Three Reasons to Be Well Read for the AP Literature Exam

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Many students ask why it is vital to read books for the AP Lit exam. This seems to be an obvious question – you should read because it is an exam on what literature you know about. But there are 3 specific reasons you need to read in preparing for this exam; the most critical reason to being prepared for the “choice free” response questions.

Increase familiarity

Reading a diverse selection of novels, plays and poetry from various eras and genres will help a student be more familiar with the language that is in the various questions on the AP Lit exam’s essay section as well as the multiple-choice questions. If you read mainly modern work, for example, you might be stumbling through analysing a Shakespeare sonnet.

Close-Reading Skills

You will also want to have an AP Lit Book Study List that improves your rhetorical analysis skills in close-reading. When you read, participate with the text: think about how this author’s trying to build the novel/play/poem, what literary techniques and topics are being arranged and what major themes are at work. You do not need to be drilling down deeply on each text, but you need to always be wondering “Why did the author write this piece this way?”

Choice Free-Response Question

Conceivably the most serious reading in preparation for the AP Lit test is for the student ‘choice free-response’ questions. The third question on the 2nd exam section, will ask you to inspect how a precise theme worked in one novel or play that you choose. The College Board does offeralist of works for examples, but you can choose any work you like knowing that it has adequate “literary merit”. But, you do need to be closely aware with more than one type work so that you are prepared for whatever theme the College Board pitches at you.

Reading list

Knowing this should help you prepare your own list of reading to prepare yourself for this AP Lit test. Pick works from various eras and genres – find works in these areas and after reading them, you should be prepared for this exam.