The Ultimate List of AP® English Literature Tips | Albert.io (2023)

Table of Contents
Overall How To Study for AP® English Literature: 9 Tips for 4s and 5s 1. Complete any and all Summer work assigned 2. Read Thomas Foster’s How To Read Literature Like a Professor 3. Become familiar with the Western Canon 4. Learn how to analyze text 5. Develop a daily reading habit 6. Ask questions to seek clarity 7. Form a study group and meet either weekly or bi-weekly 8. Make flashcards of literary devices, terms, concepts, works, and more 9. Experiment with different study styles AP® English Literature Multiple-Choice Review: 11 Tips 1. Choose a multiple-choice strategy: read the passages first or read the questions first 2. Look deep within the text for implications and subtleties 3. Carefully read the questions and mark them up 4. Eliminate answer choices that are obviously incorrect 5. Reread parts of the passage that are pertinent to the AP® English Literature questions 6. Pay attention to time 7. Formulate summaries of the passages in the margins 8. Be wary of “All of the above” and “None of the above.” 9. Create a daily study routine and stick to it 10. Work through multiple practice exams 11. Don’t let your stress and anxiety overwhelm you AP® English Literature Free-Response Review: 13 Tips 1. Critically read and mark-up the question 2. Develop a strong, well-developed AP® English Literature thesis statement 3. Structure the essay with a cohesive mode of organization 4. Use high-level, academic vocabulary 5. Mark-up the passage and refer back to it 6. Develop familiarity with many literary works to ace the third FRQ 7. Practice frequently using previous exams and consulting rubrics 8. Use a good writing utensil 9. Pace yourself throughout the test 10. Write legibly 11. Don’t leave any question blank 12. Understand what the AP® readers are looking for 13. Listen to your teacher Study Tips from AP® English Literature Teachers AP® English Literature Multiple Choice Tips: AP® English Literature Free Response Tips: Wrapping Things Up: The Ultimate List of AP® English Literature Tips FAQs Videos

Managing to score a 5 on the AP® English Literature and Composition exam is no easy task. In 2020, for example, only 12.5% of students earned a 5 on the test. But don’t let that statistic scare you! While such a number may make you want to throw in the towel, it is possible to ace this exam through hard work, preparation, and determination. In this post, we’ll break down tons of AP® English Literature tips for you to tackle your exam.

The AP® English Literature and Composition exam is designed to test your ability to think critically and analyze literary excerpts. The test is three hours long and consists of a multiple-choice portion (worth 45% of your grade) and a free response portion (worth 55% of your grade).

The best way to score a 5 on the AP® English Literature exam is to practice, practice, practice. And we’re here to help. Below, we’ve compiled an ultimate list of AP® English Literature practice tests, study guides, AP® Lit prose essay examples, test-taking strategies, and more. Think of this page as the ultimate AP® English Literature review.

If you’re looking for online solutions, use Albert. If you’re looking for old school review books, read this for the best AP® English Literature review books.

What We Review

Overall How To Study for AP® English Literature: 9 Tips for 4s and 5s

1. Complete any and all Summer work assigned

AP® English Literature, as its title indicates, requires a lot of reading. Chances are, your teacher will provide you with a reading list and expect the required titles to be read when you walk into your first day of class. In some cases, you may even be assigned a report or project to be completed before you begin the class.

These summer assignments serve as crucial moments in the long and difficult process of developing yourself into a budding literary critic. If you take it seriously and complete a proficient assignment, it will show your teacher that you are in the course to learn. This attitude will make the school year a lot more bearable for both you and your instructor.

2. Read Thomas Foster’s How To Read Literature Like a Professor

Foster’s book offers an accessible and entertaining gateway into the complex and often confusing world of literary criticism. Chapters include explanations and reviews of subjects like symbolism, theme, irony, context, and more.

It is an excellent way to begin getting yourself to think deeply about literature, and it offers clear examples of close- and critical reading. It also discusses a wide variety of classic literary works which will help familiarize you with what academics call the “canon.” (More on this in the next tip.) It’s very readable too. Buy it, read it, mark it up, and keep it by your side throughout the class.

3. Become familiar with the Western Canon

Often referred to simply as “The Canon,” the Western Canon is the body of high-culture literature, music, philosophy, and works of art that is highly valued in the West, i.e. the poems, prose passages, and drama selections that you will mostly see on the AP® Lit exam.

Cultivating a basic understanding of these texts and their authors will not only familiarize you with the history and development of the English tradition but also strengthen your understanding of the “conversation of literature,” the innumerable and complex ways that authors and their works speak to each other and interact. We recommend reading at least the first chapter of Harold Bloom’s book on the subject to get a basic understanding.

We also insist that you familiarize yourself with the various problems that the upholding of such a canon produces. During the 80’s and 90’s, a canon war of sorts took place among English departments, with progressives aiming to dismantle the canon on the grounds that it neglects many African-American, female, queer, and impoverished writers in favor of spotlighting “dead white males.” Understanding this friction will deeply enrich your understanding of literature and increase your chances of scoring a 5 on the exam.

4. Learn how to analyze text

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Analyzing literary text comprises an incredibly large portion of the AP® English Literature course and exam. It’s important that you learn how to examine the text both as a whole and as a part. Analyze the setting, characters, and plot of the piece. However, it’s also imperative that you understand how to look deeper within the details. Deconstruct the text and examine its theme, look for literary devices, and motives. Do not merely summarize. Foster’s book from tip #2 is a great place to start developing your critical reading skills.

