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There are two components to the Task: the “Paraphrase” and the “Synthesis.” The paraphrase is the more straightforward of the two components, so we’ll start with that one.
You will have selected a source essay of between five and ten pages.
Select a paragraph or two to be used in the “Paraphrase” component of the Task. Two shorter paragraphs or one long paragraph should do.
You then “translate” or “paraphrase” the highlighted material into your own words. The trick is to make sure all of the information contained in the original material makes it into the paraphrase. If your paraphrase is noticeably shorter than the original material, it is a good sign that you probably need to include more information and detail. The most thorough approach here, though, would be to translate line by line through the original, making sure that each original sentence has an equivalent in your paraphrase. Once you are done, clearly label the work “Paraphrase” so that it doesn’t get mixed in with the “Synthesis” part of your work. Label the next part “Synthesis,” and you are ready to begin the second component of Task 2.
The “Synthesis” part of the Task is more involved. I like to say that there are three steps in the “synthesis” component. Two of them are straightforward. Let’s start with those.
You will begin the synthesis by summarizing the article. I suggest identifying the five or six most important elements in the source and structuring the summary around those. The summary step will be probably no more or less than a page long. The next step is to talk about the source’s credibility. I would say 4 or 5 sentences will likely be enough to demonstrate the source’s credibility.
Then there is the third and final step. You may see this step referred to as “the meaningful idea,” “the takeaway idea,” or even as “the synthesis.” I think another useful word to describe it is “analysis.” The evaluator is looking to hear your analysis of two things: the source and the topic as a whole. Imagine the author of the article was speaking with you, and they asked what you thought about their argument. What would you say? What insight would you want to offer into their work, their thinking, or their opinions? Ask yourself, for example: What is the most important thing in the source and why? Do you agree completely with the source? If so, why? If not, why?
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