Shoud I take the AP Lit Exam?

I currently considering whether I should take the AP Lit exam for 2019. I am a senior, so I wouldn’t be getting my scores before I apply for all the colleges.
The thing is, AP Lit doesn’t have much to do with the field of study I want to major in (chemistry). My school doesn’t even offer the course so I would be self-studying. I don’t know if it would be worth all that trouble because I know that AP Lit is reputed to be one of the hardest AP exams, and since this is my senior year, I have a load of responsibilities and commitments in academics, extracurriculars, college applications, etc. On the other hand, I do really enjoy reading and I think learning to analyze literature is something I’d really like to learn.
So, should I take the time and effort to take the AP English Literature exam?

  • Also, I have compared AP Lit and AP Lang. Although AP Lang is said to be more applicable, I'm still more drawn to AP Lit. Any advices regarding AP Lit vs. AP Lang would be also welcome!

You’re asking the wrong question.

Your question should be “Should I self study AP Lit?” And my answer to that is “Why would you want to if you have a ‘load of responsibilities and commitments’?”

The AP exam itself is not necessarily a huge investment in time beyond the 3 hours for the test itself. But that question really does not need to be asked until you get your college acceptances. If the college you are planning to attend does not give credit for AP Lit, then no reason to take the test.

the self-studying you would doing would be to read a ton and to write lots and lots of interpretative analysis. I just don’t see how you can self-study for this test. This is the one test where to prepare you need to not only read and write a lot but to get feedback from teacher and from classroom discussion.

Thank you for the replies! And I looked up the AP credit policies on the CollegeBoard website; it seems like most of the colleges I’m aiming for does give credit for AP Lit. I would need at least a 4, though.
I do realize that AP Lit is something you can’t study from a prep book but I do plan to read a ton, badger the English teachers at my school, and use the resources given in the CollegeBoard website. I’ll do my share of research and find out more about how other schools are setting up the curriculum, and if it turns out that I won’t be ready, I won’t take it.

You won’t get any application bump by taking it so why self study for this? It’s time that you won’t be spending on things that will help your app.

I disagree with this a bit.

I am not a big fan of self studying, as I have mentioned many times on this site, even though I did self study a couple back in the day. The challenge is that people use the term “self study” to mean different things.

To me, self study is when one studies a subject entirely from scratch e.g. AP Physics C without having anything more than an intro regular or honors physics course.

Depending on a school’s curriculum, though, AP Lit might be an easy test to take without a corresponding course and not really be “self studying.” Almost every student in the US takes English every year. If an English 4 class has a great teacher that teaches effective essay writing an literary analysis, it’s possible to add a couple of novels/plays and some poetry on one’s own and do fine on the exam. Whether this strategy is applicable to the OP is unknown though.

@skieurope my mistake, I was thinking that the OP wasn’t going to take any class and self-study. It would be interesting to see the difference in the syllabus between an AP Lit course and a regular Lit course. I know that at my kid’s HS for a course that is taught at 3 different levels, there is supposedly a huge drop off between AP and Honors and an even bigger drop off between Honors and regular. Hearsay though.

Hopefully the English teacher will be really good and will actually offer significant help on the side for AP preparation.

I’m not sure what the percentage that gets a 4, but only 5% of all the test takers for AP Lit gets a 5.

Also you’ll want to arrange with the AP coordinator to make sure s/he will have the AP Lit test available at your school. If this is too much of an inconvenience, you’ll have to find a school nearby that offers the test and make arrangements. I would bring this up with the AP coordinator as soon as you are sure that you’re going to take the exam. Probably no later than mid-December, since AP signups (well, at least at my kid’s school) are done in late January-early February. Plus college apps for RD need to be done by end of December and you may want to list this test on the application.

Approx 15%

"You won’t get any application bump by taking it so why self study for this? It’s time that you won’t be spending on things that will help your app. "

That’s just because I really like literature! I like doing things that I am interested in, even though it may not even help me get into college. I learned that I should take any opportunity to try new things, because you might end up regretting it later on. So yeah, I have done some very random things that has nothing to do with my intended major. But each activities have taught me something I never would have experienced if I hadn’t done it!

  • I am also taking Dual Credit Composition class for school. I'm not sure if that is compatible with AP Lit, but it might help (although I think it would be closer to AP Lang than Lit).
  • I am also taking other AP exams like AP Chinese and AP Psychology that's not offered in my school, so I will definitely have to check with the AP coordinator about that. My school actually starts tomorrow, so I will ask! I think the due date to finding an AP coordinator in nearby schools is March 1st or March 15th. I have also heard that you can order AP tests through the school even if it doesn't offer the course? I'm not really sure how that works.

@bluelia yes, ask the AP coordinator at your school first if s/he can order the various tests. It depends how nice the school is, because for each additional test, they may need to find/hire a separate proctor. But maybe not. I would maybe wait though until you are sure that you are going to take the tests before ordering. You don’t want the AP coordinator to get mad at you if the tests were ordered and no one signed up for it lol.

AP Chinese may be an issue, depending on the school, since this test requires more than simply ordering the test and paying for a proctor.

Even high schools that are willing to order AP tests for courses they do not offer draw the line on tests that require extra work and/or technology outside their expertise like atudio art, foreign languages, and music theory.

Here’s a shortcut test for you: how many lit-level books did you read this past spring, during term time, just for fun?

Extra credit: how many lit-level books have you read this summer, just for fun?

If you are a real reader, the number will be a positive integer.

Our lot went to schools where they didn’t have an AP Lit or Lang class per se but, most of the students took both APs- per @skieurope, a good class/teacher can prepare you enough to do well on the exam.

But if you actually want to learn to analyze literature, self-studying the AP is not the way to do it- that would be literally teaching (yourself) to the test. The ‘analysis’ will necessarily be superficial and artificially structured, because it has to fit in a specific format, that is constrained by both time and grading requirements.

As @ProfessorPlum168 points out, learning how to analyze lit is not something will come just by ‘badgering’ your teachers (!) and online resources. Can you do it? perhaps. Is it the best use of your senior year, when you need to be getting college apps in, as well as all your other obligations? probably not. Would this be a great class to take in college? absolutely. Find out who the ‘don’t miss’ English prof is, and take it then. It will be so much more fun, nevermind how much more you will actually learn, than trying to do it on your own.

You need to follow the system. Know the material well.