5. Develop a daily reading habit

This is literature! Therefore, you should become accustomed to reading…a lot! However, this does not necessarily mean that you have to aim to read an outrageous number of books or anything. You just need to at least make an attempt to read every day.

Get a subscription to a major publication like The New Yorker or The New York Times, or you can check out our comprehensive AP® English Literature Reading List for a list of essential works. As you read, try to dissect the depth of the text. After a few days of this, you’ll be surprised at how easy analysis can come to you once you train your mind to question everything.

6. Ask questions to seek clarity

Your teacher is there to help; it’s their job. If there’s anything you don’t understand, be sure to ask your instructor even if you feel embarrassed or shy. Understanding a concept you previously had trouble with is sure to be a huge weight off of your shoulders. Asking questions and literature go hand-in-hand. Some go-to’s include:

  • “How did the author create that tone?”
  • “How do you properly weave evidence into your argument?
  • “What is the meaning of this word?”

7. Form a study group and meet either weekly or bi-weekly

Studying with other people provides opportunities to approach subject matter from different angles, and analyzing literature is all about understanding and engaging with various perspectives.

Everyone brings their own experience to the text, and what better way to learn about new perspectives than through a study group? Meet weekly or bi-weekly at a coffee shop or friend’s house, and maintain a focused but casual tone. Also, create a checklist of what to review with your group prior to meeting to provide structure to the meeting.

8. Make flashcards of literary devices, terms, concepts, works, and more

The AP® English Literature exam consists of tons of questions involving literary devices, authorial intention, works and authors, and more, so it is imperative that you develop a strong understanding of the literary lexicon.

(Video) 15 AP English Literature Tips: How to Get a 4 or 5 in 2022 | Albert

The easiest way to strengthen your vocabulary is to make yourself some flashcards with the most common literary devices, authors, works, and rhetorical techniques, and carve out at least 30 minutes per day to review. If you’d prefer to use an online resource, make some flashcards over at Quizlet!

9. Experiment with different study styles

Everyone has different preferences when it comes to studying. Maybe you’re a visual learner. Perhaps you like to listen to the material to really understand it. The best way to find out what form of studying helps you best is to experiment. Use flashcards one day, read and summarize material the next, take a practice exam after that, and then try a study group. Variety is key!

Now that you have a grasp on how to get through the actual coursework of your AP® English Literature and Composition class, it’s time to learn how to study for the exam at the end of the year.

First, we’ll take a look at some tips that are sure to help you ace the first portion of the AP® Literature exam: the multiple-choice section. This portion is worth 45% of your total score and it consists of several passages to read and 55 questions to answer, which you have exactly one hour to complete.

Let’s get started.

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AP® English Literature Multiple-Choice Review: 11 Tips

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

Most people are familiar with the classic shortcut when it comes to taking multiple choice tests—read the questions first, then scan the passages to look for the answers. This method of approaching the AP® English Literature exam can work. It 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.

2. Look deep within the text for implications and subtleties

Analyze the passages within the exam very carefully. There will undoubtedly be questions covering the tone of the passage, or the author’s purpose for writing it. Was it to inform or persuade the audience? To create a specific mood or tone? Perhaps the author used some literary devices like allusions or irony. Closely read the passages and you will have no problem identifying the answers to questions that are specific to the literature side of AP® English. Avoid interpreting the text at face-value.

3. Carefully read the questions and mark them up

If you don’t understand what the question is asking, you can’t possibly expect to know the answer. Take a deep breath and calmly read the questions, dissecting them completely by marking them up with underlines, circles, and more. If you’d like you could create your own system, where underlining represents, say, imagery, and circles represent irony, etc.

Sometimes, the writers of the test will throw in certain words or phrases that lead the question in a different direction. For example, the words “EXCEPT” and “NOT” are often used at the end of questions, and this can confuse you. Underline these keywords to force yourself to pay attention to them.

4. Eliminate answer choices that are obviously incorrect

Ever since you were young, you’ve likely heard the helpful suggestion of deducing answers. If you’re familiar with the subject matter of the question, it should be easy to rule out at least one of the choices that you have determined not to be correct.

Physically mark out the answers you believe are wrong by crossing or exxing them out. It will help you to visually see which answers couldn’t possibly be correct, and it will make the multiple-choice questions much more manageable.

5. Reread parts of the passage that are pertinent to the AP® English Literature questions

If a certain question throws you slightly off, return to the passage to clear up your confusion. Most of the time, the answer can be found either directly inside the text or just outside of it through implication and metaphor.

You may even want to put a star, dash, or some other marking beside portions of the text that contain answers or key phrases or moments. That way, if you have extra time at the end of the test, you can go back and check your answers quickly.

6. Pay attention to time

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This is a timed exam. You have 60 minutes to complete 55 questions. This allows for an average of less than a minute per question when you account for time spent reading passages. You have absolutely no time to sit at your desk staring blankly at questions you don’t quite understand.

Luckily, there is no penalty for answers marked wrong—or answers not marked at all—on the AP® English Literature exam. This means you should definitely skip the questions you’re unsure of. Mark them in some sort of way so that it is noticeable that you haven’t answered them yet. Then, if you have some time at the end of the test, you can go back and see if you can come up with the answer. Alternatively, if you can’t seem to find an answer: guess!

