AP® English Language

The ultimate list of ap® english language tips.

the_ultimate_list of AP® English language tips

The AP® Language and Composition exam tests your ability to not only read content, but also to analyze what you have read and draw conclusions to present in an argument. The test consists of two parts: multiple choice and free response, and it lasts 3 hours and 15 minutes. It is a long and difficult test, but with the right amount of practice, consideration of AP® English language tips, and determination, you will score a 5!

While we recommend Albert for your online prep, we also recommend that you augment your studies with AP® English Language review books. These AP® English Language tips can help you feel confident about scoring a 5 on the AP® Language and Composition exam. Let’s get started.

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How To Study for AP® English Language: 5 Tips for 4s and 5s

Before you learn how to study for the specific portions of the AP® Language exam, it’s time to learn how to study for AP® courses in general. AP® stands for Advanced Placement; meaning, the courses are designed to challenge you more so than a regular high school class. It’s safe to say that it’s nearly impossible to pass the AP® Language and Composition exam if you don’t have a grasp on how to study for a class as stimulating as an Advanced Placement course. Let’s review some general AP® English Language tips!

1. Become familiar with the style of AP® English Language questions

Before you can even begin to study for the AP® exams, you need to familiarize yourself with the overall format of the questions being asked on the exam. The test is broken into two sections: multiple-choice and free-response.

Starting with the 2021 exam, the multiple choice section will contain 45 questions broken down into 23-25 reading questions and 20-22 writing questions. The reading questions will ask you to read, analyze, and respond to nonfiction texts, while the writing questions will ask you to “read like a writer” and consider revisions to the texts.

The free-response section will contain three essay questions: one synthesis question, one rhetorical analysis question, and one argument question. The synthesis essay will have you read six-seven texts about a topic and compose an argument that relies on at least three of the sources to support your argument. The rhetorical analysis section will make you read a nonfiction text and analyze how the writer’s language choices contribute to the intended meaning and purpose of the text. Finally, the argument que requires that you create an evidence-based argument that responds to a certain prompt.

While your AP® course will familiarize you with the nature of these questions, we recommend that you check out AP® Central’s sample questions and catalog of old exams to further your understanding. We also offer a comprehensive How to Study for AP® English Language review that covers all things AP® English Lang, so check it out for tips on how to approach these questions.

2. Increase your understanding of the basic five-paragraph essay format

Since a huge component of the AP® English Language exam tests your writing abilities, you will need to come to the test with a solid understanding of how to write academic essays. One significant key to success is organization. Your essay must display some clear sense of organization if you want to score a 4 or 5.

The standard method of organization, the five-paragraph format, is likely the simplest way to go about organizing your argument. The paragraphs are ordered like this: Intro-Body-Body-Body-Conclusion. It’s a straightforward method that keeps your writing taut and cogent, and it’s the most common form we see on the test. Here’s a video that goes further into the five-paragraph essay.

AP® English Language Tips

3. Strengthen your critical thinking skills by making reading part of your daily schedule

A good portion of Advanced Placement courses is designed to test your ability to think, read, and write critically. Perhaps the most straightforward and simplest way to develop these vital skills is to incorporate reading into your daily schedule, and by reading, we mean material more complex than, say, Buzzfeed-style listicles.

You could go about this a few ways. For one, you could subscribe to a major editorial publication like The New York Times , The New Yorker, The Economist , or The Guardian and incorporate reading them into your daily routine.

Another way to strengthen your critical thinking skills through daily reading is to comb through a combination of smart fiction and nonfiction such as The Great Gatsby or Freakonomics . Consult our Ultimate AP® English Reading List for a comprehensive catalog of recommendations.

4. Develop your rhetorical and literary vocabulary by using online quizzes and word banks

The AP® English Language exam, of course, tests your abilities and knowledge within the fields of rhetoric, composition, and the English language, so it is imperative that you approach the test with a strong vocabulary.

