The Advanced Placement English Language and Composition exam is designed to test students’ abilities to read and analyze texts and write critical essays. The AP English course covers a range of prose literature about which students are expected to write critically. It also develops students’ abilities to present arguments in essay form. The exam gives college credit to those who achieve a passing score. Many resources are available in print and online to study effectively for the exam.

Step 1

Complete all of your assignments in your AP English class. The journal writing, essay research and critical writing you will do in your course are the best preparation for the exam. Over the course of the school year, you will be exposed to new vocabulary that you can use in the exam, as well as new styles of writing, sentence structures, methods of research and critical thinking strategies that will help you prepare for the exam.

Step 2

The AP English Language and Composition exam consists of 60 minutes of multiple choice questions, an essay-planning period and 120 minutes to write your essays. Read exam preparation materials to see what the exam graders will be looking for in your essays and in the multiple-choice questions. Find out what kinds of questions and answers you may see on the exam by looking at past exams. For this step, the English Language and Composition course description, available on the College Board’s AP website, is a good place to start.

Step 3

Work through several practice exams. Sample reading passages and multiple-choice questions can be found in the English Language and Composition course description. Others can be found in books designed to prepare students for the AP English Language and Composition exam. Check them out from your school or public library, and check your answers against the keys in the book.

Step 4

Write at least a few additional practice essays using questions found in the preparation books. Keep in mind the requirements to achieve a high score on your essay: Varied sentence and essay style, clear transitions and logical flow of your arguments are keys to writing a good AP exam essay. Read example essays in the preparation books to help you understand what the exam scorers are looking for. You can also ask your AP English teacher to go over any practice essays you write to give you pointers on how to improve your writing.