7. Formulate summaries of the passages in the margins

If you are a fast worker, this tip may prove extremely helpful for you. A few of the multiple-choice questions may test your overall comprehension of the passages you read. In the margins of the page beside the passage, jot down a few bullet points outlining the plot progression as you read. This way you can refer back to your notes when answering questions rather than searching the entire text. Think of this strategy as you are creating a treasure map of the passage, drawing up a guide which will lead you to the hidden treasure.

8. Be wary of “All of the above” and “None of the above.”

There will be a few times where “all of the above” and “none of the above” appear as answer choices on the AP® English Language exam. These can be tricky. Remember that “all of the above” means that every single provided answer choice is correct, so if you are somewhat unsure of a single answer then be weary of “all of the above.” The same goes for “none of the above.” Be confident that all choices are either correct or incorrect.

9. Create a daily study routine and stick to it

You will not be able to score a 5 if you decide to cram the night or even week before the exam. Therefore, you must develop a daily study schedule as soon as the year begins. One way to do this is to set an alarm on your phone to remind you to study. Moreover, take the flashcards you’ve made with you wherever you go. Keep them in your wallet, in your purse, or even in your car. Whenever you have a moment of free time, instead of scrolling through Twitter or Facebook on your phone, run through a review of your terms. Ultimately, create your own AP® English Literature study guide. It’ll stick better in your memory and help your AP® Literature exam score in the long run.

10. Work through multiple practice exams

The most helpful and effective way to prepare for the multiple-choice portion of the AP® English Literature exam is by testing yourself. Prepare early in the semester for the test by taking practice exams. We offer tons of practice assessments with our AP® English Literature course and so does College Board, but if you’re more of a pen and paper person, you can use the recommended AP® Lit books here.

(Video) Intro to AP English Literature (2022-2023)

Shoot for one practice exam per month, and be sure to time yourself when working through the practice exams. This will help familiarize you with the ins and outs of the exam itself while simultaneously strengthening your test-taking skills. We can’t stress this tip enough.

11. Don’t let your stress and anxiety overwhelm you

Sure, the AP® English Literature exam is a difficult and important test. And yes, it affects the amount of college credit you receive coming out of high school. But at the end of the day, it’s just a test. Anxiety and stress can severely affect your ability to function and think correctly. Take a deep breath periodically throughout the test. It’ll help calm your body and soothe your mind so you can concentrate better.

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Now that you have some tips on how to tackle the multiple-choice portion of the AP® English Literature exam, it’s time to focus on the most challenging part: the free response portion. In this portion, you have two hours to complete three essays. This section tests your ability to analyze passages and dissect them to form logical interpretations to be illustrated in your essays.

Here are some tips for nailing the free response portion of the AP® English Literature and Composition exam:

AP® English Literature Free-Response Review: 13 Tips

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1. Critically read and mark-up the question

The first step towards writing an awesome essay on the AP® Literature exam is reading (and understanding) the question. What are the authors of the test asking for specifically? As you read the question, underline, highlight, or circle key words and phrases. Think critically about what the question is asking of you. The scorers of the free response portion want essays that are clear and to the point. Simply restating the prompt will result in a huge deduction of points. Regurgitating the question will show the reader that you may not be confident in your ability to dissect passages. Avoid this by spending time with the question and marking the AP® English Literature prompts up.

Here, the key words and phrases to underline are “analyze” and “portrayal” as they point you toward what you are to do and where you are to focus. Additionally, the prompt includes further areas to highlight including, “imagery, selection of detail, and tone.”

2. Develop a strong, well-developed AP® English Literature thesis statement

A well-written thesis is the basis of all successful essays. As mentioned previously, do NOT restate the question. In fact, one of the biggest mistakes students made in the 2019 exam involved moving from commentary (point by point observations) to more cohesive claims. In other words, students had difficulty strengthening their observations into arguments. Many times, this error stems from having a weak thesis statement. Think of your thesis as your essay’s central claim, its expression of its argument. Crafting a perfect thesis statement is indeed difficult, so if you find yourself totally lost, check out AP’s very own video lecture on the subject.

Here are examples of good and bad thesis statements over an essay concerning free speech:

  • Bad Thesis: “This paper will consider the advantages and disadvantages of certain restrictions on free speech.”
  • Good Thesis: “Even though there may be considerable advantages to restricting hate speech, the possibility of chilling open dialogue on crucial racial issues is too great and too high a price to pay.”

3. Structure the essay with a cohesive mode of organization

Organization is key to writing a great essay. If your analysis moves all over the place in a discursive manner, the reader will get angry, and you don’t want to make the reader angry. You should be greatly familiar with the basic five paragraph essay outline before taking the exam. While this outline isn’t necessarily set in stone (it can be adjusted, expanded, shortened, etc.), it does serve as a tried and true method of organization.

After you dissect the question, prepare an outline within the first few minutes of writing your essay. Perhaps even use a diagram, if you’re a visual learner. A clear and precise outline can help prevent rambling when answering the question in your essay.

4. Use high-level, academic vocabulary

Since this is an exam for an Advanced Placement English course, it is imperative that you use a vocabulary that reflects a higher level of education. Avoid slang, colloquialism, and vague language like, “sort of,” “kind of,” and “very.” These lower the professional and academic tone of your essay, and they will obfuscate your writing with ambiguity.

