AP English Language and Composition

Sign in to My AP to access free support in AP Classroom, including AP Daily videos.

About the Exam

Important Update

Updated April 8 You can now download the digital testing application and take digital practice to prepare for the testing experience. See below for more information on digital practice and taking the digital exam.

2021 AP English Language and Composition Exams will be offered on paper in early May and as a digital exam in late May and early June.

The paper and the digital versions of the AP English Language and Composition Exam will be full length, containing the typical multiple-choice and free-response sections and covering the full scope of course content, giving you the opportunity to qualify for college credit and placement.

There are differences between the paper and digital versions of some 2021 AP Exams, and those variations differ by course. The information below applies to AP English Language and Composition only. View a summary of all 2021 AP Exam formats.

Learn more about 2021 testing.


As the exam approaches, take advantage of AP Daily: Live Review sessions April 19–29.

Exam Overview
The AP English Language and Composition Exam will test your understanding of the literary concepts covered in the course units, as well as your ability to analyze texts and develop written arguments based on your interpretations.

Exam Duration
3hrs 15mins

Digital Practice and Testing Information

Updated April 8

Digital Practice Now Available

Starting April 8, you can try out the test-day experience, by answering example questions in the digital testing application. See the Digital Practice page for general information about practice options.

AP English Language and Composition students will have two options to answer example questions in the digital testing application. Both provide approximately the same time limit per question as the full exam.

  • Digital Practice has a shortened multiple-choice section (14 questions, 20 minutes), a shortened break of 5 minutes, and a full-length free-response section (3 questions, 2 hours and 15 minutes). 
  • The App Demo is an even shorter subset of the questions in Digital Practice–5 multiple-choice questions, a 2-minute break, and 1 free-response question.

We highly recommend you take the Digital Practice, and strongly advise that if you can’t take the Digital Practice, at least take the App Demo. Both can be taken multiple times, and can be accessed directly in the digital testing application. You can access your answers and solution materials (MCQ answer key, FRQ scoring guidelines) for the Digital Practice. Note: Taking the App Demo after completing Digital Practice may override your answers from Digital Practice.

Taking the Digital Exam

You should be aware of some aspects of testing digitally that you’ll encounter–in the Digital Practice and on exam day:

  • The digital testing application includes an annotation tool, which allows you to mark text and make notes on passages. You can use the digital annotation tool to identify key elements within texts, organize your thoughts, and create brief textual analysis. While the annotations that you construct will not be scored, annotating is an opportunity for you to interpret texts to help you answer multiple-choice or free-response questions.
  • Some multiple-choice questions reference a part of the text provided. You can click on the » symbol shown in the question to automatically scroll to the referenced location.
  • Free-response questions will be presented in a different order on the digital exam (as well as on Digital Practice) than on the paper and pencil exam–see “Exam Format” below on this page.
  • On the Synthesis question (FRQ 2 on the digital exam), you’ll view the Sources directly in the exam app. You should click on the tabs on the left side of the screen, lettered A through F, to view one source at a time. You may need to scroll down to view the tabs and the complete sources.
  • As a reminder, you will answer all multiple-choice questions and type all free-response answers directly in the digital exam application. Scratch paper is permitted for notes or planning, but you cannot handwrite or otherwise upload responses
  • You cannot go back to questions you’ve already answered, and cannot skip ahead. 
  • Exam directions and section-specific directions will not be read by a proctor–they’ll appear entirely in the application. You’ll see them at the beginning of each section, and can access them at any time during the exam. Please note that the exam timer starts when the directions appear. While you should read the directions, be aware that the timer will be running while you do so. You can view the full text of the exam and section directions in advance of the exam.

Exam Dates

  • Wed, May 12, 2021,
    8 AM Local

    Paper, In School

    AP English Language and Composition Exam

    This is the Administration 1 date for the AP English Language and Composition Exam.

  • Wed, May 26, 2021,
    12 PM EDT

    Digital, In School and At Home

    AP English Language and Composition Exam

    This is the Administration 2 date for the AP English Language and Composition Exam.

  • Mon, Jun 7, 2021,
    12 PM EDT

    Digital, In School and At Home

    AP English Language and Composition Exam

    This is the Administration 3 date for the AP English Language and Composition Exam.

Exam Components

Note on 2021 Exams

Both the paper and digital versions of the AP English Language and Composition Exam will be full length, containing the typical multiple-choice and free-response sections and covering the full range of skills and knowledge specified in the course and exam description.

There are differences between the paper and digital versions of some 2021 AP Exams, and those variations differ by course. The information below applies to AP English Language and Composition only. View a summary of all 2021 AP Exam formats.

45 questions 1hr 45% of Score

Excerpts from nonfiction texts are accompanied by several multiple-choice questions:

  • 23–25 Reading questions: You’ll be asked to read and analyze nonfiction texts.
  • 20–22 Writing questions: You’ll be asked to read like a writer and consider revisions to the text.

For digital exams, please note that Reading and Writing sets will appear in a different order on the paper and pencil and digital exams:

  • On the paper and pencil exam, the sets appear in the following order: Reading, Reading, Writing, Writing, Writing.
  • On the digital exam, the sets appear in the following order: Writing, Reading, Reading, Writing, Writing. Just like on the paper exam, all the questions in each set appear consecutively–in other words, once you’ve finished answering questions about a particular text, you won’t have any more questions about that text.

3 questions 2hrs 15mins 55% of Score

The 2 hour and 15 minute time limit for this section includes a 15-minute reading period.

In the free-response section, you’ll respond to three questions with written answers. This section tests your skill in composition in three areas:

  • Synthesis: After reading 6–7 texts about a topic (including visual and quantitative sources), you will compose an argument that combines and cites at least 3 of the sources to support your thesis.
  • Rhetorical analysis: You will read a nonfiction text and analyze how the writer’s language choices contribute to the intended meaning and purpose of the text.
  • Argument: You will create an evidence-based argument that responds to a given topic.

Please note: FRQs will be presented in a different order on paper and pencil and digital exams, as follows:

  • Order of FRQs on paper and pencil exams
    • Synthesis
    • Rhetorical Analysis
    • Argument
  • Order of FRQs on digital exams
    • Argument
    • Synthesis
    • Rhetorical Analysis

Search AP Credit Policies

Find colleges that grant credit and/or placement for AP Exam scores in this and other AP courses.

Not a student?

Go to AP Central for resources for educators