Ap Language And Comp Argument Essay Prompts

With the AP English Language and Composition exam coming up, it’s important to find the best practice resources, and that includes practice tests! The AP Language and Composition exam has two sections: a multiple-choice section with 52-55 multiple questions, and a free-response section with three essay questions—one synthesis prompt, one analysis prompt, and one argument prompt.

But not all AP Lang practice tests are like the real exam, and they aren’t all of equal quality. In this guide, I’ll break down where you can find official College Board AP Language and Composition practice test resources, other free resources out there, and paid practice tests and questions. I’ll also break down which resources are high-quality and how to best incorporate AP English practice tests into your exam preparation.

 

Official Practice Resources

The best practice test resources come from the College Board. This is because they are the ones who create and administer all AP exams, including AP Lang and Comp, so their materials are the closest to the real, actual questions you will be seeing on test day! If you practice with material that’s close to the actual exam, you’ll feel more comfortable when you are actually taking the test. Therefore, when possible, it’s best to use College Board materials. However, it’s worth noting that official resources for AP Language and Composition are a little bit sparse, especially when compared to the AP Literature exam.

There are, in general, three resources that the College Board offers for any given AP exam: complete released exams, released free-response questions from previous years, and sample questions from the “AP Course and Exam Description.”

 

Complete Released Exams

Unfortunately, the College Board doesn’t appear to have released any official complete AP English Language and Composition practice exams, so I have nothing to link to here. However, you can probably find at least one entire past exam by Googling “AP Language complete released exam” or similar variations on that. Make sure any AP Language and Composition released exams you get this way have answer keys, though!

You might also ask your AP teacher if she has any copies of old AP exams you can use for practice. AP teachers can purchase past exams from the College Board that students don’t have access to. She may not be able to let you take them home, but even then you could be allowed to use them in a supervised setting.

  

Released Free-Response Questions

The College Board has posted years and years worth of past AP Language and Composition free-response questions that are at your disposal for practice purposes. However, only the tests from 2007-onward include the same three question types that are on the test currently. Earlier tests include two rhetorical analysis questions instead of a synthesis question.

 

Sample Questions From the “AP Course and Exam Description”

The AP Course and Exam description for AP Language and composition includes 50 multiple-choice questions (so, just two questions short of a complete multiple-choice section) and three free-response prompts: one synthesis prompt, one analysis prompt, and one argument prompt. This means that the sample questions from the Course and Exam Description are just two multiple-choice questions shy of being a complete AP English Language and Composition practice exam, so if you want to use it as one you definitely can. In fact, if you can’t find any official tests either from Google or your teacher, I advise it. Otherwise, you can add these College-Board approved questions to your practice bank!

 

Put them in the bank!

 

Free Unofficial Resources

Outside of the College Board, there are lots of sites offering free practice questions for the AP Language and Comp exam. But which ones will actually help you? Since anyone can slap together a few questions and call it an “AP Language and Composition Practice Test,” how do you sort the wheat from the chaff?

I’ve combed through tons of free resources so you don’t have to! Presented in order of quality, from best to worst, here’s my list of all the free AP Language practice tests and quizzes I could find out there. 

 

College Countdown Complete AP Language Practice Test

College Countdown offers a complete unofficial practice test, essays and all. While the exact wording of the multiple-choice questions isn’t exactly the same as on a real AP exam, the tasks are very similar and the passages are well-selected. The essays are solid examples of the AP essay prompt style, although you could also substitute the unofficial free-response section for an official past free-response question if you wanted to make the experience even closer to a real AP. Also, there are robust answer explanations. This is an especially good resource given that there isn’t an official College Board-released exam for this test.

 

McGraw-Hill AP Practice Quiz

The academic publisher McGraw-Hill offers a 25-question multiple-choice diagnostic quiz for the AP English Language exam. The quiz is nominally 25 questions, but you might actually be able to get more than 25 questions’ worth of practice out of it because every time you open a new test window you get a subset of questions that are randomly selected from a question pool.

This quiz has pretty difficult, well-written multiple-choice questions that actually resemble real AP questions, so it’s a particularly good resource. The passages do open in another window, though, which is a small annoyance.

 

Albert iO AP English Language Practice

Albert offers a huge number of mini-quizzes on analyzing the rhetoric of various notable nonfiction passages. The questions don’t exactly sound like genuine AP questions—the style is a little more informal and to the point—but they are decent practice for answering questions about rhetorical techniques as applied in a given passage. You can’t access the most difficult questions if you don’t pay, but all of the other question levels are free.

