AP English


AP Language and Composition

Course Overview

What makes this course interesting?

• Strengthen the effectiveness of your writing through close reading and frequent practice at applying rhetorical strategies, analyzing information from source texts, and writing arguments
• Become a critical reader of predominantly nonfiction works, including expository, argumentative, analytical, and personal texts from various authors and time periods

Course Details

Course Resources

The AP English Language and Composition course is designed to help you become a skilled reader of a variety of texts as well as becoming a skilled writer. You’ll achieve this through awareness of the interactions among a writer’s purposes, audience expectations, and subjects, as well as the ways that writing rules and language use contribute to effective writing.
Skill in writing proceeds from your awareness of your own composing processes: the way you explore ideas, reconsider strategies, and revise your work. This experience of the process of composing is the essence of the first-year college writing course, and the AP English Language and Composition course emphasizes this process. In the course, you will write essays that proceed through several stages or drafts, with revision aided by your teacher and peers. These extended, revised essays are not part of the AP English Language and Composition Exam, but the experience of writing them will help you become a more self-aware and flexible writer (which may help your performance on the AP Exam!).
In addition to engaging in varied writing tasks, you will read and become acquainted with a wide variety of prose styles from many disciplines and historical periods. Due to the increasing importance of graphics and visual images in texts published in print and electronic media, you will learn to analyze images as they relate to written texts and serve as alternative forms of texts themselves.
Using research materials and synthesizing information from various sources are integral parts of the AP English Language and Composition course. You will learn to evaluate the legitimacy and purpose of sources used. One way to do this is through the researched argument paper, which will require you to sort through various interpretations of information to analyze, reflect upon, and write about a topic. When you bring the experience and opinions of others into your writing in this way, you enter into conversations with other writers and thinkers, which in turn helps your writing become more thoughtful and substantive — just what is required in college and careers

Reading Study Skills

In an AP English course, you may feel you have never been given so much to read. AP English demands plenty of serious reading, and you might be tempted to “speed-read.” You may try to scan paragraphs and pages as fast as you can while hunting for main ideas. In a word: Don’t. First, main ideas usually aren’t quickly accessible from “speed-reading” complex texts.
Also, if you race through good writing, you are likely to miss the subtlety and complexity. A paragraph of text by Frederick Douglass or Joyce Carol Oates, a speech by Abraham Lincoln, or a letter by E. B. White cannot be appreciated — or even minimally understood — without careful, often-repeated readings.

In reading your AP assignments, be sure to:
• Read slowly
• Reread complex and important sentences
• Ask yourself often, “What does this sentence, paragraph, speech, stanza, or chapter mean?”

Make Your Reading Efficient

How can you balance the careful reading AP English requires with your demanding chemistry and calculus workloads, plus get in play practice, soccer games, and whatever else you’ve got on your busy schedule? We’ve compiled some helpful tips to make your AP reading more efficient, fun, and productive.

Get a head start.

Obtain copies of as many assigned texts as you can. Then you won’t waste time searching for a text when you absolutely need it.

Preview important reading assignments.

By previewing, you carefully note:
• Exact title
• Author’s name
• Table of contents
• Preface or introduction; this section often states the author’s purpose and

Pause to consider the author’s principal ideas and the material the author uses to support them. Such ideas may be fairly easy to identify in writings of critical essayists or journalists, but much more subtle in the works of someone such as Virginia Woolf or Richard Rodriguez.

Know the context of a piece of writing.

This technique will help you read with greater understanding and better recollection. A knowledge of the period in which the authors lived and wrote enhances your understanding of what they have tried to say and how well they succeeded. When you read Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood, find other sources to learn about social attitudes and cultural conditions that prevailed in the late 1950s.

Read text aloud.

Slow down when you are having trouble with complex prose passages and read them aloud. Reading aloud may help you to understand the tone of the passage.

Reread difficult material to help you understand it.

Complex issues and elegant expression are not always easily understood or appreciated on a first reading.

Form the habit of consulting your dictionary, thesaurus, encyclopedia, or atlas.

Through such resources, you’ll discover the precise meanings of words as well as knowledge about the content of what you are reading. Similar resources are available online or as computer software.

