Create a Compelling Claim for the Best AP Prompt

Just to let you know that the technology department in the Crowsnest has a pulse on the hip culture, enjoy this new trailer about a “faithful” rendition of Hawthorne’s novel, The Scarlet Letter. Then settle down and click on the link below of past AP Essay prompts. Download and review carefully this PDF Document, which lists the essay questions on the past AP Exams. Please reflect on the whole list well and argue in 5-7 sentences (in Standard English, of course), which prompt would help you create the optimal essay for The Scarlet Letter. You can refer to your prompt simply by the year. Again, compose your 5-7 sentence argument in a Word document so that you can conduct spellcheck and grammar check easily. Then paste your 5-7 sentence argument in the comment thread below this post. In other words, you will make comments on this post just as you did for the comments on the community text. AP.Prompts.1970-2015.


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I am an English teacher working with great students at an independent school in Ct.
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11 Responses to Create a Compelling Claim for the Best AP Prompt

  1. Lauren H says:

    A lot could be said for “The Scarlet Letter” in the 1976 writing prompt. This question asks for a character from a major work who opposed society, and this fits Hester perfectly. Hester is certainly a nonconformist. She embroiders her letter to make it flashy, she refuses to give up Pearl when approached by the governor, and also refused to give the name of her fellow adulterer. Hester’s character and actions highlight the severity and piousness of Puritan society of the time, and her unwillingness to bend to the will of others turns her into the opposer of majority.

  2. Jason L says:

    The 1987 question challenges the writer to discuss a social attitude that the author of a work wishes to change, and how the author goes about doing it. With “The Scarlet Letter,” Hawthorne clearly questions the Puritan way of life. With this prompt, the writer will have many options, because Hawthorne uses many techniques to accomplish his goal. The symbolism of the scarlet letter, thresholds, the scaffold, the woods, and Pearl herself form a good starting point. All in all, Hawthorne’s numerous literary devices and the 1987 prompt make for a gaggle of well-written essays.

  3. Chris D says:

    “The Scarlet Letter” by Nathaniel Hawthorne is a story that lends itself to multiple interpretations and therefore many topics that would be good for writing an essay, but the most relevant of all the prior AP topics to this work is the one from 1995. By being forced to wear the scarlet letter all the time, Hester is clearly designated as an outcast from the rest of society. But it is through this isolation that she becomes a stronger character, developing more resilience. Furthermore, she is able to adapt to the changes that the scarlet letter brings her because it is seen in the end of the novel that she feels uncomfortable without it and actually likes having it on. “The Scarlet Letter” is one of the few, but most prevalent examples of literature we have that takes place during the Colonial Era, so it offers readers insight to the culture and values of the time period, and challenges readers to put themselves back in time. The concept of Hester’s alienation challenges readers to think about both aspects of her isolation: the physical and the emotional, while also making them think about the other factors, creating a compelling, challenging and interesting essay topic.

  4. Amelia Hern says:

    The 1970 prompt asks the writer to talk about a specific inanimate object and choose a few of the purposes that it serves in the literary work. Then, they must explain how the purposes relate to one another. This prompt is perfect for “The Scarlet Letter”- it’s in the name! The red “A” on Hester’s chest represents many things in the novel, from serving as a constant reminder of her sins to exemplifying the way society deals with these moral issues. There are countless options of ideas to write about for this prompt, because the whole plot of the story revolves around this object. It would not be difficult to find ways that the purposes relate to each other either because they all intertwine to form the storyline. The 1970 question ties in perfectly with “The Scarlet Letter.” It would make a great essay topic because it would allow students to be creative with their ideas since there are so many that apply to this.

    • Amelia Hern says:

      1970 Also. Choose a work of recognized literary merit in which a specific inanimate object (e.g., a seashell, a handkerchief, a painting) is important, and write an essay in which you show how two or three of the purposes the object serves are related to one another.

