The 2017 AP English Literature Free Response Questions focus on varying themes and are each structured differently. For an overview of the three prompt types that you may encounter, read The Ultimate Guide to 2016 AP English Literature FRQs. Here we discuss the third FRQ prompt which allows you to choose a particular work of literature as the focus of your essay.
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen is a famous classic novel based on marriage, love, and society. Herein we will discuss how to determine if the given prompt is appropriate for this particular literary work and give you an idea of what to review before your exam.
Pride and Prejudice AP English Lit Essay Themes
To choose a literary work to answer your prompt, it’s important to examine the themes which are outlined in the assigned essay. If the theme is not relevant or well established in a work, you will do well to choose another title to examine. The following are the main themes which you may discuss in your Pride and Prejudice AP English Lit Essay.
Love is an important theme in the story, as it centers around the need for the Bennet sisters to marry, in order to avoid poverty upon the death of their father. Of course, the sisters dream of matches made by love, which would also serve them financially.
Reputation is another prevalent subject which is discussed at length throughout the novel. In the story, Austen often pokes fun at the snobbish way that many people view behavior and wealth. However, she also lends great importance to reputation based on behavior when Lydia’s choice to become Wickham’s lover, without marrying him, threatens the well being of all her sisters.
Social Class is the third central theme in the book. The book focuses on the differences between upper and middle-class individuals in Regency England. While the Bennets may socialize, and possibly marry, above their status, they are treated according to their place in society. Even when someone above their class is kind to them, there is an air of charity and even judgment around it.
How to use Pride and Prejudice for the 2017 AP English Literature Free Response Questions
Pride and Prejudice is a well-known literary work, with which you should be familiar. It may well be a viable choice for the AP English Lit free response question. However, that is dependent on the question. Each year the 3rd FRQ is different, and the CollegeBoard supplies a list of suggested books to reference for your essay. The absence of a book from the list does not disqualify it from use, that being said; it’s important to know how to choose which book to use for the given analysis.
In preparation for your exam, it’s a good idea to read previous years’ free response questions posted on CollegeBoard. The following review is for the 2016 FRQ prompt.
2016 FRQ 3: Many works of literature contain a character who intentionally deceives others. The character’s dishonesty may be intended to either help or hurt. Such a character, for example, may choose to mislead others for personal safety, to spare someone’s feelings, or to carry out a crime.
Choose a novel or play in which a character deceives others. Then, in a well-written essay, analyze the motives for that character’s deception and discuss how the deception contributes to the meaning of the work as a whole.
Pride and Prejudice is on the suggested list for this prompt, and there are several obvious and subtle reasons for its inclusion. The theme of deception is represented by various characters in the story. The most prominent one is George Wickham, who lies about his past and his social status to gain recognition, trust, and even a woman’s heart. However, the underlying idea that the most dangerous lies are those which we tell ourselves could make for an excellent essay topic. A possible thesis is as follows. In Pride and Prejudice, the worst lies are those the Bennet sisters tell themselves. Their unwillingness to look at the character of a person, unconnected to their social status causes them humiliation and harm.
To support this thesis, you can illustrate how the lies which the characters told themselves, caused them harm or to be further deceived, as is the case with the following quote. Jane does not wish to believe Wickham’s story about Darcy, so chooses to believe neither man at fault, instead of pursuing the truth. If someone had decided to investigate instead of trick themselves into thinking that no one in the upper class would outright lie, Lydia could have been spared the humiliation she later faced.
“’They have both,’ said she, ‘been deceived, I dare say, in some way or other, of which we can form no idea. Interested people have perhaps misrepresented each to the other. It is, in short, impossible for us to conjecture the causes or circumstances which may have alienated them, without actual blame on either side.’” (17.1-2)
In the following excerpt, Jane is tricking herself into believing that Caroline is her friend. Meanwhile, Caroline only keeps her close in order to discourage Jane’s pursuit of her brother’s affections.
