Directions for the 2021 Digital AP English Language and Composition Exam

Exam and section directions will appear in the testing application

Unlike on paper and pencil exams, students taking digital exams will receive directions primarily from the digital testing application, not from a proctor, whether they take the digital exam at school or at home.

On the digital exam, directions will be shown on a pop-up in the digital exam application when the clock starts at the beginning of each section. Students will have a chance to read them before starting to answer questions, and can view them at any time by clicking the Directions link in the upper left corner of the application.  

Please note that the exam timer starts when the directions appear at the beginning of each section. While students should read the directions, they should be aware that the timer will be running while they do so, both at the beginning of each section and while they’re working during the exam.

General Exam Directions will appear in the left column of the directions pop-up, and will be the same for all sections of that exam. Section Directions will appear in the right column, and will be specific to each section of the exam.

When you answer digital practice questions in the digital testing application, these same directions will appear along with a note when practice has a different number of questions than the actual exam.

The following is the full text of the directions that will appear on the digital AP English Language and Composition Exam.

Exam Directions

The AP English Language and Composition Exam is 3 hours and 15 minutes long. Section I lasts 1 hour and has 45 multiple-choice questions. Section II lasts 2 hours and 15 minutes and has 3 free-response questions.

Please note that you are responsible for pacing yourself. The clock will turn red when 5 minutes remain, but the proctor or app will not give you any other time updates. 

Do not spend too much time on any one question, but remember that you cannot go back to a question once you’ve moved on to the next question.

You may use scratch paper for notes and planning, but credit will only be given for responses entered in this application.

The inclusion of source material in this exam is not intended as an endorsement by College Board or ETS of the content, ideas, or values expressed in the material. The material has been selected by the English faculty who serve on the AP English Language and Composition Development Committee. In their judgment, the material printed here reflects various aspects of the course of study on which this exam is based and is therefore appropriate to use to measure the skills and knowledge of this course.  

Section Directions–Section I

Section I: 1 hour, 45 multiple-choice questions.

This section consists of selections from nonfiction works and questions on their rhetorical situation, claims and evidence, reasoning and organization, and style. After reading each passage, select the best answer to each question.

Note: Pay particular attention to the requirements of questions that contain the words not, least, or except.

For questions that reference a part of the text provided, you can click on the » symbol shown in the question to automatically scroll to the referenced location.

Section Directions–Section II

Section II: 2 hours 15 minutes, 3 free-response questions.

You are advised to spend:

  • Question 1 (Argument): approximately 40 minutes writing your answer
  • Question 2 (Synthesis): approximately 15 minutes reading the question, evaluating the sources, and planning your answer, and 40 minutes writing your answer
  • Question 3 (Rhetorical Analysis): approximately 40 minutes writing your answer

Section II of this exam requires answers in essay form. Each essay will be judged on its clarity and effectiveness in dealing with the assigned topic and on the quality of the writing. Quality is far more important than quantity. You should check each essay for accuracy of punctuation, spelling, and diction; you are advised, however, not to attempt many longer corrections.

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