AP English Language and Composition

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About the AP English Language: Exam Prep

The AP English Language and Composition Exam is taken by students wishing to earn credit for a college-level English class. The AP Lang Exam tests the student's ability to read and analyze different types of nonfiction works. The multiple-choice and essay questions will be centered around the student's knowledge of the course focus areas in both reading and writing, which are Rhetorical Situations, Claims and Evidence, Reasoning and Organization, and Style. The test also draws from information in the 9 Units taught as part of the affiliated course.

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Unit 1

The rhetorical situation has 6 integral parts. Students should be able to explain the message of the rhetorical situation.. Students should also feel confident in their ability to talk about the context. The AP Lang Test will include questions about the purpose. The writer is another part of the rhetorical situation that students will be asked to recognize and define. Students will be expected to give details about the audience of the rhetorical situation. In addition, there will be questions concerning the exigence. Students should be able to pinpoint these elements and also describe them when examining a nonfiction text. Students will use their reading and writing skills to further understand claims and evidence in an argumentative piece. Key abilities include recognizing a claim and how it is supported. Students will be expected to compose a paragraph demonstrating how claims and evidence are used to form an argument.

Unit 2

Looking at the intended audience of an argument, the student will develop their sense of the rhetorical situation further by learning how the work is used to influence the audience to act on their values. The student must be able to write about this as well as analyze it in a written composition. In order to deepen their understanding of claims and evidence, the student will look closely at argumentative pieces to determine how the claims and evidence selected create an emotion or mood when making their point. In addition, the student will generate a thesis with an issue to prove using claims and evidence.

Unit 3

The student will further their knowledge about claims and evidence by analyzing how writers select what information they are going to use to support the claims they make. Students learn how to properly cite evidence and weave the opinions of others into their arguments. Students will learn the importance of a line of reasoning in an argumentative text and how it is used to move the argument along. Key skills include pointing out the line of reasoning in a text and the techniques used to develop the idea. Students will demonstrate their understanding of these concepts by writing a paragraph with a line of reasoning that advances their idea.

Unit 4

Students will continue to practice the skills they have learned in rhetorical situations by composing an introduction and conclusion to their argument. Students will also work on gradually developing their thesis statements to give their argument strength and focus. Key skills introduced in this unit are techniques that are used to enhance lines of reasoning.

Unit 5

The skills in this unit center around strengthening the clarity of a thesis and emphasizing how word choice affects an argument. When presented with a text, students should be able to figure out the argument or point it is making and how it supports the thesis, and how its organization strengthens the argument. Also, a student will compose a line of reasoning that continues throughout the narrative and uses transitional elements along the way. Students will learn style concepts and what elements contribute to the paper's tone.

Unit 6

Unit 6 encourages the student to look closely at the evidence selected for their argument and pay attention to the possible limitations of their sources. The student should take care to use consistent information from different sources when building their opinion and the resulting line of reasoning. Some of the sources used may be biased, and that fact should be built into the argument. Another key skill for the student to learn is that the position of a source is not the same thing as the perspective of a source. Students should learn that a writer can communicate tone through the words they choose and the syntax they use when presenting evidence.

Unit 7

Unit 7 provides the student time to work on their paragraph and their thesis statements. Students should ensure the claims and evidence used to back up the main argument are consistent. Students will refine their word choices to convey mood in their paragraph. Students will spend time tightening up their introduction and conclusion so that their audience is both engaged and moved to action. Some other style techniques that can be perfected during this unit are the strategic use of words and punctuation. By this time in the class, students should be experts at examining evidence to see if it validates their claims or disproves them. Inserting a modifier is one method that students can employ to qualify claims in their written essays. Students can also apply a counter argument to make a claim valid. Another technique a student can use to qualify a point in their essay is to include an alternate perspective.

Unit 8

The main focus of Unit 8 is to take a deeper look into the audience of the rhetorical situation. When reading a text or writing one, the student needs to find ways to appeal to their audience. This is where the writer can use their personal style to win over the audience. Techniques such as analogies or anecdotes can be used to get the audience to relate. Maybe specific syntax or diction might work to draw in the crowd. Students should be able to recognize how word choice reflects favoritism from both the writer and the source of evidence. Students need to consider the different perspectives of their audience, and figure out how to gain their attention. Another style method that can be used to engage an audience is irony.

Unit 9

Unit 9 focuses on claims and evidence. Claims can be validated using a modifier or modifiers, and students should know how to do this. Claims can also be backed up with alternative perspectives, so students should be able to point out this method and also use it themselves. In order to write an effective argument that will actually motivate an audience to act, techniques like examining counter arguments can be used. Writers who present several different viewpoints of an argument seem more believable, and if the information is well organized, the audience will follow them wherever they want to go.