“Hope was over, entirely over; and when Jane could attend to the rest of the letter, she found little, except the professed affection of the writer, that could give her any comfort. Miss Darcy’s praise occupied the chief of it. Her many attractions were again dwelt on, and Caroline boasted joyfully of their increasing intimacy, and ventured to predict the accomplishment of the wishes which had been unfolded in her former letter.” (24.1-2)
Next, we see how Elizabeth Bennet allowed herself to be fooled by Wickham’s good looks and apparent social grace.
“As to his real character, had information been in her power, she had never felt a wish of inquiring. His countenance, voice, and manner had established him at once in the possession of every virtue.” (36.4)
In the following passage, Elizabeth is coming to realize how foolish she had been, tricking herself into trusting based on social class.
“’How despicably I have acted!’ she cried; ‘I, who have prided myself on my discernment! I, who have valued myself on my abilities! who have often disdained the generous candour of my sister, and gratified my vanity in useless or blamable mistrust! How humiliating is this discovery! Yet, how just a humiliation! Had I been in love, I could not have been more wretchedly blind! But vanity, not love, has been my folly. Pleased with the preference of one, and offended by the neglect of the other, on the very beginning of our acquaintance, I have courted prepossession and ignorance, and driven reason away, where either was concerned. Till this moment I never knew myself.’” (36.18-19)
The self-deception of Elizabeth Bennet is finally realized by our protagonist to have even affected the way she viewed her own family.
“But she had never felt so strongly as now the disadvantages which must attend the children of so unsuitable marriage, nor ever been so fully aware of the evils arising from so ill-judged a direction of talents; talents, which, rightly used, might at least have preserved the respectability of his daughters, even if incapable of enlarging the mind of his wife.” (42.3)
Of course, many of the characters suffered from self-delusion, as seen in the following quote.
MY DEAR HARRIET,
You will laugh when you know where I am gone, and I cannot help laughing myself at your surprise to-morrow morning, as soon as I am missed. I am going to Gretna Green, and if you cannot guess with who, I shall think you a simpleton, for there is but one man in the world I love, and he is an angel. I should never be happy without him, so think it no harm to be off. You need not send them word at Longbourn of my going, if you do not like it, for it will make the surprise the greater when I write to them and sign my name Lydia Wickham. What a good joke it will be! I can hardly write for laughing. […] Your affectionate friend, LYDIA BENNET.” (47.60)
All of the evidence above would be easily used to illustrate how self-delusion caused the Bennet sisters to see their lives and acquaintances differently than they really were, and ultimately caused them harm.
2015 FRQ 3: In literary works, cruelty often functions as a crucial motivation or a major social or political factor. Select a novel, play, or epic poem in which acts of cruelty are important to the theme. Then write a well-developed essay analyzing how cruelty functions in the work as a whole and what the cruelty reveals about the perpetrator and/or victim.
Although Pride and Prejudice is not on the suggested list for this particular prompt, you can still write a well-thought out essay for the novel. Cruelty is a subtle theme throughout the story. A possible thesis is as follows. In Pride and Prejudice, the theme of cruelty is most obvious in the subtle ways in which society and upper-class individuals degrade the middle and lower classes. Being wealthy is believed to make you an inherently better person, while the converse is also true.
To elaborate on this thesis and explain what it reveals about the perpetrator and/or victim, you will need to choose your examples and expand upon them. In the following quote, Lady Catherine is said to like being superior to those below her.
“Do not make yourself uneasy, my dear cousin, about your apparel. Lady Catherine is far from requiring that elegance of dress in us which becomes herself and her daughter. I could advise you merely to put on whatever of your clothes is superior to the rest—there is no occasion for anything more. Lady Catherine will not think the worse of you for being simply dressed. She likes to have the distinction of rank preserved.” (29.6)
Even in the following excerpt, Mr. Darcy is proposing to Elizabeth, but the most important issue is the difference they have in social class.
