Why Take AP® English Literature and Composition?

AP® English Literature 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 Literature and Composition Exam.

In most cases, taking an AP® class is absolutely worth the effort. The skills you develop in an AP® English Literature and Composition class are ones that you’ll carry with you throughout your entire educational (and professional) career. Think of all the literary references you’ll be able to make before you even get to college!

Throughout the AP® English Literature and Composition course, students will be exposed to a wide variety of literary works; novels, plays, poems, prose, and short stories. This broad literary exposure is a great opportunity for you to develop an appreciation of the ways that literature reflects and comments on a range of experiences, institutions, and social structures. Most of the works you study will be selected at the discretion of your AP® English Literature teacher. Throughout the course, you may study an entire play, work of fiction, or series of poetry, or you may focus one one or two excerpts from any given literary work. The compositions you study will all be written in, or translated into English, giving you the chance to experience an even greater range of literary works, authors and styles from all over the world.

Why you should take AP® English Literature and Composition

Reason #1: Build strong analytical skills

When it comes to college—and even your future career—strong analytical skills are essential. With them, you’ll be able to effectively consume and process almost any kind of text or document you come across, and be able to extrapolate key points, themes, symbolism or arguments from an author’s messaging. In AP® English Literature and Composition, you’ll learn effective analysis tactics through critical analysis of written works. You should come having learned the skill of identifying the main idea and purpose of any written work you read.

Reason #2: Learn to make smart comparisons

A crucial skill you’ll need across many disciplines is the ability to read more than one piece of text and draw shrewd comparisons amongst those texts. AP® English Literature and Composition gives you the opportunity to learn effective ways of comparing and contrasting literary works. You will strengthen these skills over the duration of the AP® English Literature and Composition course as you through the many texts you’ll read and the analytical essays you’ll write.

Reason #3: Develop effective study skills

With frequent essays, tests, and quizzes, the AP® English Literature 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 Literature 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 Literature 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 Literature 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 Literature and Composition course in high school as the moment they learned to write at the college level.

Sign up for AP® English Literature 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 $94—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 $124 per exam.

The College Board has a financial aid program that offers a $32 fee reduction in the exam.

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 Literature Exam

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

#1. Read, read, read, read, and read some more. The entire exam is all about making intelligent analyses of the techniques writers use to achieve purpose and generate meaning. 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 perceptive analysis essay. To practice, try choosing two people you know well and write an essay that compares and contrasts them, without referring to any of their physical traits. This will help get you into the mindset of reading between the lines and getting analytical on a slightly deeper level. You could also try this with pets or places if you’re worried about offending anyone!

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