AP English Language and Composition Exam: Section 1

Section 1 of the AP English Language and Composition Exam will be multiple choice questions. The questions will measure the ability of test takers to express their knowledge of the 4 big ideas taught in the AP Lang Course.

  • Rhetorical Situation - Reading: The recommended reading skills are weighted between 11-14% of the multiple-choice section. The student should be able to explain the different parts of the rhetorical situation and show how principles can be voiced in an argument.
  • Rhetorical Situation - Writing: The rhetorical situation writing skills are weighted between 11-14% of the multiple-choice section. To show their knowledge, students should be able to compose an introduction and conclusion as well as the body of a paragraph to convey the ideas of the audience.
  • Claims and Evidence - Reading: Reading skills in this category are weighted 13-16% in the multiple-choice section. Students should be proficient in their ability to pick out the main idea in an argument, recognize the claims and evidence within, and how these claims are qualified.
  • Claims and Evidence - Writing: The writing skills are weighted 11-14% for the multiple-choice questions. Students should be able to write a paragraph that has a strong thesis statement that must be proven with claims and evidence that are supported and qualified.
  • Reasoning and Organization - Reading: The reading skills are weighted from 13-16% of the multiple-choice section. It is important that students can identify a line of reasoning and show how the organization of these lines is used to develop an argument.
  • Reasoning and Organization - Writing: The writing skills in the multiple-choice section are weighted 11-14%. Writing skills tested include constructing an argument using lines of reasoning to guide and advance the points.
  • Style - Reading: The reading skills are weighted 11-14% for the multiple-choice section. Knowledge will be exhibited by the student in the way they can explain how elements such as word choice or grammar are used to create style.
  • Style - Writing: The writing skills questions are weighted 11-14% of the multiple-choice section. Skills highlighted are strategic use of words or grammar to compose sentences that are clear and help effective communication.

AP English Language and Composition Exam: Section 2

Free Response Section: These 3 questions are weighted 55% of the exam score. The questions are divided into synthesis, rhetorical analysis and argument. The student will view the sources provided and use the prompts to compose their answers in the free response section. They will use the skills detailed in this section to write their own responses and demonstrate their grasp of the concepts.

  • Free Response Question 1: Synthesis: The first free response questions tests the student's ability to create an argument using sources. There will be 2 visual sources and 1 quantitative source, in addition to 3-4 text sources of around 500 words each. Using this information, the student will create a thesis and line of reasoning, with the sources as claims and evidence. The student will show that they understand the rhetorical situation. The essay must be punctuated carefully. The grammar used should be correct. Students must also cite 3 or more of the sources as they prove their position.
  • Free Response Question 2: Rhetorical Analysis: This essay will show a student's understanding of the rhetorical situation. Students must use correct grammar and punctuate their essay with accuracy. Students will answer a question about a nonfiction text consisting of 600-800 words. In the essay, the student will examine important rhetorical options made by the writer. The student will construct a thesis that is supported by claims and evidence and a line of reasoning. The student will also identify how the main idea of the essay is proved or disproved by the evidence that is presented.
  • Free Response Question 3: Argument: The third free response question centers around a selected topic in literature. The student will construct an essay using evidence to argue their position. Their answer must include a thesis with evidence to support it and a line of reasoning. The essay should show the student's comprehension of the rhetorical situation. Proper punctuation should be used throughout the essay. Students should also make sure their grammar is correct.
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Frequently asked Questions

There are no prerequisites for students to take the AP Lang Exam. Students who take the AP English Language and Composition Course should be well prepared for the questions on the exam. The four Big Ideas taught in the AP English course are Rhetorical Situation, Claims and Evidence, Reasoning and Organization, and Style. Students should prepare for AP English using study guides and questions and answers from previous tests.

The AP Lang test is 3 hours and 15 minutes. The first hour of the exam consists of 45 multiple choice questions. There is a break between sections 1 and 2. The second section of the AP Test English is 2 hours and 15 minutes, including a 15 minute reading session. This time will be for 3 free response questions.

The score for the AP English Language and Composition Exam is recorded from 1 to 5. A score of 5 on the AP Lang exam is the best and corresponds to an A in a college level class. Achieving a 3 or 4 for AP English means the student passed the exam and will likely receive college credit for their efforts.

Typically, AP exams are offered once each year in May. Students may take the AP Test English in another year, but each score will be listed on the student's transcript. Exam scores can be omitted from the reports sent to colleges and universities, but students will have to arrange this through the test-provider.

In 2023 the exam's fee in the US, US Territories, Canada is $97. Taking the AP Lang exam outside of the US costs $127. Students with financial need may qualify for $35 off the AP Test English fee.

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