  5. Wong Eman says:

    I think that the best prompt for The Scarlet Letter would have to be the prompt from 2009, asking to focus on one symbol from a novel or play, and to analyse how the symbol functions in the work and what it reveals about the characters or themes of the work as a whole. I think that this prompt fits the Scarlet Letter perfectly, where the symbol itself is even the title of the literary work. The red letter “A” on Hester Prynne’s chest signifies many different things in the novel, and is also seen in different places, apart from Hester’s chest. There are endless possibilities in answering this prompt, due to the many instances in which the object is used and the different interpretations possible for every instance. Students will be able to explore all expects of symbolism within the scarlet letter and how they relate to the events in the story, hence the 2009 prompt is a perfect fit for The Scarlet Letter.

  6. Anna W says:

    The 1979 prompt asks the writer of the essay to choose a character who might be considered evil or immoral based on their actions alone and explain why the character’s full presentation makes the reader more sympathetic to the character. This prompt coincides beautifully with The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, as adultery is the main topic of the novel, and Hester is an adulterer. Normally in our society we view adulterers as immoral or even evil characters, as the prompt suggests. However, the reader becomes sympathetic to Hester, despite this act, through her full characterization. For example, Hester did not love Chillingsworth when she married him and had been separated from him for over a year before she committed adultery. This prompt would be perfect as Hester’s adultery would be considered immoral viewed on its own; however, due to the other circumstances explained in the novel, she is a more sympathetic character.

  7. Brooklynn says:

    In “the Scarlet Letter”, there are many reoccurring themes. In the 1977 prompt, the reader must question these reoccurring themes and find both similarities and differences to discuss the parallels found. There are any number of answers the reader can give. The most obvious of these themes is the scaffold, where Hester stood multiple times, as well as Pearl and Dimmesdale; there are even reoccurrences with the letter A. This topic allows scholars to take a closer look at what they’re reading and realize why a small detail is so important in the overall development of the work. From thresholds to witchcraft, there are numerous answers waiting at the reader’s fingertips. All that is needed is to reach out and pluck one from the pages!

  8. Daniel M says:

    I believe that the best AP essay prompt for The Scarlet Letter was the prompt used on the 1979 administration of the exam. It asks students to “Choose a complex and important character in a novel or a play of recognized literary merit who might on the basis of the character’s actions alone be considered evil or immoral.” It seems as if the authors of the AP were asking students to use The Scarlet Letter on this essay. Hester Prynne is a perfect example of a character who could be considered immoral purely based on her actions. The question goes on to ask the student if the presentation of the character would cause us to be more sympathetic than we otherwise might. Many readers must also feel sympathy for Hester because of her situation and the discrimination placed on her throughout society. Combining Hester’s actions, and the actions of others around her, readers feel sympathy towards the immoral character Hester which makes this essay topic perfect for The Scarlet Letter.

  9. Kirsti Kokko says:

    The 1970 essay could easily be applied to the novel of the Scarlet Letter because society played and important role in shaping Hester’s character. Hester was first depicted as beautiful, vibrant, and outgoing. After she was condemned by society for not following their rules she is transformed into a pious woman who lives on the outskirts of society acknowledged publicly by almost no one. She is transformed because of the harsh structure of society she lives in. This story would not have been so powerful if it had taken place during another time period. The 1970 essay would work well since it incorporates the importance in the way society influences the character.

  10. Abi M says:

    The 1997 essay prompt involving the way a scene about a social occasion “reveals the values of the characters and [their] society” could be responded to with the early scene involving the social event of publicly shaming Hester on the scaffold. This scene clearly illustrates the values of the Puritan society: justice over mercy and the condemnation of sin. It also dramatizes the Puritan’s externalization of evil; their belief that evil exists not within a person, but rather from the eponymous ‘black man’, represented by Hester, who they have portrayed as an aberration unassociated with Puritan society. In addition, the scene also reveals Hester’s character; her stoic willingness to receive her punishment and refusal to capitulate to the minister’s demands exemplifies the resilience and quiet resistance she will continue to exhibit throughout the novel.

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