Writing Study Skills

Writing is central to the AP English courses and exams. Both courses have two goals: to provide you with opportunities to become skilled, mature, critical readers, and to help you to develop into practiced, logical, clear, and honest writers. In AP English, writing is taught as “process” — that is, thinking, planning, drafting the text, then reviewing, discussing, redrafting, editing, polishing, and finishing it. It’s also important that AP students learn to write “on call” or “on demand.” Learning to write critical or expository essays on call takes time and practice.

Here are some key guidelines to remember in learning to write a critical essay:
• Take time to organize your ideas.
• Make pertinent use of the text given to you to analyze.
• Quote judiciously from the text to support your observations.
• Be logical in your exposition of ideas.

If you acquire these skills — organizing ideas, marshalling evidence, being logical in analysis, and using the text judiciously — you should have little trouble writing your essays on the AP Exam. Practice in other kinds of writing — narrative, argument, exposition, and personal writing — all have their place alongside practice in writing on demand.
As you study and practice writing, consider the following points.

Reading Directly Influences Writing Skills & Habits

Reading and writing are intertwined. When you read what published authors have written you are immersed not just in their ideas, but in the pulsing of their sentences and the aptness of their diction. The more you read, the more that the rhythm of the English language will be available to influence your writing. Reading is not a substitute for writing, but it does help lay the foundation that makes good writing possible.

Writing is Fun

When you have penned what you think is a great sentence or a clean, logical paragraph, read it over to yourself out loud. Enjoy it. Delight in the ideas, savor the diction, and let the phrases and clauses roll around in your mind. Claim it as part of your self. You may discover you have a voice worthy of respect.

A Tip from E. M. Forster

He is reputed to have said that he never knew clearly what it was he thought until he spoke it; and once he had said it, he never knew clearly what it was that he said until he had written it down. Then, Forster noted, he could play with it and give it final form. Be like Forster: think, speak, write, analyze your writing, then give it final shape.

Write Purposefully with Rhetorical Awareness

When you write, fashion your text with awareness of key rhetorical elements. What is the message of your text? How do you intend to convey your message to your particular audience? Give shape to your thinking with language that enlightens your readers and lets you achieve your aims.

AP Language and Composition Summer Reading

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt

AP Literature and Composition

Course Overview

What makes this course interesting?

  • Explore literary works from several different genres and periods
  • Learn to read critically as you
    o Experience great literary works
    o Interpret those texts
    o Evaluate their quality and artistic achievement

Reading Study Skills

In an AP English course, you may feel you have never been given so much to read. AP English demands plenty of serious reading, and you might be tempted to “speed-read.” You may try to scan paragraphs and pages as fast as you can while hunting for main ideas. In a word: Don’t. First, main ideas usually aren’t quickly accessible from “speed-reading” complex texts.
Also, if you race through good writing, you are likely to miss the subtlety and complexity. A paragraph of text by Frederick Douglass or Joyce Carol Oates, a poem by W.H. Auden, or a play by Shakespeare cannot be appreciated — or even minimally understood — without careful, often-repeated readings.

In reading your AP assignments, keep in mind to:

  • Read slowly
  • Reread complex and important sentences
  • Ask yourself often, “What does this sentence, paragraph, speech, stanza, or chapter mean?”

Make Your Reading Efficient

How can you balance the careful reading AP English requires with your demanding chemistry and calculus workloads, plus get in play practice, soccer games, and whatever else you’ve got on your busy schedule? We’ve compiled some helpful tips to make your AP reading more efficient, fun, and productive.

Get a head start

Obtain copies of as many assigned texts as you can. Then you won’t waste time searching for a text when you absolutely need it.
Preview important reading assignments.

By previewing, you carefully note:

  • Exact title
  • Author’s name
  • Table of contents
  • Preface or introduction; this section often states the author’s purpose and themes

Pause to consider the author’s principal ideas and the material the author uses to support them.

Such ideas may be fairly easy to identify in writings of critical essayists or journalists, but much more subtle in the works of someone like Virginia Woolf or Emily Dickinson.

