How to Write an A+ Rhetorical Analysis Essay

AP English Language and Composition course is an exciting one, and anyone interested in humanities will find it engaging. Still, it does not always mean that the course itself easy or that the final exam is a no-brainer. Even though students are studying a lot of useful and creative things in the process of this amazing course, completing an impressive rhetorical analysis essay on a final exam is still a challenge.

In a way, one can say that rhetoric essays are some of the most challenging academic assignment because they carefully balance impartiality and creativity. Students are expected to conduct a lot of research on any given subject; yet, at the same time, they are to convince their audience in their point of view — operating the factual data, of course. Understanding the main concepts of rhetorics offers a good theoretical basis for completing this kind of task. Still, using all primary rhetorical means (pathos, logos, and ethos) often requires more than just theoretical understanding.

It all sounds a bit scary at first, but we’re here to break the gap between theory and practice. Below, we will give you important tips on writing an A+ rhetoric essay. So, let’s dig into all the hacks that can help you pass this challenging exam.

Main challenges of a rhetorical analysis essay

If you can understand the main challenges of writing an impressive rhetoric essay, you’re already half-way to nailing this job. The first thing any student needs to understand is that an essay will always be more emotional than a research paper. However, a rhetoric paper is not a personal narrative, so you will still have to evaluate the facts. We already mentioned that a good rhetorics paper balances impartiality and creativity. So, your audience will expect you to give an evaluation of certain facts — it should be a factual argumentation, supported by convincing evidence.

The main purpose of any rhetoric paper is to use one (or several) of three possible rhetoric means (we’ll discuss them in more detail below) and to convince writer/speakers’ audience in their point of view. Writers often need to break down vast subjects into minor sub-topics and dissect them one by one. When analyzing someone else’s rhetoric paper (which is also a common task in AP class), an analyst will essentially have to do the same: break the whole into parts and subjectively describe which rhetorical devices the original authors used, and why they choose to use these particular devices to convey their ideas.

Understanding rhetorical appeals

You should know the basics already, but just to be on the safe side, we will go over the main rhetoric appeals once again.

  • Ethos is an appeal to the ethical side of things, or in some cases, the appeal to an author’s reliable and authoritative position on a given subject.
  • Pathos is an appeal to emotional aspects; simply put, it’s an attempt to make the audience feel something.
  • Logos is the most challenging one, as it appeals to facts and rationale. Using such an appeal makes a rhetoric essay look like a research paper, as such assignments operate with facts, stats, and proven data. Such papers also appeal to the rational side of the human brain.

Sometimes, an author may choose to operate several rhetorical means within one paper, and such a decision will require a lot of creative muscle. And, of course, writers will have to choose their appeals wisely — while it’s often possible to combine pathos with logos (as well as ethos with pathos), logos and ethos is usually not the most convincing combination.

The best tip to understating and successfully implementing all of the rhetoric devices is to practice them. AP course takes some time, so do not shy away from writing as many rhetorical analysis papers as you can. This will score you plenty of points on the final exam, so forget about the lack of time. Once again, the gap between theory and practice is more significant than most students like to admit, so practice as much as you can.

Proper organization saves time

On a final exam, students typically analyze someone else’s rhetoric work, because coming up with their own papers is a very time-consuming process. But, a proper analysis is still a challenging assignment, so don’t rush to celebrate. The best practice on an actual exam would be to read a given prompt carefully and try to dissect all of the original author’s arguments on the go. As you do, make notes — you’re allowed to do that, and no one is going to evaluate your draft. You may even want to come up with a quick outline for your final paper — this way, you’ll surely stay on track as you write and submit an excellent rhetorical analysis paper within a given timeframe.

Questions to ask on a rhetorical essay exam

To analyze anyone else’s rhetoric writing, you will need more than a simple understanding of the rhetoric appeals and a bit of writing practice. In a way, you should see your analysis as an interrogation. So, get ready to ask the initial author some questions — they will help you dissect his work and make the most of your final composition. The trick is to try and read between the lines, see any hidden motives behind the author’s writing; and, of course, always remember your ‘whys’ and ‘whats.’