One way to develop your academic vocabulary is to use online quiz programs like Quizlet (which includes tons of stuff on AP® Eng Lang) and Vocabulary.com . These will allow you to hone your vocabulary skills in an engaging and interactive way, and they also feature a variety of different memorization games such as flashcards, quizzes, and more.

We also recommend that you consult an AP® English Language vocabulary word bank. A quick Google search yields tons of results, but this handout and this one are solid places to start.

5. Form a study group

One of the most effective ways to study for any exam is to form a study group. Ideally, this group will contain members of all knowledge levels. Each person will bring something to the table—maybe you know more about symbolism than Sam, while Sam understands literary devices better than Ryan, and so on. Try and meet at a coffee shop or friend’s house either weekly or biweekly to maintain focus.  Learning other people’s viewpoints on the subjects covered on the different exams will help you approach questions from every angle.

Now that you’ve followed the previous general Advanced Placement study tips, you can focus on studying specifically for the AP® Language and Composition exam.

This part of this article will focus on the multiple-choice portion, which amounts to 45% of your overall score. So you could say that it’s pretty important.

Return to the Table of Contents

AP® English Language Multiple Choice Review: 13 Tips

AP® English Language Multiple Choice Tips

1. Create a daily study routine early in the semester

The most important tip for acing any standardized exam is to develop good study habits. Start at the beginning of the semester. We know that other classes take up time, but we recommend that you set a daily alarm on your phone to remind you to study for AP® Lang. Carve out at least 30 minutes per day. The process should go on throughout the semester which will be a surefire way to remember important content at the end of the year and to build your stamina. In addition to studying classwork, we recommend that you consult an AP® English Language Guidebook or use one of our many practice modules to augment your daily studies.

2. Test yourself using practice exams

If you’re one of the many high school students who doesn’t spend most of their time studying, preparing early, and following the system of the previous study tip, we understand. Studying every single night may be a bit of a struggle. If this sounds like you, then the best option for studying for the AP® Language exam is to test yourself. Periodically throughout the semester, look up practice exams to test your comprehension of the material. We offer a variety of different practice exams , and the College Board also keeps samples of older exams to work from. We highly recommend you work through these before the exam.

3. Choose a multiple-choice strategy: read the passages first or read the questions first

Everyone knows the classic shortcut when it comes to multiple choice tests—read the questions first, then scan the passages to look for the answers. This method of approaching the exam can give you a more focused, determined approach on what to look for when reading the passage. But it can also be distracting to some.

On the other hand, you can read the passages first and then answer the questions. This is the more straightforward, perhaps more traditional way of approaching the multiple-choice section, and it works best for people who like to do things in logical, sequential ways. Work through a few practice exams, and then decide which works best for you and stick with it.

4. Read the questions thoroughly and more than once

This goes without saying. If you don’t have a good grasp on the content of the question, you’re going to get it wrong. Read the questions carefully and determine what it is asking, where in the text the answer can be found, and whether any of the choices provide a logical answer to the question.

Read the question more than once, definitely at least twice. Underline key words and phrases within the question if you find it helpful. Sometimes the answer to the questions can be complicated and rather unnerving. To avoid getting overwhelmed by this, try covering up the multiple choice answers with your hand or ignore them completely while you read just the stem of the question. Try to come up with an answer to the question before you even glance at the possible choices.

5. Reread portions of the text that are pertinent to the question

Remember that each and every question refers to the passage. Therefore, every answer can be found either within the text itself or where the text points.  When you have determined where in the passage an answer can be found, reread that portion. Dissect it thoroughly and from there, decide what the correct answer might be. Constantly return to the text, and mark it up. Highlight or underline key words or phrases, or things that stick out to you.

6. Use the process of elimination

This tip may be a little bit obvious. If you’re familiar with the subject matter of the question, it should not be hard to rule out at least one of the choices that you have determined not to be the answer. Physically mark out the answers you believe are wrong. It will help you to visually see which answers couldn’t possibly be the right one. Sometimes the writers of the test will write two answer choices that seem almost identical. However, one of them will have the slightest difference that makes it incorrect.