 

High School Test Prep AP Language Practice Tests

High School Test Prep offers four short practice tests, each offering questions about a given nonfiction passage. The question style is definitely different from that of true AP questions; like the Albert questions, they are written in a more stylistically simplistic way. Additionally, the ratio of questions about the passage overall versus specific moments in the passage is weighted much more heavily towards overall passage questions than the real AP exam. However, these are still decent rhetorical analysis practice questions, and this resource is an especially good choice if you find yourself struggling with identifying the major themes and arguments of passages overall.

 

Varsity Tutors AP English Practice Tests

Varsity Tutors offers very short, skill-specific quizzes. The questions don’t sound all that much like AP questions, and every question asks about a different short passage, which is a little bit bizarre and inefficient. Additionally, not all of the specific skills they offer quizzes in are super-relevant to AP Language (e.g. “Motives and goals of characters”). However, if you feel like there are very specific rhetorical techniques you are confused about, taking some of the quizzes here could be a good study strategy. If you want to track your scores, you can make a free account with Varsity Tutors, but it’s not necessary to be able to access the quizzes.

 

4tests.com AP English Language Exam

This site offers a 35-question AP English Language and Composition practice exam. The questions are somewhat overly basic and passages are not particularly similar in style or content to actual AP Language passages, though. Additionally, the interface is a little bit clunky. I would only use these if you desperately need some additional, very basic rhetorical analysis practice.

 

Clunky like a retro calculator.

 

Paid Unofficial Resources

If you need even more practice, there are also paid unofficial practice test resources available. 

 

Review Books

Review books usually contain one or more complete practice tests and are a great resource when you run out of free resources. Not all review books are equally high-quality, though—be sure to look at reviews (and check out the questions by flipping through the book at the bookstore if you can, to see how similar they are to actual AP questions). As a starting place, Barron’s and the Princeton Review both generally offer high-quality AP review books.

 

Shmoop - Paid Subscription

Shmoop is a test prep subscription service that offers material for a variety of standardized tests, including AP Language and Composition. I can’t advise as to the quality of the material or the questions, though, because the service has an access cost of a dollar a day.

 

Peterson’s AP Practice Tests

A bundle of two AP Lang and Comp practice tests from this site costs twenty dollars. I couldn’t find much information or reviews as to the quality of the material, though, so this is a bit of a gamble. You’d likely be better off buying a well-reviewed review book with practice tests.

 

 

How to Use Practice Resources in Your Exam Prep

How to best use practice resources as you study depends a lot on what kind of practice material you are using. I’ll review how to make the most of different types of resources here.

 

Complete Practice Exams (Official and Maybe Unofficial)

The best way to use complete practice tests is to do full timed practice-runs for exam day. Bring a clock, a timer, and a hefty supply of pencils into a quiet room and have at it! A practice-run will help you to feel more comfortable when it’s time to take the exam for real in May. If you have access to multiple practice tests, you can even take complete tests at different times in the studying process to see how you’ve improved and what you still need to work on. When you do take practice tests, it can be helpful to get someone else to help grade your free-response essays based on the rubric.

You should aim to take your first full-length practice test around the beginning of your second semester. Normally I advise to only use official College Board practice tests for this, but since easily accessible complete official exams for the AP Language and Composition exam are sparse, you may want to supplement with the practice test from College Countdown linked to above.

 

Official College Board Practice Free-Response and Sample Questions

Released free-response questions from past years are best for practicing specifically for the free-response section in a targeted way. You can work on the prompt types that you find the most difficult or practice outlining essays in a certain amount of time, or writing all three essays in 120 minutes.

If you don’t use the Course and Exam Description as a practice test, the multiple choice questions are great targeted practice for the first section of the text. It will help you get familiar with the College Board’s question style and work on your rhetorical close-reading.

 

Unofficial Practice Quizzes and Questions

Unofficial practice quizzes and questions just aren’t going to be as much like the real AP exam as College Board materials. However, while they aren’t as helpful for prepping for the exam format or question styles, they are still good practice for building your rhetorical analysis skills, which is critical for the exam. High-quality unofficial resources are definitely worth your time.

 

Building rhetorical analysis skills: more complicated than building with blocks.

  

Key Takeaways

Practice tests are a key AP prep resource. The best resources come from the College Board, but unfortunately, official College Board resources for AP Language and Composition are a little bit sparse as compared to some other AP exams. However, there are also tons of unofficial resources, and some are high-quality. Most are free, but a few are paid.

