The AP English Language course is designed to develop critical literacy and facilitate informed citizenship in students. To that end, students examine and discuss non-fiction works of various types and themes, summarizing who is being addressed, what is being said, how the idea is being presented and why it is being said.
According to the AP English Language Course Description the exam strives to test reading and writing skills necessary for successful college careers and intellectual and civically responsible involvement in the world, as a whole. The review includes three free-response prompts within 2 hours and 15 minutes. The Free-response section accounts to 55% of your score.
What is the format of AP English Language Exam?
The exam consists of 52 – 55 multiple-choice questions. You have one hour to complete the multiple-choice section. The free-response section includes three essay responses within 2 hours and 15 minutes. Each piece follows a particular prompt.
Students review several different texts about a common topic. They must create an argument which uses at least three of the sources to support their thesis.
Students read a non-fiction passage and interpret how the author’s language choice contributed to his or her intended meaning and purpose for writing.
Students reply to a given topic by creating an evidence-based argument.
You can find AP English Language practice questions on the Albert.io Guide to AP English Language.
Why is the AP English Language Free-Response Important?
According to CollegeBoard’s 2016 Student Score Distributions Guide only 10.7% of AP English Language students received a 5 in 2016. To achieve the optimal score, you’ll need to present yourself clearly with well-written essays.
Essays are scored 1 – 9. This grade is then multiplied by 3.0556 for the weighted score. An exam must total a minimum of 112 to receive a 5.
What Content is Covered in the Free-Response Section of AP English Language?
There is no set syllabus or recommended reading for the course. However, there are guidelines which AP teachers use to choose included texts. Reading assignments should represent a clear rhetorical situation (e.g. topical fiction), speak to one another through a variety of genres, offer various rhetorical devices, and challenge AP students to understand non-fiction writing. Albert.io has compiled the Ultimate AP English Language Reading List as a helpful tool for students.
The free-response section of the exam will require you to write three essays, as outlined in the course description on CollegeBoard. There are three types of articles, and each year the content is changed. However, the primary goals remain the same.
You will be presented a topic and must choose a position. Then you will formulate a clear and convincing essay to sway the reader. You must employ appropriate evidence and persuasive arguments, to make your point.
For an in-depth guide read How To Master AP English Language Arguing or How To Craft An Argument For AP English Language on Albert.io.
You will read a selected non-fiction text or passage. Your essay must attend to the stylistic and pragmatic choices the author made for the piece. Then surmise how these decisions affect the author’s ability to address their intended audience, or possibly multiple unintended readers.
Read Understanding the Rhetorical Triangle for AP English Language and 3 AP English Language Rhetorical Strategies for specific direction on this subject.
You are given multiple texts with a common theme. It is your assignment to formulate an opinion after analyzing multiple views on the same topic. You must write an informed, authoritative, and convincing argument which answers the prompt and includes data from multiple sources.
Turn to Understanding the AP English Language Synthesis Rubric for help on this topic, as well as How to Ace the AP English Language and Composition Synthesis Essay.
How to Prepare for AP English Language Free-Response Section
How you distribute your time will be a major factor as the AP exams grow closer. There are many invaluable resources online through CollegeBoard and Albert.io to aid in your test preparation. Take advantage of AP English Language Free-Response Questions from past years on CollegeBoard. Don’t discount Albert.io’s practice questions and the One Month AP English Language and Composition Study Guide. The following are some quick tips for your AP English Literature study plan.
Familiarize Yourself with AP Questions
Use the resources available to read and practice answering real AP questions. There are free-response questions from past exams, along with example responses, and scoring on CollegeBoard. Albert.io offers model AP style questions for various topics. Read different prompts, write practice essays and improve your performance.
Self-score Your Practice Essays
Check out How To Score Your Own AP English Language Practice Essay for tips. Be objective, pay particular attention to grammar, syntax, and spelling. Don’t let yourself perpetuate small mistakes. If possible, trade practice exams with a classmate and grade each other using the guide.
