AP Information and Guide

Welcome to AP Literature and Composition


This course is the culmination of years of planning and teaching experience. You will be receiving an education that has been specifically designed to advantage you well after your formal education has ended. Much of the material we will discuss is post-graduate in nature.

We will explore in depth some of the most influential and profoundly important literature ever written. For many of you this will be your only exposure to the various characters, issues and ideas presented and it is my desire that you embrace our experiences, interpretations and evaluations as you journey into adult life. The characters we will meet and the issues they face are simply unforgettable. They hold, as Hamlet stated, a “mirror up to nature.”

          The purpose of the course is to prepare you for the AP exam. Your success on the exam depends on your ability to experience, interpret, and evaluate literature; to that end, we will follow the curricular recommendations of the AP English Committee in the Course Description for AP Literature and Composition (http://apcentral.collegeboard.com).

        We will read the giants of literature deliberately and thoroughly. I believe a world class education involves the active exchange of ideas and to that end I encourage you to engage in thoughtful discussion. We will write on EVERYTHING we read.

         The course is designed primarily as a seminar to promote more intimate discussions and closer analysis.  Of course, your success depends largely on your contributions.  You must be actively (in an existential sense) involved in the reading and discussions.  I have a website for the class (posted on the board) as well as a Prezi account where notes for much of what we cover can be accessed and will require you at times to copy the notes to bring to class.


Major Quarterly Assignments

In-Class Essays (ICE)—Students will spend 40 minutes to 1 hour writing under time pressure.  These will be either AP writing prompts or literary passage analyses.  Students should follow the style sheet for in-class essays.


Formal Presentations—Students will collaborate on a formal presentation each quarter.  Groups will be assigned during the first quarter, and they will collaborate on presentations and other activities throughout the course.  The presentations will be analytical in nature but will also incorporate student creativity.


Portfolio Checks—Students will submit portfolios for evaluation twice per quarter.  Entries in these portfolios include work


Literature Tests and Quizzes—Most of our tests are reading checks, which require students to identify the speaker of a quote from the assigned literature or to identify the person or place being described.  Other types of questions may also be included.  A quiz bank is usually included; however, some choices may be used more than once, and some may not be used at all.  The quizzes may seem difficult early in the year because they require serious preparation through close reading and annotation.  They do not reward students who read too quickly or who resort to short cuts, such as Cliffs Notes or Spark Notes, as a substitute for reading the original text.  Close reading is one of the most important skills being tested on the Advanced Placement Exam; therefore, we expect students to work diligently to improve this skill over the course of the school year.  Quizzes incorporate SAT and ACT vocabulary, as well as literature terms to help grasp the stylistic devices used in an author’s work.

AP Multiple Choice Practice Tests & Exercises –Students will practice answering questions similar to those on Advanced Placement Language & Composition Exams.  Students will be graded on effort, improvement over time, and accuracy.


Participation—Students will be graded for their participation in discussions led by both the instructor and the students.  The goal in literary discussions will be to support student insights and assertions with specific details from the text.

Policies and Procedures:



Presentations:  15%   Quizzes:          10%     Tests:  15%                  ICE:   20%                

Seminar: 15%             AP Practice:    10%     Homework (Inc. Binder):     15%


 Your grades, otherwise known as “opportunities for academic greatness,” will be determined on a point system. Each quiz, timed writing assignment, etc. will be given a point value. To calculate your grade, I will divide the total points you earn by the total points assigned.


Paper assignments carry the most weight and are critically important. You will never write an essay you aren’t prepared for or given sufficient time to complete. Consequently, late papers will not be accepted. Due dates are non-negotiable. It is your responsibility to take deadlines seriously. This is how it works at the next level and it is incumbent upon me to help teach personal responsibility. Every major essay for this class is “an enterprise of great pitch and moment.”  Subsequently, printer and technology issues are not my problem and should be taken care of before class.

All major papers should follow the MLA format.


Attendance:   The general rule is this: show up and pay attention.  You won’t learn unless you’re here. Expectations for your attendance are especially high. The DHS attendance policy will be strictly enforced! Besides, you really do want to be here. This stuff is too good to miss.


Class Participation: To paraphrase Martin Heidegger, be verbs not nouns! AP Lit is a seminar class and your involvement is crucial to your success.  I expect you to participate actively and be attentive and engaged in class discussions.  Give every assignment your best effort.  We cannot have an effective discussion if you have not completed the assigned reading.



Section Two:



Each quarter, students will be evaluated with quizzes and writing assignments as well as a quarter test covering Notes & Terms, assigned and Out-of-Class literature.  The semester exam will include a modified AP Exam and an analytical essay.  The final exam will adhere to the school’s policy. Major course evaluations consist of the following:

AP Multiple Choice

Throughout the year you will be required to do AP Literature multiple choice questions. They will be scored based on the correct number of questions answered out of 55.  Once each student has a multiple choice average, I will begin to grade based on improvement regarding literary terminology and skills.



AP English Literature and Composition 9-point Rubric


These well-focused and persuasive essays address the prompt directly and in a convincing manner.  An essay scored a 9 demonstrates exceptional insight and language facility.  An essay scored an 8 or a 9 combines adherence to the topic with excellent organization, content, insight, facile use of language, mastery of mechanics, and an understanding of the essential components of an effective essay.  Literary devices and/or techniques are not merely listed, but the effect of those devices and/or techniques is addressed in context of the passage, poem, or novel as a whole.  Although not without flaws, these essays are richly detailed and stylistically resourceful, and they connect the observations to the passage, poem, or novel as a whole.  Descriptors that come to mind while reading this essay include: mastery, sophisticated, complex, specific, consistent, and well-supported.

If you work at this level, you have achieved critical thinking at the synthesis and evaluation levels of Bloom’s taxonomy.  This means you put together the literary elements you have broken the piece into (through analysis), and present to your reader a sophisticated, critical understanding of the literature that indicates you have a clearly developed aesthetic or rhetorical sense regarding the piece.  Your inferences are well-reasoned and thoroughly developed, demonstrating that you have been “moved” in some way by the piece and have a powerful response to it.



These highly competent essays comprehend the task set forth by the prompt and respond to it directly, although some of the analysis may be implicit rather than explicit.  The 7 essay is in many ways a thinner version of the 9-8 paper in terms of discussion and supporting details, but it is still impressive, cogent, and generally convincing.  It may also be less well-handled in terms of organization, insight, or vocabulary.  Descriptors that come to mind while reading these essays include: demonstrates a clear understanding but is less precise and less well-supported than a 9-8 paper.  These essays demonstrate an adherence to the task, but deviate from course on occasion.  The mechanics are sound, but may contain a few errors which may distract but do not obscure meaning.  Although there may be a few minor misreadings, the inferences are for the most part accurate with no significant sustained misreadings.  An essay that scores a 6 is an upper-half paper, but it may be deficient in one of the essentials mentioned above.  It may be less mature in thought or less well-handled in terms of organization, syntax or mechanics.  The analysis is somewhat more simplistic than found in a 7 essay, and lacks sustained, mature analysis.

If you work at this level, you have achieved critical thinking at the analysis level of Bloom’s taxonomy.  This means you have broken the material down into its constituent literary parts and detected relationships of the parts and of the way they are organized.  However, your inferences are not as insightful and well-developed as an 8 – 9 essay.



These essays may be overly simplistic in analysis, or rely almost exclusively on paraphrase rather than specific, textual examples.  These essays may provide a plausible reading, but the analysis is implicit rather than explicit.  These essays might provide a list of literary devices present in the literature, but make no effort to discuss the effect that these devices have on the poem, passage, or novel as a whole.  Descriptors that come to mind when reading include: superficial, vague, and mechanical.  The language is simplistic and the insight is limited or lacking in development.

If you work at this level, you have achieved comprehension of the material and some analysis, but your analysis is not sufficiently developed. 



