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How to Approach the Multiple-Choice Questions on the AP English Literature Exam (page 4)

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By — McGraw-Hill Professional
Updated on Mar 22, 2011

Is there anything special I should know about preparing for the prose multiple-choice questions?

After you have finished with the Diagnostic/Master exam, you will be familiar with the format and types of questions asked on the AP Lit exam. However, just practicing answering multiple-choice questions on specific works will not give you a complete understanding of this questioning process. We suggest the following to help you hone your multiple-choice answering skills with prose multiple-choice questions:

• Choose a challenging passage from a full-length prose work.

• Read the selection a couple of times and create several multiple-choice questions about specifi c sections of the selection.

• Make certain the section is self-contained and complex.

• Choose a dialogue, monologue, introductory setting, set description, stage directions, philosophical passage, significant event, or a moment of conflict.

• Create a variety of question types based on the previous chart.

• Refer to the prose table given earlier in this chapter for suggested language and type.

• Administer your miniquiz to a classmate, study group, or class.

• Evaluate your results.

• Repeat this process through several different full-length works during your preparation for the exam. The works can certainly come from those you are studying in class. Here’s what should happen as a result of your using this process:

• Your expectation level for the selections in the actual test will be more realistic.

• You will become familiar with the language of multiple-choice questions.

• Your understanding of the process of choosing answers will be heightened.

• Questions you write that you fi nd less than satisfactory will trigger your analytical skills as you attempt to fi gure out “what went wrong.”

• Terminology will become more accurate.

• Bonus: If you continue to do this work throughout your preparation for the AP exam, you will have created a mental storehouse of literary information. So when you are presented with a prose or free-response essay in Section II, you will have an extra resource at your disposal.

Is there anything special I should do to prepare for the poetry questions?

The points made about prose hold true for the poetry multiple-choice questions as well. But there are a few specific pointers that may prove helpful:

• Choose thoughtful and interesting poems of some length.

• Read the poem several times. Practice reading the poems aloud.

• The greatest benefi t will be that as you read any poem, you will automatically begin to respond to areas of the poem that would lend themselves to a multiple-choice question.

• Here is a list of representative poets you may want to read.

  • Shakespeare
  • John Donne
  • Philip Larkin
  • Emily Dickinson
  • Sylvia Plath
  • Dylan Thomas
  • May Swenson
  • Theodore Roethke
  • Sharon Olds
  • Billy Collins
  • Pablo Neruda
  • Richard Wilbur
  • Adrienne Rich
  • Edmund Spenser
  • W. H. Auden
  • W. B. Yeats
  • Gwendolyn Brooks
  • Elizabeth Bishop
  • Langston Hughes
  • Galway Kinnell
  • Marianne Moore
  • May Sarton
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