It might also help you to circle or underline the terms within the wrong answer choices that prove they are incorrect. If you get stumped on a similar question, you may look back onto these incorrect responses. With this information, you can deduce which answers are incorrect and which are correct.

7. Skip difficult questions and return to them later if you have time

Because the multiple-choice portion is timed, you may not have time to answer every single question if you are unsure of a few. The simplest way to clear your mind and focus on the easier questions is to skip the more difficult questions that you simply cannot answer. If you find yourself stuck on a question for more than, say, one-and-a-half minutes, then skip it, move onto the next one, and return to it after you’ve completed the questions you can answer.

Getting hung up on the more difficult questions can not only waste valuable time but also derail your focus and mess with your determination.

8. Mark-up key moments and phrases within the text

Mark-up key moments and phrases within the text - AP® lang tips

Treat the text passages like a blank canvas in which you are required to jot down your thoughts, reflections, questions, analysis, and more. Highlight, underline, or circle moments within the text that stick out to you. Whether you find a certain phrase or word central to the author’s argument, or you find a sentence particularly confounding, mark it!

If you skip a question, be sure to circle its number. That way, when you’re going back through your test, the search time for unanswered questions will be cut drastically. Alternatively, you can put a check mark beside every question you have answered, leaving unanswered questions with a blank space beside the numbers. By marking up the text, you essentially construct an analytical road map for yourself, one that makes the overall exam much easier.

9. When in doubt, guess

On the AP® English Language and Composition exam, your score on the multiple-choice portion is based on the number of questions you answer correctly. There is no penalty for incorrect answers. So there’s no logical reason not to guess on questions you are stumped on. So if you get to the end of a set of questions, and you return to some you’ve skipped, and you still can’t decide on an answer—just make an educated guess. It’s worth it.

10. Use Quizlet or paper flashcards to pin down vocabulary

For terms or concepts that are crucial for you to memorize, make flashcards. It may seem like an elementary study tip, but it truly works. Review the flashcards at least 30 minutes per day to develop a strong memory. You’ll find the test to be much easier if you have a strong command of rhetorical and compositional terms and phrases.

Quizlet offers tons of flashcard sets for AP® English Language and Composition, or you can use the site to simply make your own. We also provide many helpful modules over vocabulary and AP® English Language at large . And remember: pay special attention to terms or concepts that you don’t fully understand.

11. Study before bed

If you’ve made flashcards, a great time to study them, or really any notes you’ve taken, is before you go to bed. The brain remembers the most information right before you go to sleep. This is because when you’re asleep, it processes the most important memories of your day for storage.

If you review right before bedtime, your brain prioritizes this information and stores it for quick access. Because of this, it’d be a good idea to study first thing in the morning, too. This will remind your brain that the subject you’re studying really needs to be remembered. Instead of checking Instagram or Tik Tok at night, try and make it a habit to run through a set of flashcards or work through a few practice questions.

12.  Learn how to answer “all of the above” and “none of the above” questions

These are often dreaded multiple choice questions among students taking this exam. The “all of the above” or “none of the above” questions can throw students off because they indicate a certain totality that can be difficult to parse out. In “All of the above,” every single answer choice must be correct, so if one answer sounds iffy then avoid “all of the above.” “None of the above” is the same thing—each answer must be incorrect.

13. Do a breathing exercise if you find yourself getting too stressed out

We’ll be first to say it: the AP® English Language exam is stressful. But if you let your nerves get the best of you, the test will become even harder to ace. If you find yourself panicking, try this: Rest your hand on your abdomen, relax your shoulders and chest. Inhale through your nose slowly and feel your abdomen rise as you count to five in your head. Exhale. Repeat. This method will calm you.

Have confidence that you know the material well enough to get through this portion with ease. If you let your anxiety or nerves overwhelm you, the test will become much, much more difficult. It’s an anxiety-inducing test, sure, but also remember: it’s just a test. It’s not an end-all or a panacea. It’s a test. So breathe and approach it in a calm and collected manner.

