Is Ap Literature Worth It? A Comprehensive Look

With challenging coursework, a demanding exam, and hours spent analyzing complex texts, you may be wondering – is AP Literature really worth it? If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: AP Literature is worth it for motivated students looking to improve critical thinking skills and analyze literature at a college level. But it requires hard work and dedication. This in-depth guide will walk through all the pros, cons, and details to help you decide if AP Lit is right for you.

The Benefits of AP Literature

Improved Reading Comprehension

One of the key benefits of taking AP Literature is the improvement in reading comprehension skills. Through the rigorous curriculum and challenging texts, students are exposed to a wide range of literary genres and styles. This exposure helps them develop critical thinking abilities, analytical skills, and a deeper understanding of complex literary concepts. Studies have shown that students who take AP Literature have higher reading comprehension scores compared to their peers who do not take the course. According to a study conducted by the College Board, students who took AP Literature had an average score increase of 9.8% on the Reading section of the SAT.

Strengthened Writing Skills

Another significant benefit of AP Literature is the improvement in writing skills. The course requires students to analyze and interpret various literary works and express their ideas effectively in writing. Through extensive writing assignments, students learn how to construct coherent arguments, develop their own unique writing style, and refine their grammar and vocabulary. Research conducted by the National Center for Educational Statistics has shown that students who take AP Literature are more likely to perform well in college-level writing courses. This solid foundation in writing prepares students for success not only in college but also in their future careers.

College Prep and Credits

AP Literature serves as excellent preparation for college. The course is designed to mirror the rigor and expectations of a college-level literature class. By taking AP Literature, students gain valuable experience in managing their time, studying independently, and engaging in critical discussions. Additionally, many colleges and universities offer college credit and advanced standing to students who score well on the AP Literature exam. This can potentially save students time and money in college by allowing them to bypass introductory literature courses and enroll in more advanced coursework.

According to a survey conducted by the American Council on Education, more than 90% of colleges and universities in the United States offer credit, placement, or both, for qualifying AP exam scores. This means that students who excel in AP Literature may have the opportunity to enter college with credits already earned, giving them the flexibility to explore other subjects or graduate earlier. It’s important to note that each college has its own policy regarding AP credits, so students should research and understand the policies of the institutions they are interested in attending.

The Challenges of AP Literature

While pursuing AP Literature can be a rewarding experience, it is important to acknowledge the challenges that come with it. Students who take on this course may encounter a heavy reading load, difficult concepts and theories, and time-consuming assignments. However, with the right mindset and strategies, these challenges can be overcome.

Heavy Reading Load

One of the main challenges of AP Literature is the extensive amount of reading required. Students will delve into classic works of literature, ranging from Shakespearean plays to modern novels. This can initially seem overwhelming, but it is important to remember that each piece of literature offers valuable insights and perspectives. By breaking down the reading into manageable chunks and creating a study schedule, students can navigate through the heavy reading load more effectively. Additionally, joining study groups or online forums can provide valuable discussions and insights on the readings.

Difficult Concepts and Theories

Another challenge in AP Literature is understanding complex concepts and theories. Literary analysis requires a deep understanding of various literary devices, themes, and interpretations. It may involve deciphering symbolism, understanding different narrative techniques, or analyzing the historical and cultural context of a work. To overcome this challenge, students can actively engage in class discussions, take thorough notes, and seek clarification from their teachers. Utilizing online resources, such as reputable literary analysis websites or academic journals, can also provide additional insights and explanations.

Time Consuming Assignments

AP Literature often involves assignments that require significant time and effort. These may include in-depth essays, research projects, and critical analyses. To manage these assignments effectively, students should start early and break them down into smaller tasks. Creating a detailed outline before writing an essay can help organize thoughts and save time in the long run. Seeking feedback from teachers or peers can also improve the quality of assignments. Additionally, utilizing online writing resources, such as grammar and plagiarism checkers, can help enhance writing skills and ensure the completion of high-quality assignments.

Despite the challenges, AP Literature offers numerous benefits, including the development of critical thinking skills, improved writing abilities, and a deeper appreciation for literature. It provides an opportunity for students to explore and analyze various literary works, thereby expanding their knowledge and understanding of the world around them.

What’s Required for the AP Lit Course

Prerequisite Courses

Before enrolling in AP Literature, students typically need to complete a series of prerequisite courses. These courses are designed to provide a solid foundation in English language and literature. They may include courses such as English 9, 10, and 11, where students learn basic literary analysis skills and explore different genres of literature. These prerequisite courses help students develop the necessary skills and knowledge to tackle the rigorous curriculum of AP Literature.

