AP Literature Multiple Choice Questions ,Skills and Essay Questions ( Introduction and Assessments)

Getting Ready for the AP Exam

Objectives: Students will become familiar with the AP Exam format, question types and skills involved as well as the vocabulary specific to the college course.

Aim: What are we expected to know in order to pass the AP Exam? Why is it challenging at many different levels?


  • Sample AP Exam

Do Now: Read the course introduction and descriptions and underline ideas that are important, new and challenging to you.

Mini Lessons:

  1. Share our ideas from the course descriptions. Set up individual goals based on your own assessment.
  2. Take a close look at the author/work list, what works or which authors are you familiar with?
  3. The exam: Read the 1st passage and answer questions 1-11.
  4. Peer review the answers you have provided. Check your answer and make a note in your notebook the questions you got wrong and the possible reasons.
  5. What kind of skills are demanded for each question?
  6. Reflect on the assessment and set up individual goals.

Formative Assessment: What is the one thing I have learned about my self as a reader or the AP Exam?

Exit Slip: What is the one specific goal I  would like to have for the first marking period?

Homework: Respond to essay question #3. What does the question mean? Pick out a book for independent reading.

Lesson 2

Objectives: Students will continue the reading assessment to help them set their individual reading goals.

Aim: How do we get cues from the questions themselves?

Do Now:  Assign the weekly vocabulary and literary terms to study ( see the new posting  for AP Vocabulary and Lit terms).

Min Lesson

  1. Read the 2nd & 3rd passages and respond to the questions.
  2. Check the answer and discuss the important concerts involved to understand the text
  3.  What types techniques can we use to respond to the questions?
  4. What is the most challenging to you?
  5. Use Roethke’s “My Papa’s Waltz” for a close reading workshop.

Reflection: What did you learn today about AP reading?

Homework: Read closely the poem To a Young Athlete Dying by A. E. HOUSMAN and do  a ” Notice & Focus” and then “Method ” analysis of the poem.

Roethke’s “My Papa’s Waltz” for a close reading workshop.


Notice and Focus Workshop

Step 1: What do I notice first in the poem? Make a list of details that stand out for you for any reason, strange, sharp imagery, interesting diction, different use of familiar phrases, unknown diction,  repetition, figurative language, etc

  • Whisky
  • Breath
  • (boy) dizzy
  • Hung on
  • Like death
  • Waltzing
  • Romped
  • (mother) couldn’t unfrown
  • (hand) battered
  • (step) missed
  • (ear) scraped ( a buckle)
  • Beat (time) on my head
  • (palm) caked
  • Waltz to bed
  • Cling ( to your shirt)

Step 2: Focus on the details you have listed, what is your initial impression of the poem? What does the poem seem to describe or emphasize on? Focus on the verbs ( to describe the action) and the relationship between the two characters involved through words that describe each of them respectively.

  1. First impression: the poem seems to be about a drunken father waltzes with his son, but they are not really dancing because he misses steps and the boy’s ears get scraped. The strange thing is the boy clings on to his dad after his father waltzes him to bed.
  2. The physical descriptions of the father is not refined but that of a manual laborer.
  3. The adjectives used to describe the boy seems to have conflicting feelings- dizzy but hung on like death; scraped but cling on. What is really happening in this picture?

Step 3: Ranking: If I have to pick out 5 most important details, what will they be? Rank them.

  1. Waltzing
  2. Whisky breath
  3. (steps) missed
  4. (ears) scraped
  5. Cling (to your shirt)

Step 4: Method ( look for a pattern, or binary-opposing ideas, repetition, motif, different strand of main ideas, making connections)

  • Imagery of the father: drunk, rough, insensitive ( caked hand, whisky breath, beat on my head, romped);
  • Symbolism: waltz is not a dance but uneven feelings or events that happen in the boy’s life ( up and down, knocking down the dishes, etc)
  • Pattern: the negative verbs used imply the mixed feelings the boy has toward his father( missed, romped, scraped, beat, couldn’t unfrown)
  • Binary: opposing ideas ( missed, scraped beat but hung on and cling on)
  • Repetition: hung on, cling on
  • Simile: hung on like death
  • Question: why doesn’t the mother intervene?

Step 5: So What? What is the true meaning of the poem based on the details I have noticed and the analysis I did? What is the central idea of the poem?

