Choose Your Test
Sat / act prep online guides and tips, expert's guide to the ap literature exam.
Advanced Placement (AP)
If you're planning to take the AP English Literature and Composition exam, you'll need to get familiar with what to expect on the test. Whether the 2022 test date of Wednesday, May 4, is near or far, I'm here to help you get serious about preparing for the exam.
In this guide, I'll go over the test's format and question types, how it's graded, best practices for preparation, and test-day tips. You'll be on your way to AP English Lit success in no time!
AP English Literature: Exam Format and Question Types
The AP Literature Exam is a three-hour exam that contains two sections in this order:
- An hour-long, 55-question multiple-choice section
- A two-hour, three-question free-response section
The exam tests your ability to analyze works and excerpts of literature and cogently communicate that analysis in essay form.
Read on for a breakdown of the two different sections and their question types.
Section I: Multiple Choice
The multiple-choice section, or Section I of the AP Literature exam, is 60 minutes long and has 55 questions. It counts for 45% of your overall exam grade .
You can expect to see five excerpts of prose and poetry. You will always get at least two prose passages (fiction or drama) and two poetry passages. In general, you will not be given the author, date, or title for these works, though occasionally the title of a poem will be given. Unusual words are also sometimes defined for you.
The date ranges of these works could fall from the 16th to the 21st century. Most works will be originally written in English, but you might occasionally see a passage in translation.
There are, generally speaking, eight kinds of questions you can expect to see on the AP English Literature and Composition exam. I'll break each of them down here and give you tips on how to identify and approach them.
"Tiny books carried by ladies" is not one of the question types.
The 8 Multiple-Choice Question Types on the AP Literature Exam
Without further delay, here are the eight question types you can expect to see on the AP Lit exam. All questions are taken from the sample questions on the AP Course and Exam Description .
#1: Reading Comprehension
These questions test your ability to understand what the passage is saying on a pretty basic level . They don't require you to do a lot of interpretation—you just need to know what's going on.
You can identify this question type from words and phrases such as "according to," "mentioned," "asserting," and so on. You'll succeed on these questions as long as you carefully read the text . Note that you might have to go back and reread parts to make sure you understand what the passage is saying.
These questions ask you to infer something—a character or narrator's opinion, an author's intention, etc.—based on what is said in the passage . It will be something that isn't stated directly or concretely but that you can assume based on what's clearly written in the passage. You can identify these questions from words such as "infer" and "imply."
The key to these questions is to not get tripped up by the fact that you are making an inference—there will be a best answer, and it will be the choice that is best supported by what is actually found in the passage .
In many ways, inference questions are like second-level reading comprehension questions: you need to know not just what a passage says, but also what it means.
#3: Identifying and Interpreting Figurative Language
These are questions for which you have to either identify what word or phrase is figurative language or provide the meaning of a figurative phrase . You can identify these as they will either explicitly mention figurative language (or a figurative device, such as a simile or metaphor ) or include a figurative phrase in the question itself.
The meaning of figurative phrases can normally be determined by that phrase's context in the passage—what is said around it? What is the phrase referring to?
Example 1: Identifying
Example 2: Interpreting
#4: Literary Technique
These questions involve identifying why an author does what they do , from using a particular phrase to repeating certain words. Basically, what techniques is the author using to construct the passage/poem, and to what effect?
You can identify these questions by words/phrases such as "serves chiefly to," "effect," "evoke," and "in order to." A good way to approach these questions is to ask yourself: so what? Why did the author use these particular words or this particular structure?
#5: Character Analysis
These questions ask you to describe something about a character . You can spot them because they will refer directly to characters' attitudes, opinions, beliefs, or relationships with other characters .
This is, in many ways, a special kind of inference question , since you are inferring the broader personality of the character based on the evidence in a passage. Also, these crop up much more commonly for prose passages than they do for poetry ones.
#6: Overall Passage Questions
Some questions ask you to identify or describe something about the passage or poem as a whole : its purpose, tone, genre, etc. You can identify these by phrases such as "in the passage" and "as a whole."
To answer these questions, you need to think about the excerpt with a bird's-eye view . What is the overall picture created by all the tiny details?
Some AP Lit questions will ask you about specific structural elements of the passage: a shift in tone, a digression, the specific form of a poem, etc . Often these questions will specify a part of the passage/poem and ask you to identify what that part is accomplishing.