“He spoke well; but there were feelings besides those of the heart to be detailed; and he was not more eloquent on the subject of tenderness than of pride. His sense of her inferiority—of its being a degradation—of the family obstacles which had always opposed to inclination, were dwelt on with a warmth which seemed due to the consequence he was wounding, but was very unlikely to recommend his suit.” (34.5)
The cruelty of society is so all-encompassing that when Lydia runs off with Wickham, it’s said her death would have been better for the family.
“’The death of your daughter would have been a blessing in comparison of this. […] Howsoever that may be, you are grievously to be pitied; in which opinion I am not only joined by Mrs. Collins, but likewise by Lady Catherine and her daughter, to whom I have related the affair. They agree with me in apprehending that this false step in one daughter will be injurious to the fortunes of all the others; for who, as Lady Catherine herself condescendingly says, will connect themselves with such a family?’” (48.11)
Additionally, in the following passage, Mr. Collins is offering unsolicited advice to Mr. Bennet, regarding Elizabeth’s marriage to Mr. Darcy.
“After mentioning the likelihood of this marriage to her ladyship last night, she immediately, with her usual condescension, expressed what she felt on the occasion; when it became apparent, that on the score of some family objections on the part of my cousin, she would never give her consent to what she termed so disgraceful a match. I thought it my duty to give the speediest intelligence of this to my cousin, that she and her noble admirer may be aware of what they are about, and not run hastily into a marriage which has not been properly sanctioned.'” (57.24)
Pride and Prejudice has many themes you may find helpful for the last Free Response Question on the AP English Literature Exam. When reading the prompt and deciding on what literary work to use for your essay, remember to choose a subject where the theme outlined in the given instructions is prevalent.
In the case of Pride and Prejudice, love, reputation, and social classes are a few of the more prominent themes discussed. However, as we saw with the 2015 prompt example, this story has many underlying themes which you may examine for your Pride and Prejudice AP English Lit Essay.
For more help preparing for your AP English Literature exam we suggest you read The Ultimate Guide to 2016 AP English Literature FRQs and The Ultimate Guide to 2015 AP English Literature FRQs. And, for writing advice for the AP English Lit free response questions, Albert.io’s AP English Literature section has practice free response sections with sample answers and rubrics.
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The AP English Literature and Composition exam is designed to test your ability to think critically and analyze literary excerpts. The test is three hours long and consists of a multiple-choice portion (worth 45% of your grade) and an essay portion (worth 55% of your grade). Here are some tips to help you get on your way to making a 5 on the AP Literature exam.
AP Literature Course Study Tips
Before you start studying for the AP Literature exam at the end of the year, you need some tips on how to survive the course itself. Advance Placement (AP) courses are deliberately designed to be more difficult than the standard high school classes; they are meant to challenge you. AP courses, English Literature included, require a great deal of studying to make good grades throughout the year. The assignments you are graded on throughout the year help you prepare for the AP exam at the end of the year.
Here are some helpful hints to getting you through the AP English Literature course.
1. Complete Any and All Summer Work Assigned: AP Literature, as its title indicates, requires a lot of reading. Chances are, your teacher will provide you with a reading list and expect the required titles to be read when you walk into your first day of class. In some cases, you may even be assigned a report or project to be completed before you begin the class. This is more for the teacher to view what literary skills you already possess and what skills will need to be taught to you. However, this doesn’t mean you should take the work assigned lightly. If you take it seriously and complete a proficient assignment, it will show your teacher that you are in the course to learn. This attitude will make the school year a lot more bearable for both you and your instructor.
2. Go to Class: Missing class leads to missing material. Missing material leads to lower scores on assignments. Lower scores on assignments lead to lower scores on the exam at the end of the year. The bottom line is: don’t miss class if you can help it.
3. Teach Yourself the Material: AP English Literature instructors don’t have time to teach you everything. Since you are probably only in their presence for an hour or two, they have learned to prioritize the material they have to teach. Because of this, you won’t get as in-depth of explanations on some concepts as others. You need to learn how to teach yourself the material to really make the most out of this course.
