is ap english literature hard

is ap english literature hard

Exploring the Challenges and Rewards of AP English Literature

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1. Introduction to AP English Literature

The demanding requirements of the Advanced Placement (AP) system, preventing most high school upperclassmen from enjoying an extended summer vacation and the simultaneous possibility of earning college credit or advanced college placement, theoretically offers these secondary teachers and their students a laboratory in which to combine high school writing and college preparatory expectations. Specifically, in this article, we describe nine AP English Literature lessons and provide an evaluation of their effectiveness to possibly enhance the abilities, at least on entering the college classroom, of students who select an institution that uses the diagnostic tests from the College Board. That is, while our research provides guidance and a model for students and especially high school English teachers, the presented lessons might be pertinent to branches outside the humanities and disciplines not using the College Board’s Advanced Placement program.

There is considerable knowledge about the general specific goals of postsecondary education. In this spirit, many instructors consider English 101 and 102 as courses that can assist college freshmen in making a successful transition from high school to college, in their academics and especially in their longer, often discipline-specific, essays. In this paper, we suggest that an effective, but often overlooked, means of providing support to these college freshmen, and the juniors and seniors who are preparing to become college freshmen, is for high school teachers to provide additional training to their students in secondary schools by exposing them to the college writing expectations and academic discourse that appears in advanced placement coursework.

2. Key Skills and Knowledge Required for Success

The information in this article can help you prepare and be successful – but awareness of the requirements of your course will also benefit you tremendously. Check with your current English teacher or an English teacher/professor at a local college to learn more about the rigor and general content of the course. Remember that the productivity, rigor, and success of one’s high school years are often the single most important factor in determining placement and acceptance by colleges and universities. While your overall knowledge of English and your vocabulary level will help you meet the challenges of this course, those attributes can be greatly improved through steady, intelligent application to the regular reading of challenging literature and practice in analytical writing.

Earning a high score on an Advanced Placement (AP) exam is a challenge that many high school students face. For those who choose to take the AP English Literature course and exam, especially as a junior or senior, this challenge can be quite daunting. Nonetheless, success in an AP English course will require a strong commitment and genuine interest, a receptiveness to new and challenging ideas, the ability to think and write analytically, and, most importantly, the desire to expand one’s scope of knowledge.

3. Navigating Difficult Texts and Themes

Working more than superficially with forms and conventions can vary from the most elementary approaches needed at the introductory level to complexity for graduate study. One result seems to be a confirmation of the value of a good background in the elements of poetry: iambic pentameter, rhyme scheme, caesura, alliteration, and so forth. But at no time can or should this dissection of an individual work of art be equated with the more general assumptions and assertions that point to unity behind diversity. We would agree that specialized study of novels or specialized poetry courses which center on novels or on a single subject or period are equally profitable; the problem occurs mainly when the course called “topical” diverges from these traditional paths.

Literature, too, presents a unique challenge to students. There can, of course, be some diffidence about voicing responses to even the idea of an allegory, and there is always the potential difficulty involved in the mundane problem of finding and using textual evidence. More profound, however, is the abysmal ignorance in English and American literature that all students (except most English majors) feel. Another, and less commonly recognized, challenge is that of reading. Three aspects of reading literature at the college level merit consideration: (1) training students to work more than superficially with the forms and conventions of fiction and poetry; (2) establishing a climate of acceptance so that the student feels comfortable exploring and developing ideas and responses; and (3) the problem of selection in dealing with required reading lists.

4. Effective Study Strategies and Resources

The fundamental knowledge and critical-thinking abilities you acquire in high-level classes involving history and government, composition, world literature, and European, American, and British literature triangles, as well as in AP Human Geography and Advanced Placement World History, will all be helpful to you in this challenging college-level literature class. For AP English Literature, consider previews of recommended titles or books on tape for special novels, plays, and more. Keep a dictionary handy. Not only will using a dictionary help to increase your vocabulary, but utilizing the dictionary, rereading, and looking at more than one interpretation of a word or phrase will deepen your understanding and appreciation of literature. Using such techniques is especially helpful in the timed essays and the free response questions on the AP English Literature exam, as well as on essay exams in your AP English Literature course.

Guideline 1: Obtain a literature anthology early in the fall or during the summer. Read and take notes in the margins of one or more books, including novels, plays, works of fiction, and critical essays. Annotate books as you read, using multiple pen colors to label and develop your own ideas, responses, interpretations, themes, and textual references. Consider jotting your thoughts about imagery, symbols, rhetorical strategies, diction, syntax, point of view, themes, overarching concepts, connections to other works, weaknesses, and other observations. Discuss with others the works that you are reading and thinking about. Attend library readings and other book events. Your own linkages with other literary works will serve you well, and then, later on, original details and evidence will emerge during timed essays and in-depth analysis of the free response questions on your AP English Literature test. In selecting a literature anthology, I recommend reviewing as many as possible according to the number of AP English Literature authors included, the quality and variety of additional works, and the quantity and quality of critical essays for each author and selected work.

5. Preparing for the AP Exam: Tips and Best Practices

Most of the students do very well because of the detailed work we have done throughout the school year. However, oftentimes the exam helps to reveal areas where weaknesses exist, not only in the individual student’s understanding of literary text but also in the teacher’s execution of the curriculum. The students are given “Open-Ended Question Writing,” a list containing all of the authors we have read over the course of the year. This list is followed by the following response: At our next resource book committee, you will meet with the entire class and supervise a week of student-led discussions about the novels and work as our final AP Examination prep. These meetings/discussions are to be carefully recorded and will be distributed to the class following their specific readings of each text. In the end, the students become well-prepared, hopefully gaining an understanding and respect for what will help them to become a more successful literary scholar. This activity not only exposes some student concerns of the texts but also helps to reveal any other criticisms they may have about my own execution in relation to the texts.

The Advanced Placement English Literature exam is just one month away! Suddenly, there is a new sense of urgency in class. The study of literary analysis becomes real. The work of the year now culminates in the story’s grand finale. In AP Literature, this means discussing character, plot, and themes in great detail. However, it also means setting aside time in class for the sharing of tips and test-taking strategies for handling such a huge amount of information. Prompts are also passed out, analyzed, and perhaps even written on in class. The work pays off for some students more than for others because this is a test that demands insight and also a veteran knowledge of literature across time and cultures.

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