Being able to identify and understand the significance of any shifts —structural, tonal, in genre, and so on—will be of key importance for these questions.
#8: Grammar/Nuts & Bolts
Very occasionally you will be asked a specific grammar question , such as what word an adjective is modifying. I'd also include in this category super-specific questions such as those that ask about the meter of a poem (e.g., iambic pentameter).
These questions are less about the literary artistry and more about the fairly dry technique involved in having a fluent command of the English language .
That covers the eight question types on the multiple-choice section. Now, let's take a look at the free-response section of the AP Literature exam.
Keep track of the nuts and bolts of grammar.
Section II: Free Response
The AP Literature Free Response section is two hours long and involves three free-response essay questions , so you'll have about 40 minutes per essay. That's not a lot of time considering this section of the test counts for 55% of your overall exam grade !
Note, though, that no one will prompt you to move from essay to essay, so you can theoretically divide up the time however you want. Just be sure to leave enough time for each essay! Skipping an essay, or running out of time so you have to rush through one, can really impact your final test score.
The first two essays are literary analysis essays of specific passages, with one poem and one prose excerpt. The final essay is an analysis of a given theme in a work selected by you , the student.
Essays 1 & 2: Literary Passage Analysis
For the first two essays, you'll be presented with an excerpt and directed to analyze the excerpt for a given theme, device, or development . One of the passages will be poetry, and one will be prose. You will be provided with the author of the work, the approximate date, and some orienting information (i.e., the plot context of an excerpt from a novel).
Below are some sample questions from the 2019 Free Response Questions .
Looking for help studying for your AP exam?
Our one-on-one online AP tutoring services can help you prepare for your AP exams. Get matched with a top tutor who got a high score on the exam you're studying for!
Essay 3: Thematic Analysis
For the third and final essay, you'll be asked to discuss a particular theme in a work that you select . You will be provided with a list of notable works that address the given theme below the prompt, but you can also choose to discuss any "work of literary merit."
So while you do have the power to choose which work you wish to write an essay about , the key words here are "literary merit." That means no genre fiction! Stick to safe bets like authors in the list on pages 10-11 of the old 2014 AP Lit Course Description .
(I know, I know—lots of genre fiction works do have literary merit and Shakespeare actually began as low culture, and so on and so forth. Indeed, you might find academic designations of "literary merit" elitist and problematic, but the time to rage against the literary establishment is not your AP Lit test! Save it for a really, really good college admissions essay instead .)
Here's a sample question from 2019:
As you can see, the list of works provided spans many time periods and countries : there are ancient Greek plays ( Antigone ), modern literary works (such as Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale ), Shakespeare plays ( The Tempest ), 19th-century English plays ( The Importance of Being Earnest ), etc. So you have a lot to work with!
Also note that you can choose a work of "comparable literary merit." That means you can select a work not on this list as long as it's as difficult and meaningful as the example titles you've been given. So for example, Jane Eyre or East of Eden would be great choices, but Twilight or The Hunger Games would not.
Our advice? If you're not sure what a work of "comparable literary merit" is, stick to the titles on the provided list .
You might even see something by this guy.
How Is the AP Literature Test Graded?
The multiple-choice section of the exam comprises 45% of your total exam score; the three essays, or free-response section, comprise the other 55%. Each essay, then, is worth about 18% of your grade.
As on other AP exams, your raw score will be converted to a score from 1-5 . You don't have to get every point possible to get a 5 by any means—but the AP English Literature test does have one of the lowest 5 rates of all APs , with only 5.0% of students receiving 5s in 2021 .
So, how do you calculate your raw scores?
For the multiple-choice section, you receive 1 point for each question you answer correctly . There's no guessing penalty, so you should answer every question—but guess only after you're able to eliminate any answer you know is wrong to up your chances of choosing the right one.
Scoring for multiple choice is pretty straightforward; however, essay scoring is a little more complicated.
Each of your essays will receive a score from 0 to 6 based on the College Board rubric , which also includes question-specific rubrics. All the rubrics are very similar, with only minor differences between them.
Each essay rubric has three elements you'll be graded on:
- Thesis (0-1 points)
- Evidence and Commentary (0-4 points)
- Sophistication (0-1 points)
We'll be looking at the current rubric for the AP Lit exam , which was released in September 2019, and what every score means for each of the three elements above:
To get a high-scoring essay in the 5-6 point range, you'll need to not only come up with an original and intriguing argument that you thoroughly support with textual evidence, but also stay focused, organized, and clear. And all in just 40 minutes per essay!
If getting a high score on this section sounds like a tall order, that's because it is.
If you write it down, it must be true!
Skill-Building for Success on the AP Literature Exam
There are several things you can do to hone your skills and best prepare for the AP Lit exam.
Read Some Books, Maybe More Than Once
One of the most important steps you can take to prepare for the AP Literature and Composition exam is to read a lot and read well . You'll be reading a wide variety of notable literary works in your AP English Literature course, but additional reading will help you further develop your analytical reading skills .
I suggest checking out this list of notable authors in the 2014 AP Lit Course Description (pages 10-11).
In addition to reading broadly, you'll want to become especially familiar with the details of four to five books with different themes so you'll be prepared to write a strong student-choice essay. You should know the plot, themes, characters, and structural details of these books inside and out.
See my AP English Literature Reading List for more guidance.
Read (and Interpret) Poetry
One thing students might not do very much on their own time but that will help a lot with AP Lit exam prep is to read poetry. Try to read poems from a lot of eras and authors to get familiar with the language.
We know that poetry can be intimidating. That's why we've put together a bunch of guides to help you crack the poetry code (so to speak). You can learn more about poetic devices —like imagery and i ambic pentameter —in our comprehensive guide. Then you can see those analytical skills in action in our expert analysis of " Do not go gentle into that good night " by Dylan Thomas.
When you think you have a grip on basic comprehension, you can then move on to close reading (see below).
Hone Your Close Reading and Analysis Skills
Your AP class will likely focus heavily on close reading and analysis of prose and poetry, but extra practice won't hurt you. Close reading is the ability to identify which techniques the author is using and why. You'll need to be able to do this both to gather evidence for original arguments on the free-response questions and to answer analytical multiple-choice questions.
Here are some helpful close reading resources for prose :
- University of Wisconsin-Madison Writing Center's guide to close reading
- Harvard College Writing Center's close reading guide
- Purdue OWL's article on steering clear of close reading "pitfalls"
And here are some for poetry :
- University of Wisconsin-Madison's poetry-reading guide
- This guide to reading poetry at Poets.org (complete with two poetry close readings)
- Our own expert analyses of famous poems, such as " Ozymandias ", and the 10 famous sonnets you should know
Learn Literary and Poetic Devices
You'll want to be familiar with literary terms so that any test questions that ask about them will make sense to you. Again, you'll probably learn most of these in class, but it doesn't hurt to brush up on them.
Here are some comprehensive lists of literary terms with definitions :
- The 31 Literary Devices You Must Know
- The 20 Poetic Devices You Must Know
- The 9 Literary Elements You'll Find In Every Story
- What Is Imagery?
- Understanding Assonance
- What Is Iambic Pentameter in Poetry?
- Simile vs Metaphor: The 1 Big Difference
- 10 Personification Examples in Poetry, Literature, and More
Practice Writing Essays
The majority of your grade on the AP English Lit exam comes from essays, so it's critical that you practice your timed essay-writing skills . You of course should use the College Board's released free-response questions to practice writing complete timed essays of each type, but you can also practice quickly outlining thorough essays that are well supported with textual evidence.
Take Practice Tests
Taking practice tests is a great way to prepare for the exam. It will help you get familiar with the exam format and overall experience . You can get sample questions from the Course and Exam Description , the College Board website , and our guide to AP English Lit practice test resources .
Be aware that the released exams don't have complete slates of free-response questions, so you might need to supplement these with released free-response questions .
Since there are three complete released exams, you can take one toward the beginning of your prep time to get familiar with the exam and set a benchmark, and one toward the end to make sure the experience is fresh in your mind and to check your progress.
Don't wander like a lonely cloud through your AP Lit prep.
AP Literature: 6 Critical Test-Day Tips
Before we wrap up, here are my six top tips for AP Lit test day:
- #1: On the multiple-choice section, it's to your advantage to answer every question. If you eliminate all the answers you know are wrong before guessing, you'll raise your chances of guessing the correct one.
