beginning of content:

All schools that want to label a course “AP” must get authorization by going through the AP Course Audit. This means submitting two things:

  • A subject-specific AP Course Audit Form
  • A course syllabus

Teachers have the option to create their own syllabus or adopt one of the sample syllabi provided. A teacher-created syllabus is checked by our reviewers to ensure that the course fulfills the AP Program’s course-specific curricular and resource requirements.

We offer plenty of resources, below, to help teachers understand course requirements and create a syllabus that fulfills these.

Get Started

Sign In

Don’t have an account? Sign up.

Designing Your AP English Language and Composition Course

The AP English Literature and Composition course should be designed by your school to provide students with a learning experience equivalent to the introductory year of college literature coursework. Your course should engage students in the careful reading and critical analysis of literature. Through the close reading of literary texts, students deepen their understanding of the ways writers use language to provide both meaning and pleasure for their readers.

Students enrolling in AP English Literature and Composition are expected to have had training in reading and writing Standard English.

Getting to Know the Course and Exam

The key document for each AP course is the course and exam description. Start by reviewing it to understand the objectives and expectations of the AP course and exam.

Creating Your Syllabus

Use these resources to design your syllabus.


Download this document for more help creating your syllabus.

These four annotated sample AP English Literature and Composition syllabi show how the curricular requirements can be demonstrated in a syllabus and what level of detail you’ll need to include.

Your course must fulfill these requirements, and your syllabus should make it clear how the requirements will be addressed.

AP English Literature and Composition curricular requirements:

  • The teacher has read the most recent AP English Literature and Composition Course Description (.pdf/2.2MB).
  • The course includes an intensive study of representative works such as those by authors cited in the course description. (Note: The College Board does not mandate any particular authors or reading list.) The choice of works for the AP course is made by the school in relation to the school’s overall English curriculum sequence, so that by the time the student completes AP English Literature and Composition she or he will have studied during high school literature from both British and American writers, as well as works written in several genres from the sixteenth century to contemporary times. The works selected for the course should require careful, deliberative reading that yields multiple meanings.
  • The course teaches students to write an interpretation of a piece of literature that is based on a careful observation of textual details, considering the work’s:
    • Structure, style, and themes
    • The social and historical values it reflects and embodies
    • Such elements as the use of figurative language, imagery, symbolism, and tone
  • The course includes frequent opportunities for students to write and rewrite formal, extended analyses and timed, in-class responses. The course requires:
    • Writing to understand: Informal, exploratory writing activities that enable students to discover what they think in the process of writing about their reading (such assignments could include annotation, freewriting, keeping a reading journal, and response/reaction papers)
    • Writing to explain: Expository, analytical essays in which students draw upon textual details to develop an extended explanation/interpretation of the meanings of a literary text
    • Writing to evaluate: Analytical, argumentative essays in which students draw upon textual details to make and explain judgments about a work’s artistry and quality, and its social and cultural values
  • The AP teacher provides instruction and feedback on students’ writing assignments, both before and after the students revise their work, that help the students develop:
    • A wide-ranging vocabulary used appropriately and effectively
    • A variety of sentence structures, including appropriate use of subordination and coordination
    • Logical organization, enhanced by specific techniques to increase coherence, such as repetition, transitions, and emphasis
    • A balance of generalization and specific, illustrative detail
    • An effective use of rhetoric, including controlling tone, establishing and maintaining voice, and achieving appropriate emphasis through diction and sentence structure

AP English Literature and Composition resource requirements:

The school ensures that each student has a copy of all required readings for individual use inside and outside the classroom. 

The list below represents examples of textbooks that meet the curricular requirements of AP English Literature and Composition. The list below is not exhaustive and the texts listed should not be regarded as endorsed, authorized, recommended, or approved by the College Board. Not using a book from this list does not mean that a course will not receive authorization. Syllabi submitted as part of the AP Course Audit process will be evaluated holistically, with textbooks considered along with supplementary, supporting resources to confirm that the course as a whole provides students with the content delineated in the curricular requirements of the AP Course Audit.

The specified editions of the following textbooks meet the AP English Literature and Composition Course Audit curricular requirements. Earlier editions of these texts or other textbooks not listed here may meet the AP Course Audit curricular requirements if supplemented with appropriate college-level instructional resources. For discussions regarding the usefulness of these texts and other teaching materials in the AP English Literature and Composition classroom, please consult the Resource section of the AP English Teacher Community.