You can really get creative with this. You can teach yourself by conducting good old fashioned research, or just by reading the assigned texts. Or, you can expand your knowledge a little more. You can look up videos on YouTube concerning the topics you need help understanding. You can also use Albert.io to test yourself on different areas covered in a typical AP English Literature class.
4. Learn How to Analyze Text: Analyzing literary text is an incredibly large portion of the AP English Literature course. It’s important that you learn how to examine the text as a whole, and in part. Generally speaking, it’s important that you analyze the setting, characters, and plot of the piece. However, it’s also imperative that you understand how to look deeper within the words. Deconstruct the text and examine its theme, look for literary devices, and motives.
5. Read: This is literature! Therefore, you should be getting a good amount of reading done. This does not necessarily mean that you have to aim to read an outrageous number of books or anything. You just need to at least make an attempt to read every day. As you read, try to dissect the depth of the text. After a few days of this, you’ll be surprised at how easy analysis can come to you once you train your mind to question everything.
6. Ask Questions: Your teacher is there to help; it’s their job. If there’s anything you don’t understand, be sure to ask your instructor. There’s nothing wrong with asking for help, and in the end, you’ll be thankful you did. Understanding a concept you previously had trouble with is sure to be a huge weight off of your shoulders.
7. Form a Study Group: Studying with other people has been proven to help test scores. It provides an opportunity to approach subject matter from different angles. Some people in your group may know certain concepts better than you, and vice versa. One of the best ways to make sure you know the material is to teach it to others.
8. Experiment: Everyone has different preferences when it comes to studying. Maybe you’re a visual learner. Perhaps you like to listen to material to really understand it. The best way to find out what form of studying helps you best is to experiment. Try different methods to see what works best for you. Plus, keeping a variety in your study routine helps keep boredom at bay.
Now that you have a grasp on how to get through the actual coursework of your AP English Literature and Composition class, it’s time to learn how to study for the exam at the end of the year.
First, we’ll take a look at some tips that are sure to help you ace the first portion of the AP Literature exam: the multiple-choice section. This portion is worth 45% of your total score and it consists of several passages to read and 55 questions to answer, which you have exactly one hour to complete.
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AP English Literature Multiple-Choice Tips
1. First, Read the Passages: Yes, you read that correctly. It’s a common misconception that you should read the questions before reading the passage, so you can work quickly and scan the text for the correct answer. One vital thing to remember is this: quicker isn’t always better. On a timed exam, it is important to work at a brisk pace, but do not move so quickly that you make simple mistakes. It’s best to read the passages before even glancing at the questions because it prevents error. By merely scanning the passage for the answers, you’re missing out on a plethora of content that could be vital to answering questions correctly later on in the test.
2. Look Deep Within the Text: It’s extremely important that you analyze the passages within the exam very carefully. Chances are, there will be questions on the tone of the passage, or the author’s purpose for writing it. Was it to inform or persuade the audience? Perhaps the author used some literary devices like allusions or irony. Closely read the passages and you will have no problem identifying the answers to questions that are specific to the literature side of AP English.
3. Carefully Read the Questions: If you don’t understand what the question is asking, you can’t possibly expect to know the answer. Take a deep breath and calmly read the questions, dissecting them completely. This will be easier to do for some questions than for others. Once you understand what it is exactly the question is asking, try to recall where in the passage the answer could be located. Also be sure to read the question in its entirety. Sometimes, the writers of the test will throw in certain words or phrases that lead the question in a different direction. For example, the words “EXCEPT” and “NOT” are often used at the end of questions, and this can confuse you. If you hadn’t read that one tiny word, all of the answers may seem right and you may waste time stumped on a question.
4. Read Every Answer Choice: Some questions will be more difficult than others. Some questions are even designed to trip you up. Be sure to read every single word in every single answer choice; sometimes one word can make all the difference as to whether or not an answer is correct.
