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The Compete Guide to High-school AP Language & Composition – Should you take it?

AP Language & Composition has a reputation of being one of the easier AP classes, but that does not mean it will be an easy stress-free class. As someone who took AP Lang in the 2021-2022 school year, there are many factors to weigh when deciding to take the class. This course definitely highlights writing rather than reading, and if you are a strong writer, you will do just fine!

Writing:

The main objective of AP Lang is to turn you into a stronger writer. This means that you are going to be doing a lot of writing! My first semester of AP Lang we would read short stories every few weeks and then closely analyze them through various writing assignments. In order to score well on these writing assignments, you must possess strong writing skills. Some students in my class that had moved from regular level English to AP Lang often complained about poor grades despite their hard work. Learning to be a strong writer takes time and skills, and to take this course you should have some background in rigorous writing. I moved from honors English to AP Lang, and I felt that my writing skills were just fine.

Homework/work-load:

Because AP Lang is under a less tight curriculum than other AP classes, the homework and work-load will really vary by teacher. If you are concerned about the workload, I highly recommend asking students that took the class their thoughts. Personally, my class received about 45 minutes – 1 hour of homework a night. During first semester, homework assignments would typically be responding to prompts through writing. During second semester, homework would typically be working on larger writing assignments, reading books, and preparing for the AP Lang exam. AP lang homework requires you to do it slowly and carefully, as you can not “BS” writing. Additionally, you may receive reading quizzes if you had reading homework the night before. I personally thought AP Lang was one of my lighter classes in terms of homework, but this really varies per teacher.

Texts/readings:

Although AP Lang focuses on improving your writing skills, you will still be doing some reading. In my class we read and analyzed several short stories that included Allegory of the Cave by Plato and Mr Pirzada Comes to Dine by Jhumpa Lahiri. We also read 2 books that included “Ceremony” by Leslie Silko and “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Although there are not as many texts as a course like AP Literature, if you are familiar with any of these texts you know that they are not easy. These texts require many close readings and thoughtful analyzing. If you have not read any rigorous and abstract texts prior to this course, you may struggle a little bit. If you’ve read rigorous texts prior to this course, and are willing to closely and patiently read, you will do just fine!

AP Test:

Personally, I found that the AP Lang test was one of the easiest AP tests I’ve taken. If you are not taking this course, but still possess strong writing skills, I highly suggest still registering for this test. As long as you are prepared, most people do just fine. The hardest part of this test is hand-writing a 3 hour and 15 minute test. Most people say that their hand feels like its going to fall off by the end of the test. In terms of content, the AP Lang test is really not that bad. It’s composed of:

Multiple Choice – 1 hour, 45% of exam score

Most students do just fine on the multiple choice section. It’s composed on a few reading analysis passages and a few vocabulary passages. If you have ever taken the SAT or ACT, the multiple choice section is EXTREMELY similar to the english portion of the SAT and ACT. If you have never taken the SAT or ACT, most students do just fine if they do some practice tests. Since it is such a heavy weight of the test, I highly recommend really studying.

Synthesis Question – 55 minutes, 18% of exam score

If you have ever done a DBQ (document based question) in history, the synthesis question is basically the English version of that. Students are given a topic, and then have to argue their stance on the topic using 3 out of the 6-7 sources that they read. If you are able to integrate sources into an argument, you will do just fine. I highly recommend reading the rubric to ensure that you receive all points, and doing a few practices to get a feeling at how long 55 minutes is.

Rhetorical Analysis – 40 minutes, 18% of exam score

Oftentimes, rhetorical analysis is the hardest essay for students. Essentially, you are given a passage of writing, and then have to analyze how the author makes the argument in their writing. In this essay, it is important to know different types of figurative language, different writing techniques, and college board words such as “pathos” (appeals to emotion) and “logos’ (appeals to logic). It is important that you really study for this essay, as oftentimes students have little exposure to constructing essays like this. Once you study and practice, it really isn’t that bad.

Argument- 40 minutes, 18% of exam score

The argument is often the easiest essay for students. Students are constantly exposed to essays similar to this, as it is just responding to a simple prompt. The prompt might be a question as simple as “should people strive for perfection?”. If you are able to argue a position to an argument and bring in real-world evidence on the spot, you will do just fine. I recommend practicing 1-2 essays just to familiarize yourself with pacing. Otherwise, its pretty straight forwards.

Final Thoughts:

Overall, while the workload definitely varies on the teacher, most students do just fine in this course. You have to possess strong writing skills and be able to analyze complex texts. The AP Lang test is one of the easiest AP tests offered, so most students will obtain college credit. Personally, being previously prepared for the course, I had a very positive experience taking AP Lang!

If you are also thinking about taking AP US history, check out Complete Guide to Highschool AP US history – Should you take it?.

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