Source Orientation

Attention AP Lang-ers (mostly):

Many of you will see the comment: “Source Orientation” all over your synthesis essays. This is a serious problem, associated with a major penalty on the AP Exam. Fortunately there’s a simple fix.

This “error” has many variations, but generally entails:

a) summarizing the source

b) commenting on the source

c) really anything that involves writing about the source

note: This is considered an error because it is not appropriate for the purpose of the piece: You should NOT be engaged in a discussion of the sources, at least not in this specific type of essay. Instead, you SHOULD be presenting a topical argument that utilizes the sources for support or refutation.

How do I “fix”?

  1. Absorb or integrate the source into your argument, as if the ideas were your own
  2. Provide a conspicuous citation [Source D]


Mistake: “The benefits of ethnically varied literature are quite pronounced. Source E notes that ‘culturally authentic children’s literature enhances language development and thought processes…'”

Fix: “In today’s schools one of the highest priorities should be ensuring that educators teach with a diverse set of texts. Not only will this promote empathy and respect for others, but providing ‘culturally authentic children’s literature’ also ‘enhances language development and thought processes…'” [Source E].


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