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Advanced Placement

The Complete Guide To AP English Language And Composition Exam [Updated for AP 2024 Exam]

Written by Apoorvaa Agarwal

Updated on: 07 Dec 2023

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  • The AP English Language and Composition course is organized into 9 topics: rhetorical situation, claims and evidence, reasoning and organization, style, grammar and usage, mechanics, research, synthesis, and argument.
  • The exam is divided into two sections: multiple-choice (52 questions, 1 hour) and free-response (1 essay, 1 hour 30 minutes).
  • The mean score for the AP English Language and Composition exam in 2022 was 2.85 out of 5. This is slightly lower than the mean score for all AP subjects in 2022, which was 2.92.
  • The pass rate of the AP English Language and Composition Exam for 2022 was 58.3%. This is slightly lower than the pass rate for AP overall, which was 60.2%.
  • With AP English Language and Composition, some majors that you could choose include English, communication, journalism, and law. Some of the career pathways that you could pursue include teacher, writer, editor, lawyer, and public relations specialist.

The AP English Language and Composition exam is one of the AP courses offered by the College Board. In 2022, over 520,771 students took the AP English Language exam.

In this blog, we will discuss the format of the AP English Language and Composition exam, the topics covered, and effective ways to study for the exam. We will also provide some resources that can help you prepare for the exam. So, let’s get started!

What is on the AP English Language and Composition exam?

The AP English Language and Composition exam:

  • Rhetorical analysis: This involves understanding the way that writers use language to persuade or inform their audience.
  • Grammar and usage: This includes understanding the rules of grammar and how to use them correctly in your writing.
  • Writing conventions: This includes understanding the conventions of academic writing, such as how to cite sources and format your essays.
  • Language use: This includes understanding the different ways that language can be used to communicate, such as through figurative language and tone.
  • Synthesis of sources: This involves understanding how to read and analyze multiple sources and then synthesize the information from those sources into your own writing.

The AP English Language and Composition format includes two sections as below:

SectionNo. of questionsTime allocated to  each sectionWeightage
Multiple-choice  questions45 questions1 hour45%
Free response   questions3 questions 2 hours 15 mins55% 
AP English Language and Composition exam format

Now let’s understand everything about the AP English Language and Composition exam like duration, structure, score distribution, etc.

How long is the AP English Language and Composition exam?

The AP English Language and Composition exam is 3 hours and 15 minutes long, including a 15-minute reading period. 

  • The multiple-choice section is 1 hour long and consists of 45 questions. 
  • The free-response section is 2 hours and 15 minutes long and consists of three essays.


The multiple-choice section is the first section of the exam. You will have 1 hour to answer 45 questions. The questions on this section cover a variety of topics related to language, including grammar, usage, rhetoric, and writing.

After the multiple-choice section, you will have a 15-minute reading period. During this time, you will be given the opportunity to read the sources that you will need to use for the free-response section.

The free-response section is the second and final section of the exam. You will have 2 hours to answer three essays. The essays on this section cover the following topics:

  • Synthesis essay: This essay requires you to read and analyze several sources and then write an essay that synthesizes the information from those sources.
  • Rhetorical analysis essay: This essay requires you to analyze the rhetorical devices used in a text and discuss how they contribute to the author’s purpose.
  • Argument essay: This essay requires you to take a position on a given issue and support your position with evidence.

How many questions does the AP English Language and Composition exam have?

The AP English Language and Composition exam has 58 questions in total divided into two major sections; 55 multiple-choice questions and 3 free-response questions.

Topics for AP English Language and Composition Review

AP English Language and Composition involves the study of the core linguistic principles, theories, and processes that govern language and communication. Students will do hands-on writing and analysis work to investigate how language is used to create meaning.

UnitWhat’s included
Unit 1
You will learn to identify and analyze the claims in a text and determine whether the writer backs up their assertions with reasoning and evidence.

-Identifying the purpose and intended audience of a text
-Examining how evidence supports a claim
-Developing paragraphs as part of an effective argument
Unit 2
You will learn about how writers organize information and evidence to support a specific argument and appeal to a particular audience.
-Analyzing audience and its relationship to the purpose of an argument
-Building an argument with relevant and strategic evidence
-Developing thesis statements
-Developing structure and integrating evidence to reflect a line of reasoning
Unit 3
You will explore the range of perspectives around a topic and how various arguments can relate and respond to one another.Skills you will practice may include:
-Identifying and describing different claims or lines of reasoning
-Identifying and avoiding flawed lines of reasoning
-Introducing and integrating sources and evidence
-Using sufficient evidence for an argument
-Attributing and citing references
-Developing parts of a text with cause-effect and narrative methods
Unit 4
You’ll examine how a writer makes choices about methods of developing arguments, introductions, and conclusions.
-Developing and connecting thesis statements and lines of reasoning
-Developing introductions and conclusions
-Developing parts of a text with comparison–contrast and definition–description methods
Unit 5
You’ll focus on the very specific and minute choices a writer makes to bring all the parts of an argument together.
-Developing commentary throughout paragraphs
-Maintaining ideas throughout an argument
-Using modifiers to qualify an argument and convey perspective
-Using transitions
Unit 6
You will work to understand the difference between position and perspective, how to consider bias, and how to integrate and address multiple perspectives in an argument.

