2007 SYNTHESIS PROMPT: Develop a position on the effects of advertising and synthesize at least three of the six sources for support.
THESIS: Advertising certainly has positive and negative effects, such as informing the public or manipulating consumers, but the most important effect of advertising is that it fosters democratic dissemination of information and allows any institution or individual the freedom that is so crucial to an open society.
2010 SYNTHESIS PROMPT: Our daily lives seem to be saturated with television, computers, cell phones, personal digital assistants (PDAs) and MP3 players, etc. In an essay that synthesizes at least three of the six sources for support, evaluate the most important factors that a school should consider before using particular technologies in curriculum and instruction.
THESIS: Because one goal is to educate students to participate productively in a high tech world, schools must consider the negative side of technology, including its useless ability to develop a lack of skills due to the fast-pace of life and the lack of imagination (and short attention spans) that it creates, before being completely brainwashed by the widespread availability of technology in school curriculum.
2012 SYNTHESIS PROMPT: Synthesize information from at least three of the seven sources and incorporate it into a coherent, well-developed essay that argues a clear position on whether the USPS should be restricted to meet the needs of a changing world, and if so, how.
THESIS: One of [America’s] pioneering enterprises, the United States Postal Service (USPS) has become a casualty of the innovations we laud so highly. While we should not discount the progress made in the past decades that has facilitated a transition to faster and sleeker technologies, it is also paramount that we support and maintain traditions and symbols of the American dream like the USPS by applying modern principles and revamping the company’s image and organization to better serve our changing world and needs.
2007 RHETORICAL ANALYSIS: In Staying Put: Making a Home in a Restless World, Scott Russell Sanders responds to an essay by Salman Rushdie, both of which discuss the effect of the mass migrations. Analyze the strategies Sanders uses to develop his perspective about moving.
THESIS: Through his use of direct quotes, acknowledgement of the counter-argument, and informal yet respectful tone, Sanders relates his belief that we must settle down and cease our tireless moving if we are to ever “pay enough heed and respect to where we are.” 2008
RHETORICAL ANALYSIS: Passage from John M. Barry’s The Great Influenza. Analyze how Barry uses rhetorical strategies to characterize scientific research.
THESIS: As Barry describes the scientific process, he says that uncertainty, in the world of the unknown, must be made a tool – a weapon, even against one’s own conscience to ensure precision; however, that concept is very ethereal, so Barry utilizes comparison and logical hypothetical situations to convey that idea.
2010 B RHETORICAL ANALYSIS: Passage from The Horizontal World, Debra Marquart’s 2006 memoir about growing up in North Dakota. Analyze the strategies Marquart uses to characterize the upper Midwest. THESIS: Through her use of allusions and diction to characterize the early region as unimpressive, Debra Marquart is able to convince her reader of the unique qualities that could not be found anywhere else.
2008 B ARGUMENT: Read an excerpt from The Decline of Radicalism by Daniel Boorstin and consider the implications of the distinction Boorstin makes between dissent and disagreement. Defend, challenge, or qualify Boorstin’s distinction.
THESIS: Boorstin claims that there is no great difference between disagreement and dissention: that one is good and one is bad, that one belongs to the majority while the other belongs to the minority. However, I believe that there is less distinction between the two than Boorstin would think. Dissension is merely a more severe or radical form of disagreement.
2009 ARGUMENT: Write an essay that defends, challenges, or qualifies Horace’s assertion that the role of adversity (financial or political hardship, danger, misfortune, etc) plays in developing a person’s character. Support your argument with evidence from your reading, observation or experience.
THESIS: . . . I agree with the Roman poet Horace in that adversity has a way of rousing talent from slumber. Adversity can stimulate, force, and sharpen a person in positive ways that prosperity cannot – there is, then, value in hardship in shaping a person’s character.
2009B ARGUMENT: Passage from The Worst Years of Our Lives by Barbara Ehrenreich, about life in the 1980s. Support, refute, or qualify Ehrenreich’s assertions about television. THESIS: If it were true that the purpose of television is to represent real life, Spongebob would spend his days fighting insurance lawsuits, Dr. Phil would interview normal middle-aged couch-potatoes, and Indiana Jones would spend his days cataloguing pottery fragments. Ehrenreich is right to call the world outside the black box “eerie and unnatural;” it was never intended to be anything else but entertainment.