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AP Language and Composition

  • From the College Board Website:
    The AP Language and Composition course is designed to help students become skilled readers of prose written in a variety of periods, disciplines, and rhetorical contexts and to become skilled writers who can compose for a variety of purposes. By their writing and reading in this course, students should become aware of the interactions among a writer's purposes, audience expectations, and subjects, as well as the way generic conventions and the resources of language contribute to effective writing.

    The college composition course that the AP Language and Composition course is intended to parallel is one of the most varied in the curriculum. The college course often allows students to write in a variety of forms—narrative, exploratory, expository, argumentative—and on a variety of subjects from personal experiences to public policies, from imaginative literature to popular culture. But the main objective in most first-year writing courses is to enable students to write effectively and confidently in all their college courses and in their professional and personal lives. Therefore, most composition courses emphasize the expository, analytical, and argumentative writing that forms the basis of academic and professional communication, as well as the personal and reflective writing that fosters the ability to write in any context. As in the college course, the purpose of the AP Language and Composition course is to enable students to read complex texts with understanding and to write prose that is rich enough and complex enough for mature readers. An AP Language and Composition course should help students move beyond such programmatic responses as the five-paragraph essay that provides an introduction with a thesis and three reasons, body paragraphs on each reason, and a conclusion that restates the thesis. Although such formulaic approaches may provide minimal organization, they often encourage unnecessary repetition and fail to engage the reader. Students should be encouraged to place their emphasis on content, purpose, and audience and to allow this focus to guide their organization.

    College writing programs recognize that skill in writing follows from students' awareness of their own composing processes: the way they explore ideas, reconsider strategies, and revise their work. This process is the essence of the first-year writing course, and should be emphasized in the AP Language and Composition course. For example, students can write essays that proceed through several stages or drafts, with revision aided by teacher and peers. Although these extended, revised essays cannot be part of the AP examination, the writing experience may help make students more self-aware and flexible writers and thus may help their performance on the exam itself.

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