Our step-by-step tutorials help students prepare for the three types of essays that they will have an opportunity to write in our courses that are modeled after the three essays that they will find on the AP Literature and Composition Exam.
Before students analyze a literary work, we discuss how writers constantly make stylistic choices to establish tone and convey theme in poems, novels, and plays.
In every unit, we analyze excerpts from the text to determine how the "four pillars" of style analysis—diction, imagery, language, and syntax—help us understand the thematic significance and authorial intent.
We emphasize with students that a firm understanding of style analysis is required for effective close reading of a text and is perhaps the most important skill that they will need to master to be successful on the AP Literature Exam and in their college-level English classes.
AP Poetry Analysis
Before we begin reading any novel or play, students will first analyze a poem that addresses the unit's Essential Questions and connects thematically to the major literary work.
To prepare students for the AP Literature Exam and the challenge of college-level coursework, we present the poem in the form of an AP Poetry Analysis prompt, which will be the first essay that students write in the course.
The goal is not only for students to practice analyzing poetry, but also to begin thinking about the major themes that are contained in the novel or play they are about to read.
AP Passage Analysis
The ultimate assessment of a student's ability to read a text closely to identify narrative tone and to determine thematic intent is the AP Passage Analysis essay.
When students analyze a key passage or scene from the novel or play we are reading, we refer them to the words of Edith Wharton, who claims in The Writing of Fiction that every work contains at least one "illuminating incident" or "magic casement" that reveals the meaning of the work as a whole.
The purpose of the AP Passage Analysis essay is to assess not only how well students can read and understand the text, but also their ability to decipher the significance of a particular passage or scene and how it relates to the overall theme of the novel or play.
AP Literary Argument
On the first day of class, we introduce the thematic focus of the unit by presenting an AP Literary Argument prompt from a previous AP Exam that has the book we are planning to read as one the suggested titles.
Even though students will not write the final essay until they finish the novel or play, they should read and annotate the text with the AP Literary Argument prompt always in mind.
We will refer to the AP Literary Argument prompt in our class discussions throughout the unit, and students will write the essay once they complete the novel or play during the last week of the course.