AP Exam Survival Guide: AP English Language and Composition


If you're now entering the course or considering whether or not AP English Language and Composition is the right course for you, you may come across the question of whether or not the course is even passable. If you must know, the course is totally and completely passable...as long as your willing to put in some work to pass. Exam

Multiple Choice

Although the multiple choice questions take up so much time and effort, you would probably think that this would make up most of your overall score, unfortunately, it does not. Compared to the essays, the multiple choice questions are a small portion of your test. Just because it is a small portion of your test it is still important to make sure you are getting every point possible.

In order to pass, it is advised to get at least 40-50% correct on the multiple choice. A lot of the readings on the test may be ancient text. Sometimes the English may be completely different than what you are used to. Sometimes the test will purposely have difficult words meant to throw your reading pace and/or comprehension off.

The best way to make sure you are fully comprehending the test is to underline as you go along. Any big and/or difficult word is more than likely to be a question, so underlying the word will save time for when a question asks you for it, all you have to do is go back to the underlined word instead of wasting seconds or even a minute, trying to find the exact placement of the word.

Don't get discouraged when you can't complete all the multiple choice questions on the test, like a lot of AP tests, the test is made so that you don't finish it. Those who finish it may actually have a lower percentage on the multiple choice because they simply glided through the readings, not paying attention to detail.


The essays account for a big portion of the test. You could pass the test by scoring at least a 6 on each multiple choice test, but it's best to try for something even higher. The most important thing for these essays is to take the text and interpret it, this makes the difference between people who pass and people who don't.

Anyone can read that Billy picked up a toothbrush, but analyzing it and looking for the deeper meaning as to why Billy picked up his toothbrush and having the evidence to back it up, bumps up your score immensely. Be sure to use SAT vocabulary words when possible! Using SAT words make you sound intelligent and can bump you up a number score wise. Plus if you use big words, it makes you sound like you know what you're doing (even if you don't).

The one thing that many students struggle on in the essays is stamina. You have to write 3 essays. Most people struggle with writing one. The best thing to do is practice writing multiple essays, one after another in a time limit. Making sure you don't do like most people and start giving up or slacking somewhere between the second and third essay.


Time Issues

Time is something so crucial to passing the test, especially on the essays. You have 2 hours and 15 minutes to do the essays and yet it is so easy to let time slip by. My teacher would break up the time for us during practice tests and simply say when we should "move on to the next essay" or " conclude our present essay" this helped establish somewhat of an internal clock and I was always aware if I was spending too much time on one essay and knew it was time to move on.

For the multiple choice, it's best you time yourself and create a pace for which you read and answer questions, this way you don't spend all your time reading and little time answering questions or vice versa. If you still do happen to run out of time, choose a letter and fill in the rest with that letter you have a more likely hood of getting answers correct by choosing one letter and filling it in for the rest of the answers than filling in various letters in various orders


One important component to pass the AP test is to study regularly. For one night a week (most prefer on the weekends) go through the literature words. Honestly, when I took the test there were hardly any questions with the literature words, however, they are usually missed by people because they did not take the time to study them. I advise getting an AP Review book and going over the words.

I used Barron's AP English Review book, mostly because that was the one we used in class sometimes, but feel free to use any other company's. The review books are a great way to practice and work on your timing skills. Studying regularly can make the difference between a three and a four. I know a lot of people who took the test and said they wished they had studied a lot more because they felt they would have gotten a four instead of a three. Even though a three is passing the exam, a college might still make you take the class. Most colleges accept a four or higher for you to avoid taking a class. One sure way is to form study groups. Study groups make studying less of a mountain to conquer but a small hill.

My district makes a district review, in which the best AP teachers from all over the district meet at a school on a Saturday and do a crash course session in which we review everything possible for the exam and little hacks two weeks before the test. If your district does something similar to this, make sure you attend. It's always good to have a different teacher pass on new knowledge to you. If you don't have this, then why not mention this great idea to someone and get the idea rolling?

When the day comes and you get back your AP score from AP English language, you'll sigh and see that your hard work just paid off. AP English Language is easy to pass, however, the work to pass may be long. All in all, you can do this, you can pass the wretched AP test, just believe in yourself and put in the work