Advanced Placement English Literature and Composition
(or AP English Literature and Composition
, AP Lit and Comp
, Senior AP English
, AP Lit
, AP English IV
) is a course and examination offered by the College Board
The College Board is a membership association in the United States that was formed in 1900 as the College Entrance Examination Board . It is composed of more than 5,900 schools, colleges, universities and other educational organizations. It sells standardized tests used by academically oriented...
as part of the Advanced Placement Program
The Advanced Placement program is a curriculum in the United States and Canada sponsored by the College Board which offers standardized courses to high school students that are generally recognized to be equivalent to undergraduate courses in college...
This course is designated for motivated students with a command of standard English
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...
, an interest in exploring and analyzing challenging classical and contemporary literature
Literature is the art of written works, and is not bound to published sources...
, and a desire to analyze and interpret dominant literary genre
Genre , Greek: genos, γένος) is the term for any category of literature or other forms of art or culture, e.g. music, and in general, any type of discourse, whether written or spoken, audial or visual, based on some set of stylistic criteria. Genres are formed by conventions that change over time...
s and theme
A theme is a broad, message, or moral of a story. The message may be about life, society, or human nature. Themes often explore timeless and universal ideas and are almost always implied rather than stated explicitly. Along with plot, character,...
s. The AP English Literature Course is often offered to high school seniors and the other AP English course, AP English Language and Composition, to juniors. The College Board, though, restricts neither course to any grade level. Students learn and apply methods of literary analysis and write with a variety of purposes to increase precision in expression. Students in AP English Literature and Composition typically sit for the national AP examination administered each May for the College Board by the Educational Testing Service. The College Board publishes changing information about all AP courses and examinations on its web site.
On one of the three essays students write as part of the examination, students choose a work of literature they will write about. Readers of the exam who get an essay on a work they have not read typically pass the essay to a reader who has. The scoring system also prevents an essay that deals with a non-existent work from succeeding. The scoring guides that readers use to rate the essays are developed by experienced readers on site just before the reading begins each June, using some of the actual exam essays. Since those scoring guides do not exist before the Reading, instructors cannot teach to them but focus instead on encouraging text-based analysis.
The course is designed to be challenging and "arduous," however many students go on to perform well in college English courses as a result of the experience with the high school AP English class.
Commonly Read Novels and Major Literary Works
The College Board publishes a recommended reading list, while emphasizing that it "does not mandate any particular authors or reading list." The reading list contains four major categories:
Poetry is a form of literary art in which language is used for its aesthetic and evocative qualities in addition to, or in lieu of, its apparent meaning...
, ranging from the 16th century (William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon"...
) to living poets (Seamus Heaney
Seamus Heaney is an Irish poet, writer and lecturer. He lives in Dublin. Heaney has received the Nobel Prize in Literature , the Golden Wreath of Poetry , T. S. Eliot Prize and two Whitbread prizes...
Drama is the specific mode of fiction represented in performance. The term comes from a Greek word meaning "action" , which is derived from "to do","to act" . The enactment of drama in theatre, performed by actors on a stage before an audience, presupposes collaborative modes of production and a...
, ranging from Greek tragedies (Aeschylus
Aeschylus was the first of the three ancient Greek tragedians whose work has survived, the others being Sophocles and Euripides, and is often described as the father of tragedy. His name derives from the Greek word aiskhos , meaning "shame"...
) to post-modern absurdist
In philosophy, "The Absurd" refers to the conflict between the human tendency to seek value and meaning in life and the human inability to find any...
s (Tom Stoppard
Sir Tom Stoppard OM, CBE, FRSL is a British playwright, knighted in 1997. He has written prolifically for TV, radio, film and stage, finding prominence with plays such as Arcadia, The Coast of Utopia, Every Good Boy Deserves Favour, Professional Foul, The Real Thing, and Rosencrantz and...
Fiction is the form of any narrative or informative work that deals, in part or in whole, with information or events that are not factual, but rather, imaginary—that is, invented by the author. Although fiction describes a major branch of literary work, it may also refer to theatrical,...
A novel is a book of long narrative in literary prose. The genre has historical roots both in the fields of the medieval and early modern romance and in the tradition of the novella. The latter supplied the present generic term in the late 18th century....
s and short stories
A short story is a work of fiction that is usually written in prose, often in narrative format. This format tends to be more pointed than longer works of fiction, such as novellas and novels. Short story definitions based on length differ somewhat, even among professional writers, in part because...
, from the 18th century comedies of manner of Jane Austen
Jane Austen was an English novelist whose works of romantic fiction, set among the landed gentry, earned her a place as one of the most widely read writers in English literature, her realism and biting social commentary cementing her historical importance among scholars and critics.Austen lived...
to the famous "Lost Generation
The "Lost Generation" is a term used to refer to the generation, actually a cohort, that came of age during World War I. The term was popularized by Ernest Hemingway who used it as one of two contrasting epigraphs for his novel, The Sun Also Rises. In that volume Hemingway credits the phrase to...
" of F. Scott Fitzgerald
Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald was an American author of novels and short stories, whose works are the paradigm writings of the Jazz Age, a term he coined himself. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest American writers of the 20th century. Fitzgerald is considered a member of the "Lost...
and Ernest Hemingway
Ernest Miller Hemingway was an American author and journalist. His economic and understated style had a strong influence on 20th-century fiction, while his life of adventure and his public image influenced later generations. Hemingway produced most of his work between the mid-1920s and the...
- Expository prose (essay
An essay is a piece of writing which is often written from an author's personal point of view. Essays can consist of a number of elements, including: literary criticism, political manifestos, learned arguments, observations of daily life, recollections, and reflections of the author. The definition...
s), including Ralph Waldo Emerson
Ralph Waldo Emerson was an American essayist, lecturer, and poet, who led the Transcendentalist movement of the mid-19th century...
and George Orwell
Eric Arthur Blair , better known by his pen name George Orwell, was an English author and journalist...
In the 2008 administration, 320,358 students took the exam. The mean score was a 2.84.
The grade distribution for 2008 was:
In the 2009 administration, 332,352 students took the exam. The mean score was a 2.84.
The grade distribution for 2009 was: