AP English Language and Composition

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Advanced Placement English Language and Composition (also known as AP English Language and Composition, AP English Language, APENG, or AP Lang) is a course and examination offered by the College Board as part of the Advanced Placement Program. When AP exams were first implemented, English Language and English Literature were initially combined. They separated in 1980.

Course[edit]

AP English Language and Composition is a course in the study of rhetoric taken in high school. Many schools offer this course primarily to juniors and the AP English Literature and Composition course to seniors. Other schools reverse the order, and some offer both courses to both juniors and seniors. The College Board advises that students choosing AP English Language and Composition be interested in studying and writing various kinds of analytic or persuasive essays on non-fiction topics, while students choosing AP English Literature and Composition be interested in studying literature of various periods and genres (fiction, poetry, drama) and using this wide reading knowledge in discussions of literary topics.[1]

Exam[edit]

Format[edit]

The AP English Language and Composition exam is typically administered on a Wednesday morning in the second week of May. The exam consists of two sections: a one-hour multiple-choice section, and a two-hour fifteen-minute free-response section.[2] The exam is further divided as follows:

# of Questions
Percentage of score
Time Allowed
Section I: Multiple-Choice
Approximately 55
45
60 Minutes
Section II: Free-Response
3
55
15 minutes (reading portion)
120 minutes (writing portion)

Section I: Multiple-Choice[edit]

The multiple-choice section of the test features approximately 55 questions, with the exact number of questions varying from 52 to 55 with each test administration.[3] There are typically 4 short passages divided between pre-20th century non-fiction prose, and 20th and 21st century non-fiction prose. The questions typically focus on identifying rhetorical devices and structures from the passages, as well as their general functions, purposes in a passage, the relationships between the devices, and the formal features of the text. In 2007, questions were added that ask about citation information included in the passages. These citation questions are not designed to test knowledge about citations in styles such as MLA, APA, and Chicago-Turabian, or any other particular citation format, but instead focus on how the citations reference and enhance information from the passage. Students have 60 minutes to answer all 45 questions, and the section accounts for 45% of the students' scores.[3]

Section II: Free-Response Writing[edit]

The Free-Response section of the test consists of three prompts, each of a different type: synthesis, passage analysis, and argument. Each is scored on a scale from 0 to 9.

With the introduction of the synthesis essay in 2007, the College Board allotted 15 additional minutes to the free-response exam portion to allow students to read and annotate the three prompts, as well as the passages and sources provided. During the reading time, students may read the prompts and examine the documents. They may use this time to make notes, or begin writing their essay.

The synthesis prompt typically requires students to consider a scenario, then formulate a response to a specific element of the scenario using at least three of the accompanying sources for support. While a total of six or seven sources accompany the prompt, using information from all of the sources is not necessary, and may even be undesirable. The source material used must be cited in the essay in order to be considered legitimate.

The analysis prompt typically asks students to read a short (less than 1 page) passage, which may have been written at any time, as long as it was originally written in modern English. After reading the passage, students are asked to write an essay in which they analyze and discuss various techniques the author uses in the passage. The techniques differ from prompt to prompt, but may ask about strategies, argumentative techniques, motivations, or other rhetorical elements of the passage, and how such techniques effectively contribute to the overall purpose of the passage. The prompt may mention specific techniques or purposes, but some leeway of discussion is left to the student.

The argument prompt typically gives a position in the form of an assertion from a documented source. Students are asked to consider the assertion, and then form an argument that defends, challenges, or qualifies the assertion using supporting evidence from their own knowledge or reading.

Scoring[edit]

The multiple-choice section is scored by computer. Formerly, the test was scored by awarding 1 point for correct answers, while taking off a 1/4 point for incorrect answers. No points were taken away for blank answers. However, the College Board discontinued the policy for all AP Exams in 2011; now they only award 1 point for each correct answer, with no 1/4 point deductions.

The free-response section is scored individually by hundreds of educators each June. Each essay is assigned a score from 0–6, 6 being high. Scoring is holistic, meaning that specific elements of the essay are not assessed, but each essay is scored in its entirety.

The FRQ scoring was changed in 2019 from a 9 point scale.

The scores from the three essays are added and integrated with the adjusted multiple-choice score (using appropriate weights of each section) to generate a composite score. The composite is then converted into an AP score of 1-5 using a scale for that year's exam.[4]

Students generally receive their scores by mail in mid-July of the year they took the test. Alternately, they can receive their scores by phone as early as July 1 for a fee.[5] Sub-scores are not available for students for the English Language and Composition Exam.

Instructors of all AP courses each receive a score sheet showing the individual score for each of their students, as well as some score information and national averages.