- #2: Don't rely on your memory of the passage when answering multiple-choice questions (or when writing essays, for that matter). Look back at the passage!
- #3: Interact with the text : circle, mark, underline, make notes—whatever floats your boat. This will help you retain information and actively engage with the passage.
- #4: This was mentioned above, but it's critical that you know four to five books well for the student-choice essay . You'll want to know all the characters, the plot, the themes, and any major devices or motifs the author uses throughout.
- #5: Be sure to plan out your essays! Organization and focus are critical for high-scoring AP Literature essays. An outline will take you a few minutes, but it will help your writing process go much faster.
- #6: Manage your time on essays closely. One strategy is to start with the essay you think will be the easiest to write. This way you'll be able to get through it while thinking about the other two essays.
And don't forget to eat breakfast! Apron optional.
AP Literature Exam: Key Takeaways
The AP Literature exam is a three-hour test that includes an hour-long multiple-choice section based on five prose and poetry passages and with 55 questions, 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 you, the student.
The multiple-choice section is worth 45% of your total score , and the free-response section is worth 55% . The three essays are each scored on a rubric of 0-6, and raw scores are converted to a final scaled score from 1 to 5.
Here are some things you can do to prepare for the exam:
- Read books and be particularly familiar with four to five works for the student-choice essays
- Read poetry
- Work on your close reading and analysis skills
- Learn common literary devices
- Practice writing essays
- Take practice tests!
On test day, be sure to really look closely at all the passages and really interact with them by marking the text in a way that makes sense to you. This will help on both multiple-choice questions and the free-response essays. You should also outline your essays before you write them.
With all this in mind, you're well on your way to AP Lit success!
If you're taking other AP exams this year, you might be interested in our other AP resources: from the Ultimate Guide to the US History Exam , to the Ultimate AP Chemistry Study Guide , to the Best AP Psychology Study Guide , we have tons of articles on AP courses and exams for you !
Looking for practice exams? Here are some tips on how to find the best AP practice tests . We've also got comprehensive lists of practice tests for AP Psychology , AP Biology , AP Chemistry , and AP US History .
Deciding which APs to take? Take a look through the complete list of AP courses and tests , read our analysis of which AP classes are the hardest and easiest , and learn how many AP classes you should take .
Want to build the best possible college application?
We can help. PrepScholar Admissions is the world's best admissions consulting service. We combine world-class admissions counselors with our data-driven, proprietary admissions strategies . We've overseen thousands of students get into their top choice schools , from state colleges to the Ivy League.
We know what kinds of students colleges want to admit. We want to get you admitted to your dream schools .
Learn more about PrepScholar Admissions to maximize your chance of getting in.
Ellen has extensive education mentorship experience and is deeply committed to helping students succeed in all areas of life. She received a BA from Harvard in Folklore and Mythology and is currently pursuing graduate studies at Columbia University.
Student and Parent Forum
Our new student and parent forum, at ExpertHub.PrepScholar.com , allow you to interact with your peers and the PrepScholar staff. See how other students and parents are navigating high school, college, and the college admissions process. Ask questions; get answers.
Ask a Question Below
Have any questions about this article or other topics? Ask below and we'll reply!
Improve With Our Famous Guides
- For All Students
The 5 Strategies You Must Be Using to Improve 160+ SAT Points
How to Get a Perfect 1600, by a Perfect Scorer
Series: How to Get 800 on Each SAT Section:
Score 800 on SAT Math
Score 800 on SAT Reading
Score 800 on SAT Writing
Series: How to Get to 600 on Each SAT Section:
Score 600 on SAT Math
Score 600 on SAT Reading
Score 600 on SAT Writing
Free Complete Official SAT Practice Tests
What SAT Target Score Should You Be Aiming For?
15 Strategies to Improve Your SAT Essay
The 5 Strategies You Must Be Using to Improve 4+ ACT Points
How to Get a Perfect 36 ACT, by a Perfect Scorer
Series: How to Get 36 on Each ACT Section:
36 on ACT English
36 on ACT Math
36 on ACT Reading
36 on ACT Science
Series: How to Get to 24 on Each ACT Section:
24 on ACT English
24 on ACT Math
24 on ACT Reading
24 on ACT Science
What ACT target score should you be aiming for?
