AP Literature and AP Language: Choosing the Right AP Class for You

AP Literature Vs AP Language

Both AP classes require extensive reading and writing assignments. Which one you choose should primarily depend on what your interests are and what you plan to major in college.

AP Literature has lower pass rates and 5 rates, but it may also be easier to do well in than AP Language. The difference between the two exams lies in their content and structure.

What is AP Literature?

AP literature is a course in which students study fiction and poetry. They will write analytical essays that focus on particular properties of a work, such as tone, imagery, and characterization. The class also teaches students to deconstruct arguments through close reading of nonfiction pieces.

Both AP language and AP lit require extensive reading and writing skills, and they are challenging exams to pass. Students should consider their future career paths, academic strengths and weaknesses, and preferences for different types of writing when deciding whether to take either of these courses.

The College Board offers sample syllabi for both of these classes, which can help students determine if they are interested in the material and can perform well in the course. In most high schools, students take AP language in their 11th grade (junior) year and AP lit in their 12th grade (senior) year. Some students, however, choose to take a mix of both AP courses and switch between the two every year.

What is AP Language?

AP language teaches students to analyze non-fiction texts like essays, autobiographies, memoirs, journalism, and even satire. This course is great for those interested in the humanities or social sciences, but it can also be helpful for those planning on pursuing engineering in college.

Compared to AP literature, AP language is more difficult. Its pass and 5 rate is lower, which means that it’s more challenging to score a high enough score to earn college credit.

However, it’s important to note that the pass and 5 rates of any AP exam can be misleading. It depends on a variety of factors, including student study habits and academic strengths and weaknesses. It’s best to choose a class that aligns with your interests, rather than trying to fit into an academic mold. This will help you do better in the class and be more likely to succeed on the AP exam. Then you can be on your way to a bright future.

Which is More Difficult?

You can prepare for either class by practicing for the multiple choice sections of the exam with practice tests or by using timed essay prompts online. Both courses also require you to write many essays, both argumentative and analytical. You’ll need to know how to write various types of essays and have some knowledge of English grammar (like ad hominem arguments) and speech vocab for AP Language, while you’ll need to understand literary properties (tone, imagery, characterization, etc) when writing analytical essays for AP Literature.

AP Literature is more difficult because it requires you to study and understand longer literary works. This course is usually taken by students who plan on majoring in English or the arts and humanities, but AP Lang is popular with future business or engineering majors too because the skills learned in this class are widely applicable. Whether you take AP Lit or AP Lang, both classes will challenge you and make you a better writer.

Which is Better for College?

AP Literature and AP Language are both challenging courses, with less than 10% of test-takers getting a 5. The choice between the two depends on your interests. If you are more interested in reading and writing, take AP Lit.

Both AP Literature and AP Lang require you to analyze literature and poetry, and write analytical essays about them. The difference is that AP Literature requires you to analyze literary properties like tone, imagery, and characterization to understand broader themes in the work.

AP Lang requires you to understand rhetorical strategies like argumentation and persuasion in nonfiction reading. This type of analysis can help you make informed decisions in your future career, especially if you plan to major in a subject like political science or economics.

Both classes are equivalent to college English 101 courses, and if you earn a score of four or five on the AP exam in May, you will receive college credit. Whichever class you choose, make sure to practice and time yourself when taking a practice multiple-choice section. This will help you combat test fatigue on exam day!

Click further for more knowledge

Read More

Analyzing literature through examples and techniques.

Literature Essay Example

A good literature essay example will support your argument with evidence from the text. This evidence may come in the form of direct quotes, paraphrases, and summaries. It is important not to take this evidence out of context.

This sample literary essay analyzes the theme of disillusionment in John Steinbeck’s novel. This essay would be a great example to use when writing about how a character’s worldview is formed.

Thesis Statement

A good literary essay has a clear thesis statement that outlines the overarching argument to be made in the paper. Oftentimes, the thesis is an interpretation of the literary work or it may draw parallels between some element in the literary text and real-life situations.

A strong thesis statement clearly identifies the subject of the essay, takes a position on the issue that is debatable and makes a claim that is significant. The essay then demonstrates and proves this position throughout the writing with details from the literary work.

For example, a literary essay about Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn might focus on how the novel reveals the American democratic ideals of freedom by contrasting river and shore scenes. This sample English essay from a college tutoring service is a great model for how to develop a thesis statement. It also provides examples of how to use the quotes from the text to demonstrate and support your argument.


A good essay begins with a compelling introduction that grabs attention and brings immediate focus to the point that the essay will prove. This could be through a thought-provoking sentence, captivating statistics, or a relevant quote. A clear thesis statement should be included at the end of the introduction so that each point in the essay supports and relates back to this thesis.

This example high school AP English essay uses forceful commentary to discuss how the character Jay Gatsby represents America’s misguided approach to wealth and success. The author also includes short but significant textual references to support this argument.

This essay example demonstrates a well-organized structure by clearly establishing the literary text being discussed in the introduction, providing background information for this work of literature, and stating a clear thesis that will be proven in the body paragraphs. It also uses clear transitions to make it easy for the reader to move from one topic sentence to the next.

Body Paragraphs

The conclusion and final paragraphs of a literature essay serve to summarize the main points of your argument and restate your thesis. A strong conclusion is a powerful way to convince your reader that you have made an informed and persuasive argument regarding the literary work.

The first sentence of a body paragraph acts as the topic sentence, introducing what your argument will be about. Your supporting sentences should then expand on the topic and support your thesis with empirical data, logical deduction, deliberate persuasion or expert testimony.

It is important to use transitions between your support sentences, allowing the reader to follow your logic as you move from one point to the next. Also, your supporting sentences should include evidence that backs up your claim, including direct quotes, paraphrased facts and narratives.


After a lot of hard work, it’s finally time to write the final sentences in your essay. Your conclusion should restate your thesis statement and broaden the scope of your argument. This is a delicate balance; it’s easy to end up doing nothing more than simple summary and restatement.

A good conclusion should also make your audience want to think about the topic in broader ways. For example, it might prompt them to consider the significance of your argument or its implications in their own lives.

Eagleton explains that a definition of literature is elusive because people have different perspectives on what constitutes “literature.” For instance, one person might consider a novel to be “literature” while another might think it’s just plain writing.

Get to the home screen

Read More