5. Reread Parts of the Passage: If time permits, reread the parts of the text in which answers are located. Be sure the information matches one of the answer choices. You may even want to put a star, dash, or some other marking beside portions of the text that contain answers. That way, if you have extra time at the end of the test, you can go back and check your answers more quickly.
6. Use Your Time Wisely: This is a timed exam. 60 minutes to complete 55 questions. This allows for an average of a minute per question, with some leftover time to account for reading passages. You have absolutely no time to sit at your desk staring blankly at questions you don’t quite understand. Luckily, there is no penalty for answers marked wrong—or answers not marked at all—on the AP English Literature exam. This means you should definitely skip the questions you’re unsure of. Mark them in some sort of way so that it is noticeable that you haven’t answered them yet. Then, if you have some time at the end of the test, you can go back and see if you can come up with the answer. Alternatively, if you can’t seem to find an answer: guess! Remember, you’re only graded on the number of questions you get right; there’s absolutely no penalty for getting a question wrong.
7. Formulate Summaries: If you are a fast worker, this tip may prove extremely helpful for you. A few of the multiple-choice questions may test your overall comprehension of the passages you read. In the margins of the page beside the passage, jot down a few bullet points outlining the plot progression. This way you can refer back to your notes when answering questions rather than searching the entire text.
8. Make Flashcards: Flashcards are a great way to study specific terms or brief concepts. Since you will be tested on your understanding of certain terms, it is important that you know them like the back of your hand. Try making flashcards of different literary devices and review them periodically throughout the semester.
9. Study Everywhere: This may seem a bit extreme, but it really helps. Take the flashcards you’ve made with you wherever you go. Keep them in your wallet, in your purse, or even in your car. Whenever you have a moment of free time, instead of scrolling through Twitter or Facebook on your phone, run through a review of your terms. It’ll stick better in your memory and help your AP Literature exam score in the long run.
10. Test Yourself: The most helpful and effective way to prepare for the multiple-choice portion of the AP English Literature exam is by testing yourself. Prepare early in the semester for the exam. Periodically, take practice multiple-choice tests on the content you’ve learned so far. There are several websites out there dedicated to helping you quiz yourself for the AP Literature exam. One of these is Albert.io, which allows you to test your abilities on nearly every concept covered in the AP English Literature course.
11. Don’t Stress It: The AP English Literature exam is one big test. Sure, it affects the amount of college credit you receive coming out of high school. But at the end of the day, it’s just a test. Anxiety and stress can severely affect your ability to function correctly. Over time, it can even start to have negative effects on your mind and body. Some people even develop anxiety disorders. Just remember, your mental health is more important than your grades. Take a deep breath periodically throughout the test. It’ll help calm your body and soothe your mind so you can concentrate better. Now that you have some tips on how to tackle the multiple-choice portion of the AP English Literature exam, it’s time to focus on the most challenging part: the free response portion. In this portion, you have two hours to complete three essays. This section tests your ability to analyze passages and dissect them to form logical interpretations to be illustrated in your essays.
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Here are some tips for nailing the free response portion of the AP English Literature and Composition exam:
AP English Literature Free Response Portion Tips
1. Read the Question: The first step towards writing an awesome essay on the AP Literature exam is reading (and understanding) the question. What are the authors of the test asking for specifically? The answer to this question is the key to writing a well-rounded essay. The scorers of the free response portion want essays that are clear and straight to the point. Simply restating the prompt will result in a huge deduction of points. Regurgitating the question will show the reader that you may not be confident in your ability to dissect passages. This is an extremely bad impression to give, since the interpretation of text is the basis of the entire course.
2. Come Up with a Thesis: A well-written thesis is the basis of all successful essays. As mentioned previously, do NOT restate the question. Come up with your own unique topic sentence to answer the question. Make it brief and to the point. You have the rest of the essay to elaborate on your thesis; that will be your body.