Waltz seems to be the symbol of the boy’s relationship with his father, up and down, unexpected and uneven. The father is a drunkard and seems to absent from his son’s life, which makes the boy wait up for a drunk father to come home and even good-humoredly dance with him even though the whisky makes him dizzy. He hangs on to his father “like death”. The simile amplifies his dark and cold but inescapable feelings he has toward his father. He lets his father take him romp around the house, knock down the dishes, displease his mother, hurt him physically but he stills clings on. Is a child’s love for a parent unconditional as such or the father’s absence increases the want of a father role in the boy’s life? Either reason poses an unhealthy relationship between a father and son, in particular for the boy , emotionally and psychologically- the lack of a father role will eventually take tolls on a boy who desperately needs one. In addition to the father-son relationship, the poem touches on a social issue that existed in the 1950s United States where women’s role was reduced to domesticity and no voice in the presence of the men. She couldn’t help feeling upset by the scene yet make no interventions. In the end, through the intense scene of waltzing between a father and son and the portrayal of the voiceless mother, the poem poignantly points out the socials issues that exist in every family- men who work and get drunk and shun from their domestic responsibilities as a father or husband; women who are voiceless and secondary in a family are at the mercy of their men. Domestic violence is not directly portrayed but  on the brink of the unfolding events. All readers have to do is to imagine the next scene.

The simple poem has taken on a historical and social meaning  for decades, forever creating a tableau of a 1950’s American family and the unequal roles women and men played in a patriarchal society.

Lesson 3

Objectives: Students will use the 13 skills embedded in the AP Lit exam multiple-choice questions as their reading goals.

Aim: What are the 13 reading skills required to respond to the AP Lit multiple-choice question? Hod can we improve them?

Resources: AP Lit and Composition multiple choice question stems.

Do Now: Take 15 minutes to read the 3rd passage in the AP exam and answer the questions. Be sure to circle words, concepts that you don’t understand.

Mini Lesson: What type of Multiple Choice Components for AP Literature Exam?

 Yearly, the AP College Board prepares and develops a three-hour exam which consists of a multiple choice section and a writing section.  The multiple choice section tests a student’s critical reading of selected passages, while the essay measures a student’s ability to read and interpret literature effectively.

Ordinarily, the exam consists of 45-55 multiple-choice questions followed by 120 minutes for essay questions.  Performance on the exam is as follows:

  • the essay section of the exam counts for 55 percent of the total grade
  • the multiple choice section counts for 45 percent of the total grade

Consider this your Bible for the multiple choice section of the AP Literature Exam.

In the multiple choice section of the AP Literature Exam, there will be several small passages followed by 10-15 multiple choice questions.  These questions will lead up to approximately 45 to 55 questions.  Maybe less or maybe more; it will depend on the year the test is/was created.  The Multiple Choice passage is as follows:

Prose Selection

  • 13 multiple choice questions

Poetry Selection

  • 10 multiple choice questions

Prose Passage

  • 13 multiple choice questions

Poem Passage

  • 10 multiple choice questions

In order to be successful on the exam, you must understand and know the structure of the stem questions being given.  Fortunately, the AP Literature Exam uses the skills frequently listed below.  In order to know, what those skills consist of – you must first comprehend and understand the stem questions.

