AP English Literature and Composition Course Overview

The AP English Literature and Composition course focuses on reading, analyzing, and writing about imaginative literature (fiction, poetry, drama) from various periods. There is no prescribed sequence of study, and a school may offer
one or both courses.

The AP English Literature and Composition course aligns to an introductory college-level literary analysis course. The course
engages students in the close reading and critical analysis of imaginative literature to deepen their understanding of the ways
writers use language to provide both meaning and pleasure. As they read, students consider a work’s structure, style, and themes, as well as its use of figurative language, imagery, symbolism, and tone. Writing assignments include expository, analytical, and argumentative essays that require students to analyze and interpret literary works.

AP English Literature and Composition Course Content

The course is designed to help students become skilled readers and writers through engagement with the following course requirements:

  • Reading complex imaginative literature (fiction, drama, and
    poetry) appropriate for college-level study.
  • Writing an interpretation of a piece of literature that is based on a careful observation of textual details, considering the work’s structure, style, and themes; the social and historical values it reflects and embodies; and such elements as the use of figurative language, imagery, symbolism, and tone.
  • Composing in several forms (e.g., narrative, expository, analytical, and argumentative essays) based on students’ analyses of literary texts.
  • Writing that proceeds through several stages or drafts, with revision aided by teacher and peers.
  • Writing informally (e.g., response journals, textual annotations, collaborative writing), which helps students better understand the texts they are reading.
  • Revising their work to develop
    • A wide-ranging vocabulary used appropriately and effectively;
    • A variety of sentence structures, including appropriate use of subordination and coordination;
    • Logical organization, enhanced by techniques such as repetition, transitions, and emphasis;
    • A balance of generalization and specific, illustrative detail; and
    • An effective use of rhetoric, including tone, voice, diction, and sentence structure.

Assessment Overview: The AP English Literature and Composition Exam employs
multiple-choice questions and free-response prompts to test students’ skills in literary analysis of passages from prose and poetry texts.
Format of Assessment: 

  • Section I: Multiple Choice | 1 Hour | 55 Questions | 45% of Exam Score
    Includes excerpts from several published works of drama, poetry,
    or prose fiction. Each excerpt is accompanied by several multiple-choice questions
    or prompts
  • Section II: Free Response | 2 Hours | 3 Questions | 55% of Exam Score
    Students have 2 hours to write essay responses to three freeresponse
    prompts from the following categories:

    • 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