On the other hand, don’t go overboard with smarty-pants language that you don’t have control of. This will render your essay pretentious and unclear. To strengthen your academic vocabulary, you should make flashcards on Quizlet and develop a daily study habit. Check out our 15 Must Know Rhetorical Terms for AP® English Literature page, too.

5. Mark-up the passage and refer back to it

On the first two essays, you will be asked to read a passage and analyze it according to the instructions given in the question. Use the passage to your advantage. As you read mark it up by circling, highlighting, or underlining key words or phrases. One common misconception that occurred in the 2019 exam was students relying on plot summary instead of focusing more specifically on details or elements and explaining how these illustrate their points. To avoid this, frequently refer back to specific parts of the text.

6. Develop familiarity with many literary works to ace the third FRQ

The third free response question on the AP® Literature exam is more open-ended than the first two. AP® describes the FRQ as this: “An analysis that examines a specific concept, issue, or element in a work of literary merit selected by the student.” Essentially, you will respond to an open-ended prompt by selecting your own work of literary merit to analyze. Therefore, you must become familiar with a wide variety of texts that could help you answer the question. It’s important that you keep this particular essay question in mind as you work throughout the semester. Check out our Ultimate AP® English Literature Reading List!

7. Practice frequently using previous exams and consulting rubrics

As they say, practice really does make perfect. A good option for practicing free response questions involves searching the Internet for old exam rubrics. These show you exactly what the scorers are looking for in an essay. The AP® Literature section of AP® Central has several practice exams for your use. Take advantage of this and practice writing essays using different prompts from previous exams. We also offer practice exams filled with free response prompts that can help you develop your writing skills.

8. Use a good writing utensil

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Nothing is worse than getting halfway through an essay and having your pen run out of ink, or your pencil getting smudged. Often, readers prefer the look and clarity of black ink to colored ink or the graphite of pencil. Take that into mind when going into the free response portion of the exam, and have a handful of backup writing utensils at hand when you take the test. The Ticonderoga pencil is a tried and tested stalwart, and we recommend it.

9. Pace yourself throughout the test

Before the free response portion begins, work out how much time you need to spend on each question. It may even be helpful to bring a watch to time yourself on each essay. Remember: there are three essay questions total: one literary analysis of a poem, one of a passage of prose fiction, and one analysis of a specific concept, issue, or element in a work of literary merit. You have a total of two hours, so we recommend that you spend 40 minutes per question. However, you also need to be sure that you are not rushing through the questions and leaving vital information out of your essays. Time yourself when you take practice exams, and go from there.

10. Write legibly

When facing the pressure of taking difficult tests, you might find yourself rushing through the essay questions because of time constraints. This often leads to messy handwriting that will give your scorer a headache. The clarity of your writing is necessary for a good score on your essay. If the reader cannot decipher your chicken scratch, how can they possibly score it? In order to perfect this skill before the exam, practice writing legibly under pressure during practice exams and other essays.

11. Don’t leave any question blank

Although this may be acceptable for the multiple-choice portion of the exam, it is absolutely inexcusable for your essays. You only get three chances to prove your competency in the free response portion, and the section at large counts for 55% of your overall score. Some might say that the FRQ section is the most important portion of the exam because of its weight. Write, write, and write even if you are totally stumped by the prompt. Take advantage of this opportunity to show the readers how much you’ve learned from taking this AP® course.

(Video) Top 10 Tips for AP Literature

12. Understand what the AP® readers are looking for

As we said earlier, rubrics are a great resource to use when preparing for the AP® English Literature exam. They reflect exactly how your essay will be scored. It’s vital to understand exactly what the readers are looking for in a good essay. This includes:

a) Thesis: This requirement emphasizes the importance of crafting an effective thesis statement. Students must respond to the prompt with a thesis that presents a defensible interpretation of the poem.

b) Evidence and commentary: This section assesses your ability to cite and analyze textual evidence. It stresses that you provide specific evidence to support all claims in a line of reasoning, and consistently explain how the evidence supports that line of reasoning. Additionally, you must explain how multiple literary elements or techniques in the poem contribute to its meaning.

c) Sophistication: This component of the rubric is tough because sophistication is not something you can simply check off. Ultimately, the scorer wants your essay to demonstrate sophistication of thought and/or develops a complex literary argument.

13. Listen to your teacher

This is perhaps the most important of all the AP® Lit free response tips. Over the course of the semester, your teacher will provide you with ample advice for the exam. Pay close attention to your teacher’s guidance, and frequently meet with them to discuss your progress.

Seriously, meet with your teachers and continue asking how you can improve, what you’re doing well, what you’re not doing so well, etc. If the information your teacher gives you wasn’t relevant, they wouldn’t waste their time giving it to you. Your instructor knows the exam; it’s only logical to follow their advice.

In the event that you have a bad teacher, consult online resources like us, and perhaps begin formulating relationships with other teachers who are known to be excellent. Moreover, meet with students who excel in the course, and try to form study groups with them.

The AP® English Literature and Composition exam is all about analysis of different literary works. Hopefully, these tips will help you tackle this massive exam with ease.

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Start your AP® English Literature test prep here

Study Tips from AP® English Literature Teachers

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We asked a number of AP® English Literature teachers to share their favorite AP® Lit tips and have compiled them here for you to review.