3. Stay Organized: Organization is key to writing a great essay. Prepare an outline within the first few minutes of writing your essay. Perhaps even use a diagram, if you’re a visual learner. A clear and precise outline can help prevent rambling when answering the question in your essay.
4. Use a High-Level Vocabulary: Since this is an exam for an Advanced Placement English course, it is imperative that you use a vocabulary that reflects a higher level of education. However, be sure that you use your impressive vocabulary in context. Nothing looks worse than using a word incorrectly in your essay. Be careful: only use words in which you know the definition.
5. Use Your Resources: On the first two essays, you will be asked to read a passage and analyze it according to the instructions given in the question. Use the passage to your advantage. Frequently refer back to specific parts of the text. This will show the readers that you paid very close attention to detail when reading the passage. The specific references display the ability to close read, which is a skill covered frequently in an AP English Literature course.
6. Prepare Early: The third free response question on the AP Literature exam is more open ended than the first two. You will be asked a question and you will be given the opportunity to answer it pertaining to a work of literature that you have read in class. It’s important that you keep this particular essay question in mind as you work throughout the semester. If a particular work of literature stands out to you, prepare early to choose this as the piece to write about in your third essay.
7. Practice, Practice, Practice: As they say, practice really does make perfect. A good option for practicing free response questions involves searching the Internet for old exam rubrics. These show you exactly what the scorers are looking for in an essay. The AP Literature section of AP Central, a website created by the College Board to help with studying for exams, has several practice exams for your use. Take advantage of this and practice writing essays using different prompts from previous exams.
8. Use a Good Writing Utensil: Nothing is worse than getting halfway through an essay and having your pen run out of ink, or your pencil getting smudged. Often, readers prefer the look and clarity of black ink to colored ink or the graphite of pencil. Take that into mind when going into the free response portion of the exam.
9. Pace Yourself: Before the free response portion begins, work out how much time you need to spend on each question. It may even be helpful to bring a watch to time yourself on each essay. You need to give yourself ample time to complete each question. However, you also need to be sure that you are not rushing through the questions and leaving vital information out of your essays.
10. Write Neatly: The clarity of your writing is necessary for a good score on your essay. If the reader cannot decipher your chicken scratch, how can they possibly score it?
11. Don’t Leave Questions Blank: Although this may be acceptable for the multiple-choice portion of the exam, it is absolutely inexcusable for your essays. You only get three chances to prove your competency in the free response portion. Take advantage of this opportunity to show the readers how much you’ve learned from taking this AP course.
12. Understand What the Readers are Looking For: As we said earlier, rubrics are a great resource to use when preparing for the AP Literature exam. They reflect exactly how your essay will be scored. It’s vital to understand exactly what the readers are looking for in a good essay. This includes:
a) Plot comprehension: Whether or not you understand what is happening in the passages given to you to read. Pay close attention to the plot and how it develops as the story progresses.
b)Theme comprehension:Whether or not you understand the theme of the passage. The theme is the dominating central idea in a work. It’s vital that you recognize the theme very early on in your essay.
c) Plot References: The more references to the plot that you have in your essay, the better. However, this does not mean restate the entire storyline. This will bore the reader and make it seem like you are dancing around the question. Scorers like for you to be very clear and to the point in your essays.
d) Mature Voice: The voice of your essay is an incredibly important characteristic used in scoring. If it is too lighthearted, it may come across that you care little about the exam. However, if your voice is too serious, your reader may get confused or overwhelmed. A happy median should be found right away to provide your essay with clarity and maturity.
13. Listen to Your Teacher: This is perhaps the most important of all the free response tips. Over the course of the semester, your teacher will provide you with ample advice for the exam. Pay close attention to your teacher’s guidance. If the information your teacher gives you wasn’t relevant, they wouldn’t waste their time giving it to you. Your instructor knows the exam; it’s only logical to follow their advice.