The next part of this article will focus on the seemingly daunting free response portion of the AP® Language and Composition exam , worth 55% of your score. This portion consists of three different essays you must write within a two-hour period after a mandatory fifteen-minute reading period. Ultimately, these essays will assess your ability to quickly formulate arguments from inferences and analysis drawn from the sources provided to you. If you don’t understand early on how to go about following the instructions that are asked on the exam, you might find this portion more difficult than the multiple-choice section.

Here are some tips to help you ace the free response portion of the exam:

AP® English Language Free Response Question Review: 19 Tips

AP® English Language Free Response Question Tips

1. Spend time analyzing the question

Make sure you read the essay prompt many times and identify the key question being asked. AP® English Language questions can be tricky and demand multiple readings. Approach the question from each side of the possible argument that it poses. Consult our how-to guide on constructing arguments for extra help.

2. Choose your side of the argument

Based on the evidence provided for you in the passages you’ve read, come up with an argument. It is often helpful to choose an argument that has more evidence and references to support it, even if you do not necessarily agree with every tiny detail. The AP® English Language rhetorical analysis essay, for example, will require you to choose a side of an argument and develop your point.

3. Create a compelling and well-developed thesis statement

Come up with a strong thesis statement that clearly and effectively approaches the topic and the argument you are presenting. Don’t bother regurgitating the prompt in your introductory paragraphs—the scorers will just assume you are filling space and it will make your argument seem weak and lacking confidence. Answer all of the questions asked by the prompt in your introductory paragraph and include the main point of your argument in your thesis.

Remember: the thesis offers a concise summary of the main point or claim of the essay, research paper, etc. It is your claim, your argument, the essence of your paper summarized in one clean, well-developed statement.

Here’s an example of a good thesis: 

And here’s an example of a not-so good thesis: 

Be concise, detailed, and clear.

4. Build a strong set of body paragraphs

Once you have your thesis statement, construct strong, well-developed body paragraphs that expand and augment your central claim in your thesis. Be sure to mention how the supporting evidence you are citing within your essays relates back to your argument, but do not merely summarize the evidence. Unpack and analyze it.

5. Use specific, concise language

Ambiguity and vague sentences have no place within an AP® Language and Composition exam essay. The readers of your essay expect you to be exact and to the point. They want you to prove a point to them, not dance around it aimlessly. The more specific you are with your information, the better. Words and phrases like “about,” “kind of,” “sort of,” “thing,” and “stuff” should be avoided at all costs.

6. Cite your sources

You’re given textual sources for a reason. Use these to strengthen your argument and convince your audience of its legitimacy. In fact, in order to score high, you must thoroughly engage with your sources. Cite specific moments and phrases within the text, and avoid merely paraphrasing. However, you cannot merely summarize the source but critically read and analyze it. Failing to use the resources provided to you will result in an incredibly low score.

7. Develop a persuasive tone

The tone of an essay is what sets the stage for your argument. If there is no tone, it makes the essay seem sloppy and poorly structured. The argument itself may even seem scattered and all over the place. The tone of your essay should reflect your side of the argument and persuade the reader of your position.

If it doesn’t, how can the readers be expected to understand completely what side you are taking? You can successfully develop tone by using strong, sophisticated vocabulary, complicated verb and sentence forms, and by engaging with the texts in thorough, critical ways. Take a look at Princeton’s Writing Center’s handout on tone and tone words for extra help!

8. Don’t be afraid to make assumptions

A great deal of the scoring of this portion is based on the assumptions you make, your unpacking of the text’s implications. The assumptions and inferences made from your sources are crucial. Use them to explain your viewpoints and strengthen your argument.

Logical assumptions give interesting perspectives to the scorers of the essays. The use of inferences and assumptions in your essays also demonstrates your ability to think critically (as we discussed earlier). AP® English Language prompts will force you to think beyond the text.

9. Organize your thoughts using an outline

Organize your thoughts using an outline - AP® Lang tips

As you work through planning your argument in the essays, make sure you take time to organize your thoughts by creating an outline or map during prewriting. 

