What to Expect from AP Language and AP Literature
You know these two Advanced Placement (AP) classes are college level and prepare you for taking the exams that determine whether you’ll get college credits for the coursework, but what does a day in the class look like? Classroom activities are similar despite AP Language’s focus on rhetoric and AP Literature’s focus on literary analysis. Having taken both classes, I can explain what activities to expect: reading, analyzing, writing, and testing practice.
Expect to read a lot, and more outside of class than during class. College class time isn’t spent reading selections; students are expected to have read at home. You’ll learn how to annotate texts by writing reactions and questions in margins or a journal and noting occurrences of rhetorical and literary devices. These annotations show how authors achieve their purposes and enable you to discuss readings during class. You’re likely to read texts that require more than one read-through for comprehension because of authors’ use of long-winded paragraphs, symbols, or satire. Good reading skills are vital to succeed in AP Language and AP Literature.
Expect to analyze how nonfiction writers persuade and how fiction and poetry writers develop themes and characters. You’ll use reading annotations and class discussion notes to break down pieces of writing into their critical components. Your analyses must have text-based evidence, such as telling quotes. Expect to make analytical statements during discussions and write analytical essays.
The writing component is where AP Language and AP Literature differ the most. In AP Language, you’ll probably write a variety of types of papers, and in AP Literature, you’ll mainly write literary analyses. Papers will probably be longer and more complex than what you’ve written before and will require citations. Expect a large part of your grade to depend on your essays.
To prepare you for the AP Language or Literature exam in May, expect to answer sample test questions in class. The multiple-choice questions will be difficult early in the school year, when you’re still learning rhetorical terms and how to read college-level texts. You’ll improve with instruction and practice. The other component of the exam you’ll practice is the essay portion, which requires you to respond to prompts that are often based on your reading of a text. Expect to practice understanding what prompts ask for and writing with a time limit. This practice will likely boost your test score.
AP Language and AP Literature enhanced my reading, analytical, and writing skills and allowed me to earn college credit for the freshman composition course and excel in a 200-level literature course during my first semester of college. You’ll struggle with the classes at first and have more homework than in other high school English classes, but the effort’s worth it. Because effective reading and writing skills will benefit your college education and career, I recommend taking one of these courses, preferably AP Language.
Photo: Kristin Nador, Flickr Creative Commons
About Darla Word
I'm a writing tutor and editor from Michigan. My favorite subject to write about is writing because making better writers is my calling. I also enjoy reading, singing, swimming, and cardmaking.