ACT Vocabulary You Must Know
ACT Writing: 15 Tips to Raise Your Essay Score
How to Get Into Harvard and the Ivy League
How to Get a Perfect 4.0 GPA
How to Write an Amazing College Essay
What Exactly Are Colleges Looking For?
Is the ACT easier than the SAT? A Comprehensive Guide
Should you retake your SAT or ACT?
When should you take the SAT or ACT?
Get the latest articles and test prep tips!
Looking for Graduate School Test Prep?
Check out our top-rated graduate blogs here:
GRE Online Prep Blog
GMAT Online Prep Blog
TOEFL Online Prep Blog
Holly R. "I am absolutely overjoyed and cannot thank you enough for helping me!”
2022 AP English Literature Exam Guide
12 min read • december 6, 2021
AP English Literature 📚
Your guide to the 2022 ap english literature exam, format of the 2022 ap english literature exam.
- Multiple Choice | 1 hour | 45% of your score
- 55 questions
- 5 sets of questions with 8–13 questions per set.
- Each set is preceded by a passage of prose fiction, drama, or poetry of varying difficulty.
- will always include at least 2 prose fiction passages (this may include drama) and at least 2 poetry passages.
- Free Response | 2 hours | 55% of your score
- 3 questions
- A literary analysis of a given poem
- A literary analysis of a given passage of prose fiction (this may include drama)
- An analysis that examines a specific concept, issue, or element in a work of literary merit selected by the student
FRQ Scoring Rubric for the 2022 AP Lit Exam
Courtesy of College Board
When is the 2022 AP exam and how do I take it?
How should I prepare for the exam?
- Next, download the AP English Literature Cram Chart PDF - a single sheet that covers everything you need to know at a high level. Take note of your strengths and weaknesses!
- Review every unit and question type, and focus on the areas that need the most improvement and practice. We’ve put together this plan to help you study between now and May. This will cover all of the units and essay types to prepare you for your exam
- Practice essays are your best friends! The more essays you write, the more automatic the process will come, and the easier the AP exam will be!
- Try some of the past exam essays here
- Join Hours 🤝 to talk to real students just like you studying for this exam!
Pre-work: Set up your study environment
Ap english literature 2022 study plan, unit 1: short fiction i.
Definitely do this:
- Prose Prompt Deconstruction : An overview of the Prose Analysis prompt and strategies for preparing to respond
- What Lit Is : An overview of the course and exam and their expectations
- 12 Classic Short Stories : Short stories of literary merit to stretch your analysis muscles
- Short Fiction Unit Guide by Laura Walton
- Best Quizlet Decks for AP English Literature : Practice with these quizlets to strengthen your AP Lit vocabulary!
Unit 2: Poetry I
- Literary Device Review : An overview of some literary devices that you may have forgotten, or an introduction to some new ones that you want in your analysis vocabulary.
- Defending a Claim : Before practicing your paragraphs, watch this stream for guidance in building a claim from the passage in response to a prompt.
- How to Read a Poem : A stream dedicated to developing poetry reading skills, including a useful acronym (SIFT) for prioritizing important elements of a poem.
- Annotating for Understanding: This stream guides you through the annotation process, making sure that you are annotating purposefully, and developing your own library of symbols.
- Poetry Overview : Our Fiveable guide to the poetry analysis question -- what to expect and what you need to do to respond effectively.
If you have more time or want to dig deeper:
- Theme Statements and Thesis Statements : This stream teaches you how to determine and state a theme, and how to establish a claim to defend for poem analysis.
- 💎 Play Figurative Language Trivia ! It’s not the names that are important, but it’s fun to know them, anyway!
Unit 3: Longer fiction or Drama
- Theme Statements and Thesis Statements: This stream distinguishes between these two important statements in a Q3 response, and further discusses thesis statements in general.
- Annotating for Analysis, part 2: This stream is more about annotating an exam prompt, and then preparing to respond to it.
- Characters and Relationships : All about characterization, with terms and tips for understanding the creation of characters and why they matter.
- Fiveable study guide to the Literary Argument prompt
- 💎 Check out John Green’s YouTube channel Crash Course for help analyzing some English teacher novel favorites. These don’t substitute for reading, but they help when you’re done.
- 📖 Read this Ultimate AP Literature Reading List from Albert.io to see what you’ve read, or what you might want to read. You might even find them free online, or you can support your local library.
