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What You Need to Know About the AP English Language and Composition Exam

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By — McGraw-Hill Professional
Updated on Mar 4, 2011

What Is the AP Program?

The Advanced Placement program was begun by the College Board in 1955 to construct standard achievement exams that would allow highly motivated high school students the opportunity to be awarded advanced placement as freshmen in colleges and universities in the United States. Today, there are more than 37 courses and exams with more than a million students from every state in the nation, and from foreign countries, taking the annual exams in May.

As is obvious, the AP programs are designed for high school students who want to take college-level courses. In our case, the AP English Lan guage and Composition course and exam are designed to involve high school students in college-level English studies in both the use and structure of language and composition.

Who Writes the AP English Language and Composition Exam?

According to the College Board, the AP Comp exam is created by a group of college and high school English instructors called the “AP Development Committee.” Their job is to ensure that the annual AP Comp exam re flects what is being taught and studied in collegelevel English classes at the high schools.

This committee writes a large number of multiple-choice questions that are pretested and evaluated for clarity, appropriateness, and range of possible answers. The committee also generates a pool of essay questions, pretests them, and chooses those questions that best represent the full range of the scoring scale to allow the AP readers to evaluate the essays equitably.

It is important to remember that the AP English Language and Com position exam is thoroughly evaluated after it is administered each year. This way, the College Board can use the results to make course suggestions and to plan future tests.

What Are the AP Grades and Who Receives Them?

Once you have taken the exam and it has been scored, your test will be given one of five numbers by the College Board.

• 5 indicates you are extremely well-qualifi ed.

• 4 indicates you are well-qualifi ed.

• 3 indicates you are qualifi ed.

• 2 indicates you are possibly qualifi ed.

• 1 indicates that you are not qualifi ed to receive college credit.

Your grade is reported fi rst to your college or university, second to your high school, and third to you. All the reporting is usually completed by the middle to end of July.

Reasons for Taking the AP English Language and Composition Exam

Why Would I Want to Take the AP English Language and Composition Exam?

Good question. Why put yourself through a year of intensive study, pressure, stress, and preparation? To be honest, only you can answer that question. However, over the years, our students have indicated to us that there are several reasons why they were willing to take the risk and to put in the effort.

• For personal satisfaction

• To compare themselves with other students across the nation

• Because colleges look favorably on the applications of students who elect to enroll in AP courses

• To receive college credit or advanced standing at their colleges or universities

• A love of the subject

• So the family will be proud of them

There are plenty of other reasons, but hopefully, no matter what the other reasons might be, the top reason for your enrolling in the AP English Language and Composition course and taking the exam in May is to feel good about yourself and the challenges you have met.

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