This will strengthen your argument and the overall structure of your essay. If your essay is neat and clean, the scorers can easily find what they are looking for in a well-written argument. One way to make this easier is to use an outline, guide, or an essay map. Here’s an example of what this would look like.

10 Use a strong organizational format

If you are unfamiliar with the structure of an essay, you definitely need to learn it before the exam. Think of an essay as a skeleton: the introductory, body, and conclusion paragraphs are the bones; the actual muscle, tendons, and organs holding it together are the bulk of the essay. 

This is what you add to it, including arguments and supporting evidence. Following (and also expanding on) a basic organization structure like this will make your essay much more sophisticated and readable.

11. Use a diverse body of sentences and vocabulary

If you write your essay with choppy, short sentences having a simple vocabulary, the reader is going to assume that you are not well-versed in the English language, or that you could not address the prompt in college-ready level of sophistication. This can severely hurt your score—especially considering you are taking an exam in AP® Language and Composition. You can strengthen your vocabulary and writing skills by developing a daily reading habit and consulting a list of common words found on the AP® English Language test.    

12. Work quickly

Although you want to keep all of these tips in mind, remember that this is still a timed portion of the exam. You don’t have much time to spend trying to make every single part of your essays perfect. So if you find yourself getting caught up trying to perfect a sentence or find yourself deliberating at length over choosing the perfect word, remind yourself to stop and move on. Nothing will be perfect, so use your time wisely. 

13. Build up your time management skills

Learning time management skills early on can help tremendously when it comes to timed exams. Practice taking timed exams frequently throughout the semester to build confidence and skill.

When you take one of our practice exams or one from the Princeton Review , set a time on your phone and record how long it takes you to work through the test. Try and increase your time with each practice exam. This will really help when you’re forced to formulate multiple arguments for different essays in a limited amount of time.

14. Know the rubric inside and out

Knowing the rubric is an incredibly strategic move in acing the AP® Language and Composition essay portion. When you know what exactly it is the scorers usually look for, you can be at ease. This is because you know exactly what to put into your arguments to make for a high-scoring essay. The rubric has recently been updated, and we highly recommend you take a look at it here .

Simply put, the FRQ rubric is broken down into three main sections: thesis , evidence and commentary , and sophistication . The thesis component addresses—you guessed it—your thesis statement. The evidence and commentary section of the rubric involves your ability to cite and analyze evidence from the text. And finally, the sophistication component addresses the overall “smartness” of your essay. 

15. Read widely in your spare time

AP® Language FRQ tips

This may seem obvious, but many students don’t understand how much reading is required for this course. AP® Language and Composition covers writing styles throughout several centuries, so it’s crucial to become familiar with all of them.

Reading a few books for leisure in between assignments will help drastically in developing a writing style of your own as well. And, as we mentioned before, developing a sturdy reading daily reading habit with The New York Times, The New Yorker, or another major publication will familiarize you with sophisticated writing and higher levels of thinking.

16. Practice dissection of rhetorical texts

No, don’t worry; you won’t have to know how to dissect a dead frog for the AP® Language exam. However, it is a good idea to practice dissecting everything you read. By this we mean that you approach reading with a highly critical eye. When doing your daily reading, ask yourself: Who is the audience in this piece? What is it that the author is trying to accomplish by writing this? What is the main idea? Is there any symbolism used in vague sentences?

17. Write neatly

Legible writing is a scorer’s best friend. Scorers are very busy people with thousands of essays to grade. They do not have much time trying to decipher your chicken scratch. The more the scorers can read, the more there is to grade.

18. Avoid clichés

Sure, a cliché may bring a sense of familiarity to your writing. But mostly, it just bores the reader. If you must use a common cliché phrase, try to change it up a bit by using synonyms for the verbs. Avoid banal phrases like “all that glitters isn’t gold;” cliches like this are so overused that they’ve lost their meaning. Take a look at this list of cliches for further understanding. 

19. Learn at least three stress management techniques

Stress can take a toll on each and every one of us. Learning how to handle it is a skill that is vital to every aspect of life, especially when it comes to school. One, you could try meditation using meditation apps like Headspace . Two, you could begin a daily jogging routine and use apps like RunKeeper to pace yourself. Or, three, you could develop a yoga routine. Take a look at our Teacher Self-Care Kit for tips on how to stay positive. Even if you’re a student and not a teacher, we offer plenty of great advice on how to stay calm.

Study Tips by AP® English Language Teachers

Ap® english language multiple choice tips:.

AP® English Language Free Response Tips:

AP® English Language Preparation Tips:

AP® English Language Preparation Tips

Are you a teacher or student? Do you have an awesome tip? Let us know!

Wrapping Things Up: The Ultimate List of AP® English Language Tips

The AP® English Language and Composition exam is a difficult test, but with the right amount of practice, preparation, and hard work, it is possible to score a 5. The exam is designed to test your critical thinking and reading skills, so it is imperative that you sharpen your skills months before actually taking the test.

The best way to begin studying for this test is simply through practice. Consult a previous exam on College Board or take one of our practice exams to get a feel of what the AP® English Language exam looks like. From there, develop a daily reading habit by subscribing to a major publication like The New York Times or The New Yorker to hone your reading and critical thinking skills. Moreover, start a daily vocabulary routine through Quizlet or physical flashcards to develop your understanding of rhetorical and compositional vocabulary. 

Approach the multiple-choice questions and the free-response questions with strategies pertinent to each section. Remember that the multiple-choice section is graded holistically, so it doesn’t hurt to guess. Acing the free-response section will require practice and a thorough understanding of how to write a thesis statement, so it’s important that you practice and hone this skill before taking the test. We offer a comprehensive guide to acing the free-response question that’s worth a look, too! 

And remember, at the end of the day, it’s just a test. Do not psych yourself out or let your nerves and anxiety overwhelm you. Stress will just distract you from succeeding. If you come to the test prepared and even-keeled, you will do great!

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Don’t Make These Mistakes in Your AP Lang Rhetorical Analysis Essay

These three tempting mistakes will hurt your score..

For many students, “analyze the speaker’s choices” is a confusing new task.

In previous English classes, they were graded for how well they could figure out the correct meaning of a passage. They were graded for how well they could remember a list of rhetorical device names. And whenever asked why a device was used, something as simple as “to paint a picture” would suffice.

But here, you need to select strong evidence of a speaker’s strategic moves, and you need to provide commentary relating it to the rhetorical situation. Some teachers think these instructions speak for themselves. They really don’t.

To get a clearer idea of what the graders expect, know these common mistakes to avoid.

1. Summarizing Instead of Analyzing

“Martha Stewart’s cake recipe is delicious! How does it achieve such a deliciously distinct buttery flavor with such a moist texture?” “Well, first it calls for preheating the oven to 325 degrees, and then…[proceeds to paraphrase and quote the whole recipe, even though the asker can easily read it himself, without explaining the function of any of the steps]”

That wouldn’t be a helpful answer. The asker wants to know which culinary techniques and ingredients made the most impactful contribution and why they work. If Martha’s recipe skipped or replaced them, the final product wouldn’t have turned out so special, even if it were still acceptable as a cake.

Similarly, in the passage you’re analyzing, if the speaker had used different techniques and “ingredients” to get the point across, it wouldn’t have the same effect, even if the same message were conveyed . The point is not to show you understand what’s being said (although you definitely shouldn’t show you misunderstand it). It’s to show you understand what makes it work.

2. Picking Easily Identifiable Devices That Don’t Add Much

Look, a simile!

You’re right; that line is a simile. Now, can you write a whole substantial paragraph about the function of that little simile in the greater context of the passage? Is that really what you want to spend a whole paragraph on?

Of course, knowing the names of rhetorical devices helps you more readily identify a device when you see it — just like music critics can readily point out a technique in music composition when they hear it, or food critics can readily point out a culinary technique by name. But this is isn’t a “show you know the names of the devices” activity. (In fact, the multiple choice section no longer has questions like that!)