These lower-half essays compound the problems found in the 5 essay.  They often demonstrate significant sustained misreadings, and provide little or no analysis.  They maintain the general idea of the writing assignment, show some sense of organization, but are weak in content, maturity of thought, language facility, and/or mechanics.  They may distort the topic or fail to deal adequately with one or more important aspects of the topic.  Essays that are particularly poorly written may be scored a 3.  Descriptors that come to mind while reading include: incomplete, oversimplified, meager, irrelevant, and insufficient.

If you work at this level,  you have achieved comprehension of the material but you have not moved into higher level thinking skills.  You are not making insightful, developed inferences through careful analysis of the text.



These essays make an attempt to deal with the topic but demonstrate serious weakness in content and coherence and/or syntax and mechanics.  Often, they are unacceptably short.  They are poorly written on several counts, including numerous distracting errors in mechanics, and/or little clarity, coherence, or supporting evidence.  Wholly vacuous, inept, and mechanically unsound essays should be scored a 1.


ALL essays will be receiving a score of 1-9. For purposes of recording this in the gradebook, I have adopted the following percentages as approximations:


9 = 98%     8 = 91%     7 = 86%     6 = 83%     5 = 73%    4 = 63%      3 = 40%     2 = 20%     1 = 10%     - = 0%

AP Essays

The AP exam contains a 60-minute multiple choice section consisting of 55 questions and a 120-minute free response section (consisting of three questions). The two sections are designed to complement each other and measure a wide range of critical reading and writing skills. Each free response question is designed for students to demonstrate their ability to understand and interpret by discussing a text’s form and content, to respond personally to a literary text, and to write a coherent and persuasive essay. The types of free response essays you will be asked to complete include:


1.  an essay on poetry in which you are to COMPARE/CONTRAST the poems and are asked to consider literary elements such as point of view, imagery, structure, etc.


2. an essay on a prose passage in which you are to ANALYZE the author/speaker and consider literary elements such as tone, diction, syntax, point of view, etc.


3.  a response essay to a (or several) work of literary merit where you are to ANALYZE the central question(s) or theme(s) that the work raises and consider the social impact that your chosen novels will have in common.




Formal Presentations

All presentations should include an “introduction, body, and conclusion”—as any essay would.  In the “introduction,” the group should ingratiate themselves with their audience and inform them of their thesis.  Individuals should follow with clear “topic sentences” for their portion of the presentation.  Your presentation should also have a logical flow to it, with easily identified “paragraphs.”  The conclusion should remind the audience of the major points, reflect on the significance of the arguments, and relate to the lives of the listeners.  Creative, entertaining, and engaging presentations are always preferable to dry and boring lectures. 


**Responsibilities of the Presenters:

1. The group collaborates on the oral presentation and should select a facilitator and fairly divide responsibilities.  (Everyone must contribute, and everyone must talk.)

2. The group submits 2 copies of a typed outline (one for the instructor, one for the group).  The outline should reflect the organizational strategy discussed above.

3. The group moderates a discussion (the audience has an assignment, too.)

4. The group prepares at least one visual aide (poster, overhead, handout, model, PowerPoint, etc.) to help the audience understand the key points.  The visual aid should identify the characters, themes, and techniques that the group is covering.  Other multimedia aids might also be useful, but don’t let these take away from the academic purpose of the presentation.

Most importantly, and most difficultly, your task is to make this presentation interesting. Few actions will lose more points than a dull, long-winded reading of a PowerPoint to a classroom. Make this engaging.






As this is a college class, students are expected to be responsible enough to remember writing utensils, paper, and textbooks.  Each student is required to bring a binder and dividers.  Throughout the year, students will categorize and organize the binder into the following, LABELED, sections:


-Daily Work


-AP Multiple Choice Tests & AP Essays

-Socratic Seminar Notes

-Graded Work

-Grammar Journal



Also, students will need to keep the following items on hand:


-Pen (Black and Blue Ink ONLY)



-Sticky Notes

-Flash drive

Students may use pencil for everyday assignments, however, all timed essays must be written in blue or black ink ONLY, as the AP exam is written in ink with only blue and black ink allowed.  It will be for the benefit of the student to keep a ready supply of pens in their binders.


