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Asked • 3d

AP Language and Composition (Rhetorical Analysis)

One of my Wyzant students asked me an interesting question during one of our sessions, and I have been turning it around in my head ever since.

How do I respond to an AP Rhetorical Analysis prompt when I find the speaker's claim to be fallacious, or I simply do not agree with it whatsoever?

Just for the sake of argument, let's pretend that you're a student who is responding to the 2017 Rhetorical Analysis prompt, which is a 1997 commencement address that then U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright delivered to the graduating class of Mount Holyoke College. Her speech goes into great detail about how the United States is a prosperous nation, is going in the right direction, and is in a unique position to improve the lives of people living in developing nations (particularly the women who live in these countries).

However, let's pretend that you are more concerned with the gender divide here in the United States, and believe that our federal government must first address income disparities between men and women in the U.S. before turning its sights towards nations such as Burma, Burundi, and Guatemala. Furthermore, let's pretend that you do not see America as the prosperous beacon of light that Albright describes it as, and you consider yourself an isolationist.

So what do you do here? Do you use your rhetorical analysis of the reading passage to strike-down Albright's arguments, or do you pretend to agree with Albright's claims and use your analysis to validate her message? And if you do go out of your way to contest the reading passage, would this count against your score, seeing that the College Board probably selected the speech because it found merit in Albright's message? Finally, would refuting an argument in the Rhetorical Analysis section perhaps improve a student's chances of getting that elusive "sophistication" point?

I had no answer for my student, and I'm wondering what you all think.

2 Answers By Expert Tutors


Monica L. answered • 3d

Experienced English Teacher and Published Author

Adam B. answered • 3d

A tutor for his own major

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