Here are some tips for nailing the free response portion of the AP English Literature and Composition exam: The first step towards writing an awesome essay on the AP Literature exam is reading and understanding the question. What are the authors of the test asking for specifically? The answer to this question is the key to writing a well-rounded essay. The scorers of the free response portion want essays that are clear and straight to the point.
Simply restating the prompt will result in a huge deduction of points. Regurgitating the question will show the reader that you may not be confident in your ability to dissect passages. This is an extremely bad impression to give, since the interpretation of text is the basis of the entire course. Come Up with a Thesis: A well-written thesis is the basis of all successful essays. As mentioned previously, do NOT restate the question.
Come up with your own unique topic sentence to answer the question. Make it brief and to the point. You have the rest of the essay to elaborate on your thesis; that will be your body. Organization is key to writing a great essay.
Prepare an outline within the first few minutes of writing your essay. A clear and precise outline can help prevent rambling when answering the question in your essay. Use a High-Level Vocabulary: Since this is an exam for an Advanced Placement English course, it is imperative that you use a vocabulary that reflects a higher level of education. However, be sure that you use your impressive vocabulary in context. Nothing looks worse than using a word incorrectly in your essay.
On the first two essays, you will be asked to read a passage and analyze it according to the instructions given in the question. Use the passage to your advantage. Frequently refer back to specific parts of the text. This will show the readers that you paid very close attention to detail when reading the passage. The specific references display the ability to close read, which is a skill covered frequently in an AP English Literature course.
The third free response question on the AP Literature exam is more open ended than the first two. You will be asked a question and you will be given the opportunity to answer it pertaining to a work of literature that you have read in class. If a particular work of literature stands out to you, prepare early to choose this as the piece to write about in your third essay.
As they say, practice really does make perfect. A good option for practicing free response questions involves searching the Internet for old exam rubrics. These show you exactly what the scorers are looking for in an essay. The AP Literature section of AP Central , a website created by the College Board to help with studying for exams, has several practice exams for your use. Take advantage of this and practice writing essays using different prompts from previous exams.
Use a Good Writing Utensil: Nothing is worse than getting halfway through an essay and having your pen run out of ink, or your pencil getting smudged. Often, readers prefer the look and clarity of black ink to colored ink or the graphite of pencil. Take that into mind when going into the free response portion of the exam. Before the free response portion begins, work out how much time you need to spend on each question.
It may even be helpful to bring a watch to time yourself on each essay. You need to give yourself ample time to complete each question. However, you also need to be sure that you are not rushing through the questions and leaving vital information out of your essays.
The clarity of your writing is necessary for a good score on your essay. If the reader cannot decipher your chicken scratch, how can they possibly score it? Although this may be acceptable for the multiple-choice portion of the exam, it is absolutely inexcusable for your essays.
You only get three chances to prove your competency in the free response portion. Understand What the Readers are Looking For: As we said earlier, rubrics are a great resource to use when preparing for the AP Literature exam. They reflect exactly how your essay will be scored. Whether or not you understand what is happening in the passages given to you to read. Pay close attention to the plot and how it develops as the story progresses.
Whether or not you understand the theme of the passage. The theme is the dominating central idea in a work. The more references to the plot that you have in your essay, the better. However, this does not mean restate the entire storyline. This will bore the reader and make it seem like you are dancing around the question. Scorers like for you to be very clear and to the point in your essays. The voice of your essay is an incredibly important characteristic used in scoring.
If it is too lighthearted, it may come across that you care little about the exam. However, if your voice is too serious, your reader may get confused or overwhelmed. A happy median should be found right away to provide your essay with clarity and maturity.
Listen to Your Teacher: This is perhaps the most important of all the free response tips. Over the course of the semester, your teacher will provide you with ample advice for the exam.
Hopefully these tips will help you tackle this massive exam with ease. Retelling what happened in the story is not an analysis. Thanks for the tip from Kim F. Think about the fact that the AP Test readers have been looking at essays on the same topics for three days. What will you do to be original and stand out that will surprise the reader at 4: Brainstorm what everyone else will say before writing.
Thanks for the tip from Amber B. Answer the question as it is actually asked. Thanks for the tip from Heather I. Answer the question in the introduction. Thanks for the tip from Rhonda G. Focused writing on two or three aspects of the text characterization, use of devices, etc accompanied with analysis will generate a higher score than lightly touching on 5 to 7 aspects.