When reading the passage, do note the devices you find, but also look for rhetorical strategies that go beyond a single line :

3. Ascribing Vague Motives to the Speaker

A successful rhetorical analysis recognizes how the specific speaker’s background , the specific audience’s background , the specific occasion , and the specific subject of the text call for specifically chosen rhetorical strategies .

Yet lower-scoring essays assume broad reasons that could fit many rhetorical situations:

If you think carefully about the techniques that matter most and what they accomplish in context, your essay won’t be formulaic and shallow. It’ll be distinct and insightful— just like the rich, challenging texts you’re being trained to analyze.

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AP Language and Composition Exam: Ultimate Guide on Essay and Prompts


Table of contents

The AP English language and composition exam is a fear of many. However, we're here today not only to tell you that you will nail it but provide all the necessary tips for your success. Students oftentimes are scared more because they don't know a thing about the test. Indeed, not knowing is worse than the actual writing part. Here we cover tips, multiple-choice questions, argumentative writing, and so much more. Read this guide, and you will know what colleges are looking for, how to be prepared as well as ready!

What Is AP English Language and Composition?

AP English language and composition is a challenge that everyone should face. At least, someday. But it’s never too early or too late to be fully prepared for it. So what even is this test? In simpler terms, it is a course and later an exam that tests your rhetoric and composition skills. The majority of schools and colleges have a special course that teaches students how to write. But apart from writing, the students must focus on how they can construct compelling arguments. It is an art of convincing, if one may. Thus, one needs to show how one can use evidence in argumentative pieces.  

AP English Language and Composition Exam: Basics

AP language and composition exam tests what you have learned during the course we have discussed above. It deals with the same arguments and rhetoric. Full credits are given to the students who can use evidence, assess the mistakes of others, and show a good flow of their text. Here is a basic structure of the test:

How Long Is the AP Lang Exam?

The AP language and composition exam has two separate sections, as we already discussed. But here’s a brief on how much time one will get for each of them:

Thus, 3 hours for everything.

AP English Language and Composition Exam Structure & Format

AP lang exam format is easy to remember. They also make sure to repeat the instructions thoroughly. But below, you’ll find a prepping summary.

First section Once more: this section has multiple choice questions, 45 of them to be exact. They test how well students understand rhetoric. So one will be given several passages as well as questions. Second section It is also called the free-response one. It will feature three different essays.

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AP English Language and Composition Exam Multiple Choice

AP English language and composition exam will first meet you with multiple-choice questions. They are easy as well as tricky at the same time. So what will you do and what to expect?

There will be no actual writing involved. The questions are not open-ended. But concentration is your best friend. Revise rhetoric techniques that you have learned during your course as reading passages requires thorough analysis.

Sample AP English Language and Composition Exam Questions

To ease your understanding, we have a little sample AP English language and composition exam. It will help you understand what is expected from you and how you might approach it in your future. So see our examples below:

AP English Language and Composition Essay

There are 3 types of essays on the AP lang exam. But without further ado, here are AP lang essays in all their glory:

AP Lang Score: Essay Grading Rubric

AP lang essay rubric is also available down below. Save our table, and you'll always know how many points you have scored or how to calculate them.

Essays have their own rubric. In short, it looks something like this:

You can get a score of 6 points for each essay. As you can see, special attention is paid to the thesis. So make sure you perfect it.

AP English Essay Examples of Prompts and Questions

Here are few AP English essay examples of prompts. Prompt question 1 To answer this question, you need to get a good analysis of imagery, form, and diction that are used by the speaker. Note the symbolism that he uses. To do that you need to learn what symbolism is and what are the methods of its usage in literature. It is the action of attaching a symbolic meaning to some particular thing, action, definition, etc. In most cases, symbolism is about metaphors and imagery. To describe and define a symbol use evidence and try to make it accurately. Don’t just list all those tools author uses. You need to make a strong well-supported analysis instead.   Prompt question 2 In this part of your exam, you need to analyze the structure of a literature piece and its contribution to the entire meaning. Your interpretation, description, and explanation should be unique, accurate, and specific. The main deal is the repetition. It is the main factor that contributes to the meaning of a poem. We recommend not quoting the entire line of the poem in your essay, but writing the number of the line. It is more effective and saves time if you are in a rush.   Prompt question 3 Some students consider the free response section being the hardest part of the entire English exam. And here you should explain how and why a character from the literature piece contributes to the entire theme. You are free to choose a novel and a character from it. You should work both with the character and the plot of the story it is engaged in. Please, don’t ignore the note at the end of the prompt. It says that you should not do a summary of the entire plot.  

