What I’m Doing to Prepare my Students for the AP Literature Exam

The testing season is upon us! I have a countdown ticking down on my board until the day of the AP Literature and Composition exam.

As I write this post, we currently have seven class days until the test. This is the week where we review the year and ensure that students are as prepared as possible.

This is my game plan:

#1 – Spend a week reviewing essay types and expectations.

AP Literature Exam Reminders

We’ve spent this year going over what to expect on the exam and how to effectively prepare, but my students had given me some feedback that they needed to review the similarities and differences between the three types of essays.

I started by making the poster that is pictured on the right, as well as making a simple Venn Diagram to help them differentiate between my expectations for each essay (You can download it here: Essay Graphic Organizer (AP)).

#2 – Essay Speed Dating

To prepare for the Q3 essay, I had the students memorize key elements of their book (the theme, symbols, characters, historical context, author, etc.) and take a quiz on it. After the quiz, I had students practice writing hooks and thesis statements for each of the prompts.

NewCovers.004Each student and their partner was given a prompt. They had seven minutes to write their response; two minutes to silently review their partners; and then one minute to verbally debrief on what the other student did well and what needed improvement.

Then, they would swap seats, gain a new partner and prompt, and repeat the process all over again. It was simple, but it provided the quick meaningful feedback that students needed.

#3 – Q1 and Q2 Essay Review

My review for the Q1 and Q2 Essays was a bit simpler. I started with a quick overview of how to structure their essays and their thesis, and then we went through the reciprocal teaching process (you can learn more about that process here) with passages that had been used on the AP exam previously.

AP-Literature-Reciprocal-TeachingOnce students were finished discussing, I had them practice writing hooks and and thesis statements for their essay, as well as writing an outline. We spent two days of our 50-minute class periods working on timed writings, which seemed to help put both my and my students’ mind at ease in regards to the AP exam.

#4 – Practice Multiple Choice Games

Lately, I’ve been making my own practice multiple choice questions and uploading them to Kahoot to help students prepare for the timed nature of the test without completely stressing them out. One of my students pointed out that the timed nature of Kahoot kept them from stressing too much about picking the right answer and wasting time, so I’m planning to spend at least one day this week doing this as a class.

Additionally, my students have always been a big fan of escape rooms and I’m planning on wrapping up this year with my own AP Literature version of one. Mine can be found here: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/AP-Literature-and-Composition-Test-Preparation-Updated-Escape-Room-4619824. Whether or not you choose to check it out, TPT has some great templates for creating escape rooms and you may want to create your own.

The following items are included in mine:

(1) Words in context: I plan to give students a poem or passage and have them have to identify the meaning of the word as it is used, similarly to the question types.

(2) A section for matching literary and poetic terms.

(3)  Practice Multiple Choice passages. 

#5 – Vocabulary and Lit. Term Review

Vocabulary is often one of the biggest obstacles in preparation for the AP Literature exam, so I’m having my students make flashcards to prepare (see here: AP Lit. Study Guide) and giving them a cumulative test on all of the literary terms we’ve learned thus far.

In addition, I’m giving them access to a review quizlet to help them learn key literary devices and common words on the AP Exam (see here and here).

In conclusion…

I hope this helps as you prepare your students for the AP Exam. As I continue to think of ideas, I’ll be sure to add them here. Feel free to leave any suggestions or additions to my test prep. schedule in the comments.