Question 3: The (Not So) Easy Question

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Question 3 on the AP Literature exam is often thought of as the easy question. Students (and maybe some teachers) think this because of the fact that there is no text to read. Read the prompt; write the essay. That’s it, right? Not necessarily.

What all AP students need to realize is that the AP Lit test is a test about sophistication. Success on the AP exam relies on being able to demonstrate a level of sophistication in reading, thinking, and writing. And, this is all true for Q3.

Sophistication in Reading

Just because no text is given to the student on Q3, does not mean that the text they choose is just an afterthought–a secondary priority to the prompt. The text a student chooses to use for Q3 requires just as deep a level of analysis as any other text on the test. This means that a student needs to prepare for Q3 is a special way. They need to go into the test already knowing what book they will be using on the exam.KEEP READING

Amplifying Our Conversations–Transforming Our Understanding

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There is nothing more rewarding than hearing the collective groan from my students as the end-of-class bell interrupts an engaging, authentic conversation about a text. What is even more thrilling is when students have become so involved in a discussion that they (with little interruption from me), begin to construct a powerful understanding of a text. … KEEP READING

Five Observations from an AP Reader

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The following observations are from Matt Brown, a longtime AP Lit reader:

Last year nearly 340,000 students took the AP Literature exam. That meant that the teachers who gathered in Louisville, KY in June had over 1 MILLION essays to score! Read…score…read…score…all day long for seven straight days. What becomes obvious in this process is that most of these essays are painfully average.

When I first started reading for the exam ten years ago, I was horrified to realize that most of my students fell into this zone of averageness. We are programmed to produce excellence in AP. But, teaching excellence in literary analysis is not equal to teaching towards excellence on the test.

If students can embrace that most of them are going to be average (at least statistically) on an AP exam, then they may have a better chance at succeeding. There is a range of passing scores and students need to be OK with where they fall within that range, honing in on what they can already do well.

Here is my top five when it comes to the advice I give students as they head into the exam: … KEEP READING