How to Write a Rhetorical Analysis Essay


AP English Language and Composition is a rhetoric course taken in high school. At the end of this course, students take an AP English exam. To pass the exam students should do the two parts: multiple choice and a free-response section. The second one requires writing rhetorical analysis essay.

This type of essay exists to give the opportunity for the student to analyze a non-fiction text and show the intended meaning and purpose of it. It means you need to write about another writer. No need to worry that such essay type is too difficult to work is, but without practice, you won’t gain success in it. There are some restrictions about what exactly you have to write, and here they are. Keep in mind that your goal is to show the readers the real sense of what the speaker/the author wanted to say in his phrases and words. You should find the strategies of how the author communicates with the audience and distinguish the unique writing style. Then you need to work on the efficient methods and which impression they have created.

Your target is to write an informative text and show the relations of the written sections in the analyzing article.

Then it is essential for whom it will be. Usually, the readers of essays could be different: from students to field professionals. That’s why the information you present should be adapted – more general or more facts style. Our advice is to follow the research strategy and focus the reader of your article on particular facts and examples.


  1. Who is the writer/speaker?
  2. What kind of the situation described in the piece?
  3. What is the primary goal of the analyzed piece of text, article, or public speech based on the author’s intentions?
  4. Who is the author’s target audience (age, nationality, gender, preferences, location, interests, and other factors)?
  5. How does the content of the main message sound?
  6. How the content and the overall form is connected?
  7. Does the author complete his main idea successfully to show his intentions and primary objectives?
  8. Which language does the author use to show his idea?


Pay attention to the fact that you are time-limited. That’s why your strategy should be swift and effective to be able to create powerful academic writing in the short period.

It is a common thing to follow these rules:

  • break time into small parts;
  • multi-task the part with the target reading and analyzing;
  • take notes while the first reading;
  • write your essay based on notations you made.

This process is simplified to achieve the best result in the short term.


Now there is time to proceed to the next part of the rhetorical analysis of the author ways to communicate using persuasion. Get your notes from answering the question part and look through them. It allows you to see the draft methodology of persuasion and how it affects the ethos, pathos, and logos — three categories of persuasion.


The way to show why the speaker of the article provides the readers with credible traits and reasons. Usually, this type is combined with the word “ethics.” It could be used like this:

”The best programmers of Google recommend using this Java library.”


The most sneaky type. It uses the influence on the reader emotions to get the full response.

It could be shown like this: “Only you, the person who has such clean and kind soul and heart could understand this.”


The most informative way. It uses the reasoning to prove authors set of thoughts. Everything which could be combined with the logical and rational thinking. It could be shown like this:

“These algorithms have been proved by math.”

These ways to persuade the readers are not that hard to figure out if you have practiced a lot. The reason why you should pay attention on them is that in the AP English exam one of them will entirely be in the task with rhetorical analysis essay. That’s why the background info about ethos, pathos, and logos is compulsory for every student.


Now it is time to put pen to paper and write a rhetorical analysis essay. The time of working with meticulous note taking and earn five on the exam.

Focus on the proper structuring, and that’s all you need to satisfy the professor’s expectation on your writing. The intro-body-conclusion format is always the best bet. But the difference in this particular paper is the number of body paragraphs which you will have. They depend on the amount of the strategies you will find in the article you analyze.


In this part you start briefly. The introductory paragraph should only be sweet and short because it is present the main idea and does not give any other information about that.

It should have be a summary of the main argument of the author — the first thing to notice here to make your readers understand that you got the main message of the text. Return to the questions module and represent in your thesis statement the answers to 4 main questions: “who,” “what,” “how” and “why.” After that, when your reader is intrigued with what will be later in the text, is time to present which persuasive styles you will explain in the body paragraphs and add here the note about the tone and mood of the article you have read and analyze.


This is the central part of the essay because here all the flow of information that you must bring to the reader is concentrated. This thread also answers the questions to the article you read. Your primary task is to show what technologies and strategies are used by the author and how he develops his text. Thus, the writing is split into paragraphs — each paragraph should be marked with only one author’s strategy because this is how you will achieve a competent distribution of the semantic load and your rhetorical essay will be convenient and pleasant to read.

The methodology for determining what the author’s strategy is simple, and after the preparation point, your notes should already have written out the primary quotes and how they meet the criteria for this particular literary technology. Explain the strategy of persuasion which the author wanted to show by using this quote.

This explanation should answer such questions:

  • How does the strategy work in general?
  • What is its use in the selected fragment?
  • Why did the author use this strategy for his audience?
  • What do readers experience when they see this fragment?

Another critical point that should be taken into account in the central part is the changes in the size, tone, and diction of the author’s suggestions. This can be submitted in each separate paragraph along with the fragment, or rendered in a separate paragraph and make an overview. Such things do not influence the understanding of rhetorical analysis, but they help to understand the style of this particular author better and will be a plus for you. Do not forget to back it up with examples and quotes to support your thoughts. It will show that you understand what you are writing.


The ending part is also significant for this type of essay. It should be strong and reinforce what was written earlier.

Begin by explaining how the work you read affected the audience and your essay. Show what you have understood from the author’s speech.

When you describe these processes, go to the general review of all the individual rhetorical ways — connect the idea that the author tried to provide and how it worked. As a final expression, make a demonstration of the importance of this speech and its strategy.


Finally, you have completed this intense and stressful period of writing an essay. But the last thing you have to do is check it out. You could relax and pass the written work, but you want to achieve the best possible result, then the last five minutes you need to spend on evaluation and checking of the written. There is a small list of control points that you can use to improve the quality of your essay:


It’s better to prepare for the exam in advance and make lists of words that will help you to reveal your thoughts better. Do not forget that there are many synonyms. It is important to revise the thesaurus before the test. It is great when you can use a variety of different words. It proves your multidimensionality and ability to write in different styles, but try to not use the figurative language.


Remember is that you are writing a formal paper, so do not forget that there can not be any reductions here. Also, check the correctness of the use of times and punctual errors. It is much more pleasant to read the text in which it is not necessary to emphasize each sentence as a single blunder.


Your text should be smooth, without constant jumps from thought to thought. Use transitions and look through the structure again. If you feel that there is a need to change the paragraphs in some places, just do it.

Reply to text

Do not retell the story of what you read. Your goal is to analyze its rhetorical composition and give it an assessment, and not to tell what happened there. You also do not need to quote inappropriate quotes and merely list literary techniques. Everything has to be well arranged.

The name of the essay

This is one of the essential points. Depending on how you call your essay you will know whether the reader will want to read it or think that it is not interesting. Interest in it, pay attention to your article.

Using the Present Time

Do not be afraid to use the present time in this kind of essay. It will help to preserve the overall simplicity of reading and will not confuse the reader.


Here are some tips on how to make your essay even better:

It is not your job to mention something new in the conclusion — summarize what was said before.

Do not start your conclusion with a phrase “in conclusion” — you write an academic text, and this should not be an expression for you to use.

If you practice the writing and not taking the exam, then check your text using online applications or ask someone to reread and fix your mistakes.

Contact your professor and you will always find the professional evaluation. He/she will help you to analyze the essay and tell you where it needs to be corrected. But if you are shy, ask your friends for help to support your essay and share their general impressions.

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