AP English Literature and Composition

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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 Literature 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 Literature 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 Literature 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 Literature 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

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.

You 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 (13 questions, 17 minutes), a shortened break of 5 minutes, and a full length free-response section (3 questions, 2 hours). 
  • 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.
  • 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 5, 2021,
    8 AM Local

    Paper, In School

    AP English Literature and Composition Exam

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

  • Tue, May 18, 2021,
    12 PM EDT

    Digital, In School and At Home

    AP English Literature and Composition Exam

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

  • Tue, Jun 1, 2021,
    12 PM EDT

    Digital, In School and At Home

    AP English Literature and Composition Exam

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

Exam Components

Note on 2021 Exams

Both the paper and digital versions of the AP English Literature 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 Literature and Composition only. View a summary of all 2021 AP Exam formats.

55 questions 1hr 45% of Score

  • There are 5 sets of questions made up of 8–13 questions each.
  • Questions include excerpts from prose fiction, drama, or poetry.
    • Each excerpt is accompanied by several multiple-choice questions.
  • There will be at least 2 prose fiction passages (this may include drama) and at least 2 poetry passages.

3 questions 2hrs 55% of Score

In the free-response section, you’ll respond to three questions from the following categories with written answers:

  • Poetry analysis: You will read a passage of poetry and respond to the prompt with a thesis that presents a poetic interpretation backed up by evidence.
  • Prose fiction analysis: You will read a passage of prose fiction (this may include drama) and respond to the prompt with a thesis that presents a literary interpretation backed up by evidence.
  • Literary argument: You will be presented with a literary concept or idea and analyze how the literary concept or idea contributes to an interpretation of a literary work. You can choose one from a list of roughly 40 works provided to you or cite another work of prose fiction or drama from your own reading to create an evidence-based argument that responds to the given topic.  In responding to Question 3, select a work of fiction that will be appropriate to the question. A general rule is to use a work that is similar in quality to those you have read in your AP class(es). 

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