AP English Language and Composition

AP English Program

The AP Program offers two courses in English studies, each designed to provide high school students the opportunity to engage with a typical introductory-level college English curriculum.

The AP English Language and Composition course focuses on the development and revision of evidence-based analytic and argumentative writing and the rhetorical analysis of nonfiction texts. The AP English Literature and Composition course focuses on reading, analyzing, and writing about imaginative literature (fiction, poetry, drama) from various periods.

AP English Language and Composition Course Overview

The AP English Language and Composition course aligns to an introductory college-level rhetoric and writing curriculum, which requires students to develop evidence-based analytic and argumentative essays that proceed through several stages or drafts. Students evaluate, synthesize, and cite research to support their arguments. Throughout the course, students develop a personal style by making appropriate grammatical choices. Additionally, students read and analyze the rhetorical elements and their effects in non-fiction texts, including graphic images as forms of text, from many disciplines and historical periods.

AP English Language and Composition Course Content

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

• Composing in several forms (e.g., narrative, expository, analytical, and argumentative essays) about a variety of subjects

• Writing that proceeds through several stages or drafts, with revision aided by teacher and peers

• Writing informally (e.g., imitation exercises, journal keeping, collaborative writing), which helps students become aware of themselves as writers and the techniques employed by other writers

• Writing expository, analytical, and argumentative compositions based on readings representing a variety of prose styles and genres

• Reading nonfiction (e.g., essays, journalism, science writing, autobiographies, criticism) selected to give students opportunities to identify and explain an author’s use of rhetorical strategies and techniques

• Analyzing graphics and visual images both in relation to written texts and as alternative forms of text themselves • Developing research skills and the ability to evaluate, use, and cite primary and secondary sources

• Conducting research and writing argument papers in which students present an argument of their own that includes the analysis and synthesis of ideas from an array of sources

• Citing sources using a recognized editorial style (e.g., Modern Language Association, The Chicago Manual of Style)

• Revising their work to develop :

o A wide-ranging vocabulary used appropriately and effectively;

o A variety of sentence structures, including appropriate use of subordination and coordination;

o Logical organization, enhanced by techniques such as repetition, transitions, and emphasis;

o A balance of generalization and specific, illustrative detail; and

o An effective use of rhetoric, including tone, voice, diction, and sentence structure.

AP English Language and Composition Exam Structure


Assessment Overview

The AP English Language and Composition Exam employs multiple-choice questions to test students’ skills in rhetorical analysis of prose passages. Students are also required to write three essays that demonstrate their skill in rhetorical analysis, argumentation, and synthesis of information from multiple sources to support the student’s own argument. Although the skills tested on the exam remain essentially the same from year to year, there may be some variation in format of the free-response (essay) questions.

Format of Assessment

Section I: Multiple Choice: 52–55 Questions | 1 Hour | 45% of Exam Score

• Includes excerpts from several non-fiction texts

• Each excerpt is accompanied by several multiple-choice questions

Section II: Free Response: 3 Prompts | 2 Hours, 15 Minutes | 55% of Exam Score

• 15 minutes for reading source materials for the synthesis prompt (in the free-response section)

• 2 hours to write essay responses to the three free-response prompts

Prompt Types

Synthesis: Students read several texts about a topic and create an argument that synthesizes at least three of the sources to support their thesis.

Rhetorical Analysis: Students read a non-fiction text and analyze how the writer’s language choices contribute to his or her purpose and intended meaning for the text.

Argument: Students create an evidence-based argument that responds to a given topic.