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Exam Tasks & Guidance

Exam: Performance Task 2: Individual Research-Based Essay and Presentation

5 min readβ€’september 7, 2020

Caroline Koffke

Steven Kucklick


Performance Task 2 Overview

PT 2 may seem more intimidating than PT1, especially since you have to do it all yourself. But, don't let the 2000 word paper πŸ‘€ or the eight minute presentation scare you off!
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Image Courtesy of Giphy

In a lot of ways, PT 2 should be more familiar to you. Here, you are writing ✍️ a traditional argumentative research paper and then presenting on it. It's pretty much that simple.
Where things can get kind of intimidating is the implementation of the stimulus materials.
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Image Courtesy of Giphy

These are a collection of articles, poems, videos, songs, or really anything in between, that are meant to guide πŸ‘¨β€πŸ’Ό students towards a particular topic.
Using this topics students will brainstorm their own research question and and construct an argumentative paper.
The presentation is simply a place where you can explain your argument and the evidence you chose while demonstrating your knowledge of your thesis ✍️.
Let's work through each section of PT 2 and look at how best to approach it.

Stimulus Packet

Each year the College Board release a set of Stimulus Materials to act as guide πŸ‘¨β€πŸ’Ό for students as they choose their topic. Each source that the College Board provides in this packet is based around a large central theme that students should use as a guide while they choose their topic.
Before we get any further, let's look at the πŸ‘‰Β Stimulus Packet from 2019.
Here we can see that we have 7 different sources. This will be true (as of now) in all stimulus packets.
We can also the variety in sources that College Board provides. We have everything from academic journals to a Bob Dylan song 🎡.
Typically, in Stimulus Packets there will be a peer reviewed article, a historical source, an opinionated argumentative source, a piece of media, and some collections of poetry, music, or fiction.
The great thing about the Stimulus Packet is that you are allowed to go through it with your class and your teacher. As you analyze each source think about the central theme across all sources. In the Stimulus Packet I linked, the central theme is 'change.'
Remember, this theme will be broad, but you should start thinking about topics that fit πŸ‘‰ πŸ‘ˆ within it.
Stimulus Packet is not just there to serve as the topic for PT 2, you will also need to incorporate at least one of the sources in your actual written paper.
Quick tip: I recommend using at least two sources in your paper. That way you are sure to get those points on the rubric.
Because of this, you should also look for a topic that will fit well with some of the sources. Because the sources are so diverse, you shouldn't have too hard of time finding a topic that interests you while still incorporating a source.
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Image Courtesy of Giphy

Now that we have our big theme, we can move on to topic selection!

Picking your Topic

Now to the most important part of PT2.... picking your topic 😍! Again, you should be brainstorming around the larger topic from the Stimulus Packet and one of the sources within it.
I would recommend doing this with a classmate πŸ‘¨β€πŸ«. Having someone you can bounce ideas off of can be really helpful. I would strongly encourage not doing the same topic as classmate so that you don't run into plagiarism issues.
As you're brainstorming topics it's important to remember not to go too big or too small. You should be broad enough that you have enough evidence to use, but specific enough that you don't have too much to talk πŸ—£οΈ about.
Don't be afraid to pursue multiple topics and do some preliminary research. Sticking to one topic early can often lead to stress if you can find enough evidence or the right evidence for you.
You should also feel comfortable changing your topic slightly as you do research. As much as your topic should influence your research, your research should also influence your topic.
Check out the Big Idea 4 guide to review how to find a good variety of evidence

Individual Written Argument

Now that we've settled on a topic and we've found good evidence, we can start writing ✍️!!
The Individual Written Argument (IWA) is essentially a standard argumentative research paper where you are arguing for a thesis using claims and evidence.
Your entire IWA sort of rests on your thesis πŸ‘€ so it's important get that written first and foremost. The traditional three pronged thesis is of course acceptable, but not required. What should be true is that your thesis needs to outline your entire argument. I should know exactly what you are going to argue just by reading your thesis.
Once you begin writing you are essentially just writing a standard argumentative research paper, even if it is the longest paper you've written.
Here are some things to keep in mind πŸ€” while you write:
  • The evidence is there to support your claims, just like the claims are there to support your argument. All of these elements need to work together. Don't just make your paper a book report on your evidence. πŸ“•
  • Line of reasoning is also crucial for a successful paper. Organize your claims and your evidence in a way that makes sense to the reader. Check out the Big Idea 2 guide to review line of reasoning. 🀨
  • Don't ramble! 2000 words seems like a lot, but you have a lot to talk about! Be thoughtful with your words. ✍️
  • I would aim for about 15 to 20 pieces of unique evidence when you go into writing. If you use less, you use less! It's better to be over prepared than under. πŸ’»

Individual Multimedia Presentation

Finally we've made it... the Individual Multimedia Presentation πŸ—£οΈ! Your IMP will be very similar to the Team Multimedia Presentation. However, instead of arguing for your solution to the problem, you will be arguing your thesis.
A good way to think about this is that you will be translating your paper into an eight minute presentation. You need to explain the importance of your argument while connecting your claims with your evidence 🀝.
You should also take some time to explain the different perspectives of your evidence.
Check out the Big Idea 5 guide to review good presentation strategies πŸ‘¨πŸΏβ€πŸ’Ό.
You will also be asked to answer two questions. This is yourΒ Oral DefenseΒ section. These question will ask you to reflect on the research process and how you could extend on your topic.
As always, these questions are available to you. You can find them on page 63 of theΒ Course and Exam Description.

In Conclusion...

Wrapping things up I want to remind you not to get too stressed out. PT 2 can easily feel very overwhelming, but if you chunk things up and plan, you will be great!
As always theΒ rubricsΒ are your friend! Make sure to read them to understand exactly how to get all the points you need.

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