The Open Response

Posted: February 11, 2019 in Uncategorized

OK, maybe this is a stretch to show “thus conscience does make cowards of us all,” but, man, what a pic!

The third essay on the AP Lit Exam, known as the open response, is where you will write about a novel or play we studied in class.  Many students find this essay more palatable than the poetry and prose close reading essays and it’s the one that you can prepare for the most.  The key is to know your texts well and be able to write about them intelligently.  Remember to imagine your audience read the work, but read it about a year ago: you don’t need to give a full summary, but some reminders and recounting specific details that help your argument is key.  Then be sure to connect devices such as symbols or characters to a specific theme.  For example, you might talk about Fortinbras as a foil for Hamlet in order to highlight the relationship between thought and action, which is furthered by all those soliloquys showing how in modern man conscience acts as a governor to rash action . . . then you have selection of detail like killing Polonius instead of Claudius when acting rashly or the barbaric terms Hamlet uses to describe Claudius as compared to his father (“Hyperion to a satyr”), etc.


Photo by Dmitry Ratushny on Unsplash

Of course, you can use Fences, your bildungsroman novel, or your dystopia novel, too, and we’ll add a few more works to your repertoire before the exam.  You can check out all the previous prompts and think about what work, character or device, and theme you’d write about for each.  This is good practice because, while many students find the open response to be the easiest type of essay to write, pulling works and details out of thin air can be overwhelming.   And, to see examples of open response essays, check out College Board and scroll down to “Sample Responses Q3” for each year.   Organization and guidelines are similar to the poetry and prose essays, but here’s some notes just in case you need reminders: Organizational Strategies f0r the open ended question




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