  • Abcarian, R., M. Klotz, and S. Cohen, eds. Literature: The Human Experience. 11th edition. Bedford/St. Martin’s.
  • Arp, Thomas, and Greg Johnson, eds. Perrine’s Literature: Structure, Sound & Sense. 11th edition. Cengage Learning.
  • Baym, Nina, et al., eds. The Norton Anthology of American Literature. 8th edition. W. W. Norton.
  • Charters, Ann, and Samuel Charters, eds. Literature and Its Writers. 6th edition. Bedford/St. Martin’s.
  • Damrosch, David, et al., eds. The Longman Anthology of British Literature. 4th edition. Longman.
  • Greenblatt, Stephen, et al., eds. The Norton Anthology of English Literature: The Major Authors. 9th edition. W. W. Norton.
  • Hunt, Douglas, ed. The Riverside Anthology of Literature. 3rd edition. Cengage Learning.
  • Jago, Carol, Renee H. Shea, Lawrence Scanlon, and Robin Dissin Aufses. Literature & Composition: Reading, Writing, Thinking. 1st edition. Bedford/St. Martin’s.
  • Kennedy, X. J., and Dana Goia, eds. Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, Drama and Writing. 12th edition. Longman.
  • Kirszner, Laurie G., and Stephen R. Mandell, eds. Literature: Reading, Reacting, Writing. 8th edition. Cengage Learning.
  • Landy, Alice, and William R. Allen, eds. The Heath Introduction to Literature. 6th edition. Cengage Learning.
  • Lawall, Sarah N., et al., eds. The Norton Anthology of World Literature, 2nd edition. W. W, Norton.
  • Mays, Kelly J., ed. The Norton Introduction to Literature. 11th edition. W. W. Norton.
  • McMichael, George, et al., eds. The Anthology of American Literature. 10th edition. Longman.
  • McQuade, Donald, et al., eds. The Harper American Literature. 3rd edition. Longman.
  • Meyer, Michael, ed. The Bedford Introduction to Literature: Reading, Thinking, Writing. 10th edition. Bedford/St. Martin’s.
  • Meyer, Michael, ed. Literature to Go, 2nd Edition. Bedford/St. Martin’s.
  • Roberts, Edgar V., and Robert Zweig, eds. Literature: An Introduction to Reading and Writing. 10th edition. Longman.
  • Schwiebert, John E, ed. Reading and Writing from Literature. 3rd edition. Cengage Learning.

Poetry Anthologies

  • Arp, Thomas, and Greg Johnson, eds. Perrine’s Sound and Sense: An Introduction to Poetry. 14th edition. Cengage Learning.
  • DiYanni, Robert, and Kraft Rompf, eds. The McGraw-Hill Book of Poetry. 1st edition. McGraw-Hill.
  • Ferguson, Margaret, et al., eds. The Norton Anthology of Poetry. 5th edition. W. W. Norton.
  • Hunter, J. Paul, et al., eds. The Norton Introduction to Poetry. 9th edition. W. W. Norton.
  • Macmillan Literature Heritage — The English Tradition: Poetry. McGraw-Hill.
  • Meyer, Michael, ed. Poetry: An Introduction. 7th edition. Bedford/St. Martin’s.
  • Pinsky, Robert, and Maggie Dietz, eds. An Invitation to Poetry: A New Favorite Poem Project Anthology. W. W. Norton.
  • Ramazani, Jahan, et al., eds. The Norton Anthology of Modern and Contemporary Poetry. 3rd edition. W. W. Norton.
  • Strand, Mark, and Eavan Boland. The Making of a Poem: A Norton Anthology of Poetic Forms. W. W. Norton.
  • Vendler, Helen, ed. Poems, Poets, and Poetry. 3rd edition. Bedford/St. Martin’s.

Fiction Anthologies

  • Arp, Thomas, and Greg Johnson, eds. Perrine’s Story & Structure. 14th edition. Cengage Learning.
  • Beaty, Jerome, ed. The Norton Introduction to the Short Novel. 3rd edition. W. W. Norton.
  • Bohner, Charles H., and Lyman Grant, eds. Short Fiction: Classic and Contemporary. 6th edition. Longman.
  • Cassill, R. V., and Richard Bausch, eds. The Norton Anthology of Short Fiction. 7th edition. W. W. Norton.
  • Cassill, R. V., and Joyce Carol Oates, eds. The Norton Anthology of Contemporary Fiction. 2nd edition. W. W. Norton.
  • Charters, Ann, ed. The Story and Its Writer. 8th edition. Bedford/St. Martin’s.
  • DiYanni, Robert, ed. Literature: Approaches to Fiction, Poetry, and Drama. 2nd edition. McGraw-Hill.

Guides to Writing about Literature

  • Axelrod, Rise B., and Charles R. Cooper. St. Martin’s Guide to Writing. 10th edition. Bedford/St. Martin’s.
  • Barnet, Sylvan, William E. Cain, and William Burto. Literature for Composition. 10th edition. Pearson/Longman.
  • Barnet, Sylvan, and William E. Cain. A Short Guide to Writing about Literature. 12th edition. Pearson/Longman.
  • McMahan, Elizabeth, et al. Literature and the Writing Process. 10th edition. Longman.
  • Ramage, Joseph, et al. Allyn & Bacon Guide to Writing. 6th edition. Longman.
  • Roberts, Edgar V. Writing about Literature. 13th edition. Longman.
  • Schwiebert, John E., ed. Reading and Writing from Literature. 3rd edition. Cengage Learning.
  • Trimmer, Joseph F. The New Writing with a Purpose. 14th edition. Cengage Learning.

Before you submit your syllabus, use this checklist to make sure it has all the elements required.