How do you actually do well in AP Lang?

Hi guys, I am a rising junior who will be taking 6 APs next year. Among them, I am most worried about AP Lang - I am a decent writer and read novels occasionally in my free time, but my school has a notorious history of AP Lang being hard - to put that into perspective, one of our AP Lang classes this past year started with 25 students in the beginning and by the end of the 1st marking period (1/4 of the school year), there were only 11 students remaining.

I go to a really competitive NJ suburban school so there are flocks of overachievers taking AP Lang not really understanding the true difficulty of it (I, sadly, might be one of them, don’t know yet…). My question is how do you actually do well in the class? According to the syllabus, the majority of the class will be “on-demand” essay writing. Basically, we are given a prompt and we have to write it in 50 minutes. I’m a STEM guy, so I know how study for classes like math or bio or chem, but how does one even start to prepare for a class like AP Lang? I can’t just start memorizing formulas to grind through practice problems, so any advice on how to do well on Lang essays and ace the class?


Btw, if you have any other advice for the other 5 APs I will be taking next year: Chem, Physics 1, Calc BC, APUSH, and APES, please feel free to tell me as well. Thanks again.

In general AP Lit is way harder than AP Lang. If you have summer assignments for this class make sure you do them thoroughly. A key to this class is preparing throughout the year, not just the last few weeks before the AP test.

Although I’m kind of late to the discussion, here are my tips for AP Lang! I’m a rising senior and I took AP Lang this past year (and received a 5). However, I’m naturally a more humanities and English oriented person, so that may have also helped me while taking the class. Of course, I’m not saying that STEM oriented people can’t do well- in fact, one of the top performers in my class was a STEM guy like you.

From your questions, I take it that you’re asking how to prepare for Lang over the summer. My advice is not to worry so much; just do the summer work you were assigned and if you really want some preparation, look at past exams and read the essays that earned top scores. This is a great way to see what techniques high-scoring writers use and how they format their essays. You could also time yourself doing a past prompt and then grade yourself using the AP rubric for that prompt. Also, generally the essays are done within 30 minutes. While the exam doesn’t have set times for each prompt, it’s good to be familiar with having only 30-40 minutes to complete an essay as that’s what it’s like on testing day. My teacher had us write 3 essays each marking period with only 30 minutes time, as well as many essays for homework which were also timed. I think I wrote maybe 50+ essays by the time of the AP exam, which enabled me to feel very confident during the actual test.

Also, you didn’t really give info on why your classes are notoriously difficult, so I can’t really give you advice there. AP Lang isn’t really a difficult exam in itself- I believe just answering the prompt gives you a 4 on the grading scale (1-9). So don’t freak out too much! If you really feel uneasy, just practice writing some essays yourself. I’m sure you’ll do fine in class :slight_smile:

Hope you’re taking it. Sorry to say but the class is a fing mess. I struggled in class, wrote my essays the best I could and grinded on some of them for 2 weeks to only turn in and get an 84 or 87. The sh was hard man. Some people made 90s but my teacher would only give me Bs at best and I didn’t f**ing understand. Then came the AP exam and I didn’t prepare at all because I thought I was screwed and wouldn’t do well either way considering how poor I was in class. Then I took the exam and I did it the same way as I did everything. The prompts were slightly easier but I wrote the same way as I did and I felt neutral about it. The multiple choice was hella easy tho. Then came the scores and I got a gigantic ass 5 and I talked about my writing with people in other schools and they were all impressed and stuff Knowing this I bet I got within 7-10 points a perfect score. Total BS that my teacher never tested us on multiple choice except once and she crapped on my essays when they were capable of getting a 5 on the AP exam without much effort.