AP® English Literature Multiple Choice Tips:

1. Debate the questions

Get students to debate the answers to AP® multiple choice questions without your help. After they “quiz” on a passage and the questions for it, ask them how they think they did. The answer is always mixed, so give them an option: Keep the score they currently have OR discuss the answers in a large group without teacher’s help and take that community grade.

They always pick the latter. Participating in the discussion helps students practice justifying their answers (tell them you will keep track to make sure that everyone participates at least ___ time(s).) As you observe their process, you will gain all kinds of insight into students’ thinking process, they will learn from the ways their classmates explain their choices, and their scores are almost always 100! Thanks for the tip from Wendy R. from Weslaco East High School.

2. Brush up on your vocabulary

If you don’t understand the vocabulary used in the questions and/or answers, you will not be able to find the correct answer. There are many words with multiple meanings/nuances of meaning that will bring you to the wrong conclusion. Pay attention to the wording of the questions and answers! Thanks for the tip from Susan R. from Palm Beach Gardens High.

3. Consider Audience, Occasion & Purpose

Whether you’re speaking, reading or writing, you’re thinking: Audience, Occasion & Purpose. Who is the audience? What is the occasion? And what is the purpose of the author’s writing? Breaking down writing and literature into these three components can make the exam much easier and more digestible. Thanks for the tip from Mike L. at Tilton School.

AP® English Literature Free Response Tips:

1. Always remember to consider the author’s purpose

Retelling what happened in the story is not an analysis. You must understand and relay why the author wrote it the way he/she did and what he/she is trying to tell readers! That’s crucial! Thanks for the tip from Kim F. from Tavares High.

2. Strive for originality

Think about the fact that the AP® readers have been looking at essays on the same topics for three days. What will you do to be original and stand out that will surprise the reader at 4:30 pm on day three? Brainstorm what everyone else will say before writing. Then, don’t write on those topics. Originality will hook your reader. Thanks for the tip from Mike G. from MPS.

(Video) 7 Key Concepts for AP English Literature & Composition | Up-to-Date for 2022 | The Princeton Review

3. Don’t just summarize the author’s devices or techniques

Focused writing on two or three aspects of the text (characterization, use of devices, etc) accompanied with analysis will generate a higher score than lightly touching on five to ten aspects. As a reader, we are happy that you can identify techniques, but what we are looking for is analysis. And, we also know that analysis is tough to achieve. Think deep about the text. What was the author trying to say about the human condition with this scene, with that image? Thanks for the tip from Matt U. at Liberty High.

4. Always answer the question: “So what?”

Yes, the writer used an extended metaphor, so what? Why did they choose that metaphor? How does that choice reflect the author’s intent? What effect does it create within the text and within the reader? Provide the reader with the “so what” to help drive your analysis deeper. Thanks for the second tip from Matt U. at Liberty High.

5. Students who read widely and regularly are far more prepared to write and communicate clearly with a deeper understanding than students who do not read

Reading expands knowledge, vocabulary usage, and comprehension, and it enables students to make connections within and between content areas which have real-world applications. Reading widely across genres will broaden your perspective, too. Thanks for the tip from Elizabeth B. from Harrison High.

6. Use something you’ve read in AP® Lit for the third question

While you may be tempted to analyze a novel you’ve read on your own for the third FRQ, you should stick to what you’ve read in class. You will have spent more time and analytical energy on those books and plays than you did on your own.. Prepare for Question 3 before the exam by reviewing everything you’ve read in AP® English Literature. Thanks for the tip from Erin M. at Mercy County Senior High.

7. Turn your words into pictures and your pictures into words

Meaning: If you have an idea, anchor it to something concrete. If you have something concrete, associate it with an idea. Be able to move back and forth between the abstract and the literal. Most if not all deep literature involves this sort of mental navigation, so it’s best that you become familiar with it. Thanks for the tip from Jeff T. at Lynden Christian High School.

8. Never be unacceptably brief

Even if the selection is difficult or slim, there’ll be something in it that all students can latch onto and dissect. Sometimes, even the smallest moments in literature are actually the biggest through moments of metaphor, symbolism, and more. So if you find yourself writing 1-2 sentence paragraphs, return to the smaller moments and think BIG!Thanks for the third tip from Bill O. from El Molino High.

9. Do not merely skim to point out literary devices

Zoom deep into the text to identify the device, explain in detail how the device is functioning and then zoom out to explain how it works to support the passage as a whole and how it connects to the universal human condition. Focus on two primary ideas (literary devices, elements of composition, etc…) for each essay in order to go deeper in analysis of each. This means the difference between writing a college level paper and writing a high school level paper. Thanks for the tip from Jodi G. from Saugus High. Thanks for the tip from Erin M. at Mercy County Senior High.

10. Deconstruct the prompt

Make sure you understand exactly what the prompt is asking you to do. Then use it as a focus for your annotation of the text on Q1 and Q2 and as a launching point for your notes and thesis for Q3. Spend a lot of time marking up and breaking down the prompt before you attempt the essays. Look for key words, phrases, action verbs, etc. Thanks for the tip from Erin M. at Mercy County Senior High.

11. Find a good literary timeline to conceptualize what you read in terms of the art movement and historical time period

Since the AP® Literature Exam is a test over, well, literature, knowing the historical progression of literature is vital. This is where a literary timeline comes in handy. Check out this one on Pinterest for a general idea. These can provide insight into the texts as well as help you remember what you have read. Thanks for the tip from Paul H. at Walled Lake Central High.

