AP English - Syllabus

Advanced Placement English Literature and Composition


Course Description: This class is intended to mimic the rigors of an introductory college-level course culminating in the AP Exam in May. This course requires dedication and commitment – willingness of the student to develop independence and mature habits of thinking and study.  

Course Overview: There are two primary components upon which the year will be founded: reading assignments and writing assignments.     

Reading assignments – The literature comprising the course includes an intensive study of British and American Literature covering several genres (novel, drama, poetry, etc) over a range of time from the 16th Century through contemporary times. Reading assignments will discuss a series of topics including but not limited to: figurative language; social and cultural values; artistry and quality; structure, style, and themes.


Writing Assignments – Written work in this class will offer a wide variety of forms including formal and informal modes.  Students will write to understand, write to explain, and write to evaluate.  As with the reading assignments, students will use study figurative language; social and cultural values; artistry and quality of text as well as structure, style and themes via journals; freewrites; expository, analytical, and argumentative essays.  In addition to the content of the writing, students will also develop the skills to convey those concepts competently.  Feedback from both teacher and peers will allow for student-development of improved sentence structure, logical organization, effective use of rhetoric all while developing a balance between generalizations and specific detail.  Students will also be expected to take the SATs in October therefore we will accentuate classroom work on writing and vocabulary with SAT preparation materials.

 Evaluation:  Students’ work throughout the year will be evaluated both by the teacher and by peers.   We will use a combination of group-made rubrics and AP-style rubrics.  Through the year, students will study Nancy Dean’s Voice Lessons analyzing diction, syntax, detail, imagery and tone.  Students will be expected to incorporate their understanding of these concepts both in their understanding of the literature we are reading, but also apply the Voice Lessons concepts in their own writings.    Students are expected to keep all their writings with the understanding that they will occasionally rewrite prior assignments. 

Year-at-a-glance:  Our school year is divided into 6-7 week marking periods.  The organization of this course is not intended to be confined by those parameters.  The year will progress as units of study are completed. 

                        Unit 1: 3 weeks – Introduction

During these first three weeks of the school year, students will focus on reviewing and broadening their foundation of literary elements, allusions and the writing process. We will use the text Invisible Man as a primary resource (summer reading). Students will be asked to analyze social and cultural values exhibited in the novel.  They will write a paper evaluating the significant role/value that this book has had offered to society. Being the first major written assignment, we will pay particular attention to the writing process especially the planning phase.  Teacher-feedback will be primarily based on implementation of the writing process and the balance of generalizations and specific illustrative detail. 

                        Unit 2: 6 week – Poetry

We will be closely following Perrine’s Literature: Structure, Sound and Sense (9th ed.).  Topics to be covered include, but are not limited to: denotation and connotation, imagery, figurative language, allusion, tone, rhythm and meter. The authors to be referenced (again – not limited to) are; Blake, Plath, Rich, Dickinson, Keats, Shelley, Coleridge, Hayden, Shakespeare, Frost, Angelou, Collins, Donne, Tennyson, Roethke, Yeats, Oates, Hughes, etc.  Students will regularly annotate poems focusing on literary elements, style, and tone as well as an occasional analysis of cultural/social relevance. In addition, students will write a timed in-class response critically analyzing a poem. Weekly, students will deal with a set of AP multiple choice questions, sometimes individually, sometimes in a small group. Students will select one style of poetry and create their own poems following the requirements of that style. (First independent novel assignment is due 3 weeks into this unit)


                        Unit 3: 6 weeks – Drama

This unit will focus on one Shakespeare play (TBD: either Macbeth or King Lear, other options are possible) and Miller’s Death of a Salesman. Students will focus on the concept of a tragic hero while examining characters’ decision-making processes.  Students will analyze and evaluate characters’ decisions paying particular attention to the context of the events of each play.   Students will also evaluate the authors’ writing style and use of figurative language in conveying the themes of each play.  After all, attention must be paid. Students will follow the writing process in generating an essay which they will write to exhibit an understanding of the role of drama in developing our understanding of the human condition.  In this unit, students will be introduced to the concept of archetypes.  Students will work collaboratively to generate a list of literary examples which illustrate a range of archetypes, including examples that must come from this unit’s readings. All the while, students will continue to annotate one poem per week and maintain this collection. (Second independent novel is due towards the end of this unit) 


 This brings us to Christmas break, which is 2 full weeks this year. Students will be asked to complete the reading of one novel from a small selection of books that are available at the school.  

Unit 4: 2+3 weeks – Short Fiction

NB - Because of the scheduling of our school year, students return from break and three weeks later, are in the midst of midterm exams; they are not in class that week of exams.  Students return to class for 2 weeks and are released for one week of February recess.  So, although these 5 weeks may seem a bitexcessive – the first three weeks will, additionally, incorporate NYS ELA preparation for midterm exams.

During these erratic weeks, we will study the fundamentals of fiction: plot, character, setting, POV, structure, 

voice, theme, etc.Some authors who will be studied are: Hawthorne, Oates, Jackson, Lawrence, Joyce,

Melville, Hurston, and Faulkner, among others. Students will be expected to apply the writing process to select

2 thematically-similar stories which they will critically compare and contrast. 

                        Unit 5: 7 weeks – Novel 

                       Here, students will read The Scarlet Letter and The Awakening.  We will focus on the feminine perspective and symbolism. In addition, we will study Great Expectations.  Students will pay attention to language, syntax and with all three novels – social and cultural values.  Students will write a couple of essays following an AP Q3 prompt and go through the planning process only for several Q3s. 

                        Unit 6: 2-3 weeks (ongoing throughout school-year)

These last couple of weeks will be dedicated to preparing for the AP English Lit and Comp exam. Students will practice timed sections of multiple choice and essay questions in order to gain a greater comfort level with their skills and potential for success on the exam.  (In addition, a final independent novel will be due during this time.)

 Unit 7: Mid-May – end of school year


These last several weeks will allow students to contemplate some personal values and create an essay modeled after This I Believe, Inc. Also, these students will be taking the NYS Regents ELA exam in June, so preparation for that will also occur.


These books will be readily available for student use.

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn – Mark Twain

The Awakening – Kate Chopin

The Scarlet Letter - Nathaniel Hawthorne

Great Expectations - Charles Dickens

Four Great Tragedies - William Shakespeare

Bless Me, Ultima - Rudolfo Anaya

Native Son - Richard Wright

How to Read Literature Like a Professor - Thomas Foster

Perrine’s Literature: Structure, Sound and Sense (9th ed.)

These books will be used as supplementary materials through the class.

Voice Lessons – Nancy Dean

SAT/vocabulary preparation materials