AP® English Language and Composition is a fantastic way to improve your skills in writing and analysis—not to mention give you college credit before you even set foot on campus.

It seems like a no-brainer, but you might still be wondering if taking the course is really worth it. After all, it’s a major time commitment, and you’re probably going to have to work really hard to perform well in your AP® class and on the real AP® English Language and Composition Exam.

In most cases, taking an AP® class is absolutely worth the effort. The skills you develop in an AP® English Language and Composition class are ones that you’ll carry with you throughout your entire educational (and professional) career.

Why you should take AP® English Language and Composition

Reason #1: Build strong communication skills

When it comes to college—and even your future career—strong communication skills are essential. With them, you’ll be able to effectively deliver and consume information as well as focus on the key points of someone’s messaging. In AP® English Language and Composition, you’ll learn these skills through analysis of written works as well by writing several analytical essays.

Reason #2: Learn to read between the lines

A crucial skill you’ll need across many disciplines is the ability to read a piece of text and break down its rhetoric, arguments, and insights. AP® English Language and Composition gives you the opportunity to learn that skill through the texts you’ll read and the analytical essays you’ll write. You’ll also learn effective analysis tactics so that you can come away with the main idea and purpose of any text you read.

Reason #3: Develop effective study skills

With frequent essays, tests, and quizzes, the AP® English Language and Composition course will develop your study habits in ways you’ve never experienced before. And remember, the key word is habits. That means you’ll be developing consistency in your study regiment, allowing you to better retain information and do well on all your exams. These kinds of skills are essential to success in college courses in writing and the humanities.

Reason #4: Learn long-term planning

In order to effectively prepare for the AP® English Language and Composition Exam, you’ll have to start planning your entire year. That means knowing when specific quizzes, tests, and presentations are due, leading up to the big day when you take the AP® English Language Composition Exam in May. In the weeks leading up to the actual AP® Exam, you will need to develop a study plan and follow through with it. These planning skills will be crucial for you once it comes time for college and your career.

Reason #5: Develop amazing writing skills

The AP® English Language and Composition class will absolutely turbocharge your writing skills. Throughout the AP® course, you’ll learn the methods and secrets to writing persuasive and informative essays that will prepare you for college writing. The ability to write well is a skill that you’ll draw upon for the rest of your life, no matter what career you decide to take. So many college students point back to their AP® English Language and Composition course in high school as the moment they learned to write at the college level.

Sign up for AP® English Language and Composition

To sign up for the real AP® Exam, you need to speak with the AP® coordinator at your school. He or she will help facilitate your courses and exams.

You’ll likely need to meet some eligibility requirements before you can take an AP® course. Once you do though, you’ll be well on your way to attaining college credit.

For more information, be sure to check out College Board’s article on the topic here.

How much does the AP® Exam cost?

Each AP® Exam costs a total of $96—if you’re in the mainland United States and its territories and commonwealths, Canada, or a U.S. Department of Defense Dependents School.

If you’re outside of those areas, the AP® Exam will cost $126 per exam.

The College Board has a financial aid program that offers a $34 fee reduction in the exam.

Read more about College Board’s exam fees here.

When you take into account the cost of a college semester versus the cost of the exam, though, you’ll see that the AP® Exam is actually a bargain. With a passing score, you’re getting the equivalent of college credit after all.

How to study for the AP® English Language Exam

There are two ways to best prepare for the AP® English Language Exam:

#1. Read, read, read, read, and read some more. The entire exam is all about reading comprehension and analysis. The only way to get better at that is to read as much as you can in the weeks and months before the test.

…But read with purpose!  You should also engage with what you’re reading. Ask yourself, “What is the author trying to say with this text? What are they doing with the language to further their argument? What imagery is being employed?” Only through active reading can you hope to be prepared for the multiple-choice section.

#2. Write until your hand cramps. Writing skills are crucial for the free-response section of the exam. More specifically, you will want to know how to craft a persuasive argumentative essay. To practice, try choosing a topic you care about and write persuasive letters to family, friends, or the community about that topic.

The more practice and honing of your skills, the better. Only by doing can you learn how to write persuasively.

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