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What You Need to Know About the AP English Language and Composition Exam (page 2)

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

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

If I Don’t Take an AP Composition Course, Can I Still Take the AP English Language and Composition Exam?

Yes. Although the AP English Language and Composition exam is de signed for the student who has had a year’s course in AP English Lan guage and Composition, there are high schools that do not offer this type of course, and the students in these high schools have also done well on the exam. However, if your high school does offer an AP Composition course, by all means take advantage of it and the structured background it will provide you.

How Is the AP English Language and Composition Exam Organized?

The exam has two parts and is scheduled to last 3 hours and 15 minutes. The first section is a set of multiple-choice questions based on a series of prose passages. You will have 1 hour to complete this part of the test. The second section of the exam is a 2-hour and 15-minute essay writing segment consisting of three different essays: analysis, argument, and synthesis.

After you complete the multiple-choice section, you will hand in your test booklet and scan sheet, and you will be given a brief break. Note that you will not be able to return to the multiple-choice questions when you return to the examination room.

Must I Check the Box at the End of the Essay Booklet That Allows the AP People to Use My Essays as Samples for Research?

No. This is simply a way for the College Board to make certain that it has your permission if they decide to use one or more of your essays as a model. The readers of your essays pay no attention to whether or not that box is checked. Checking the box will not affect your grade either.

How Is My AP English Language and Composition Exam Scored?

Let’s look at the basics first. The multiple-choice section counts for 45% of your total score, and the essay section counts for 55%. Next comes a four-part calculation: the raw scoring of the multiple-choice section, the raw scoring of the essay section, the calculation of the composite score, and the conversion of the composite score into the AP grade of 5, 4, 3, 2, or 1.

How Is the Multiple-Choice Section Scored?

The scan sheet with your answers is run through a computer that counts the number of wrong answers and subtracts a fraction of that number from the number of correct answers. From our experience, the AP English Language and Composition questions have five choices. Therefore, the fraction would be one-fourth. A question left blank receives a zero. This is what the formula for this calculation would look like:

number right - (number wrong X 0.25) =  raw score rounded up or down to the nearest whole number

How Is My Essay Section Scored?

Each of your essays is read by a different, trained AP reader called a “faculty consultant.” The AP/College Board people have developed a highly successful training program for its readers, together with many opportunities for checks and double checks of essays to ensure a fair and equitable reading of each essay.

The scoring guides are carefully developed by the chief faculty con sultant, question leader, table leaders, and content experts. All faculty consultants are then trained to read and score just one essay question on the exam. They become experts in that one essay question. No one knows the identity of any writer. The identifi cation numbers and names are covered, and the exam booklets are randomly distributed to the readers in packets of 25 randomly chosen essays. Table leaders and the question leader review samples of each reader’s scores to ensure quality standards are constant.

Each essay is scored as 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, or 1, plus 0, with 9 the highest possible score. Once your essay is rated from 9 to 1, the next set of calculations is completed. Here, if there are 27 possible points divided into 55% of the total possible score, each point awarded is given a value of 3.055. The formula would look something like this:

(pts. X 3.055) +  (pts. X 3.055) + (pts. X 3.055) = essay raw score

   Essay 1                  Essay 2                Essay 3

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