AP English Literature and Composition

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About the Course

Learn how to understand and evaluate works of fiction, poetry, and drama from various periods and cultures. You’ll read literary works and write essays to explain and support your analysis of them.

New for 2024-25: MCQs Will Have Four Answer Choices

Starting in the 2024-25 school year, AP English Literature and Composition multiple-choice questions (MCQs) will have four answer choices instead of five. This change will take effect with the 2025 exam. All resources have been updated to reflect this change. 

Skills You'll Learn

  • Read a text closely and draw conclusions from details

  • Identify the techniques used by an author and their effects

  • Develop an interpretation of a text

  • Present your interpretation and make an argument for it in writing

Equivalency and Prerequisites

College Course Equivalent

An introductory college-level literature course

Recommended Prerequisites


Exam Date

Wed, May 7, 2025

8 AM Local

AP English Literature and Composition Exam

This is the regularly scheduled date for the AP English Literature and Composition Exam.

About the Units

The course content outlined below is organized into commonly taught units of study that provide one possible sequence for the course. Your teacher may choose to organize the course content differently based on local priorities and preferences.

Course Content

Unit 1: Short Fiction I

You’ll learn critical reading skills to help you critically read, interpret, and analyze prose.

Topics may include:

  • Interpreting the role of character in fiction
  • Identifying and interpreting setting
  • Understanding how a story’s structure affects interpretations
  • Understanding and interpreting a narrator’s perspective
  • Reading texts literally and figuratively
  • The basics of literary analysis

Unit 2: Poetry I

You’ll continue your critical reading exploration in poetry and learn to analyze similar elements within a wide variety of poems.

Topics may include:

  • Identifying characters in poetry
  • Understanding and interpreting meaning in poetic structure
  • Analyzing word choice to find meaning
  • Identifying techniques like contrast, simile, metaphor, and alliteration

Unit 3: Longer Fiction or Drama I

You’ll observe how the literary techniques you’ve explored in prior units unfold over the course of longer works and analyze how characters develop and interact over the course of a narrative.

Topics may include:

  • Interpreting character description and perspective
  • Character evolution throughout a narrative
  • Conflict and plot development
  • Interpreting symbolism
  • Identifying evidence and supporting literary arguments

Unit 4: Short Fiction II

You’ll delve deeper into the roles of character and conflict in fiction and explore how a narrator’s perspective can color storytelling.

Topics may include:

  • Protagonists, antagonists, character relationships, and conflict
  • Character interactions with setting and its significance
  • Archetypes in literature
  • Types of narration like stream of consciousness
  • Narrative distance, tone, and perspective

Unit 5: Poetry II

You’ll study different forms of poetry and examine how structure and figurative language can create and impact meaning.

Topics may include:

  • Traits of closed and open structures in poetry
  • Use of techniques like imagery and hyperbole
  • Types of comparisons in poetry including personification and allusion
  • Identifying and interpreting extended metaphors

Unit 6: Longer Fiction or Drama II

You’ll analyze how various literary techniques play out and shift over the course of longer works, charting how characters change (or don’t) as they’re affected by developments in the plot.

Topics may include:

  • Interpreting foil characters
  • Understanding and interpreting character motives
  • Understanding nonlinear narrative structures like flashbacks and foreshadowing
  • The effect of narrative tone and bias on reading
  • Characters as symbols, metaphors, and archetypes
  • Developing literary arguments within a broader context of works

Unit 7: Short Fiction III

You’ll examine how works of fiction interact with and comment on the world around them and the society their authors live or lived in.

Topics may include:

  • Sudden and more gradual change in characters
  • Epiphany as a driver of plot
  • Relationships between characters and groups
  • Character interactions with settings
  • The significance of the pacing of a narrative
  • Setting as a symbol
  • Interpreting texts in their historical and societal contexts

Unit 8: Poetry III

You’ll develop your interpretation of poetry further by examining how contrasts, ambiguous language, and various other techniques can add layers of meaning to a poetic work.

Topics may include:

  • Looking at punctuation and structural patterns
  • Interpreting juxtaposition, paradox, and irony
  • How ambiguity can allow for various interpretations
  • Identifying symbols, conceits, and allusions
  • Learning proper attribution and citation in literary analysis

Unit 9: Longer Fiction or Drama III

You’ll consider longer narratives in the context of the various techniques and interpretations you’ve learned in prior units and build a nuanced analysis of each complex work as a whole.

Topics may include:

  • Looking at a character’s response to the resolution of a narrative
  • Suspense, resolution, and plot development
  • Narrative inconsistencies and contrasting perspectives

Credit and Placement

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Course Resources


AP English Literature and Composition Reading Study Skills

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See Where AP Can Take You

AP English Literature and Composition can lead to a wide range of careers and college majors

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Majors 23