The AP English Literature and Composition exam is all about analysis of different literary works. Hopefully these tips will help you tackle this massive exam with ease.
Tips Submitted by AP English Literature Teachers
1. Always remember the author’s purpose. Retelling what happened in the story is not an analysis. You must understand and relay why the author wrote it the way he/she did and what he/she is trying to tell readers! That’s crucial! Thanks for the tip from Kim F. from Tavares High.
2. Be original. Think about the fact that the AP Test readers have been looking at essays on the same topics for three days. What will you do to be original and stand out that will surprise the reader at 4:30 pm on day three? Brainstorm what everyone else will say before writing. Then, don’t write on those topics. Thanks for the tip from Mike G. from MPS.
3. “Box the but because shift happens.” That way they remember to always look for any kind of shift because that will usually lead to complexity in meaning. Thanks for the tip from Amber B. at Madison County Schools.
4. Answer the question as it is actually asked. It’s easy to see a title or an author and jump to conclusions, and sometimes that means students are writing about what they think the question is asking instead of what the question actually is asking. In the pressure to complete three essays in 120 minutes, it’s an easy mistake to make … and a good one to avoid! Thanks for the tip from Heather I. from Niles North.
5. Answer the question in the introduction. Thanks for the tip from Rhonda G. from Sante Fe Public Schools.
6. Focused writing on two or three aspects of the text (characterization, use of devices, etc) accompanied with analysis will generate a higher score than lightly touching on 5 to 7 aspects. As a reader we are happy that you can identify techniques, but what we are looking for is analysis. Thanks for the tip from Matt U. at Liberty High.
7. Always answer the question: “So What?” Yes, the writer used an extended metaphor, so what? Why did they chose that metaphor? How does that choice reflect the author’s intent? What effect does it create within the text and within the reader? Provide the reader with the “so what” to help drive your analysis deeper. Thanks for the second tip from Matt U. at Liberty High.
8. Brush up on your vocabulary – if you don’t understand the vocabulary used in the questions and/or answers, you will not be able to find the correct answer. There are many words with multiple meanings / nuances of meaning that will bring you to the wrong conclusion. Pay attention to the wording of the questions and answers! Thanks for the tip from Susan R. from Palm Beach Gardens High.
9. Students who read widely and regularly are far more prepared to write and communicate clearly with a deeper understanding than students who do not read. Reading expands knowledge, vocabulary usage and comprehension and enables students to make connections within and between content areas which real world applications. Thanks for the tip from Elizabeth B. from Harrison High.
10. Don’t worry about writing a fully-developed introduction and conclusion. Instead, use your time to focus on meaning. What important insights do you have to share? Make sure you provide much more analysis than plot summary. Begin with a clear thesis and end with one strong concluding statement. Thanks for the tip from Julie H. from Greenville High.
11. Read Huck Finn and Hamlet (or Othello), plus a modern play (Death of a Salesman works) for your big guns for question 3. Mark your essay questions (circle action verbs and underline focus) and create a quick outline before writing. The time spent will prevent the heartache of not addressing the prompt. It’d be Peggy C. from Cherokee County Schools.
12. Each essay is worth the same amount of points, but one is set for you to shine — know three books really well so that you can rock the free-response essay. On the test – do it first while your mind is still fresh. Thanks for the tip from Diane S. from Frederick High School.
13. Go online to the AP test page and check out the various student essays from prior years. What makes an essay a 9? 7? or even a 4? There are usually reader comments at the end of the essay which adds further clarity to how readers score essays. Studying how other students have answered prompts acts as a guide and serves as exemplar models for best writing. Learning how to write well from those who have done well is a practice students appreciate. Thanks for the tip from Pam W. from Sandpoint High.
14. Find a good literary timeline to conceptualize what you read in terms of the art movement and historical time period. These can provide insight into the texts as well as help you remember what you have read. Thanks for the tip from Paul H. at Walled Lake Central High.