Below is a list of the Most Frequently Used Skills in MC Stems

  1. Diction – there will always be a multiple choice diction question
    1. Types – to analyze diction go to the nouns and verbs in the sentence.  Choose two highlighters, they must be in different colors.  Highlight all the nouns in one color only and write them on the left margin of your paper.  What type of connotation do you get?  Then, highlight all the verbs in the passage in another color. Write your verbs on the right margin of the paper.  Remember these verbs will include feelings and emotions.
    2. Diction is also monosyllabic and polysyllabic.
      1.                                                                i.      Monosyllabic – only has one syllable.  For example: bar, her, its why, just, not, both, since, health
      2.                                                               ii.      Polysyllabic – has three or more syllables.  For example:  exciting; wonderful; fantastic; irregular; unnecessarily; wickedly
    3. Contributing to tone and mood – how does diction (word choice) contribute to tone and mood.
      1.                                                                i.      Tone – is the attitude a writer takes toward the reader, a subject, or a character.  In writing, tone is revealed by word choice. – give list of word choices.
      2.                                                               ii.      Mood is usually created through descriptive details and evocative language and to suggest the writer’s particular worldview.
    4. Contributing to Author’s Style – Style is the writer’s characteristic manner of employing language (The AP Vertical Teams Guide for English, p. 16).
  2. ToneSide Note:  Be aware that the TAKS test does not give the correct definition for tone.  For some reason, TAKS has tone/mood listed as the same definition.  The AP Board has informed the state of this but they have yet to change tone/mood to reflect separate definitions.  If you see a tone question or an identity question you can expect a shift to occur somewhere in the reading passage.
    1. Identification (the tone)
    2. In passage as a whole (the tone)
    3. In one paragraph
    4. Shifts (in tone) – remember poetry
    5. Location in shift
  3. Inference (Read in between lines to get hints)
  4.                    Vocabulary in Context
  5. Syntax – Sentence Structure – this is the function of simple sentences, the writer’s style.  Also make sure you know all the terminology to syntax.
    1. Quotient/verbal patterns
    2. Phrases, clauses, and sentences
  6. Main Idea/Author’s Purpose – this is theme – there are several of these questions
  7. .                   Function/Effect of
    1. Word(s) – how it works in sentence
    2. Phrases- function
    3. Clauses
    4. Literary elements
    5. Rhetorical strategies – use of detail, repetition
  8. Grammar – most grammar will be noun/pronoun reference
  9. .                   Figures of Speech/Literary Terms
    1. Identification
    2. Finding examples
    3. Main types used in passages
  10.                 Point of View
    1. Types
    2. Multiple – when you see this you need to ask yourself, “What is the effect of multiple points of view?”
  11. .                Cause and Effect
  12. Use of Irony – is the use of contrast
  13. .                Imagery

1. Types

i.      Visual imagery – something described through sight, appears most commonly in poetry.

ii.      Auditory imagery – representation of a sound

iii.      Olfactory imagery – representation of a smell

iv.      Gustatory imagery – representation of a taste

v.      Tactile imagery – touch: hardness, softness, wetness, heat, cold

vi.      Organic imagery – internal sensation, hunger, thirst, fatigue, nausea

vii.      Kinesthetic imagery – movement, physical tension

2. Frame of reference – is a way of looking at the world, whether that’s seeing things only in good and bad or immigrant and nonimmigrant terms or it’s a matter of thinking that the world operates around meritocracy — that people earn and then deserve their place in life.  For example identifying images using the Holocaust, Asian artwork, Indian music, cowboy setting, summertime vacation.

 Let’s look at some examples of Multiple Choice questions found on a typical AP exam.  Read the questions carefully – identify what each question is based on the component list given by your teacher.

Take a look at the exam given in this packet.  Remember, there are going to be thirteen skills you will need to know to answer the multiple choice section of the test.

Homework: Use the handout to help help you identify the question type.


Lesson 4

Objectives: Students will become familiar with AP Exam essay question types and basic structure of responses.

Aim; How do we write a response to the AP exam three types of essay questions?


Do Now: Visit the Colege Board AP English site to become familiar with the essay questions-AP Literature Essay Questions 2014 with Sample Responses


Mini Lesson:

A. Question 1-Poetry Analysis: Question 1 Sample essay

Discuss and share:  What is the structure of such a response? How do we respond to the question? What rubric do they use to evaluate the response?

B. Question 2-Prose Analysis: Question 2 Sample Essay :

Discuss and share: What is the structure of such a response? How do we respond to the question? What rubric do they use to evaluate the response?

C. Question 3- Open Ended Question: Form B:

Discuss and share: What is the structure of such a response? How do we respond to the question? What rubric do they use to evaluate the response?

Sample essay response

Wrap up: Describe the understanding you have gained from today’s lesson.

Homework: Revise Question 1 essay( from the sample exam packet)  based on the rubric and sample essays we have studies today.

Lesson 5 Open-Ended Question

Objectives: Students will analyze an exemplanry essay and idenfy its structure, thesis statement and its use of evidence to support the thesis.

Aim: How is the student’s thesis statement a direct response to the question? How does s/je support the thesis?

Do Now: Read the open-ended question and discuss what it really means.

Mini Lesson

How do we use the question to help us lay out the outline for the essay?

Read the exemplary essay and discuss-

  1. What’s in an instruduction?
  2. How does the topic sentence of each body paragraph relate to the thesis?
  3. How does the student use specific detail as evidence?
  4. How does the student anayze its details to derive at the conclusion ( so what)?

Your Practice: Peer review the essay you have written and make comments based on the rubric and out discussion.

Homework: Revise the open-ended essay. Hand in both drafts tomorrow. Reading logs on your 1st independent reading assigment is due Oct. 1.

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