-Incorporating multiple perspectives strategically into an argument
-Recognizing and accounting for bias
-Adjusting an argument to address new evidence
-Analyzing tone and shifts in tone
Unit 7
You will consider the breadth and complexity of arguments around a topic and what makes each successful or unsuccessful.
-Examining complexities in issues
-Considering how words, phrases, and clauses can modify and limit an argument
-Examining how counterarguments or alternative perspectives affect an argument
-Exploring how sentence development affects an argument
Unit 8
You will explore the stylistic choices a writer can make and how those choices affect an argument.
-Choosing comparisons based on an audience
-Considering how sentence development and word choice affect how the writer is perceived by an audience
-Considering how all choices made in an argument affect the audience
-Considering how style affects an argument
Unit 9
You’ll consider a wide range of perspectives as you develop a complex argument.
-Strategically conceding, rebutting, or refuting information
-Crafting an argument through stylistic choices like word choice and description
AP English Language Course Content

For additional course resources such as classroom resources, formulae and equation sheets and lab manuals refer to the College Board AP English Language course page.

How is the AP English Language and Composition exam scored?

The multiple-choice section of the exam is worth 45% of your score, and the free-response section is worth the other 55%. So each of the three free-response essays is worth about 18% of your score.

As on other APs, your raw score will be converted to a scaled score of 1-5. This exam has a relatively low 5 rate. Only 10% of test takers received a 5 in 2022, although 56% of students received a score of 3 or higher.

In terms of how the raw score is obtained, the multiple-choice section is similar to other AP multiple-choice sections: you receive a point for every question you answer correctly, and there is no penalty for guessing.

The grading rubrics for the free-response questions were revamped in 2019. They are scored using analytic rubrics instead of holistic rubrics. For each free-response question, you will be given a score from 0-6. The rubrics assess three major areas:

  • Thesis (0 to 1 point): Is there a thesis, and does it properly respond to the prompt?
  • Evidence and Commentary (0 to 4 points): Does the essay include supporting evidence and analysis that is relevant, specific, well organized, and supports the thesis?
  • Sophistication (0 to 1 points): Is the essay well-crafted and does it show a sufficiently nuanced understanding of the prompt?

Each scoring rubric broadly assesses these three factors. 

When is the AP English Language and Composition exam in 2024?

The AP English Language and Composition exam for 2024 will be held on Tuesday, May 14 2024 08:00 am local time. The 2024 AP Exams will be held over two weeks in May: May 6–10 and May 13–17. 

For the most recent information on exam dates and registration deadlines, students can check with their institution or the College Board website.

How to prepare for the AP English Language and Composition exam?

Here are some tips on how to prepare for the AP English Language and Composition exam 

  • Learn about the different types of writing that will be tested on the exam. These include:
    • Argumentative essays
    • Literary analysis essays
    • Synthesis essays
    • Rhetorical analysis essays
  • Practice writing different types of essays. You can do this by finding prompts online or in practice exams.
  • Learn about rhetorical devices and techniques. The AP English Language and Composition exam will test your knowledge of these, so it is important to be familiar with them.
  • Read widely. The more you read, the better you will become at understanding and analyzing different types of writing. Read a variety of genres, including fiction, nonfiction, and essays.
  • Pay attention to grammar and mechanics. The AP English Language and Composition exam will test your knowledge of grammar and mechanics, so it is important to be familiar with the rules.
  • Take practice exams. This is the best way to get a feel for the format of the exam and the types of questions that will be asked.

How can Wiingy help with AP English Language and Composition exam prep?

In 2022, only 10.4% of the 520,771 students who took the AP English Language and Composition exam scored a 5. While 3 is considered the unofficial passing rate, most elite universities, such as Harvard or Princeton, offer AP credit only if you score 5 or higher. 

Getting a 5 is possible if you have the right support in your high school, but that’s rarely the case.