Know the context of a piece of writing

This technique will help you read with greater understanding and better recollection. A knowledge of the period in which the authors lived and wrote enhances your understanding of what they have tried to say and how well they succeeded. When you read John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, find other sources to learn about the difficult conditions for migrant laborers in California in the 1930s.

Read text aloud

Slow down when you are having trouble with poetry or complex prose passages and read them aloud. Reading aloud may help you to understand the tone of the poem or passage.

Reread difficult material to help you understand it

Complex issues and elegant expression are not always easily understood or appreciated on a first reading.

Form the habit of consulting your dictionary, thesaurus, encyclopedia, or atlas

Through such resources, you’ll discover the precise meanings of words as well as knowledge about the content of what you are reading. Similar resources are available online or as computer software.

To understand and appreciate much of English and American literature, you should have some acquaintance with the major themes of Judaic and Christian religious traditions and with Greek and Roman mythology. These religious concepts and stories have influenced and informed first English and then American literary traditions from the Middle Ages through modern times.

Writing Study Skills

Writing is central to the AP English courses and exams. Both courses have two goals: to provide you with opportunities to become skilled, mature, critical readers, and to help you to develop into practiced, logical, clear, and honest writers. In AP English, writing is taught as “process” — that is, thinking, planning, drafting the text, then reviewing, discussing, redrafting, editing, polishing, and finishing it. It’s also important that AP students learn to write “on call” or “on demand.” Learning to write critical or expository essays on call takes time and practice.

Here are some key guidelines to remember in learning to write a critical essay:

  • Take time to organize your ideas.
  • Make pertinent use of the text given to you to analyze.
  • Quote judiciously from it to support your observations.
  • Be logical in your exposition of ideas.

If you acquire these skills — organizing ideas, marshalling evidence, being logical in analysis, and using the text judiciously — you should have little trouble writing your essays on the AP Exam. Practice in other kinds of writing — narrative, argument, exposition, and personal writing — all have their place alongside practice in writing on demand.
As you study and practice writing, consider the following points.

Reading Directly Influences Writing Skills & Habits

Reading and writing are intertwined. When you read what published authors have written you are immersed not just in their ideas, but in the pulsing of their sentences and the aptness of their diction. The more you read, the more that the rhythm of the English language will be available to influence your writing. Reading is not a substitute for writing, but it does help lay the foundation that makes good writing possible.

Writing is Fun

When you have penned what you think is a great sentence or a clean, logical paragraph, read it over to yourself out loud. Enjoy it. Delight in the ideas, savor the diction, and let the phrases and clauses roll around in your mind. Claim it as part of your self. You may discover you have a voice worthy of respect.

A Tip from E. M. Forster

He is reputed to have said that he never knew clearly what it was he thought until he spoke it; and once he had said it, he never knew clearly what it was that he said until he had written it down. Then, Forster noted, he could play with it and give it final form. Be like Forster: think, speak, write, analyze your writing, then give it final shape.

Grammar, Mechanics, and Rhetoric

Think of them as elements that you can order to clean up your ideas, to sharpen your statements, to make your words and sentences glisten and stick.

Vocabulary

Writers and critical readers have a “technical vocabulary” they use when talking about the language of drama, poetry, and fiction. Compile a list of such words. Notice writing that uses such vocabulary. Here are some of the words you should already know:syntax, tone, rhetoric, attitude, antecedent, denouement, exposition, climax, atmosphere, voice, speaker, stock character, thesis, ideology, persuasion, paradox, allusion, ambivalence, syllogism, and aphorism.

Audience

Your teachers may specify an audience that you are supposed to keep in mind when writing a paper. Most of us in daily life are not writing for a particular person or audience, but rather for someone called “the general reader.” The general reader is someone, anyone, who possesses an average intelligence and has a fairly sound general education. This general reader is interested in the events of the day and in the world as a whole. He or she has a good measure of sympathy for humankind, appreciates the happy as well as the unhappy accidents of life. This reader also is blessed with a good sense of humor and the ability to listen to others; to writers like you, in fact. Keep the general reader in mind when you write.

AP Literature and Composition Summer Reading

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston