wimbley_rhetoric_handout01The purpose of this website is to help high school students prepare for the AP exam. It contains basic rhetorical concepts that will help students get ready to take the English Language and Composition portion of the exam; specifically Question 2.

This site is also a place where teachers can find resources to help their students, including a number of classroom handouts.

Teachers and instructors, please distribute our new Wimbley’s Rhetoric handout to your students, which serves to introduce them to this website. Click here to download a pdf.

Arkansans Gives Back would like to thank the esteemed Dr. Winston Wimbley, Ph.D. for donating content for this website. [More about Dr. Wimbley…]

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What is rhetoric?

Rhetoric is the ancient art of argumentation and discourse. When we write or speak to convince others of what we believe, we are “rhetors.” When we analyze the way rhetoric works, we are “rhetoricians.” The earliest known studies of rhetoric come from the Golden Age, when philosophers of ancient Greece discussed logos, ethos, and pathos. Writers in the Roman Empire adapted and modified the Greek ideas. Across the centuries, medieval civilizations also adapted and modified the theories of rhetoric. Even today, many consider the study of rhetoric a central part of a liberal arts education. [Find out more…]


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Three appeals

You are here :: Home :: What is rhetoric? :: Three appeals ::

How does one make an argument persuasive enough to change the beliefs of another person? In classical Greek rhetoric, there are three basic approaches–three “rhetorical appeals”–one can use to make a convincing argument. They include these three items:

  • Logos (using logical arguments such as induction and deduction)
  • Pathos (creating an emotional reaction in the audience)
  • Ethos (projecting a trustworthy, authoritative, or charismatic image)

You can click on any one of the terms above for a slightly longer discussion and some links. In addition to balancing logic, emotion, and charisma, the rhetor also has to adapt the argument, tone, and approach for the specific audience. This audience adaptation takes into account the assumptions of that audience, and analyzes the spoken and unspoken assumptions behind a specific line of argument.

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You are here :: Home :: What is rhetoric? :: Tropes ::

Tropes are figures of speech with an unexpected twist in the meaning of words, as opposed to schemes, which only deal with patterns of words.

Trope types and examples.

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The AP Exam

Section II of the English Language and Composition section of the AP exam is a free response question. This section will consist of three prompts:

Synthesis: You will read several texts about a topic and create an argument that synthesizes at least three of the sources to support your thesis.

Rhetorical analysis: You will read a non-fiction text and analyze how the writer’s language choices contribute to his or her purpose and intended meaning for the text.

Argument: You will create an evidence-based argument that responds to a given topic.