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Important Updates

2021 Exam Information
AP English Literature and Composition Exams will be offered on paper in early May and as a digital exam in late May and early June.

The paper and the digital versions of the AP English Literature and Composition Exam will be full length, containing the typical multiple-choice and free-response sections and covering the full scope of course content, giving students the opportunity to qualify for college credit and placement.

There are differences between the paper and digital versions of some 2021 AP Exams, and those variations differ by course. The information below applies to AP English Literature and Composition only. View a summary of all 2021 AP Exam formats.

Learn more about 2021 testing.

AP Daily and AP Classroom
Short, searchable AP Daily videos can be assigned alongside topic questions to help you cover all course content, skills, and task models, and check student understanding. Unlock personal progress checks so students can demonstrate their knowledge and skills unit by unit and use the progress dashboard to highlight progress and additional areas for support. As the exam approaches, assign AP practice exams in the AP Classroom question bank and encourage students to take advantage of AP Daily: Live Review sessions April 19–29.

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Exam Overview

Exam questions assess the course concepts and skills outlined in the course framework. For more information, download the AP English Literature and Composition Course and Exam Description (CED).

Encourage your students to visit the AP English Literature and Composition student page for exam information.

Exam Dates

  • Event
    • WED, MAY 5, 2021, 8 AM LOCAL

    AP English Literature and Composition Exam—Administration 1

    Paper, In School
    •  
  • Event
    • TUE, May 18, 2021, 12 PM EDT

    AP English Literature and Composition Exam—Administration 2

    Digital, In School and At Home
    •  
  • Event
    • TUE, Jun 1, 2021, 12 PM EDT

    AP English Literature and Composition Exam—Administration 3

    Digital, In School and At Home
    •  

Exam Format

The AP English Literature and Composition Exam has consistent question types, weighting, and scoring guidelines every year, so you and your students know what to expect on exam day. There will also be a consistent range of difficulty in the reading passages across all versions of the exam from year to year. The free-response questions will be scored using analytic rubrics, rather than the previous holistic rubrics.

Note on 2021 exams: Both the paper and digital versions of the AP English Literature and Composition Exam will be full-length, containing the typical multiple-choice and free-response sections, and cover the full range of skills and knowledge specified in the course and exam description.

There are differences between the paper and digital versions of some 2021 AP Exams, and those variations differ by course. The information below applies to AP English Literature and Composition only. View a summary of all 2021 AP Exam formats.

Section I: Multiple Choice

55 Questions | 1 Hour | 45% of Exam Score

  • Includes 5 sets of questions with 8–13 questions per set.
  • Each set is preceded by a passage of prose fiction, drama, or poetry of varying difficulty.
  • The multiple-choice section will always include at least 2 prose fiction passages (this may include drama) and at least 2 poetry passages.

 Section II: Free Response

3 Questions | 2 Hours | 55% of Exam Score

  • Students write essays that respond to 3 free-response prompts from the following categories:
    • A literary analysis of a given poem
    • A literary analysis of a given passage of prose fiction (this may include drama) 
    • An analysis that examines a specific concept, issue, or element in a work of literary merit selected by the student

Exam Questions and Scoring Information

2020 (Last Year’s) Free-Response Questions

Last year’s free-response questions are available in the AP Classroom question bank for teachers to assign to students as homework or in class, and do not require secure assessment using the LockDown Browser. Since the 2020 exams had to be designed for highly unusual circumstances, these questions were updated, where possible, to best match the format of free-response questions in the course and exam description and on traditional AP Exams.

Sign in to AP Classroom to access resources including personal progress checks and a question bank with topic questions and practice exams aligned to the current course and exam.

To preserve the large number of new FRQs for teacher use, only teachers have access to the 2020 FRQs. If you are a higher education faculty member interested in seeing questions, please fill out this request form.

Student Samples and Scoring Commentaries from the 2020 Exam

A selection of prompts, student responses, and scoring information from the 2020 exam is available below. These resources align with the new rubric. You can find all of the 2020 FRQs and corresponding scoring information in AP Classroom.

2020 Exam: Free-Response Questions, Student Sample Responses, and Scoring Information
Prompts and Student Samples Scoring Commentaries Scoring Information

Prompt for Sample Packet 1 – Eng

Sample Packet 1 – Eng

Scoring Commentaries Packet 1 – Eng

Scoring Guidelines – Eng

Prompt for Sample Packet 2 –  Johnson

Sample Packet 2 – Johnson

Scoring Commentaries Packet 2 – Johnson

Scoring Guidelines – Johnson

Prompt for Sample Packet 3 – Porter

Sample Packet 3 – Porter

Scoring Commentaries Packet 3 – Porter

Scoring Guidelines – Porter

Scoring Distributions

Additional Samples and Scoring Information for 2020-21

The free-response sample packets below contain actual student responses from the 2018 and 2019 exams, re-scored using the rubrics that were meant to take effect with the May 2020 exams. Scoring commentaries and specific scoring guidelines that explain how the rubrics were applied are also provided below.

*Important: These documents may refer to the “2020 exam” or the “2020 rubric” since they were released before the coronavirus crisis caused a temporary shift to a shortened, online format for May 2020. The first full exam administered with these rubrics will be in May 2021.

  Samples Commentaries Scoring Guidelines

Questions originally from the 2018 exam

Question 1

Question 2

Question 3

Question 1

Question 2

Question 3

Scoring Guidelines

Questions originally from the 2019 exam

Question 1

Question 2

Question 3

Question 1

Question 2

Question 3

Scoring Guidelines

Past Exam Questions and Scoring Information