How to Deal With AP English Language Essay Prompts

You should note that AP English Literature and AP English Language essay prompts are not the same. There is a special essay in the prompt that you need to analyze. The goal of the entire course is to teach you how to analyze. And the only way to deal with this exam is to learn to analyze that format. You should start early before the exam to make a good improvement. The format of the Language and Literature essays is nothing different from any other essay you know.  

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How to Study for AP Language and Composition Exam: Tips

We also have several tips for preparing for the AP language and composition exam. Now you know what to expect. So it’s a perfect time to learn how to nail your test scores. Don’t worry, we got you! You’ll find all the needed information below explicitly created for this guide.

1. Get Familiar With the AP Lang Exam Details

AP English language and composition exams will seem easy, especially for those who pay special attention to your tasks. Experienced examiners will say that some questions or tasks can be misleading. The first thing you actually should do is read everything carefully. Getting your prompt right is already your first step towards your success. Make sure that you understand what you are required to do. Knowing your basic structure of all sections and having a general idea of your tasks will help you a lot.  

2. Read and Synthesize

AP lang synthesis essay is one of your articles you should write in your second section. So what do they mean by saying that you should synthesize something? Indeed, it’s a scary word, but we can help you with that. This essay requires you to read several texts as well as summarize their main idea. Therefore, synthesizing can also mean summarizing. It is a perfect way to test how well you understand the argumentation of other authors. Don’t forget to add an argument of your own. State why each text talks about a certain subject and provide evidence from those articles.  

3. Recognize Rhetorical Strategies as You Read

Rhetorical strategies and devices in AP lang are points definitely worth taking into consideration. Sadly, it’s not enough to use techniques and devices on your own. But, please, do that in your essays; it’s important. However, during your course, you will learn or have probably learned about ways to convince people. The majority of authors understand their audience and thus utilize certain techniques to influence their emotions or thoughts. Your job here is to see those special strategies and recognize them. The good idea is to read several texts before your exam or practice on your own.  

4. Work Out Your Argumentative Writing

An AP argumentative essay is all about convincing your audience that your opinion is correct. You cannot just say that you are right or that everyone should believe you. That is why we use arguments to convince others. The same thing you should achieve in your argumentative essay. What is the most important part of such work? Generally, we would say that your thesis statement is vital. And that would be correct. But do your best to include as much evidence to support your arguments as possible. You should make your points bulletproof. Evidence is a perfect way to achieve ideal argumentation.  

5. Try Sample AP English Language and Composition Practice Exam

In case you want to calm your nerves or simply chill, sample AP language and composition practice exams are widely available. They allow you not only to see how much time you spend on each question but get a feel of your overall test. There are plenty of online preparatory websites that have  mock exams  for students. You can search for previous tests or generate one of your own. By practicing, you not only relax but get acquainted with the structure of a test. When your real thing comes, you’ll be as cool as a cucumber.  

AP English Language and Composition Exam: Final Thoughts

AP language and composition exams will no longer scare you because you know everything there is about this test. We hope that all of your questions were answered as we tried to cover all the best tips, structures, and possible issues you might have during your preparation. Try to stay focused as many students lose their minds during their exam or forget to read prompts. Remember that you can  buy assignment of any type at StudyCrumb tailored to all your needs. 

In case you still have several questions, or you want to practice with us, our writing service is here to help. Because it was created by students, we know how important quality and deadlines are for you. So we wish you perfect scores, and make sure to check out what we can offer!  


Rachel R. Hill is a real educational devotee. She prides in writing exceptional general guides while listening to every need of students.

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