Reading List

One of the highlights of the AP Literature course is the extensive reading list. Students are exposed to a wide range of literary works, including plays, novels, poems, and essays. Some examples of books that may be included in the reading list are “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen, “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee, and “Hamlet” by William Shakespeare. The reading list is carefully curated to expose students to different time periods, cultures, and writing styles, allowing them to develop a deep understanding and appreciation for literature.

Types of Assignments

In AP Literature, students are required to complete various types of assignments that help them analyze and interpret literary works. These assignments may include writing essays that analyze a specific theme or literary device used in a novel, completing close reading exercises to analyze the language and structure of a poem, or participating in class discussions to analyze character development in a play. The assignments are designed to enhance critical thinking skills, develop effective writing abilities, and foster a deeper understanding of the texts.

Practice Exams

Preparing for the AP Literature exam is a crucial part of the course. To help students succeed, practice exams are an integral part of the curriculum. These exams simulate the format and content of the actual AP exam, allowing students to become familiar with the types of questions they will encounter. By practicing with these exams, students can identify their strengths and weaknesses, refine their test-taking strategies, and gain confidence in their ability to perform well on the AP Literature exam.

The AP Literature Exam Format

Before deciding if AP Literature is worth it, it’s important to understand the format of the exam. The AP Literature exam is a comprehensive assessment of students’ understanding and analysis of literature. It consists of two sections: multiple choice questions and essay questions.

Multiple Choice Questions

The multiple choice section of the AP Literature exam tests students’ knowledge of various literary works. It includes passages from prose fiction, poetry, and drama, and requires students to analyze and interpret these texts. The questions may ask students to identify literary devices, analyze the author’s tone or style, or understand the overall meaning of a passage. This section accounts for 45% of the total exam score.

Essay Questions

The essay section of the AP Literature exam requires students to demonstrate their ability to analyze and interpret literary texts. Students are given prompts that ask them to write analytical essays about specific literary works. These essays require students to analyze the author’s choices, interpret the meaning of the text, and support their ideas with evidence from the text. This section accounts for 55% of the total exam score.


The AP Literature exam is scored on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest score. The multiple choice section is scored based on the number of correct answers, while the essay section is scored holistically by trained readers. The readers evaluate the essays based on the students’ ability to analyze and interpret the text, develop a coherent argument, and effectively communicate their ideas. The final score is a combination of the multiple choice and essay scores.

It’s worth noting that colleges and universities have different policies regarding AP exam scores. Some may award college credit or advanced placement for high scores, while others may require a certain score to waive introductory courses. It’s important for students to research the policies of their target schools to determine the value of AP Literature in their college plans.

AP Literature vs. Other AP English Courses

When it comes to Advanced Placement (AP) English courses, students often find themselves torn between options. Two popular choices are AP Literature and AP Language, both of which offer unique opportunities for students to develop their reading, writing, and critical thinking skills. Let’s take a closer look at how AP Literature compares to these other AP English courses.

AP Literature vs. AP Language

While both AP Literature and AP Language focus on English literature and composition, there are some key differences between the two courses. AP Literature primarily delves into the analysis of literary works, including novels, plays, and poems, with an emphasis on close reading and literary interpretation. On the other hand, AP Language focuses more on rhetorical analysis, argumentation, and synthesis of various types of texts, including non-fiction, speeches, and essays.

One of the main distinctions between AP Literature and AP Language lies in their respective exams. The AP Literature exam assesses students’ understanding of complex literary texts through multiple-choice questions, essays, and a critical analysis of a selected work. In contrast, the AP Language exam evaluates students’ ability to analyze and construct arguments, as well as their rhetorical and analytical writing skills.

It’s worth noting that while the content and skills covered in these courses may differ, both AP Literature and AP Language provide valuable preparation for college-level English courses. They equip students with the necessary skills to excel in reading, writing, and critical analysis.

AP Literature vs. AP Seminar

Another AP English course that students often consider is AP Seminar. Unlike AP Literature, which focuses solely on literature and composition, AP Seminar offers a unique interdisciplinary approach to research and inquiry-based learning. This course encourages students to explore real-world issues, develop research skills, and present their findings through written essays and oral presentations.

While AP Seminar offers a broader scope of study compared to AP Literature, the two courses share some similarities. Both courses require students to engage in critical thinking, analysis, and effective communication. Additionally, both courses provide students with valuable skills that are transferable to college and beyond.

Ultimately, the choice between AP Literature and other AP English courses depends on the individual student’s interests, strengths, and future goals. It’s important for students to consider their own passions and career aspirations when deciding which course to take. Additionally, students should consult with their teachers or guidance counselors for further guidance and support in making an informed decision.


With an intense curriculum, heavy reading load, and challenging exam, AP Literature requires commitment, discipline, and strong reading and writing skills. But for motivated students seeking a college-level literature analysis course, the benefits of improved reading comprehension, writing skills, and potential college credit make AP Literature worth considering.

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