Here are some of the most important questions to focus on when analyzing someone else’s writing:

  • Why does the author choose this topic and its particular angle?
  • What is the author trying to prove? What is the end goal of this paper?
  • What is the main argument?
  • Who is the author’s audience?
  • What kind of rhetorical means does the author use? Are they suitable for his audience?
  • Is the writing style convincing?
  • Is the argumentation clear?
  • Does the author achieve any effect on his audience? What kind? Was he aiming this effect?

All in all, answering all of these questions (often, in this same order) already gets you a solid rhetorical analysis essay. But, of course, to get an A+, you will need to provide reasons (i.e., evidence) for all of your answers. Use the text source to prove your point of view.

Your key to attentive reading

We’ve mentioned that reading between the lines is essential if you want to get a high grade for your essay. To achieve this effect, you will need to pay attention not only to rhetorical appeals but also to the author’s style (i.e., word choice, sentence length, stylistic devices, etc.). Stylistic devices, in particular, are very important emotional tools that could give you an insight into the author’s writing intentions.

Structuring a great essay

When writing a rhetorical analysis as a home assignment, you can choose any form you find suitable — and this choice will largely depend on the text you’re analyzing. During an actual exam, however, your time will be limited, so we suggest sticking to the five-paragraph pattern, with an introduction, three body paragraphs, and conclusion.

The key to writing a successful introduction is hooking your reader. It should make readers interested; and, even if you know that your professor will read this paper anyway, do not neglect hooks. With a rhetorical analysis, you may want to include information about the author, too. Try to briefly describe his/her writing goals, audience, and occasion for this speech/paper. Of course, make sure to highlight the main topic. Make this paragraph short and wrap it up with a strong thesis statement.

Body paragraphs present your analysis and your argumentation. With time limited, you will most likely have to choose only the most convincing ones. However, if you have the time, you can answer all of the questions we’ve listed above— this way, you won’t have to worry about logical transitions, as all of the prompts are already structured logically and coherently. Also, do not forget to use textual examples to support your point of view.

Conclusions are very important because the ending of any paper should always make an impression on the reader. Ideally, you should make readers think — this is the best impression you can count on. So, try to make your ending strong, but don’t forget that this essay part should not present any new info or pose any new questions. It should, however, summarize the main points you discussed and restate your thesis.

Proofreading your essay

Exam time does not presuppose careful editing, but you still need to proofread the paper before handing it in. Make sure to correct all spelling and grammar mistakes, but do not forget to proofread for style and logic, too. Sometimes, your reasoning may not be as clear as you’d like — so try to avoid that. Another common mistake is the lack of analysis and textual examples. If you feel that your paper lacks textual proof, add more examples from the original text. And, of course, avoid cliches and unjustified statements.

Final Tips on Writing a Rhetorical Analysis Essay

  • Practice in advance. Even if you do not write rhetorical analysis papers every week or so, you still have a lot of opportunities to practice your analytical skills before the final exam. Read other people’s writing, listen to speeches, don’t even neglect TV commercials! All of these offer excellent ground for analyzing emotional and logical appeals.
  • Stick to the point. When writing an essay, students often get carried away and start explaining their meaning. Don’t do that and focus on the writer’s intentions.
  • Don’t just summarize — evaluate. You may be analyzing someone else’s text, but remember that the analysis is still yours. Give your reasons for interpreting the writer’s words and do not let his writing speak for your logic.
  • Add a personal touch. Finally, remember that you are allowed to use the same rhetoric means as the original writer. Make sure the professor can hear your voice, not just the original author’s.

Need help writing a rhetorical analysis essay?

We do hope that our tips will prove useful during the exam. If however, you are writing a rhetorical analysis essay at home, we can offer even more assistance than this quick guide. Our professional team of writers has completed thousands of A+ rhetoric analysis papers, and they will gladly handle yours, too! This way, you will get an excellent example of what a convincing analysis looks like. This is your chance to practice writing and analytical skills and get an excellently structured pattern to follow in your future papers.

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