Once you have your resources assembled, you might not be sure how to use them. Complete practice tests are best for mimicking the experience of the actual exam, sample Official questions are best for targeted section practice, and unofficial practice tests are best for rhetorical analysis skill-building.

You’re ready to practice your way to AP success!

 

What's Next?

We also have complete practice test lists for AP Literature, AP US History, AP Chemistry, AP Biology, AP Psychology, and AP World History. Or see our guide to finding the best AP practice tests for any exam. 

Taking the AP Literature exam? See our ultimate guide to AP Literature. 

Wondering if you should be trying for an AP test perfect score? 

Or maybe you just need more guidance on how to study for AP exams. 

 

Want to improve your SAT score by 160 points or your ACT score by 4 points? We've written a guide for each test about the top 5 strategies you must be using to have a shot at improving your score. Download it for free now:

 

What is AP English?

AP English is a rigorous college-level course that is divided into two different classes: AP English Language and Composition; AP English Literature and Composition. The Language course deals with rhetoric while the Literature course focuses on literature analysis. Both exams require knowledge on how to write a synthesis essay, AP English format integrated.


Table Of Contents


2017 Language and Composition Exam

During the exam, you are required to answer write three essays: two of them analyze a piece of literature (an excerpt from a short story, a poem, or a narrative essay) and one answers a free response prompt on a piece of merit-based literature that you’ve read prior to the exam. Your exam is divided into portions. There will most likely be:

  • 10-20 questions on Modern (20th century) poetry/prose.
  • 10-20 questions on Victorian or Romantic poetry/prose.
  • 5-10 questions on 17th-century Elizabethan poetry/prose.

You are not likely to see much Contemporary (beyond 20th century) or Middle English (450-1600), so do not waste your time practicing those poems.

AP English Literature Essay

To some, the AP English analysis essay is harder than the free response essay. To approach this type of writing, EssayPro team have selected several steps you could take to prepare.

  • Learn to read and comprehend poetry/prose quickly. Practice by reading a lot of different poems from different time periods.
  • Read the prompt before reading the poem/prose and right before writing. Annotate the prompt. Look for keywords and themes. Make sure you understand the question completely.
  • Annotate the passage/poem as you go. Pay close attention to the keywords and main themes given to you in the prompt.

Remember: practice makes perfect. Here are a couple of AP English Literature essay prompts for you to practice.

Question 1

This question states that you need to analyze how the speaker uses symbolism through such devices as form, diction, and imagery. In your English class, you probably learned that symbolism is when a writer takes a symbol and attaches a secondary meaning to it. Symbols can be metaphors or metaphysical conceits. In this case, the Flea resembles something that isn’t exactly a Flea. Your interpretation should be accurate and supported by evidence. You don’t want to list rhetorical devices. Instead, you want to analyze the essay and make sure your claim is supported.

Question 2

This question asks you to analyze the way structure contributes to the meaning of the poem. The structure of the poem is a villanelle. From here on, you have to develop a unique interpretation of how the structure contributes to the meaning. Here, you can focus on repetition and elaborate on how it contributes to meaning. While writing essays like this, instead of quoting the whole line in your custom essay, just write the line number when referring to a specific point in the poem.

Question 3

Most people say that the hardest part of an AP English exam is the free response section. This specific prompt asks you to explain why a character’s moral ambiguity contributes to the novel’s theme. After picking a novel and a character (a benefit of the free response essay is that you have the freedom to choose whatever novel and character you want), you have to demonstrate how their moral ambiguity contributes largely to the plot of the story. The little note at the end of the prompt about avoiding plot summary is very important. Do not summarize events of the novel. This will hinder your score and take points off your paper.

AP English Language and Composition Essay

What Does That Mean?

This course has an exam that is divided into four parts: multiple choice portion and three essays argumentative, persuasive essay, and synthesis). Essentially, an AP English argument essay is exactly like a basic argument paper that you’ve written in high school but with a twist: you have to equip it with perfect grammar and have a well-structured claim. In gist, AP Language and Composition is an extremely rigorous course that requires you to write essays that demonstrate primal ability to analyze works of literature. Perfect grammar and structure on an exam like this will not award you maximum points or a 5 on the exam.

