and/or less convincing explanations. More often, the quotes are not blended into the analysis. The introduction attempts to entice the reader but needs additional work. The writer makes use of transitions, but the transitions may be rudimentary rather than subtle. The conclusion provides more summary rather than insight. Although the essay may be mechanically accurate, more attention should be given to sentence variety, precise vocabulary, active verbs, and focus.

Essays earning a score of 7 meet the criteria for 6 papers but are distinguished by a more complete or more purposeful argument.
These essays are acceptable but not impressive. They provide a thesis that contains minimal analysis with little insight (e.g., restating thesis with reasons – no claim). The analysis tends to border on summary, thus the writer offers quoted material in place of analysis. Generally speaking, these essays are superficial. The introduction needs attention – maybe a tighter connection between the strategy and the thesis. The writer has made some attempt at organization, but the organization does not link the ideas with the thesis. The conclusion only summarizes main points and/or the thesis. This writer should focus more on revision: topic sentences, sentence variety, redundancy, punctuation, weak verbs, wordiness, transition, vocabulary.
These essays are unacceptable for a college-bound student. The thesis often restates the question without providing a claim, direction, or organizational pattern. The ideas are not developed and they offer little or no textual evidence (although there may be summary). The essay may be illogical or immature, marked by a less than adequate reading or analysis of the text or subject. This flaw in logic often leads to organizational problems. The introduction does not interest the reader in the topic, and the conclusion, if present, does not advance the idea any further. Although the writer’s ideas may be conveyed, the essay does not demonstrate control of sentence variety, punctuation, vocabulary, or verb choice.

Essays earning a score of 3 meet the criteria for 4 papers but demonstrate less success in support or less control of writing.
These essays are unacceptable for high school students. These essays don’t attempt to establish a thesis; they may summarize or make the most general observations about the texts. There is little evidence or textual support, and, if offered, the support does not relate to a clear purpose. The essay may be one paragraph. There is not a clear introduction and/or conclusion. Often these essays are described as “vague” or “simple.” These problematic essays are compounded by serious errors in sentence structure, paragraphing, transition, punctuation, and vocabulary.
No attempt, or a completely off-topic response.

Writing Study Skills

Exam Day 2016

May 04

Exam Resources

Writing is central to the AP English courses and exams. Both courses have two goals: to provide you with opportunities to become skilled, mature, critical readers, and to help you to develop into practiced, logical, clear, and honest writers. In AP English, writing is taught as "process" — that is, thinking, planning, drafting the text, then reviewing, discussing, redrafting, editing, polishing, and finishing it. It's also important that AP students learn to write "on call" or "on demand." Learning to write critical or expository essays on call takes time and practice.
Here are some key guidelines to remember in learning to write a critical essay:
  • Take time to organize your ideas.
  • Make pertinent use of the text given to you to analyze.
  • Quote judiciously from it to support your observations.
  • Be logical in your exposition of ideas.
If you acquire these skills — organizing ideas, marshalling evidence, being logical in analysis, and using the text judiciously — you should have little trouble writing your essays on the AP Exam. Practice in other kinds of writing — narrative, argument, exposition, and personal writing — all have their place alongside practice in writing on demand. As you study and practice writing, consider the following points.

Reading Directly Influences Writing Skills & Habits

Reading and writing are intertwined. When you read what published authors have written you are immersed not just in their ideas, but in the pulsing of their sentences and the aptness of their diction. The more you read, the more that the rhythm of the English language will be available to influence your writing. Reading is not a substitute for writing, but it does help lay the foundation that makes good writing possible.

Writing is Fun

When you have penned what you think is a great sentence or a clean, logical paragraph, read it over to yourself out loud. Enjoy it. Delight in the ideas, savor the diction, and let the phrases and clauses roll around in your mind. Claim it as part of your self. You may discover you have a voice worthy of respect.

A Tip from E. M. Forster

He is reputed to have said that he never knew clearly what it was he thought until he spoke it; and once he had said it, he never knew clearly what it was that he said until he had written it down. Then, Forster noted, he could play with it and give it final form. Be like Forster: think, speak, write, analyze your writing, then give it final shape.

Grammar, Mechanics, and Rhetoric

Think of them as elements that you can order to clean up your ideas, to sharpen your statements, to make your words and sentences glisten and stick.


Writers and critical readers have a "technical vocabulary" they use when talking about the language of drama, poetry, and fiction. Compile a list of such words. Notice writing that uses such vocabulary. Here are some of the words you should already know:syntax, tone, rhetoric, attitude, antecedent, denouement, exposition, climax, atmosphere, voice, speaker, stock character, thesis, ideology, persuasion, paradox, allusion, ambivalence, syllogism, and aphorism.


Your teachers may specify an audience that you are supposed to keep in mind when writing a paper. Most of us in daily life are not writing for a particular person or audience, but rather for someone called "the general reader." The general reader is someone, anyone, who possesses an average intelligence and has a fairly sound general education. This general reader is interested in the events of the day and in the world as a whole. He or she has a good measure of sympathy for humankind, appreciates the happy as well as the unhappy accidents of life. This reader also is blessed with a good sense of humor and the ability to listen to others; to writers like you, in fact. Keep the general reader in mind when you write.


This is the rubric used by graders of the AP Literature exam essays in June. Read it carefully

and review it frequently so that you become familiar with the criteria for each score. Review

this rubric every time you are revising a timed writing essay or considering the score you

earned on a timed writing. This rubric is more instructive and relevant to your growth as an

AP Lit student than the points into which your timed writing score is converted. Pay more

attention to this rubric than to the number that goes into my grade book!

