AP English Language and Composition

The focus of this class is not a grade.

As a prospective AP student, you may be reading those nine words and thinking, “OK. So what is the focus?”

The simple answer is that this course is intended to help you develop the foundational critical reading and writing skills that will better enable you to make meaningful connections to texts and express yourself effectively via the written word. The more complicated answer is that this course in rhetoric will not be exactly the same experience for everyone. It is likely that you will only excel in the course when you become comfortable with the idea that not everything is intended to be easily understood or accomplished without a struggle.

The Basics:
Simply stated, “rhetoric” is the art of speaking and writing effectively. To become more effective speakers and writers we must first read widely to know what constitutes effective writing, and learn how this is done in different circumstances.

The purpose of this class is for you to become familiar with various rhetorical strategies that will enable you to later discern which is most appropriate for the purpose of communicating your particular idea. By the end of the course, you will amass a collection of rhetorical tools that will enable your greater effectiveness as a speaker and writer. This will allow you, as Aristotle defined rhetoric, "the ability, in each particular case, to see the available means of persuasion."

The Reading:
In this course we will read numerous complex essays, a pair of classic plays, and a novel, all of which will challenge your present understanding of how authors effectively organize their ideas and how they communicate important ideas.

The Writing:
Throughout the course you will be writing often and in a variety of formats. More than anything, the writing assignments in this class are designed to give you the confidence and ability to break away from formulaic writing patterns such as the 5 Paragraph Essay, which limit the potential impact of your argument by confining it to a prescribed (and predictable) form. Instead, we will focus on organizing your writing around the ideas you intend to share.

The Exam:
On Wednesday May 16, 2018 students in the course will take the AP English Language and Composition Exam, a three-hour test that consists of three essay prompts to be completed in two hours, and a critical reading/multiple choice section of approximately 55 questions to be completed in an hour.

Based on the composite score from these sections, students may be eligible to receive college credit, and potentially earn the right to waive freshman composition requirements once in college.

Though this exam is something we work toward in the class, it should be noted that our primary focus is preparing students to become more effective writers and critical observers in the world beyond high school and college.

If you’re wondering if this course might be a good fit for you, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • AP classes are full of high-achieving students with well-established study habits.
  • If you’re someone who regularly procrastinates or doesn’t turn in work, AP will likely not be what cures you.
  • The difficulty of the course means that A’s are far less common than in other courses because there’s a higher bar for what is considered exemplary work.
  • Historically, students who have gotten the most out of the class have been those focused on personal growth and learning for its own sake.

If you should have further questions about the course, please contact Mr. Terich or Mr. Marsh prior to registering. Thank you, and good luck with registration.

Mr. Marsh
Room 369 (3-West)

Mr. Terich
Room 271 (2-West)

Summer information for AP English Language and Composition