AP English can stand for two distinct Advanced Placement Programs provided by the College Board, AP English Language and Composition and AP English Literature and Composition.
AP English Language and Composition
Advanced Placement English Language and Composition, or called AP English Language and Composition, AP Lang and Comp, AP English III, AP Lang, is a course and examination offered by the College Board as part of the Advanced Placement Program.
It is a course in the study of rhetoric taken in your junior year in high school and often followed by the AP English Literature and Composition course. It has been suggested by the College Board that it would be more prudent to have students take AP English Literature and Composition their junior year as they have been analyzing literature their entire academic careers. AP English Language is better suited for seniors as it prepares you to write on nonliterary topics. In addition, this makes it a more suitable preparation for your transition into college, in contrast to AP English Literature which continues to focus on literature and poetry.
The AP English Language and Composition exam
The AP English Language and Composition exam consists of two sections, a one-hour multiple-choice section, and a two-hour and fifteen-minute free-response section.
Section I: Multiple-Choice
The multiple-choice section of the AP test is approximately 55 questions, with the exact number of questions varying with each test administration. There are typically 5 passages divided between Pre-20th Century non-fiction prose, and 20th and 21st Century non-fiction prose. The questions typically focus on identifying rhetorical devices and structures from the passage, as well as their general function, purpose in a passage, and/or the relationships between them. Beginning in 2007, questions were added that ask about citation information included in the passages. These citation questions are not designed to test knowledge about MLA, APA, Chicago Style, or any other particular citation format, but instead focus on how the citations reference and enhance information from the passage. Students have exactly 60 minutes to answer all 55 questions.
Section 2: Free-Response Reading Portion
The Free-Response section of the AP test consists of three prompts, each of a different type: passage analysis, argument, and synthesis. Beginning in 2007, with the addition of the synthesis prompt, College Board decided that an additional fifteen minutes should be added to the exam time to allow students to read and annotate the three prompts as well as the passages and sources provided. Students may write notes in the prompt booklet about the material during that 15 minutes, but may not write in the essay booklets during this time. As the prompt booklets are not collected, any writing in the prompt booklet does not count when scoring the essays.
The analysis prompt typically asks students to read a short (less than 1 page) passage, which may be from any point in time, as long as it was originally written in modern English. After reading the passage, students are asked to write an essay in which they analyze and discuss various techniques the author uses in the passage. The techniques differ from prompt to prompt, but may ask about strategies, argumentative techniques, motivations, or other rhetorical elements of the passage, and how such techniques effectively contribute to the overall purpose of the passage. The prompt may mention specific techniques or purposes, but some leeway of discussion is left to the student. The essay is scored on the 1-9 scale.
The argument prompt typically gives a position in the form of an assertion from a documented source. Students are asked to consider the assertion, and then form an argument that defends, challenges, or qualifies the assertion using supporting evidence from their own knowledge or reading. The essay is scored on the 1-9 scale.
The synthesis prompt typically requires students to consider a scenario, then formulate a response to a specific element of the scenario using at least three of the accompanying sources for support. While a total of six or seven sources accompany the prompt, using information from all of the sources is not necessary (or perhaps desirable). The source material used must be cited in the essay in order to be considered legitimate. The essay is scored on the 1-9 scale.
AP English Language and Composition Test Scoring
The multiple-choice section is scored by computer. Formerly, the test was scored by awarding 1 point for correct answers, while taking off a 1/4 point for incorrect answers. No points were taken away for blank answers. However the College Board has announced that they will discontinue the policy for all AP Exams starting in 2011, where they will only award 1 point for each correct answer (no 1/4 point deductions).
The free-response section is scored individually by hundreds of educators each June. Each essay is read by at least two readers and assigned a score from 1-9, 9 being the best score possible. Scoring is holistic, meaning that specific elements of the essay are not judged, rather each essay is scored in its entirety.