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

Scoring a 5 on the AP® English Literature exam is a difficult feat to accomplish. However, with proper preparation, some hard work, and consistent practice, you can ace the exam. Remember that the AP® English Literature and Composition exam is designed to test your ability to read critically and deeply analyze literature. The test is three hours long and consists of a multiple-choice portion (worth 45% of your grade) and a free response portion (worth 55% of your grade).

To adequately prepare, you must develop an effective study routine. Make flashcards of common literary concepts and terms using Quizlet. Take practice exams either through Albert, and be sure to time yourself each time you take one of the tests. Finally, cultivate a daily reading schedule which incorporates literature (fiction or poetry, preferably for this exam). This will familiarize you with the wide and complex world of literature and sharpen your literary skills. We also offer tons of practice on various novels and essential works that can be super helpful, too.

After taking a few practice exams, identify which section of the test you are better or worse at. Do you ace the multiple choice but flunk the free-response questions? Whichever it is, be sure to practice and develop your weaker skills. Focusing on the components of the test that you consistently ace—though it may be tempting—will make your score lopsided. Again, we must reiterate: practice, practice, practice.

(Video) AP English Literature Last-Minute Review

FAQs

What percent of people get a 5 on AP Literature? ›

Students scored significantly higher on the multiple-choice section than on their essays, which continue to limit the percentage of exams achieving scores of 3 or higher.
...
AP English Literature score distributions, 2021 vs. 2019.
AP Score20192021
56%5%
416%12%
328%27%
234%39%
1 more row
13 Jul 2021

What is the easiest AP class to get a 5? ›

Top 10 Easiest AP Classes by Exam Pass Rate
AP Class/Exam*Pass Rate (3+)Perfect Score (5)
2. Calculus BC81.6%44.6%
3. Spanish Literature75.1%17.6%
4. Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism74.4%40.4%
5. Physics 273.3%14.0%
6 more rows

What is the hardest AP to get a 5 on? ›

Top 10 Hardest AP Classes by Exam Pass Rate
AP Class/ExamPass Rate (3+)Perfect Score (5)
2. Environmental Science53.4%11.9%
3. Chemistry56.1%10.6%
4. U.S. Government and Politics57.5%15.5%
5. U.S. History58.7%13.0%
6 more rows

Is an A in an AP class worth 5? ›

An unweighted GPA doesn't take into account the rigor of your courses. A weighted GPA, meanwhile, assigns extra value to AP and IB courses, usually a full point on a 4.0 scale, with a 4.0 representing an A. That means if you earn an A in an AP course, it will factor into your GPA as a 5.0.

What happens if you skip an AP Exam? ›

No one will know you missed the exam, and colleges don't necessarily expect that you will take the AP exam for every AP-level class you take. If you still want that college credit, you can take the AP test the following year; however, you'll have to put in some serious study time to be able to remember everything!

Is AP Lit hard to get a 5 on? ›

The AP Lit 2021 pass rate was notably lower than the all-AP average, at 44%. The highest percentage of candidates received a 2 (39%), and only 5% of students attained a 5.

Is AP Lit the hardest AP class? ›

One of the Hardest AP classes, AP English literature, and composition, is a 3 hours exam. It consists of 55 multiple-choice questions and 3 response questions. The passing Rate of English literature is only 60.1%. It requires you to read a difficult text and explain it by writing an essay.

Which is harder AP Lang or AP Lit? ›

AP® English Language showed just 57.2% of students who took the class attained a “passing” score of 3 or higher. Whereas, the AP® English Literature Exam had just 47.3% of students attain a 3 or higher.

What is the highest AP Lit score? ›

  • INTRODUCTION. ...
  • Around early July, you and the colleges you designate will receive a score from 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest, for your AP English Lit Test.

What percent is a 4 on AP Literature? ›

See how all AP students performed on the most recent exams. The score distribution tables on this page show the percentages of 1s, 2s, 3s, 4s, and 5s for each AP subject.
...
AP Score Distributions.
ExamAP Spanish Literature and Culture
58.1%
422.8%
333.4%
223.8%
7 more columns

Is a 3 on AP English good? ›

What is a good AP® English Language score? Scoring a 3, 4, or 5 on any AP® exam is generally considered good. Typically, a 3 is defined as 'qualified,' 4 as 'well qualified,' and a 5 as 'extremely well qualified.

Should I take AP Lang If im not good at English? ›

Yes, do take it! As previous responses have noted, a lot of people may not like English (me included) and still take AP lang. Just letting you know, if you do enjoy writing, the AP test is primarily writing, consisting of 1 multiple choice section and 3 writing sections.

Is 5 AP classes enough for Harvard? ›

Does Harvard Accept AP Credit. Harvard does accept AP Credit for classes in which a student earned a 5 on the AP Exam. These credits are accepted under a program called “Advanced Standing.” To qualify, students must earn a 5 on a minimum of 4 AP tests, transferring a total of 32 credits.

Can I get into an Ivy League with 5 AP classes? ›

Ivy League

To be a competitive candidate for admission, you will need to take at least 8 AP® classes, more if you can. It is a good idea to take 1 AP® course in each of the following core disciplines: English, Foreign Language, History, Math, and Science to impress the admissions officers.

