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Getting to Know the AP English Literature and Composition Course

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 course and exam.

AP English Literature and Composition Course and Exam Description


Your course must fulfill these requirements.

AP English Literature and Composition curricular requirements:

  • The course is structured by unit, theme, genre, or other organizational approach that provides opportunities to engage with the big ideas throughout the course: Character, Setting, Structure, Narration, Figurative Language, Literary Argumentation.
  • The course includes works of short fiction, poetry, and longer fiction or drama from the range of literary periods (pre-20th century and 20th/21st centuries).
  • The course provides opportunities for students to develop the skills in the following skill categories:
    • Skill Category 1: Explain the function of character
    • Skill Category 2: Explain the function of setting
    • Skill Category 3: Explain the function of plot and structure
    • Skill Category 4: Explain the function of the narrator or speaker
    • Skill Category 5: Explain the function of word choice, imagery, and symbols
    • Skill Category 6: Explain the function of comparison
    • Skill Category 7: Develop textually substantiated arguments about interpretations of a portion or whole text
  • The course provides opportunities for students to write essays that proceed through multiple stages or drafts, including opportunities for conferring and collaborating with the teacher and/or peers.

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 is not exhaustive and the texts listed should not be regarded as endorsed, authorized, recommended, or approved by 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 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 current editions of the following textbooks meet the 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. While every effort is made to keep this list current, it can take a few months for newly published titles and revised editions to be reviewed.

For discussions regarding the usefulness of these texts and other teaching materials in the AP English Literature and Composition classroom, please consult the AP English Teacher Community.


  • Arp, Thomas, and Greg Johnson, eds. Perrine’s Literature: Structure, Sound & Sense. 11th edition. Cengage Learning. 2012.
  • Charters, Ann, and Samuel Charters, eds. Literature and Its Writers. 6th edition. Bedford/St. Martin’s. 2012.
  • Jago, Carol, Renee H. Shea, Lawrence Scanlon, and Robin Dissin Aufses. Literature & Composition: Reading, Writing, Thinking. 1st edition. Bedford/St. Martin’s. 2017.
  • Kennedy, X. J., and Dana Goia, eds. Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, Drama and Writing. 12th edition. Longman. 2012.
  • Kirszner, Laurie G., and Stephen R. Mandell, eds. Literature: Reading, Reacting, Writing. 8th edition. Cengage Learning. 2012.
  • Mays, Kelly J., ed. The Norton Introduction to Literature. 11th edition. W. W. Norton. 2012.
  • McMichael, George, et al., eds. The Anthology of American Literature. 10th edition. Longman. 2010.
  • McQuade, Donald, et al., eds. Harper American Literature. 3rd edition. Pearson. 1998.
  • Meyer, Michael, ed. The Bedford Introduction to Literature: Reading, Thinking, Writing. 10th edition. Bedford/St. Martin’s. 2013.
  • Meyer, Michael, ed. Literature to Go. 2nd edition. Bedford/St. Martin’s. 2013
  • Roberts, Edgar V., and Robert Zweig, eds. Literature: An Introduction to Reading and Writing. 10th edition. Longman. 2011.
  • Schwiebert, John E, ed. Reading and Writing from Literature. 3rd edition. Cengage Learning. 2004.


  • Arp, Thomas, and Greg Johnson, eds. Perrine’s Sound and Sense: An Introduction to Poetry. 14th edition. Cengage Learning. 2013.
  • DiYanni, Robert, and Kraft Rompf, eds. The McGraw-Hill Book of Poetry. 1st edition. McGraw-Hill. 1993.
  • Meyer, Michael, ed. Poetry: An Introduction. 7th edition. Bedford/St. Martin’s. 2012.
  • Vendler, Helen, ed. Poems, Poets, and Poetry. 3rd edition. Bedford/St. Martin’s. 2009.

Handbooks, Style Guides, and Grammar Texts

  • Arp, Thomas, and Greg Johnson, eds. Perrine’s Story & Structure. 14th edition. Cengage Learning. 2014.
  • Beaty, Jerome, ed. The Norton Introduction to the Short Novel. 3rd edition. W. W. Norton. 1999.
  • Bohner, Charles H., and Lyman Grant, eds. Short Fiction: Classic and Contemporary. 6th edition. Longman. 2005.
  • Cassill, R. V., and Richard Bausch, eds. The Norton Anthology of Short Fiction. 7th edition. W. W. Norton. 2006.
  • Cassill, R. V., and Joyce Carol Oates, eds. The Norton Anthology of Contemporary Fiction. 2nd edition. W. W. Norton. 1997.
  • Charters, Ann, ed. The Story and Its Writer. 8th edition. Bedford/St. Martin’s. 2010.
  • DiYanni, Robert, ed. Literature: Approaches to Fiction, Poetry, and Drama. 2nd edition. McGraw-Hill. 2006.
  • Axelrod, Rise B., and Charles R. Cooper. St. Martin’s Guide to Writing. 10th edition. Bedford/St. Martin’s. 2013.
  • Barnet, Sylvan, William E. Cain, and William Burto. Literature for Composition. 10th edition. Pearson. 2013.
  • Barnet, Sylvan, and William E. Cain. A Short Guide to Writing about Literature. 12th edition. Pearson. 2011.
  • McMahan, Elizabeth, et al. Literature and the Writing Process. 10th edition. Longman. 2013.
  • Ramage, Joseph, et al. Allyn & Bacon Guide to Writing. 6th edition. Longman. 2011.
  • Roberts, Edgar V. Writing about Literature. 13th edition. Pearson. 2011.
  • Trimmer, Joseph F. The New Writing with a Purpose. 14th edition. Cengage Learning. 2009.

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

AP English Literature and Composition Sample Syllabus 1 (.pdf/465KB)

Review this document for help creating your syllabus.

Syllabus Development Guide: AP English Literature and Composition (.pdf/174.25 KB)

This resource includes the guidelines reviewers use to evaluate syllabi along with three samples of evidence for each requirement. This guide also specifies the level of detail required in the syllabus to receive course authorization.

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