Unit 4: Short Fiction II
- Prose Analysis Prompt Deconstruction and Strategies : Before you read the text, make sure that you know the task before you, and you’re ready to read with that in mind.
- Q2 Thesis and Introduction : There are some exam-taking tips in here, from a college freshman who conquered the exam. She also discusses forming a thesis and an introduction that works. Quickly.
- Q2 Evidence and Commentary : Practicing creating commentary to respond to the prompt efficiently. This stream uses practice prompts to show the process of reading a text with the prompt in mind to select evidence while reading.
- Short Fiction Overview : Revisit this guide! Read the section on “How to Read a Short Story. Like, Really Read It.”
- 💎 Check out this stream on creating a "boot camp" that was originally meant for teachers, but gives guidelines and suggestions on how to dive into short fiction.
- AP Lit Prose Analysis Practice Prompt Answers & Feedback – Fahrenheit 451 (Diction): The focus of this practice prompt is diction – analyzing it AND using it yourself, with a little syntax thrown in! Try it yourself and compare it with student responses and feedback.
- AP Lit Prose Analysis Practice Prompt Samples & Feedback – The Street : Practicing prose analysis is a great way to prep for the AP exam! Respond to this practice prompt and review practice writing samples and their corresponding feedback.
- AP Lit Prose Analysis Practice Essays & Feedback – The Rainbow : Writing essays is a great way to practice prose analysis and prep for the AP exam! Review student responses for an essay prompt and corresponding feedback
Unit 5: Poetry II
- How Form Creates Meaning: Learn about poetry-specific choices authors make, and what elements of form look like in practice. Also, explore a couple of common forms and why they might be used.
- Open Poetry Study : An opportunity to practice some of the skills from “How to Read a Poem ”.
- Q1 Evidence and Commentary : Follow the process of reading a poem and selecting evidence in real-time. You can have an essay before it’s through.
- The complexity of Poetry: This is an opportunity to look specifically at how poets create tensions and complexity in their work. Since this complexity is always a point of analysis on the exam, you can study how it works, and how to write about it
- 💎 Browse through the Poetry Foundations resources for students , including annotations, poem guides, podcasts, and poet studies.
Unit 6: Longer Fiction or Drama II
- Finding Theme Through Characterization : A discussion of the function of characterization as it applies to the meaning of the work as a whole.
Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs) Resources
- Multiple Choice Intro : an introduction to the AP Literature multiple choice -- an overview of the weights, number and types of questions you will encounter, with some tips for practice and preparation.
- Prose MC Strategies and Practice: covers all aspects of the Multiple Choice section of the AP Lit Exam, including tips on-time efficiency, annotation, and picking the best answer choice. This is followed by 2 sets of practice passages and questions and explanations for each of the provided answer choices.
- English Literature Multiple Choice Study Guide
- AP English Literature Multiple Choice Help (MCQ)
- AP English Lit MCQ Practice Tests
- Breaking Down an Exam Prompt: A discussion of how to break down an AP Literature exam prompt into smaller questions. We end with some do's, don'ts, and common pitfalls for students writing AP Literature essays.
- Commentary and Sophistication FAQs: Review the criteria for earning maximum evidence/commentary points and the one sophistication point from the rubric. Next, read scored examples and see what they earned in those two categories.
- AP English Literature Free Response Questions (FRQ) – Past Prompts : A sortable list of all the AP English Literature free-response questions.
© 2023 Fiveable Inc. All rights reserved.
AP English Literature and Composition Past Exam Questions
Download free-response questions from past exams along with scoring guidelines, sample responses from exam takers, and scoring distributions.
If you are using assistive technology and need help accessing these PDFs in another format, contact Services for Students with Disabilities at 212-713-8333 or by email at [email protected] .
2021 Free-Response Questions
2020 free-response questions.
Note: The table below features a selection of free-response questions and related scoring information from the 2020 exam. You can find all of the 2020 FRQs and corresponding scoring information in AP Classroom question bank .
