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3.5 Writing for AP Art

5 min readโ€ขoctober 28, 2020


Sherry Ross

AP Art & Designย ๐ŸŽจ

18ย resources
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How to Write for AP Art and Design

A significant portion of your score for AP Art and Design comes down to you being able to come up with an idea, and then being able to articulate that idea both in written and visual evidence. While that may sound scary, it's actually not bad! ๐Ÿ˜‰ Here are some tips to get you through it.

Keep a Sketchbook! ๐Ÿ“–

Ummmmm, a sketchbook is for drawing, why are you talking about it in a writing section? ๐Ÿคจ Not only is your sketchbook a place to visually record your images, but it's a record of your entire creative process. You should use it to record ideas for future works, record your thoughts, do samples of paints, save scraps or color swatches you like, and most importantly, document your work.
What do you mean "document my work"? Exactly that.....as you try different things, think of yourself as a scientist conducting experiments and record that data. Scientists start with aย hypothesisย (an idea or concept they think might be true), then they try different things to prove or disprove that hypothesis. As you try things, write them down. State what you tried, how it turned out, and if it was what you thought would happen or not. Then, look back and what works and what didn't. Use that information to think about next steps and write those ideas down. Doing this as you work will be invaluable later!
If you get stuck, it's always good to go back and revisit the ideas in your sketchbook. Sometimes, looking back you will find new inspiration or something that hadn't occurred to you before.
After each completed assignment, go in and list the following with your preparation pages. Make sure to keep it all together. It will make it so much easier to enter the information required later for your submission.
  • Work title (if it has one - it might not)
  • Idea - what were you trying to do or show? What are you exploring? (WHY)
  • Materials used - list all the supplies you used include things like paint, photos, wire, etc. Concentrate on physical materials used (WHAT)
  • Processes used - this can be things that are actions. I took photographs for reference, I planned, I polled, I researched my subject, I sketched, I tested, etc (HOW)
  • Size - height x width x depth. If it's strictly 2D, you would list 0 as the depth.
  • Reflections - what did you like? what would you change? Where should you go next?

Writing About Your Guiding Question โœ๐Ÿฝ

There's an entire section on how to come up with and develop your Guiding Question so check that out. Here's where you can get a few tips if you are worried about the writing. Don't stress, it's not traditional English class writing you are doing, with footnotes and wherefores and such. This is simple, factual writing. As a matter of fact, there isn't enough spaces to use "fancy English class writing". You might need to abbreviate or even leave out some words due to space considerations.
On each piece, you will need to fill out specific information. All of that should be already written in your sketchbook (see above), so it will be easy for you to just plug it in. Since you did it as you completed each piece, you won't have to worry about forgetting anything.

A Conversation with the Reader

Think of your writing as a conversation with the AP Reader. You are telling them WHAT you did, HOW you did it, and WHY you did it. Keep in mind, the WHY is really important and should not just be something like "I wanted my Art to get better". That's the goal of every artist, it's not the WHY they made a specific piece. The WHY goes back to your Guiding Question, as it should be guiding your body of work. Make sure you talk about it and explain your WHAT, HOW, and WHY.

Enter as You Go

In mid-November, you can create your account to upload yourย AP digital submission. As you complete each work, make sure to photograph it and upload it. You will then fill out the writing parts as you go. It gets easier as you practice, so doing it throughout the year will make you feel more confident in the process. Plus, an added bonus of doing it early means you won't be as stressed at the end when EVERYONE is trying to upload.
It's super simple to go back in and change the wording, the location of images, or even adding or deleting images if you decide you want to do so. Just make sure you save as you go so that you don't lose all of your work.

Always Spell Check and Character Count

The College Board is VERY CLEAR they don't penalize for spelling or grammar. However, if it cannot be understood by the Reader, that is a problem. As you write, try using a word document to check spelling and grammar.
Once you have it the way you like it, check your CHARACTER COUNT. A character count means letters, numbers, spaces, and punctuation count toward your total. After you've made sure you have everything all spiffy, you might need to go back in to start abbreviating to get under the count. ๐Ÿ˜‚ You want to make sure you are AS CLOSE to the 1200 character limit as possible without going over.

Peer Edit

It's always a good idea to have someone proof your work. Have them read your information and make sure you've included everything. Make sure the writing and artwork stand alone to make your point. If you need to explain your idea or it isn't clear, FIX IT. Have someone pretend to be a "Reader" and, without your help, test how clear your idea is. This is SO IMPORTANT. If you do this as you work, it gives you a chance to change and revise (major components in the rubric) so that you will be successful when you submit. ๐Ÿ™Œ๐Ÿฝ
Browse Study Guides By Unit
๐Ÿ”–Unit 1: Course Overview
๐ŸฅUnit 2: Portfolio Design Skills
๐Ÿค”Unit 3: Portfolio Analysis
๐Ÿ’ฏUnit 4: Exam Rubrics
๐Ÿ’กUnit 5: Tips and Tricks
๐Ÿ™Exam Reviews

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