Here at Wiingy, we work with vetted AP English Language and Composition tutors with demonstrated expertise and experience in helping students score a 5 on AP exams

Unlike tutor marketplaces, every Wiingy tutor is screened individually and undergoes a comprehensive assessment.

Less than 3% of applicants are selected to become tutors on Wiingy’s platform, ensuring tutors are highly qualified and experienced in teaching AP courses.

Our tutors will work with you 1-on-1 to master the content and skills you need to succeed.

Experienced tutors can provide you with curriculum-specific guides and practice questions and familiarize you with the exam format to help you ace the test.

We know that sometimes you don’t want to pay for private tutoring because it is too expensive. It’s common to see tutoring costs between $100 to $150 per hour.

Wiingy’s rates are very affordable, starting from just $28 per hour, much lower than the average AP tutoring offered by other platforms.

One more advantage of studying with us is that we don’t require you to sign up for any packages or yearly subscriptions. You can sign up for as little as a single lesson and add more lessons as per your requirements.

While we try to match you with the perfect tutor as per your needs, we know that sometimes even the best tutors might not be the right fit for you. That’s why we offer you the Perfect Match Guarantee, which means that if you are not satisfied with your tutor for any reason, you can request a free replacement at any time. 

Sign up with Wiingy AP English Language and Composition Tutoring today and achieve your goal of scoring a 5 on your AP Test

Why take AP English Langauge and Composition?

  • College credit: Depending on your score and the policies of the college you plan to attend, a high score on the AP English Language and Composition exam can earn you college credit. This can save you time and money on tuition costs, as you may be able to skip introductory English courses in college. You can major in English, Journalism, Communications, Public Relations, and many more.
  • Advanced Placement: In addition to college credit, a high score on the AP English Language and Composition exam can also earn you advanced placement in higher-level English courses in college. This can give you a head start and allow you to take more advanced courses earlier in your college career.
  • Career Prospect: Taking the AP English Language and Composition exam and earning a high score demonstrates to colleges and future employers that you have mastered college-level English concepts and skills. This can be an impressive addition to your college application or resume if you are looking to make your career as a Writer, Editor, Public Speaker, Teacher, or Lawyer.
  • Interest in English language: Finally, taking the AP English Language and Composition exam can be a way to pursue your interest in English language and deepen your understanding of the way language works. By exploring advanced English language concepts and practicing critical thinking skills, you can gain a greater appreciation for the power of language and its ability to shape our thoughts, feelings, and actions.

Conclusion

Students who are interested in majoring in English, journalism, communication, or business will find the skills learned in AP English Language and Composition to be essential. Additionally, the skills learned in this course can be applied to a wide range of careers, such as law, education, government, and business.

The exam is divided into two sections: multiple-choice (52 questions, 1 hour) and free-response (1 essay, 1 hour 30 minutes).

The mean score for the AP English Language and Composition exam in 2022 was 2.87 out of 5, which is slightly lower than the mean score for all AP subjects in 2022 (2.92). The passing rate for AP English Languageand Composition in 2022 was 56.8%, which is slightly lower than the pass rate for AP overall (60.2%).

The AP English Language and Composition exam is challenging, but it is also rewarding. By learning about the English language and applying your critical thinking skills, you can gain a deeper understanding of how language works and how to use it effectively.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the AP English Language and Composition exam?


The AP English Language and Composition exam is a college-level exam that tests students’ skills in reading, writing, and analyzing arguments.

The exam is divided into two sections: multiple-choice and free response. The multiple-choice section consists of 50 questions that test students’ understanding of grammar, usage, and mechanics. The free-response section consists of two essays: one on a rhetorical analysis and one on an informative or persuasive essay.

How do I prepare for the AP English Language and Composition exam?

There are a number of things you can do to prepare for the AP English Language and Composition exam:
Read widely: The more you read, the more familiar you will become with different types of writing and arguments.
Take practice tests: There are a number of practice tests available online or in print. Taking practice tests will help you get familiar with the format of the exam and the types of questions that are asked.
Study grammar, usage, and mechanics: There are a number of grammar, usage, and mechanics resources available. Make sure you understand the basic rules of grammar and usage so that you can avoid making careless errors on the exam.
Practice writing essays: The free-response essays on the AP English Language exam are very important. Make sure you practice writing essays so that you are comfortable with the format and the requirements of the exam.

What are the different types of questions on the AP English Language and Composition exam?

The multiple-choice section of the AP English Language and Composition exam consists of 50 questions that test students’ understanding of grammar, usage, and mechanics. The free-response section of the exam consists of two essays: one on a rhetorical analysis and one on an informative or persuasive essay.

Reviewed by

Priyanshi Agrawal

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