2019 Free-Response Questions
2018 free-response questions, 2017 free-response questions, 2016 free-response questions, 2015 free-response questions, 2014 free-response questions, 2013 free-response questions, 2012 free-response questions, 2011 free-response questions, 2011 form b, 2010: free-response questions, 2010: form b, 2009: free-response questions, 2009: form b, 2008 free-response questions, 2008: form b, 2007: free-response questions, 2007: form b, 2006: free-response questions, 2006: form b, 2005: free-response questions, 2005: form b, 2004: free-response questions, 2004: form b, 2003: free-response questions, 2003: form b, 2002: free-response questions, 2002: form b, 2001: free-response questions, 2000: free-response questions, 1999: free-response questions.
What are your chances of acceptance?
Calculate for all schools, your chance of acceptance, your chancing factors, extracurriculars.
How to Write the AP Lit Poetry Essay
- How to Write the AP Literature Poetry Essay
- Tips for Writing The AP Lit Poetry Essay
To strengthen your AP Literature Poetry Essay essay, make sure you prepare ahead of time by knowing how the test is structured, and how to prepare. In this post, we’ll cover the structure of the test and show you how you can write a great AP Literature Poetry Essay.
What is the AP Lit Poetry Essay?
The AP Literature exam has two sections. Section I contains 55 multiple choice questions, with 1 hour time allotted. This includes at least two prose fiction passages and two poetry passages.
Section II, on the other hand, is a free response section. Here, students write essays to 3 prompts. These prompts include a literary analysis of a poem, prose fiction, or in a work selected by the student. Because the AP Literature Exam is structured in a specific, predictable manner, it’s helpful to prepare yourself for the types of questions you’ll encounter on test day.
The Poetry Essay counts for one-third of the total essay section score, so it’s important to know how to approach this section. You’ll want to plan for about 40 minutes on this question, which is plenty of time to read and dissect the prompt, read and markup the poem, write a brief outline, and write a concise, well-thought out essay with a compelling analysis.
Tips for Writing the AP Lit Poetry Essay
1. focus on the process.
Writing is a process, and so is literary analysis. Think less about finding the right answer, or uncovering the correct meaning of the poem (there isn’t one, most of the time). Read the prompt over at least twice, asking yourself carefully what you need to look for as you read. Then, read the poem three times. Once, to get an overall sense of the poem. Second, start to get at nuance; circle anything that’s recurring, underline important language and diction , and note important images or metaphors. In your annotations, you want to think about figurative language , and poetic structure and form . Third, pay attention to subtle shifts in the poem: does the form break, is there an interruption of some sort? When analyzing poetry, it’s important to get a sense of the big picture first, and then zoom in on the details.
2. Craft a Compelling Thesis
No matter the prompt, you will always need to respond with a substantive thesis. A meaty thesis contains complexity rather than broad generalizations , and points to specifics in the poem.
By examining the colloquial language in Gwendolyn Brooks’s poem, “We Real Cool”, we can see the tension of choosing to be “cool”. This raises important ideas about education, structure, and routine, and the consequences of living to be “real cool”.
Notice how the thesis provides a roadmap of what is to follow in the essay , and identifies key ideas that the essay will explore. It is specific, and not vague. The thesis provides a bigger picture of the text, while zooming in the colloquial language the speaker uses.
A good thesis points out the why as much as the what . Notice how in the above example, the thesis discusses language in the poem as it connects to a bigger message about the poem. For example, it’s not enough to discuss Emily Dickinson’s enjambment and hyphens. A good thesis will make a compelling argument about why those infamous Dickinson hyphens are so widely questioned and examined. Perhaps a good thesis might suggest that this unique literary device is more about self-examination and the lapse in our own judgement.
3. Use Textual Evidence
To support your thesis, always use textual evidence . When you are creating an outline, choose a handful of lines in the poem that will help illuminate your argument. Make sure each claim in your essay is followed by textual evidence, either in the form of a paraphrase, or direct quote . Then, explain exactly how the textual evidence supports your argument . Using this structure will help keep you on track as you write, so that your argument follows a clear narrative that a reader will be able to follow.
Your essay will need to contain both description of the poem, and analysis . Remember that your job isn’t to describe or paraphrase every aspect of the poem. You also need lots of rich analysis, so be sure to balance your writing by moving from explicit description to deeper analysis.
4. Strong Organization and Grammar
A great essay for the AP Literature Exam will contain an introduction with a thesis (not necessarily always the last sentence of the paragraph), body paragraphs that contain clear topic sentences, and a conclusion . Be sure to spend time thinking about your organization before you write the paper. Once you start writing, you only want to think about content. It’s helpful to write a quick outline before writing your essay.
