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Ap Language Museum Synthesis Essay

One of the most effective skills you can use on the AP Exam is knowing how to “work” your prompt!  All of the information to effectively start your essay is right there—a  key to developing your thesis. Taking a few moments to truly ascertain what the prompt is asking you to do will assure you of an on-topic and clear essay. 

The relatively new synthesis argument prompt assesses the writer’s ability to effectively gather information to support his or her argument. Sound fancy? It is! Consider yourself an attorney who must prove a case using evidence from a variety of sources or evidence. Together we will strategize your approach to this question type on the AP Exam---you’re on your way to success!

We recommend you print out a hard copy of the test question if possible, and work through the tutorial step by step, as you will be working from hard copy on the day of the exam. (Remember to use a pen as well!) This is not required, but helpful for you.

The complete prompt and sources can be accessed here:

Synthesis Essay Question B

Along the way, you’ll see our “Ghost Writer,” who demonstrates the strategies you will learn.

Take a moment now to look at the Directions portion of the essay prompt—these instructions will remain the same on the AP Exam. Understanding them now will save you some time on the day of the exam. Let’s take a look:

Directions: The following prompt is based on the accompanying six sources.

This question requires you to synthesize a variety of sources into a coherent, well-written essay. Synthesis refers to combining the sources and your position to form a cohesive, supported argument and accurately citing sources.

Your argument should be central; the sources should support this argument. Avoid merely summarizing sources.

Remember to attribute both direct and indirect citations.

The second part of the essay prompt, the Introduction, will vary. Allow yourself to be immersed in the topic here, as the introduction guides your thinking. Take one to two minutes to absorb the introduction, noting any thoughts that immediately cross your mind and underlining any phrasing that stands out to you. (If you do not have a copy printed out to work from, that’s okay. Consider writing your notes on a separate sheet of paper) Read it at least twice as sometimes anxiety in the test taking atmosphere will not allow you to absorb. Allow your memory to recall all you can on the topic; you are the brainstormer! Here we go!


Museums are collections of artifacts. Although museums can represent interests from fine arts to whaling, people who visit museums sometimes fail to realize that every exhibit, every display case, represents a series of human decisions: some individual or group of individuals has to decide to include a particular piece of art or specific artifact in the museum’s collection.

Here’s how our writer attacked, or worked, the introduction:

Museums are collections of artifacts. Although museums can represent interests from fine arts to whaling, people who visit museums sometimes fail to realize that every exhibit, every display case, represents a series of human decisions: some individual or group of individuals has to decide to include a particular piece of art or specific artifact in the museum’s collection.

So at this point, we’ve skimmed the directions and immersed ourselves in the introduction. Now, we move on the actual assignment, where we discover our specific task.


Read the following sources (including the introductory information) carefully. Then write an essay in which you develop a position on the effects of advertising. Synthesize at least three of the sources for support.

The test makers have duly noted your task in boldface. To create an effective thesis or position, turn the prompt into a question. Your ultimate answer to the question will be your thesis. Write the question out for yourself on your scratch paper…this will be your focus while you read. You may want to craft a rough thesis, or answer, if this is a familiar topic to you, but remember to keep an open mind while you read through the sources

The next section of the Assignment shows you your reference options:

You may refer to the sources by their titles (Source A, Source B, etc.) or by the descriptions in the parentheses.

Source A (Rockefeller)

Source B (Peale)

Source C (National Museum of the American Indian)

Source D (Theobald)

Source E (Handler)

Source F (De Montebello)

Writer’s Sample of Worked Prompt

For more information about the topics underlined in the passage, click on the word.
Explanations appear below:

Click on the arrow to clear all.


Click on the explanation box below to hide individual explanations.

Your thesis is an answer to a question and should drive your essay focus when you write. You may have also heard this defined as an assertion or a claim. We will delve further into thesis development in Steps 3 and 4.

Six sources
The six sources following your prompt will vary in their approaches, but will all be based on the primary topic. You will not have to use all six sources.

Cohesive, supported argument
When you think of a cohesive essay, think of one that includes elements that work together. A team that works together towards a single goal is cohesive. The support required is from your sources.

Citing sources
Any information you use from the sources must be cited, whether paraphrased or directly quoted. Remember the goal is to use the information to work for you in your argument.

Test creators emphasize these instructions more than once as you see. Your argument or thesis is of paramount importance.

Avoid merely summarizing
Demonstrate your ability to use specific information for the purpose of your argument. Remember that the readers are familiar with the material. They will determine that you comprehend the source by how you use it in argument, not because you are able to explain or define the source.

direct and indirect citations
If you fail to cite sources, you will not pass this question on the exam! Attribution of ownership is one of the skills readers will need to see demonstrated. The direct citation uses quotation marks, and the indirect citation paraphrases or references the text. You will also have a choice in how you cite, depending on your quote integration at the time. We will show you more on this in the samples provided.

Read it at least twice

On the First Read: Okay, so our topic is museum collections and people who create them. Picture in your mind all that you can on museums and the person who makes the exhibits or selects the exhibits.
On the Second Read: Underline any phrases which stand out to you and make quick notes on your reactions to the topic. We call this “attacking or working the prompt.” This assertive method works to help you focus kinesthetically as well as visually.

Develop a position
Don’t let the wording throw your focus. Your position is your thesis.

Turn the prompt into a question:
What are the considerations facing a person responsible for securing a new work of art or an artifact for a museum? What makes this arguable, or meriting a position, is that everyone has a different opinion on what those considerations may be.

You will prove (beyond a reasonable doubt!) that the considerations you determine are the most important or significant considerations for the person responsible.

Ap Synthesis Essay: Museums

712 WordsMar 14th, 20083 Pages

Museums have long served a purpose as cultural staples. For every museum, big and small, careful consideration is used in selecting its contents. When securing new items for a museum, it is most important to consider public appeal, educational value, and cost-effectiveness. What makes a museum different from a billionaire’s private collection is patronage. Thus, a museum must be able to attract visitors interested in its displays. This captivation of interest should be for the purpose of entertainment. No one wants to go to a dull, boring museum and look at dull, boring paintings. One museum that capitalized on human intrigue was that of Charles Wilson Peale. Peale established the first natural history museum in the United States. (AP…show more content…

Quoted by Handler and Gable, critic Ada Louise Huxtable declares the newly constructed reproduction of Colonial Williamsburg as “too clean,” arguing that it “does not include the filth and stench that would have been commonplace.” (Source E) This sanitation of the truth completely misrepresents history, and the educational value greatly suffers. Conversely, the National Museum of the American Indian hopes to avoid this lack of judgment by dedicating itself to the “preservation, study, and exhibition of the life, languages, literature, history, and Arts of Native Americans.” (Source C) The main goal of the museum is to “span all major cultural areas” (C) and educate the public about and preserve the rich history of such a vast culture. The authenticity and significance of artifacts are important to representing culture and history, and the ability of these artifacts to educate should be a key factor of the selection process. Although a cultural center for entertainment and education, a museum is, at its core, a business. Being such, it must operate as such. Obtaining and maintaining valuable artifacts is expensive; procurement, transportation, upkeep, and security are some of the many costs involved. The revenue generated by the museum has to be sufficient enough to cover these large expenses. For that reason, the cost-effectiveness of a piece must be considered. A famous piece, such as the Mona Lisa, will

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