Do colleges only accept 5s on AP tests? ›

AP Exams are scored on a scale of 1 to 5. Many U.S. colleges grant credit and/or advanced placement (that means they let you skip the equivalent course once you get to college) for scores of 3 and above.

What is the most AP classes ever taken? ›

Advanced Placement (AP) Courses: What was the maximum number of AP tests that anyone has ever taken? Meet Justin Zhu, the top AP Scholar in the world, having taken 30 AP exams. He scored a perfect 5 on 26 of the exams, and 4's on the rest. This achievement left him with a 4.8 average score.

Do colleges care about AP scores? ›

Yes! It's important to remember that AP scores are not only part of the college admissions process; they can also be valuable once you get to college. Policies vary quite widely in terms of which colleges grant credit for which tests.

Does it matter if you get a 3 or a 5 on an AP exam? ›

If you score a 3 or higher, then more selective colleges will begin to accept your AP® exam scores. The score of 4 is deemed by the College Board as “well qualified”, meaning that you know the material and could do well in the college class.

Is a B okay for an AP class? ›

Long story short: it is absolutely worth occasionally risking a B in an AP or honors course, as long as you're also mixing in a healthy dose of A's. A perfect GPA and a packed AP course-load is the ideal. Short of that, you're going to want to find a healthy balance between A's and AP's.

What is the highest GPA ever? ›

A GPA higher than 5.0 is rare, but school point systems are occasionally structured so that students taking advanced classes can rack up bonus points. One student even managed to land a stunning 10.03 GPA by taking 17 advanced classes at a school that awarded bonus points.

Is a B+ in an AP class an A? ›

5 for any class taken at the intermediate level, and 1.0 for each class taken at the AP® or honors level.
...
Here's how to calculate your weighted GPA.
Letter GradeUnweighted GPA
A4.0
A-3.7
B+3.3
B3.0
8 more rows
1 Mar 2022

Do AP classes boost GPA? ›

At many high schools, honors and AP classes both offer more heavily weighted training compared to regular classes. While honors courses usually add 0.5 points to your GPA, AP classes often add 1 point. In other words, a 3.5 GPA would be boosted to a 4.0 in an honors class and a 4.5 in an AP class.

Do colleges care if you fail a class? ›

Will a failing grade impact your application? The short answer is yes, a failing grade will have a negative impact on your application. After all, colleges are academic institutions that want to admit students who will succeed in a rigorous and demanding intellectual environment.

Should I report a 2 on an AP Exam? ›

Never report or send an exam score of a 1 or 2. They are not considered “passing” scores. There are other scenarios where reporting your scores may not be a good idea. For instance, you may have received an A in AP Physics but got a 3 on the exam.

Is 5 AP classes enough for junior year? ›

You can definitely take 5 APs, but just make sure to stay on top of your work and spend a good amount of time studying to make sure you know the material.

How long should ap lit essays be? ›

What is the AP Lit Prose Essay? 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.

How many hours should I study to get a 5 on AP exam? ›

Obviously the higher you want to score, the more you need to study relative to how you are doing in the course. If you're aiming for a 3 and you've got a B, you may well only need to study for 15 hours to pull it off. If you want a 5, that may be more like 35 hours.

Is 4 APS too much? ›

Unless you're applying to the most selective universities, 4 to 5 AP courses over your high school years is more than enough. For students applying to the most selective colleges, you might need 7–12. But even so, taking 4 AP courses in a year can be extremely challenging.

Is AP Lit hard to self-study? ›

Independent study for AP English Lit is generally not a good idea. For one thing, it's one of the more difficult exams, with a lower percentage of 5's and a lower percentage of “passing” scores (3 or higher) than many exams in the AP program.

Is IB harder than AP? ›

Is IB harder than AP? It depends. Some students argue that IB is more challenging because of the emphasis on critical thinking and the more application-focused evaluations. However, both IB and AP classes are considered college-level courses that many students find challenging.

Does AP Lang help SAT? ›

SAT prep teachers and AP teachers alike will tell you that taking AP English Language and Composition in high school, which can earn you potential college credit and increase your SAT scores, is certainly one of those ways.

Is the AP Lit exam curved? ›

Why are AP English Literature scores curved? To maintain consistent standards, every year the College Board curves its exams. This includes AP® English Literature.

How many APS should I take? ›

Aim for four to eight AP exams in your junior and senior years. For competitive Ivy League schools, admission officers also want to see AP courses for core subject areas and additional courses. If possible, aim to pass about seven to 12 AP exams if applying to these highly selective schools.

Should you submit a 3 AP score? ›

The first thing that you should do is check the AP Score credit policy for the colleges that you are applying to. If they will give you credit for the 3, then by all means report it! On the other hand, if they only give credit for a 5 on that exam (not even for a 4), you may want to hold off.

Is AP lit the hardest? ›

The Pass Rate

This suggests that it may be one of the harder AP tests. Only 9.3% of AP English literature test-takers received a perfect score of 5 in 2020, whereas 19.6% of all AP test-takers earned a 5 on their exams. By this measure, AP English literature and composition is more difficult than the average AP course.

Can you get a 6 on an AP Lit exam? ›

Each AP® Exam is scored on a scale of one to five. The higher your score, the better it is for you.

Do colleges care if you get a 4 on an AP exam? ›

If you're struggling with an AP course or not doing quite as well as you like, there's no doubt you were wondering if AP scores affect admission. Thankfully, you don't have to worry. It's still absolutely beneficial to do well on the exam, but it won't hurt your chances of admission.

