How to Pass AP Lit Despite Failing School?

Hi everyone, I go to a public school in a small town that isn’t very academically reputable, although I recently moved from a fairly competitive New England suburb. I’m currently a junior in my school’s AP English Lit class and signed up to take the AP test in May. However, my teacher is absolutely horrendous at preparing us (we mainly do like coloring/ wordles/ pointless group projects/ watching videos) and my school doesn’t have a history of too many kids getting 5s. I recently looked at an old AP test and realized that I’m absolutely screwed. I really want to get a 5 on this test because I want to go into the humanities in college, so I wanted to ask the parents on CC what I can do to get a 5. I know AP Lit isn’t so much of a knowledge test as it is a skill test (which makes things 230523 times harder for me) but I hope it’s not too late!

      NM LOL. 

@Sybylla I’m not being hyperbolic lmao. And at a failing school visiting an admin won’t help (you think they don’t know the school’s abysmal pass rates?)


You can try self-study.

The College Board offers AP material online and you can buy AP test study books.

There might be AP test prep materials at your public library.

If you are a reader and have strong writing skills, you can easily self study for the AP English exams.

Here’s the official AP course description:

It contains a reprentative list of authors whose works might be covered an an AP Lit class.

So supplement the reading for your class (I’m assuming that if your teacher is horrendous, then you are probably getting a barebones reading list in class). Obviously you are not going to read anything, but choose a representative sample of authors and genres, both prose and poetry, and read as much as you can over the next two months.

Don’t go crazy --just use your spare time to read appropriate works of literature rather than goofing off or watching cat videos on facebook…if you are the kind of person who enjoys reading, then reading should be a source of enjoyment and relaxation. And if you don’t enjoy reading… then rethink whether that AP exam really matter. For booklovers, the AP Lit exam can be one of the easiest AP’s because you are allowed a lot of freedom in choosing what to write about for essay topics.

The vast majority of the literature you would want to read is readiliy available in libraries or can be found or downloaded free online — so it won’t cost you a dime to do the reading.

After you complete the reading use Sparknotes to get a sense of to get a flavor of how each work is might be analysed. I honestly think that questions and summaries on Sparknotes is more in-depth than most high school English teachers ever get.

Do get an AP Lit exam study guide to prep, and be sure to master any vocabulary provided – you want to be familiar with terminology used to analyze and discuss literature. You don’t need a new study guide – so you can also probably find all the resources you need for free at your school or public library.

Don’t fret over getting a 5-- just self-study and do your best. Whatever you get after self-study will probably be better than you would get without self-study.

I agree that your best bet is to get some AP Study books and go through them - and then read! For poetry, I recommend reading How does a Poem Mean by John Ciardi. It’s an old book, so check out your library. I also agree Sparknotes is quite a decent source to get an idea of some of the ways to think about a piece of literature.

You can’t be the only one in your class who wants to do well on this exam. So I suggest you divide and conquer.

Between now and spring break, have a few of you do an in depth look at the exam. Break up the components you’ll need to know between those who are interested, and have each one do a solid analysis of the info, to be shared among the kids interested.

Is hiring a private tutor an option? You might even be able to Skype with a reputable AP Lit teacher in the evenings who wants to make some extra money.

If you can’t afford to hire a tutor, then check out what services your library - or any public library that will issue you a card - offers. My local library includes access to Peterson’s testing and education research center for free. They have two full length AP lit exams with detailed answers/explanations available through there. There are also lots of study books available. You are just going to have to be very disciplined in your approach and study regularly.

My daughter was in this position and took an AP class online and got a 5. The school teacher started the semester telling the class they could expect to get 2’s or 3’s and proceeded to teach nothing and tell funny stories.

Check out Virtual High School or Aventa Learning or There are many others.

Given the OP’s previous thread, I think she is better off avoiding any strategy that requires her parents’ involvement or costs money beyond what she has for pocket money. She has enough problems with parental pressure without giving them control over her study schedule for another AP exam.

Read How to Read Literature Like a Professor by Thomas Foster.
Watch this web series
And this one:

And grab an anthology or two from the local library if possible.

Also, watch creative writing videos on youtube and write your own stories to become a more perceptive reader.

Practice slowing down and speeding up as you read.

Practice reading complex texts until the cognitive burden lessens.

thanks sm everyone!