Grade distributions[edit]

The grade distributions since 2008 are shown below:

Year Score percentages
5 4 3 2 1 % of Scores 3 or Higher Mean Standard Deviation Number of Students
2008[6] 8.7% 18.2% 31.4% 30.5% 11.3% 58.3% 2.83 1.12 306,479
2009[7] 10.5% 19.0% 30.2% 28.4% 11.9% 59.7% 2.88 1.16 337,441
2010[8] 10.7% 20.8% 29.3% 27.6% 11.6% 60.8% 2.91 1.17 374,620
2011[9] 11.1% 20.0% 30.1% 27.5% 11.3% 61.2 2.92 1.17 412,466
2012[10] 11.0% 20.2% 28.9% 27.9% 11.9% 60.1% 2.90 1.18 443,835
2013[11] 10.2% 16.2% 28.6% 29.8% 15.2% 55.0% 2.76 1.19 476,277
2014[12] 9.6% 17.9% 28.4% 30.1% 14.1% 55.9% 2.79 1.18 505,244
2015[13] 9.9% 18.3% 27.3% 29.7% 14.8% 55.5% 2.79 1.19 527,274
2016[14] 10.7% 17.6% 27.1% 32.1% 12.6% 55.4% 2.82 1.18 547,575
2017[15] 9.1% 18.4% 27.8% 30.7% 14% 55.3% 2.78 1.17 579,426
2018[16] 10.6% 17.7% 28.8% 29.3% 13.5% 57.1% 2.83 1.18 580,043
2019[17] 10.1% 18.5% 26.5% 31.1% 13.8% 55.1% 2.80 1.19
2020[18] 12.6% 20.4% 29.1% 26.2% 11.8% 62.1% 2.96 1.20 535,478

After 2010, the AP English Language and Composition test overtook the AP United States History test as the most taken in the AP program.[19]

Composite score range[edit]

The College Board has released information on the composite score range (out of 150) required to obtain each grade:[20] This score table is not absolute, and the ranges vary with each administration of the test. With the addition of the synthesis essay in 2007, the scoring tables were revised to account for the new essay type in Section II of the test.

Final Score Range (2001) Range (2002)
5 108-150 113-150
4 93-107 96-112
3 72-92 76-95
2 43-71 48-75
1 0-42 0-47

Recent changes[edit]

In 2007, there was a change in the multiple choice portion of the exam. Questions began to be included about documentation and citation. These questions are based on at least one passage which is a published work, including footnotes or a bibliography.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "AP English Course Description" (PDF). College Board. 2008. p. 12. students choosing AP English Language and Composition should be interested in studying and writing various kinds of analytic or persuasive essays on nonliterary topics, and students choosing AP English Literature and Composition should be interested in studying literature of various periods and genres and using this wide reading knowledge in discussions of literary topics.
  2. ^ "AP: English Language". Archived from the original on 2004-08-19. Retrieved 2007-06-03.
  3. ^ a b "AP English Language and Composition Exam Dates and Information – AP Students – The College Board". apstudent.collegeboard.org. Retrieved 2017-01-25.
  4. ^ "About AP Scores – The College Board". www.collegeboard.com. Archived from the original on 2008-12-18. Retrieved 10 April 2018.
  5. ^ "View Your Scores on AP Exams – The College Board". www.collegeboard.com. Archived from the original on 2008-12-01. Retrieved 10 April 2018.
  6. ^ "AP English Language and Composition Student Grade Distributions: AP Examinations - May 2008" (PDF). College Board.
  7. ^ "AP English Language Student Grade Distributions - Global: AP Examinations - May 2009" (PDF). College Board.
  8. ^ http://apcentral.collegeboard.com/apc/public/repository/2010_EnglishLang_Score_Dist.pdf 2010 Grade Distribution
  9. ^ "AP English Language Student Score Distributions - Global: AP Exams - May 2011" (PDF). College Board.
  10. ^ "AP English Language Student Score Distributions - Global: AP Exams - May 2012" (PDF). College Board.
  11. ^ "2013 AP Exam Score Distributions". totalregistration.net. Retrieved 10 April 2018.
  12. ^ "2014 AP Exam Score Distributions". totalregistration.net. Retrieved 10 April 2018.
  13. ^ "2015 AP Exam Score Distributions". www.totalregistration.net. Retrieved 10 April 2018.
  14. ^ "2016 AP Exam Score Distributions". www.totalregistration.net. Retrieved 10 April 2018.
  15. ^ "STUDENT SCORE DISTRIBUTIONS: AP Exams - May 2017" (PDF). College Board.
  16. ^ "STUDENT SCORE DISTRIBUTIONS" (PDF). College Board.
  17. ^ "2019 AP Exam Score Distributions". www.totalregistration.net. June 18, 2019. Retrieved 2019-06-19.
  18. ^ "STUDENT SCORE DISTRIBUTIONS" (PDF). Retrieved June 9, 2021.
  19. ^ "AP Data – Archived Data 2011 – Research – College Board". www.collegeboard.com. Archived from the original on 2013-04-01. Retrieved 10 April 2018.
  20. ^ AP: The Grade-Setting Process Archived 2008-12-18 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 9 May 2008.

External links[edit]