As a reader we are happy that you can identify techniques, but what we are looking for is analysis. Thanks for the tip from Matt U. Always answer the question: Why did they chose that metaphor? What effect does it create within the text and within the reader? Thanks for the second tip from Matt U.
Pay attention to the wording of the questions and answers! Thanks for the tip from Susan R. Students who read widely and regularly are far more prepared to write and communicate clearly with a deeper understanding than students who do not read. Reading expands knowledge, vocabulary usage and comprehension and enables students to make connections within and between content areas which real world applications.
Thanks for the tip from Elizabeth B. Instead, use your time to focus on meaning. What important insights do you have to share? Make sure you provide much more analysis than plot summary. Begin with a clear thesis and end with one strong concluding statement. Thanks for the tip from Julie H. Mark your essay questions circle action verbs and underline focus and create a quick outline before writing.
The time spent will prevent the heartache of not addressing the prompt. Each essay is worth the same amount of points, but one is set for you to shine — know three books really well so that you can rock the free-response essay. On the test — do it first while your mind is still fresh. Thanks for the tip from Diane S. Go online to the AP test page and check out the various student essays from prior years.
What makes an essay a 9? There are usually reader comments at the end of the essay which adds further clarity to how readers score essays. Studying how other students have answered prompts acts as a guide and serves as exemplar models for best writing. Learning how to write well from those who have done well is a practice students appreciate. Thanks for the tip from Pam W. Find a good literary timeline to conceptualize what you read in terms of the art movement and historical time period. These can provide insight into the texts as well as help you remember what you have read.
Thanks for the tip from Paul H. Have four novels of literary quality and one play that the student is comfortable analyzing so no question 3 can stump the student. Thanks for the tip from Bill O. Analyze any figurative language. Thanks for the second tip from Bill O. Never be unacceptably brief: Analyze that and then keep writing! Learn and practice using the language and function of literature, poetry, and rhetoric. Plan and execute their usage in your style, syntax, and art, and use the language when critiquing in workshops and discussing classics.
Thanks for the tip from Jon A. Do not merely skim to point out literary devices. Zoom deep into the text to identify the device, explain in detail how the device is functioning and then zoom out to explain how it works to support the passage as a whole and how it connects to the universal human condition.
This means the difference between writing a college level paper and writing a high school level paper. Thanks for the tip from Jodi G. Thanks for the tip from Erin M. Don't stay in one reading position for too long, or you'll end up like this guy.
You should be reading a wide variety of poets from different eras to get comfortable with all the varieties of poetic language. This will make the poetry analysis essay and the multiple-choice questions about poetry much easier! For those poets who were working during more than one of the time periods sketched out below, I tried to place them in the era in which they were more active.
You might rather burn books than read them after the exam, but please refrain. How many books do you need to read? Well, you definitely need to get very familiar with four-five for essay-writing purposes, and beyond that, the more the better!
Which books should you read? See some College Board recommended poets listed in this article. See my expert guide to the AP Literature test for more exam tips! The multiple-choice section of the AP Literature exam is a key part of your score. Learn everything you need to know about it in our complete guide to AP Lit multiple-choice questions. We've written a guide for each test about the top 5 strategies you must be using to have a shot at improving your score.
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The AP English Literature and Composition Exam uses multiple-choice questions and free-response prompts to test students' skills in literary analysis of prose and verse texts. The multiple choice section tests critical reading skills. Students read several passages and answer questions about the content, form, and style of each.
AP’s high school English Literature and Composition course is a rigorous, college-level class that provides an opportunity to gain skills colleges recognize.
The AP Literature exam is a three-hour exam: It includes one question, hour-long multiple-choice section based on four-five prose and poetry passages, and a two hour free-response section with three essays—one analyzing a poetry passage, one analyzing a prose passage, and one analyzing a work chosen by the student. The essay clearly establishes a metaphorical link between music and memory in the poem and then develops this idea — summoning Harper’s opening lines as .
Explore essential course resources for AP English Literature and Composition, and review teaching strategies, lesson plans, and other helpful course content. AP English Literature and Composition Course Description (PDF) Writing is central to the AP English courses and exams. Both courses have two goals: to provide you with opportunities to become skilled, mature, critical readers, and to help you to develop into practiced, logical, clear, and honest writers.