15. Have four novels of literary quality and one play that the student is comfortable analyzing so no question #3 can stump the student. Thanks for the tip from Bill O. from El Molino High.
16. For all poetry: a. analyze the central purpose, b. explain the speaker’s attitude toward the subject, c. Analyze any figurative language. Thanks for the second tip from Bill O. from El Molino High.
17. Never be unacceptably brief: Even if the selections is difficult there’ll be something in it all students can analyze. Analyze that and then keep writing! Thanks for the third tip from Bill O. from El Molino High.
18. Learn and practice using the language and function of literature, poetry, and rhetoric. Plan and execute their usage in your style, syntax, and art, and use the language when critiquing in workshops and discussing classics. Thanks for the tip from Jon A. from Arts and Communication Magnet Academy.
19. Do not merely skim to point out literary devices. (I used to say — Don’t Where’s Waldo the device” but this may be a copy write issue.) Zoom deep into the text to identify the device, explain in detail how the device is functioning and then zoom out to explain how it works to support the passage as a whole and how it connects to the universal human condition. This means the difference between writing a college level paper and writing a high school level paper. Thanks for the tip from Jodi G. from Saugus High. Thanks for the tip from Erin M. at Mercy County Senior High.
20. Deconstruct the prompt – make sure you understand exactly what it is asking you to do – then use it as a focus for your annotation of the text on Q1 and Q2 and as a launching point for your notes and thesis for Q3. Thanks for the tip from Erin M. at Mercy County Senior High.
21. Focus on two primary ideas (literary devices, elements of composition, etc…) for each essay in order to go deeper in analysis of each. Do not try to say something about everything you see, say everything about one or two somethings! Thanks for the tip from Erin M. at Mercy County Senior High.
22. Take 10-12 minutes to read and deconstruct the prompt, annotate the poem or passage and develop a thesis before you begin writing the essay. That thinking and planning time will help you remain focused which will ensure that your essay is clear and cohesive. Thanks for the tip from Erin M. at Mercy County Senior High.
23. Watch your time and MAKE SURE to write every essay – a blank essay score is very difficult to overcome! Thanks for the tip from Erin M. at Mercy County Senior High.
24. Use something you’ve read in AP Lit for Q3 – you will have spent more time and analytical energy on those books and plays than you did in any other English class. Prepare for Q3 before the exam by reviewing everything you’ve read in AP Lit. Thanks for the tip from Erin M. at Mercy County Senior High.
25. Pick two texts, one classic and one modern, get to know them backward and forward as well as the historical context around them. Thanks for the tip from Michelle Y. from Forest Park High.
26. Address all aspects of the prompt! Look for complexity! Thanks for the tip from Lori Mill Creek High School.
27. Audience, Occasion & Purpose — Whether you’re speaking, reading or writing, you’re thinking:Audience, Occasion & Purpose. Thanks for the tip from Mike L at Tilton School.
28. Turn your words into pictures and your pictures into words.Meaning: If you have an idea, anchor it to something concrete. If you have something concrete, associate it with an idea. Thanks for the tip from Jeff T at Lynden Christian High School.
29. When writing essays, always tie your thoughts to the text (embed quotes)! Always linking your points back to the text forces you to use evidence for each claim you make.
30. Analyze not summarize! Thanks for the tip from Lynne B. at Buchholz High School.
31. Debate the questions. Get students to debate the answers to AP multiple choice questions without your help. After they “quiz” on a passage and the questions for it, ask them how they think they did. The answer is always mixed, so give them an option: Keep the score they currently have OR discuss the answers in a large group without teacher’s help and take that community grade. They always pick the latter. Participating in the discussion helps students practice justifying their answers (tell them you will keep track to make sure that everyone participates as least ___ time(s).) As you observe their process,you will gain all kinds of insight into students’ thinking process, they will learn from the ways their classmates explain their choices, and their scores are almost always 100! Thanks for the tip from Wendy R from Weslaco East High School.
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