Choose a Review Book
Employ the use of an AP English Language review book to help you prepare. The Best AP English Language Review Books of 2016 is an excellent resource for that purpose.
Read Comparable Texts
Read all your assigned texts and as many others as you can. Use the Ultimate AP English Language Reading List for insightful suggestions.
Make thoughtful and detailed notes as you read every text that answers the important qualifying questions for any AP English Literature review. Who is the writer addressing? What are they saying? Why are they saying it? And, how is the author presenting this information?
Use all Your Resources
In addition to class work, syllabus and extra reading, online AP English Language practice questions, and CollegeBoard free-response questions, responses and scoring guides for previous years, think outside the box. Form a study group. Watch YouTube videos on the topics you’re researching. Adapt your study tactics for your personal learning preferences.
How to Answer AP English Language Free-Response Questions?
Thoroughly Review Essay Prompts
Read the given instructions and clearly identify the objective. Look at the solution from opposing viewpoints before beginning your outline.
Adopt a Position
Decide what your thesis statement will be. When choosing what position to take, consider the evidence you are provided. Pick a position that is easily dependable with the given information.
Outline Your Essay
Construct a quick outline which will include the main idea, supporting evidence (three items are recommended) and a conclusion.
Write Your Thesis
Create a cohesive and intelligible statement which addresses the given prompt and topic. Answer all questions presented in your introductory paragraph and present the main point of your argument.
Write Supporting Paragraphs
Include evidence to defend your position and cite origin. Expand on how your thesis is justified by your presented information.
Include Provided Resources
Cite passages, statements, and facts from the given texts. It is important to connect your points with supporting information directly. Failing to do so will be detrimental to your performance.
Use precise language and specific examples to support your supposition. Each example should work towards the goal of proving your thesis.
Establish a Tone
Your essay should maintain a consistent tone which is suitable for the topic and your intentions.
Use Logic to Your Advantage
The ability to make logical assumptions is imperative to your score on the AP English Literature free-response prompts. Use these inferences to substantiate your claims and clarify your opinions.
Take Time for Style
When writing your essay, utilize sophisticated vocabulary, proper grammar and syntax. Ensure that you understand any words used and that your argument makes sense. A well-written response will engage the reader and use style to entice them.
Manage Your Time
As you organize and write your response, be mindful of the time. You must complete three prompts in 2 hours and 15 minutes. Keep this in mind.
Understand the Scoring Rubric
This is a valuable method for scoring well on the free-response section. Comprehension of the way your essay will be scored can help you model better responses.
Visit Understanding the AP English Language Argument Rubric, Understanding The AP English Language Synthesis Rubric, and How To Score Your Own AP English Language Essay for tips.
What are AP English Language Free-Response Questions Like?
The following are actual free-response prompts from past exams. You can find more released essay questions with example responses and scores on CollegeBoard.
Example one is from the 2016 exam.
“Over the past several decades, the English language has become increasingly globalized, and it is now seen by many as the dominant language in international finance, science, and politics. Concurrent with the worldwide spread of English is the decline of foreign language in English-speaking countries, where monolingualism-the use of a single language-remains the norm.
Carefully read the following six sources, including the introductory information for each source. Then synthesize information from at least three of the sources and incorporate it into a coherent, well-developed essay that argues a clear position on whether monolingual English speakers are at a disadvantage today.
Your argument should be the focus of your essay. Use the sources to develop your argument and explain the reasoning for it. Avoid merely summarizing the sources. Clearly indicate which sources you are drawing from, whether through direct quotation, paraphrase, or summary. You may cite the sources as Source A, Source B, etc., or by using the descriptions in parenthesis”.
To view the sources, take a look at the complete 2016 prompt.
As you tackle this question, it’s important to observe the following steps for a successful synthesis essay. For more in depth direction refer to How to Ace the AP English Language and Composition Synthesis Essay.
Use the 15 Minute Planning Time Effectively
Read all the sources provided for you. As you examine the evidence, plan your position. Write your outline and the basis of your thesis during this time.