There’s nothing worse than a strong argument with awkward sentences, grammatical errors and spelling mistakes. Make sure to proofread your work before submitting it. Carefully edit your work, paying attention to any run-on sentences, subject-verb agreement, commas, and spelling. You’d be surprised how many mistakes you’ll catch just by rereading your work.
Common Mistakes on the AP Literature Poetry Essay
It can be helpful to know what not to do when it comes time to prepare for the AP Literature Poetry Essay. Here are some common mistakes students make on the AP Literature Poetry Essay:
1. Thesis is not arguable and is too general
Your thesis should be arguable, and indicate the central ideas you will discuss in your essay. Read the prompt carefully and craft your thesis in light of what the prompt asks you to do. If the prompt mentions specific literary devices, find a way to tie those into your thesis. In your thesis, you want to connect to the meaning of the poem itself and what you feel the poet intended when using those particular literary devices.
2. Using vague, general statements rather than focusing on analysis of the poem
Always stay close to the text when writing the AP Literature Poetry Essay. Remember that your job is not to paraphrase but to analyze. Keep explicit descriptions of the poem concise, and spend the majority of your time writing strong analysis backed up by textual evidence.
3. Not using transitions to connect between paragraphs
Make sure it’s not jarring to the reader when you switch to a new idea in a new paragraph. Use transitions and strong topic sentences to seamlessly blend your ideas together into a cohesive essay that flows well and is easy to follow.
4. Textual evidence is lacking or not fully explained
Always include quotes from the text and reference specifics whenever you can. Introduce your quote briefly, and then explain how the quote connects back to the topic sentence after. Think about why the quotes connect back to the poet’s central ideas.
5. Not writing an outline
Of course, to write a fully developed essay you’ll need to spend a few minutes planning out your essay. Write a quick outline with a thesis, paragraph topics and a list of quotes that support your central ideas before getting started.
To improve your writing, take a look at these essay samples from the College Board, with scoring guidelines and commentary.
How Will AP Scores Affect My College Chances?
While you can self-report AP scores, they don’t really affect your admissions chances . Schools are more interested in how you performed in the actual class, as your grades impact your GPA. To understand how your GPA impacts your college chances, use our free chancing engine . We’ll let you know your personal chance of acceptance at over 1500 schools, plus give you tips for improving your profile.
The AP Literature Free Response section is two hours long and involves three free-response essay questions, so you'll have about 40 minutes per essay. That's not a lot of time considering this section of the test counts for 55% of your overall exam grade!
The 2022 AP English Literature exam format will be: 5 sets of questions with 8–13 questions per set. Each set is preceded by a passage of prose fiction, drama, or poetry of varying difficulty. will always include at least 2 prose fiction passages (this may include drama) and at least 2 poetry passages. A literary analysis of a given passage ...
AP English Literature and Composition Rubrics with Decision Rules and Scoring Notes This document features general scoring criteria that apply to each of the three free-response questions, regardless of specific question prompt. PDF 228.06 KB Exam Questions and Scoring Information 2022: Free-Response Questions
AP English Literature and Composition Past Exam Questions AP English Literature and Composition Past Exam Questions Free-Response Questions Download free-response questions from past exams along with scoring guidelines, sample responses from exam takers, and scoring distributions.
The AP Lit prose essay is the second of the three essays included in the free-response section of the AP Lit exam, lasting around 40 minutes in total. A prose passage of approximately 500 to 700 words and a prompt will be given to guide your analytical essay.
AP English Literature FRQ 3 (open/theme analysis essay) Outline Paragraph 1 THESIS: analytical statement that addresses all requirements of the prompt and notes text’s complexity In (1) title, (2) author employs or examines (3) character(s) OR relationship(s) OR scene(s) OR device(s) to
AP English Literature and Composition Question 1: Poetry Analysis (2019) Sample Student Responses 4 Sample T  In their poem, ^The Landlady, P.K. Page illustrates the life of a landlady and how her actions result in her playing multiple roles in the lives of her boarders. Through their use of irony and
The AP Literature exam has two sections. Section I contains 55 multiple choice questions, with 1 hour time allotted. This includes at least two prose fiction passages and two poetry passages. Section II, on the other hand, is a free response section. Here, students write essays to 3 prompts.