The scores from the three essays are added and integrated with the adjusted multiple-choice score (using the appropriate percentages of each section) to generate a composite score. The composite is then converted into an AP score of 1-5 using a scale for that year’s exam.
AP English Literature and Composition
Advanced Placement English Literature and Composition, or called AP English Literature and Composition, AP Lit and Comp, Senior AP English, AP Lit, AP English IV, is a course and examination offered by the College Board as part of the Advanced Placement Program.
This AP course is designated for motivated students with a command of standard English, an interest in exploring and analyzing challenging classical and contemporary literature, and a desire to analyze and interpret dominant literary genres and themes. The AP English Literature Course is often offered to high school seniors and the other AP English course, AP English Language and Composition, to juniors. The College Board, though, restricts neither course to any grade level. Students learn and apply methods of literary analysis and write with a variety of purposes to increase precision in expression. Students in AP English Literature and Composition typically sit for the national AP examination administered each May for the College Board by the Educational Testing Service. The College Board publishes changing information about all AP courses and examinations on its web site.
On one of the three essays students write as part of the examination, students choose a work of literature they will write about. Readers of the exam who get an essay on a work they have not read typically pass the essay to a reader who has. The scoring system also prevents an essay that deals with a non-existent work from succeeding. The scoring guides that readers use to rate the essays are developed by experienced readers on site just before the reading begins each June, using some of the actual exam essays. Since those scoring guides do not exist before the Reading, instructors cannot teach to them but focus instead on encouraging text-based analysis.
The course is designed to be challenging and “arduous,” however many students go on to perform well in college English courses as a result of the experience with the high school AP English class.
Recommended Read Novels and Major Literary Works
The College Board publishes a recommended reading list, while emphasizing that it “does not mandate any particular authors or reading list.” The reading list contains four major categories:
Poetry, ranging from the 16th century (William Shakespeare) to living poets (Seamus Heaney);
Drama, ranging from Greek tragedies (Aeschylus) to post-modern absurdists (Tom Stoppard);
Fiction – novels and short stories, from the 18th century comedies of manner of Jane Austen to the famous “Lost Generation” of F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway;
Expository prose (essays), including Ralph Waldo Emerson and George Orwell.
Preparing AP exam is different with the study in AP English class. Most of students need help from a test prep book, which is written to help them achieve a high score in AP English exams. We have done the research and found out the following tow books are the best books for preparing AP English Exams.
Best AP English Language and Composition Book
Cliffs AP English Language and Composition
This book offers students very useful test-taking strategies, focused reviews of question types, and 6 full-length practice exams with sample responses. The review in this book is the most concise, straightforward while effective one and the practice questions in this book are extremely similar to the real test, and the explanations are detail and well understood. The essay samples are also really well evaluated, and the book offers a glossary on literary terms that students have to know for the test. The book is good for quick preparation and long-term practice. This is definitely the book to get!
Many instructors for preparing AP English exam class use this book with their students for years, because this book offers very practical advice and real examples. Many students who have used this book and got excellent scores strongly recommend CiffsAP for English Language and Composition!
Best AP English Literature and Composition Book
Barron’s AP English Literature and Composition
This AP English Literature prep book includes five full-length practice AP exams with all questions answered and clearly explained. To help students prepare for multiple-choice questions, the book also offers many sample questions on poetry and prose fiction, along with commonsense tactics for choosing correct answers. In addition, separate chapters review what test takers need to know about poetry, fiction, and drama in order to earn high scores on both the short-answer and essay portions of the exam. Sample student essays are also presented with critiques of their strengths and weaknesses.
Students preparing for the AP English literature exam find an essential learning tool in the book’s comprehensive glossary with its hundreds of literary and rhetorical terms.
Barron’s AP English literature has an overview of the AP exam, five full-length practice exams with all questions answered and explained and comprehensive glossary of literary and rhetorical terms. The AP English test-taking advice in this book covers multiple-choice questions and the essay questions.
This AP English literature prep book received the most five star reviews on Amazon.
Grab the two AP English prep books and achieve your best AP score!