How to deal with the Prompt

Prompts in AP English Language aren’t the same as in AP English Literature. Prompt consists of an article that you have to synthesize. On occasion, an AP English Literature exam will have a designated prompt, but the objective of the course is to allow you to build analytical pieces. The most important thing you can do to prepare for your AP English synthesis essay is to learn the format of and analyze/dissect many AP English essay prompts (pieces of writing, that is) as you can before taking the exam.

Rubric and Tips

An AP English essay rubric can be divided into three parts: a high scoring essay, a mid-range essay, and a low-scoring essay.

  • High Range Essay
  • High range Essay (8-9 points)
  • Effectively develops a position on the assigned topic.
  • Demonstrates full understanding of the sources or text.
  • Correctly synthesizes sources and develops a position. The writer drives the argument, not the sources.
  • The writer’s argument is convincing.
  • The writer does not make general assertions and cites specific evidence for each one of his points.
  • The writer’s evidence effectively answers the “so what?” question.
  • The essay is clear, well-organized, and coherent. It is a stand alone piece rather than an exam response.
  • Contains very few grammatical and spelling errors or flaws, if any.

Note: 8-9 essays are an extremely rare. A strong ‘7’ paper can jump to an 8-9 if the writing style is outstanding.

Middle-Range Essay (5-7)

  • Adequately develops a position on the assigned topic.
  • Demonstrates sufficient understanding of the ideas developed in sources
  • Sufficiently summarizes the sources and assumes some control of the argument. ‘5’ essays are less focused than ‘6’ and ‘7’.
  • The writer's argument is sufficient but less developed.
  • Writer successfully synthesizes the sources and cites them.
  • The writer answers the “So what?” question but may use generalizations or assertions of universal truth. The writer cites own experience and specific evidence.
  • The essay is clear and well organized. ‘5’ essays less so.
  • Contains few minor errors of grammar or syntax.

Note: A ‘7’ is awarded to papers of very sophisticated writing. A ‘5’ designates a 3 on the AP exam; these essays use generalizations and have limited control of the claim and argument. ‘5’ essays often lose focus and digress.

Low-Range Essays (1-4)

  • Inadequately develops a position on the assigned topic.
  • The author misunderstands and simplifies the ideas developed in the sources.
  • Over-summarizes the sources, lets the sources drive the argument.
  • The writer has weak control of organization and syntax. The essay contains numerous grammatical/spelling errors.
  • A writer does not cite the sources correctly, skips a citation, or cites fewer than the required minimum of the sources.
  • Notes: ‘4’ or ‘3’ essays do assert an argument but do not sufficiently develop it.
  • A ‘2’ essay does not develop an argument.
  • A 1-2 essay has severe writing errors and does not assert a claim.
  • As long as you don’t draw a picture on your exam paper, write a bullet point list, or compose a narrative about your dog, you will get above a 3 on this essay.

How to Approach the Format

The AP English essay format is similar to the format of any other essay. Your introductory paragraph should have a thesis and demonstrate your argument clearly. Your body should illustrate points that back your argument up and your conclusion should summarize your essay. A significant difference is the three components of an AP English Language and Composition synthesis essay that absolutely must be present.

  • Argument: a central claim with specific supporting evidence.
  • AP English Language synthesis essay focuses on the analysis of multiple perspectives.
  • Rhetorical Analysis: definition of the author and his intentions. Purpose audience and claim are all parts of the assignment.

Read more: How to Write a Rhetorical Analysis Essay

Examples

Essay Writing Advice From Our Professional Team

Pure Essays, fromEssayPro

The #1 tip I can give you to being a star student in your AP English class and ace the exam is to read read read! If your teacher assigned you summer reading to do before taking the course, then you absolutely must do it. I know, summer feels like the time to party and spend time with friends, but if you want to embark on a course like AP English, then you absolutely must do all the prior reading. If your teacher hasn’t assigned you any summer reading, then find a suggested list of AP English books that will help you on the exam. There are some great classics in there and that way you can be choosy and pick 3-5 novels that you will enjoy. If you’re taking summer classes or do not have a time to work, then I suggest you read at least 5 pages every night before going to sleep. Keep a reading diary to remind you of your initial reflections on the reading. Nearing the exam, reread your notes for the novels and skim through book summaries. If you do all of this prior to the exam, you will have nothing to worry about.

Proofread Your Essay

Check and double check your paper. Read again and again. When you are writing an English essay, you have no opportunity to check your paper by another person. Be your reader. Find out the flaws, grammatical and spelling mistakes. Correct all the errors and submit the paper. You can hire the best essay writing service and receive an original custom essay written by experienced writers.

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