Evaluate Sources Critically
Take into account the background information provided for each source and what biases may be in effect.
Create a Cohesive Argument
Support your cohesive argument with specifically cited information from provided sources.
Proofread Your Essay
Cross check your essay for spelling, grammar, and punctuation mistakes.
Example two was given during the 2015 exam.
“On the tenth anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., labor union organizer and civil rights leader Cesar Chavez published an article in the magazine of a religious organization devoted to helping those in need. Read the following excerpt from the article carefully. Then, in a well-written essay, analyze the rhetorical choices Chavez makes to develop his argument about nonviolent resistance.”
When answering this prompt, it is important that you fully understand the rhetorical triangle, before you begin. As you read the excerpt, mark passages or points that will be relevant to your argument. Refer to 3 AP English Language Rhetorical Essay Strategies for help in developing this type of answer.
Carefully Discern what the Prompt is Asking for.
Collect your thoughts and outline your essay in the planning time allotted.
Organize your thoughts
as you read the text. Make annotations along the margins to direct your writing. Remember to cite relevant passages to support your position.
Begin each body paragraph
with an assertion you will prove within. This clearly outlines what you are attempting to demonstrate with the enclosed citations and explanations
LORA stands for Language, Organization, and Rhetorical Appeals.
To view the entire prompt,example responses and scoring visit the CollegeBoard.
How can I practice AP English Language Free-Response?
The most efficient AP English Language study plan will include a variety of resources and devices. Take full advantage of the practice prompts provided on Albert.io, the many free-response questions presented and reviewed on CollegeBoard and helpful articles to pinpoint strategies for exceptional performance.
To that end, check out How To Study For AP English Language and Composition and 9 Things You Need To Remember About The AP English Language and Composition Exam next!
Looking for AP English Language practice?
Kickstart your AP English Language prep with Albert. Start your AP exam prep today.
Writing is central to the AP English courses and exams. Both courses have two goals: to provide you with opportunities to become skilled, mature, critical readers, and to help you to develop into practiced, logical, clear, and honest writers. In AP English, writing is taught as "process" — that is, thinking, planning, drafting the text, then reviewing, discussing, redrafting, editing, polishing, and finishing it. It's also important that AP students learn to write "on call" or "on demand." Learning to write critical or expository essays on call takes time and practice.
Here are some key guidelines to remember in learning to write a critical essay:
- Take time to organize your ideas.
- Make pertinent use of the text given to you to analyze.
- Quote judiciously from the text to support your observations.
- Be logical in your exposition of ideas.
If you acquire these skills — organizing ideas, marshalling evidence, being logical in analysis, and using the text judiciously — you should have little trouble writing your essays on the AP Exam. Practice in other kinds of writing — narrative, argument, exposition, and personal writing — all have their place alongside practice in writing on demand.
As you study and practice writing, consider the following points.
Reading Directly Influences Writing Skills & Habits
Reading and writing are intertwined. When you read what published authors have written you are immersed not just in their ideas, but in the pulsing of their sentences and the aptness of their diction. The more you read, the more that the rhythm of the English language will be available to influence your writing. Reading is not a substitute for writing, but it does help lay the foundation that makes good writing possible.
Writing is Fun
When you have penned what you think is a great sentence or a clean, logical paragraph, read it over to yourself out loud. Enjoy it. Delight in the ideas, savor the diction, and let the phrases and clauses roll around in your mind. Claim it as part of your self. You may discover you have a voice worthy of respect.
A Tip from E. M. Forster
He is reputed to have said that he never knew clearly what it was he thought until he spoke it; and once he had said it, he never knew clearly what it was that he said until he had written it down. Then, Forster noted, he could play with it and give it final form. Be like Forster: think, speak, write, analyze your writing, then give it final shape.
Write Purposefully with Rhetorical Awareness
When you write, fashion your text with awareness of key rhetorical elements. What is the message of your text? How do you intend to convey your message to your particular audience? Give shape to your thinking with language that enlightens your readers and lets you achieve your aims.