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AP Language and Composition » AP Language FAQ's for Students and Parents

AP Language FAQ's for Students and Parents

AP Language (Semester Course) FAQ's for Students and Parents

Q. Who should take this class?

A.  Any student who made an A in English II Honors and English I Honors may receive a recommendation for this course.  AP Language is an intense course that requires a great deal of preparation; be prepared to work hard!


Q. What content does this class cover?

A. This class is comparable to a Freshman Composition Course at the college level.  We will examine a variety of texts and explore how writers achieve their purpose through rhetorical devices.  We will write a variety of nonfictional pieces.  We will also prepare for the multiple choice and essay sections on the AP Language exam.


Q. What type of homework can I expect?

A. With the semester long course, you can expect 40-50 minutes of homework per night (possibly longer depending on your reading speed).  Each month, you will read two outside readings (novels or plays) that will often include a project.  Each week you will have two quizzes over 25 AP Terms (50 per week).  Throughout the semester, you will also complete nonfictional essays (description of place, character sketch, name assignment, etc.).  We will have readings from The Bedford Reader, the literature textbook, and online articles throughout the week as well. You will complete a research paper on a controversial topic outside of class.


Q. Is there a summer reading required for this class?

A. Yes.  It will include two novels, an essay that analyzes a novel, and a study of AP Terms. It will be due the first day of the school year for both classes (fall and spring).


Q.  What is the Multiple Choice section like?

A.  The AP Language test consists of 50-55 questions analyzing 4-5 passages.  You will have 60 minutes to complete the test. The test is difficult! You can view a sample test by going to the AP Language and Composition web page on the College Board. AP scoring varies from year to year depending on student performance, but students who score a 4 or higher typically have a 70% average on the MC section.


Q. What is the essay section like?

A.  The essay section consists of three essays that must be completed within 120 minutes (40 minutes per essay).  You will have a 15 minute reading period to familiarize yourself with the sources for the synthesis essay.  You will write one essay that analyzes a passage’s use of rhetorical strategies (examining how the author used style, diction, imagery, figurative language, etc. to achieve his or her purpose).  You will write one argumentative essay that will ask you take a position on a topic and defend your argument with your observations, readings, and experiences.  You will also write a synthesis essay in which you examine 5-8 sources and then synthesize those sources into a well developed argumentative essay.


Q. How will we prepare for the test?

A.  We will prepare daily for all parts of the exam.  We will begin each class with a Voice Lesson journal in which you analyze the rhetoric used in small passages; this will prepare you for both the Multiple Choice section and the rhetorical analysis essay.  We will take practice Multiple Choice tests every other Monday.  You will have one week to complete test corrections during tutorials in order to receive ½ credit on missed questions; you must write a one sentence explanation for each corrected answer.  During tutorials and MC partner practice, you may use all of your notes, handouts, the dictionary, etc. to figure out the answer. We will have weekly debates over controversial issues that will prepare you for both argumentative essays (synthesis and position). We will also have our weekly AP Term quizzes; by the end of the semester you will know 645 terms and vocabulary words that are often used on the exam. You will normally have one timed “in class” essay per week.  We will do online essay analysis (independent and class discussion), peer essay review, partner prompt analysis, etc. throughout the semester.


Q. Can I earn an A in this course?

A.  Yes, but it will require a great deal of work.  There is no “quota” for the amount of A’s allowed in AP Language; however, the normal grade distribution for a class of 30 is around 8 A’s, 16 B’s, and 6 C’s.  The individuals who received A’s often set the curve for the MC test at least once.  They often had the highest scoring timed in class writings (quality analysis coupled with superior writing). They attended tutorials regularly to correct test corrections.  They completed all outside readings, writing assignments, projects, debate assignments, voice lessons, and paideia discussions on an “AP” level.  They also actively participated in all discussions and often exhibited leadership in the classroom.  These individuals rarely missed class. Remember that 40% of your grade stems from Tests(MC practice tests and outside reading tests), 40% from Major Assessments (Outside Writing Assignments, Timed “In Class” Essays, Projects), and 20% from Quizzes and Classwork.


Q. What is the best way to improve my Multiple Choice and Essay scores?

A. Practice, practice, practice!  There are no specific “facts” on the test to learn or memorize.  Learn AND know how to apply all of the AP terms that we study each week.  Take notes when we look at Nancy Dean’s analysis during voice lessons; use your "AP Words to Know" worksheet and write down unfamiliar words that appear during the practice MC exams. Look up these words and learn them. Use the notes, strategies, and handouts that are provided to you (available on web).  Take notes (successes and failures) when we examine sample prompts and essays on the provided handout. Take the free online tests provided by Wake County libraries.  Annotate all texts that your read. Watch the news and learn to critically think about issues.