9-8 Numerical Score Translation 93-98

These well-focused and persuasive essays address the prompt directly and in a convincing
manner. An essay scored a 9 demonstrates exceptional insight and language facility. An
essay scored an 8 or a 9 combines adherence to the topic with excellent organization,
content, insight, facile use of language, mastery of mechanics, and an understanding of the
essential components of an effective essay. Literary devices and/or techniques are not
merely listed, but the effect of those devices and/or techniques is addressed in context of
the passage, poem, or novel as a whole. Although not without flaws, these essays are richly
detailed and stylistically resourceful, and they connect the observations to the passage,
poem, or novel as a whole. Descriptors that come to mind while reading this essay include:
mastery, sophisticated, complex, specific, consistent, and well-supported.
If you work at this level, you have achieved critical thinking at the synthesis and evaluation levels of
Bloom’s taxonomy. This means you put together the literary elements you have broken the piece
into (through analysis), and present to your reader a sophisticated, critical understanding of the
literature that indicates you have a clearly developed aesthetic or rhetorical sense regarding the
piece. Your inferences are well-reasoned and thoroughly developed, demonstrating that you have
been “moved” in some way by the piece and have a powerful response to it.

7-6 Numerical Score Translation: 83-87

These highly competent essays comprehend the task set forth by the prompt and respond to it
directly, although some of the analysis may be implicit rather than explicit. The 7 essay is in
many ways a thinner version of the 9-8 paper in terms of discussion and supporting details,
but it is still impressive, cogent, and generally convincing. It may also be less well-handled in
terms of organization, insight, or vocabulary. Descriptors that come to mind while reading
these essays include: demonstrates a clear understanding but is less precise and less wellsupported
than a 9-8 paper. These essays demonstrate an adherence to the task, but deviate
from course on occasion. The mechanics are sound, but may contain a few errors which may
distract but do not obscure meaning. Although there may be a few minor misreadings, the
inferences are for the most part accurate with no significant sustained misreadings. An essay
that scores a 6 is an upper-half paper, but it may be deficient in one of the essentials
mentioned above. It may be less mature in thought or less well-handled in terms of
organization, syntax or mechanics. The analysis is somewhat more simplistic than found in a
7 essay, and lacks sustained, mature analysis.
If you work at this level, you have achieved critical thinking at the analysis level of Bloom’s
taxonomy. This means you have broken the material down into its constituent literary parts and
detected relationships of the parts and of the way they are organized. However, your inferences
are not as insightful and well-developed as an 8 – 9 essay

5 Numerical Score Translation: 75

hese essays may be overly simplistic in analysis, or rely almost exclusively on paraphrase
rather than specific, textual examples. These essays may provide a plausible reading, but the
analysis is implicit rather than explicit. These essays might provide a list of literary devices
present in the literature, but make no effort to discuss the effect that these devices have on
the poem, passage, or novel as a whole. Descriptors that come to mind when reading
include: superficial, vague, and mechanical. The language is simplistic and the insight is
limited or lacking in development.
If you work at this level, you have achieved comprehension of the material and some analysis, but
your analysis is not sufficiently developed.

4-3 Numerical Score Translation: 57-68

These lower-half essays compound the problems found in the 5 essay. They often
demonstrate significant sustained misreadings, and provide little or no analysis. They
maintain the general idea of the writing assignment, show some sense of organization, but
are weak in content, maturity of thought, language facility, and/or mechanics. They may
distort the topic or fail to deal adequately with one or more important aspects of the topic.
Essays that are particularly poorly written may be scored a 3. Descriptors that come to mind
while reading include: incomplete, oversimplified, meager, irrelevant, and insufficient.
If you work at this level, you have achieved comprehension of the material but you have not moved
into higher level thinking skills. You are not making insightful, developed inferences through
careful analysis of the text.


These essays make an attempt to deal with the topic but demonstrate serious weakness in
content and coherence and/or syntax and mechanics. Often, they are unacceptably short.
They are poorly written on several counts, including numerous distracting errors in
mechanics, and/or little clarity, coherence, or supporting evidence. Wholly vacuous, inept,
and mechanically unsound essays should be scored a 1.
If you work at this level, you do not adequately comprehend the piece assigned and have not yet
begun to work cognitively with this piece of literature.
A zero is given to a response with no more than a passing reference to the task.
The dash indicates a blank response or one with no reference to the task.
To make spacing easier, avoiding the numbers being overwritten when pressing "Enter," I found it useful to press "Shift," then "Enter" to embed videos.
  1. Accept/except Group One

  1. Access/excess

  1. Affect/effect

  1. Breath/breathe

  1. Capital/capitol Group Two
  2. Choose/chose
  3. Course/coarse

  1. Desert/dessert
  2. Have/of Group Three
  3. Its/it’s
  4. Lead/led
  5. Lose/loose
  6. Principle/principal
  7. Quiet/quit/quite Group Four
  8. Right/rite/write
  9. Than/then
  10. Their/they’re/there Group Five

  11. Threw/through/thorough
  12. To/too/two
  13. Were/wear/where/we’re Group Six
  14. Who’s/whose

23. Your/you’re

  • Create broad topic sentences

  • Include topic sentences

  • Consider impact on reader

  • Avoid lower vocabulary words

  • Remain on topic

  • Return to prompt to see if you are 'on the mark.'

  • Know your punctuation for poetry, essays, novels, plays, short stories

  • Synthesize other literary works

  • Evaluate theme, plot, characterization as it applies to prompt

  • Watch pronoun usage