                                                *Denotes Works that Must be Borrowed, Bought, or Printed from the Internet

                                                ^Denotes Works found in Textbook (page number of work in Bedford textbook)


1st Semester: Nature Vs. Nurture -Imperialistic Response/ Nature of Evil-Characterization and Identity


The Bedford Introduction to Literature

Harbrace Handbook



*Edith Hamilton’s Mythology

*Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness

*William Shakespeare’s The Tempest

*Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart (School Library Class Set)-MUST BE READ BY DAY 14!

John Swift’s “A Modest Proposal”  (Handout)

General Prologue of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales (Handout)

^ William Shakespeare’s Hamlet (1585)

* William Shakespeare’s Macbeth

Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead (Film)


^Langston Hughes’s       “The Negro Speaks of Rivers” (1134)

^Matthew Arnold’s        “Dover Beach” (843)

^William Stafford’s          “Traveling through the Dark” (903)

^ Andrew Marvell’s        “To His Coy Mistress”  (812)

Rudyard Kipling’s             “The White Man’s Burden” (Handout)

William Woodsworth’s *The Prelude Book I.I-II.

                                                ^“My Heart Leaps Up” (950)

                                                *“We Are Seven”

                                                *“Ode: Intimations of Immortality”

Robert Burns’s                  *“A Song for a’ That”

                                                *“My Love is Like a Red, Red Rose”

William Blake’s                  ^“The Chimney Sweeper” (912)

                                                ^“The Garden of Love” (131)

                                                ^“The Lamb” (961)

                                                ^“London” (850)

Samuel Coleridge             ^”Kubla Khan” (1321)

                                                *“The Rime of the Ancient Mariner”

John Keats                          ^“La Belle Dame sans Merci” (1335)

                                                ^“Ode to a Nightingale” (942)                                    

Percy Bysshe Shelley      ^“Ode to the West Wind” (993)

                                                *“England in 1819”


2nd Semester: Domesticity in Literature—Societies Ideas of Gender Roles and Identity/Real and Absurd

Plays/Novels/Essays/Short Stories

*Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre-MUST BE READ OVER WINTER BREAK

^Henrik Ibsen’s ^A Doll’s House (1709)

^Kate Chopin’s “The Story of an Hour” (15)

^Susan Glaspell’s ^Trifles(1366)

*Margaret Atwood’s A Handmaid’s Tale

^Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot-MUST BE READ OVER SPRING BREAK

Nathanial Hawthorne’s ^“Young Goodman Brown” (402)

                                                ^“The Minister’s Black Veil” (411)

                                                *“Rappaccini’s Daughter”

Flannery O’Conner’s      ^“A Good Man is Hard to Find” (449)

                                                ^“Good Country People”(460)

                                                ^“Revelation” (474)

William Faulkner’s           ^“A Rose for Emily (91)

                                                ^“Barn Burning” (503)

James Joyce’s                    ^“Eveline” (536)

Alice Walker’s                    ^“The Flowers” (82)

                                                ^“Roselily” (253)

^“A Nineteenth Century Husband’s Letter to his Wife” (1765)





Alfred Tennyson’s           *“In Memorium” poems #54-56/ 1 and 7

                                                ^ “Charge of the Light Brigade” (965)

                                                ^“Crossing the Bar” (785)

                                                ^“Ulysses” (1347)

                                                *“The Lotos-Eaters”

                                                *“Flower in the Crannied Wall”

                                                *“The Lady of Shallot

Thomas Hardy’s                ^”Hap” (1326)

                                                ^”The Convergence of the Twain” (818)

                                                *”Channel Firing”

                                                *”The Darkling Thrush”

                                                *”The Ruined Maid”

Rudyard Kipling’s             *"Recessional”

Elizabeth Browning’s      *”The Cry of Children

Robert Browning’s          *“Prospice”

                                                ^”My Last Duchess” (910)

                                                *”Porphyria’s Lover”

Gerard Hopkins’s             ^”God’s Grandeur” (929)

                                                ^”Pied Beauty” (1329)

                                                ^”The Windhover” (1330)

Christina Rossetti             *”Goblin’s Market”