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AP Lit tips
Transcript of AP Lit tips
So you're about to take the AP Lit exam...
The Morning of the exam:
Make sure you bring several BLACK pens.
Eat something substantial. Empty stomachs lead to
stupidity. I will have breakfast here tomorrow.
You're in the gym. Bring a sweater and a watch.
Bring your cheat sheet and word list with you to
review before the test begins.
Don't leave a question blank. There is no point deduction for a wrong answer. Skip whole-passage questions until you've analyzed the whole thing.
Always look for wrong answers and eliminate them first. Your multiple choice section better have lots of crossed-out answer choices.
Don't pick devices you've never heard of unless you've eliminated EVERYTHING else.
Keep an eye on the clock. Remember you have 60 minutes. If finishing is a problem for you, skip the questions that takesa long time and come back to them if possible. If a passage is particularly tricky, skip it and come back to it.
Multiple Choice (40% of overall score)
Don't waste time restating the prompt in the introduction, especially for Q3. Make sure you say WHAT book and character you picked, HOW they answer the question, and WHAT the meaning of the book is.
Make sure you have a separate conclusion, even if it's a single sentence.
Don't start summarizing in panic
. Always make sure you're dissecting the language with literary devices and connecting them to the overall meaning of the text.
Don't quote more than a couple words. If you're quoting entire sentences, you are doing it wrong.
Don't misspell any word or name that is given in the prompt. It looks lazy.
Don't call a play a novel. Don't call prose poetry. Keep your genres straight.
Write with big letters. Don't worry about conserving space. Worry about your reader getting mad that s/he can't read your freakin' essay!
Keep track of time. Before you even read a passage, write down 40-minute times for finishing each essay. Nothing is worse than running out of time to do an essay.
What AP readers want in your essays:
Ambiguous and confusing parts of a text are often the most important! Take chances and interpret anything open-ended or weird.
Don't forget to label literary devices and explain how their use contributes to the meaning. (SoD, details, imagery, diction, tone, characterization, irony)
Don't ignore the ending, ever. And don't ignore titles of poems.
If a text seems really easy and obvious, you're missing something. Always look for complexity (two simultaneous emotions or motivations) and irony.
Write about the
passage. Show that you can dissect it
. Line by line, paragraph by paragraph.
Don't say "the author uses tone/diction/syntax/imagery." Always describe what kind of tone/diction/syntax/imagery the author is using.
Remember that when analyzing a text...
If you can manage 30 on the multiple choice
and 6s on your three essays, you should pass.
Pass this exam, and you may never have to take another English class again in your entire life.
Your goal is to get at least 30 correct questions out of 55. The more you get right, the more cushion you have on essays.
fear of death
nature of evil/jealousy/racism
dehumanizing effects of totalitarianism
societal demands to conform
The Color Purple
alienation vs. intimacy
The Bell Jar
misogyny stifles the search for authentic self
need to maintain morality in hopeless times
The Glass Menagerie
escaping reality causes pain
Mendacity is a system we live in
Avoiding reality only causes pain and destruction