Does AP count as English 1101? ›

Students who receive a 5 on their AP Lit/Lang or Eng Comp will receive credit for both ENGL 1101 and 1102. If students take both English exams, they may only receive credit for one ENGL 1101 course with a score of 3 or 4.

Can you retake an AP exam? ›

AP Exams are only given once a year, but you may repeat an exam in a subsequent year. If you do, both scores will be reported unless you request that one be withheld or canceled.

Does UCLA accept 3 on AP test? ›

UCLA awards college credit for AP exams with scores of three or higher. The specific credit you receive depends on the college/school your major belongs to: AP Credit for the The College. AP Credit for the School of the Arts and Architecture.

Is 4 a good AP scores for Ivy League? ›

In terms of Ivy League and Top 20 schools, even a 4 is a relatively low score to earn on an AP exam. It is routine for Ivy League admissions officers to review applications from students who have scored 5s on multiple AP tests.

Does UC Berkeley accept 3 on AP test? ›

Score of 3 or higher satisfies full American History and Institutions requirement. Score of 3 or higher satisfies American Institutions only.

Do colleges care about AP English? ›

In general, no, they don't care. That said, they would prefer that they would be across a variety of subjects and not, as an example, all STEM classes. Additionally, there is a perception that some AP courses are easier than others, so all lightweight AP courses would do you no favors.

Do colleges accept 3 on AP Lang exam? ›

What score do you need for each AP Subject? Colleges are generally looking for a 4 (“well-qualified”) or 5 (“extremely qualified”) on the AP exam, but some may grant credit for a 3 (“qualified”). These scores mean you have proven yourself capable of doing the work in an introductory-level college course.

What happens if you fail an AP English class? ›

What happens if you fail an AP class? If you fail an AP class, then your GPA will likely drop as it would for a normal class. This grade also shows up on your transcript. However, you may be able to retake the class the following year to raise your grade and increase your GPA.

Is getting a 5 on AP Lit hard? ›

The AP Lit 2021 pass rate was notably lower than the all-AP average, at 44%. The highest percentage of candidates received a 2 (39%), and only 5% of students attained a 5.

How rare is a 5 on AP? ›

A 4 or a 5 is the AP score that will most likely earn you college AP credit.
...
2020 AP Score Distributions.
AP TestAP European History
Average Score2.95
513.7%
420.1%
325.5%
9 more columns

How common is a 5 on an AP Exam? ›

Part of this answer lies in the respective ages of the students taking AP exams. CollegeBoard's data from 2016 reveals that the percentage of students earning scores of 4 and 5 is similar during the first two years of high school. Approximately 12.5% earned 5s, while 18.6% earned 4s.

Is a 5 in AP Lit good? ›

In general, a score of 3 or higher on an AP® exam is a solid score. According to The College Board, a 3 is 'qualified. ' A 4 is considered 'well qualified. ' Finally, a 5 is deemed 'extremely well qualified.

Does it matter if you get a 3 4 5 on an AP exam? ›

Education you can afford

The College Board considers a score of 3 or higher a passing grade. That said, some colleges require a 4 or 5 to award credit. Whether a 3 is a good AP score depends on the colleges you're applying to.

Does Harvard accept 4 AP? ›

Harvard only accepts AP® scores of 5 for course credit. If you have 4 scores of 5, you can opt to obtain Advanced Standing. You can use AP® credits to opt-out of lower-level classes. Harvard has general academic requirements that all students must take.

What happens if you get an F in an AP class? ›

You Will Not Receive Credit for the Class: Failing the AP class means there's no chance you'll be able to claim college credit for the class once in university. There's also the issue that it won't give you any high school credit either, which might mean…

Should I retake an AP exam if I got a 2? ›

You should only retake the AP exam if external factors impacted your test performance the first time AND you're near-positive that the extra effort will pay off in college credit. There's really no other reason to retake an AP exam.

Is a 70% a 5 on the AP Exam? ›

Usually, a 70 to 75 percent out of 100 translates to a 5. However, there are some exams that are exceptions to this rule of thumb. The AP Grades that are reported to students, high schools, colleges, and universities in July are on AP's five-point scale: 5: Extremely well qualified.

Are AP tests curved? ›

Yes, there's a curve on AP exams, especially in relation to the AP Physics C tests. They have a heavy curve, as can be seen by the scoring distributions. A large majority of the test takers pass the exam, and 50 percent score a 5.

Is AP Lit the hardest? ›

The Pass Rate

This suggests that it may be one of the harder AP tests. Only 9.3% of AP English literature test-takers received a perfect score of 5 in 2020, whereas 19.6% of all AP test-takers earned a 5 on their exams. By this measure, AP English literature and composition is more difficult than the average AP course.

Should I take the AP Lit exam if I got a 5 on AP Lang? ›

If you take the class and do well in it, then take the exam. If not, then don't. In terms of college credit, most colleges use AP Lang and AP Lit to cover the same English requirement, so if you have a 5 on one, it's probably not worth it to take the other one.

Videos

1. 2021 Live Review 6 | AP English Literature | Approaching Question 3: Literary Argument on Exam
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2. 5 HACKS FOR A 5 // AP English Literature and Composition
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4. 15 AP English Language Tips: How to Get a 4 or 5 in 2022 | Albert
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5. Digital AP English Literature Last-Minute Review
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