AP English Literature & CompositionFree Response Section • Three essays • Two hours (about 40 minutes each) • Two are “close reading” • One on a prose passage • One on poetry • One is “open” • Topic given • Student chooses a work from a list or “of comparable literary merit”
Essay Questions • Each question has an introductory blurb that helps set context for the question. • These blurbs offer important information that can help the student succeed. • It is important to analyze the question, mark up the given text, and write a plan before beginning to write the essay.
The Close Reading Questions • The first two questions are usually close reading questions, one on prose and one on poetry. • All close reading questions require students to • (1) identify devices and techniques of language, and • (2) explain their effect.
Close Reading Questions (cont.) • Sometimes, wording on the close reading questions is broad, without identifying specific literary or rhetorical techniques the student might discuss. • Instead of a list of specific techniques, directions may include a phrase as general as "resources of language" or "elements of argument."
The Open Question • The open question on the literature exam requires recollection and analysis of a literary work, and, like the close reading questions, asks students to balance two elements: • (1) identification of a specific idea (e.g., moral ambiguity) or technique (e.g., social protest, minor characters) in one literary work, and • (2) explanation of how that idea or technique contributes to the meaning of the work as a whole.
The Open Question (cont.) • Students are instructed to select one of the works on a list or "another novel or play of comparable literary merit.“ • Short stories and poetry are too short. • Films and television are unsuitable. • Most popular fiction lacks the necessary depth.