Q.  I just took a Multiple Choice test and/or received an essay back and my grade is now in the D or F range.  What should I do?

A.  Don’t panic.  If it is the beginning of the semester, be aware that one essay or test grade will significantly drop your grade because there are so few grades.  Check SPAN to see if you are missing any other assignments (tutorials, classwork, discussions, etc.).  Come to both tutorials and complete test corrections within ONE week; don’t simply try to figure out what the correct “letter” was- aim to understand the content of the question! Make sure you are completing all assignments to the best of your ability.  The outside papers, novels, projects, etc. are meant to “cushion” your grade from the difficult Multiple Choice tests and the timed “in class” essays. 


Q. I just received one of my timed writings/In Class essay; my score is really low.  Can I rewrite it?

A.  Unfortunately, the answer is no.  We will rewrite these essays later in the semester and this will be a separate score. Before we complete the first timed essay, you will see sample prompts and sample released essays.  On the first essays you will have extended time, and you will be able to use your notes.  With your grammatical knowledge from English I Honors, your writing skills from English II Honors, and our essay prep in AP Language, you will have the skills and strategies you need for success.  Remember to use and continually update your "Phrases to Use" handout (notes from Nancy Dean's Voice Lessons); this will help you on the essays!


Q. I just received an outside writing assignment; my score is really low. Can I rewrite it?

A. Unfortunately, the answer is no.  These assignments are meant to "cushion" low essay grades.  You will normally have 2-4 weeks of "advance notice." This gives you ample time to draft, revise, and polish your writing.  Do not complete these assignments at the last moment! Follow all instructions on the rubric and assignment sheet (especially page length and MLA requirements!).


Q. I think my project or essay was graded unfairly. What can I do?

A.  The expectations, rigor, and grading policies for AP Language are very high in both courses (Semester and Year Long).  If you feel that your essay or project should have a higher score, I will provide the material to the other AP Language teacher to look over. However, this grade will become your "new" grade. A "word to the wise," most regraded projects and essays receive a lower score than the original score.


Q. Where can I find a tutor?

A. You can check with local tutoring organizations.  I cannot recommend any specific person or organization. 


Q. Is there a test prep book I should purchase?

A.  Barron's, Kaplan, Princeton Review, 5 Steps to a 5, etc. all publish AP Language test prep workbooks.  These change frequently, so I would read reviews on Amazon or talk with other previous AP students to find out which books were the most helpful.  It is NOT necessary to purchase these books.  In past years, students found The Princeton Review: Cracking the AP English Language & Composition Exam test prep book to be very useful.

Q. This class seems difficult; what are the average AP Language scores for students in your semester long class?

AOut of a total of 48 students (fall and spring semester students) 18 scored a level 5 (38%), 19 scores a 4 (40%), 9 scored a 3 (19%), and 2 scored a 2.  The average score was a 4.104. 


Q. When should I take the SAT?

A. Because we will cover so many vocabulary words during the course of the semester, I recommend that students take the SAT at the test date that follows the end of the semester (or AP exam for spring semester students). MANY have seen significant improvements in their SAT after completing this course.


Q. The exam is expensive ($87). Why should I take it?

A.  Most colleges will accept a 3,4, or 5 (check with your “college of choice” for their specific guidelines).  This will allow you to test out of your Freshman Composition Course. It will also provide you with an additional 3-4 credit hours.  This can easily save you $1500 at a public university.  Credits = Early Graduation...Early Graduation = Begin Career...Early Career = Early Retirement! 


Q. How do I register for the AP Exam?

A.  Registration begins at Green Hope Feb. 17th-March 4th. You will need to print the registration form and bring a check to the Student Services office.


Q. When is the exam?

A. Our exam is Wednesday, May 11th at  8:00 a.m.


Q. When will I receive my scores?

A.  Students normally receive their scores in late June. You will receive your scores before I receive them.


Q. Should I take other AP courses if I am taking AP Language?

A.  Each student must decide which AP courses (and the amount) to take. However, other AP classes such as AP Psychology, AP US History, AP Environmental Science, etc. will help you to develop the critical thinking, test taking, and essay writing skills needed for success in any AP course.  Many students find that they can incorporate the material and concepts from these courses into their position/argumentative essays.


Q. How can I get a teacher recommendation for AP Literature?

A.  Students are recommended for AP Literature based on their performance in AP Language.  Avoid ANY of the following "Red Flags"

-Low Multiple Choice Test Scores

-Low Timed Writing/In Class Essay Scores

-Low AP Term or Bedford Reader Quiz Scores

-Low or missing Homework/Classwork Assignments

-Low Outside Reading Test Scores

-Low Project scores

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