Writing an AP English Essay

Table of contents

What is an AP English Essay?

Students enrolled in AP classes understand the importance of getting good grades. After all, they stand to get college credit for their good performance. 

And much of an AP English course will involve writing – lots of writing, in the form of essays. Students must be highly skilled writers even to qualify for an AP English class, and they will face an entire semester of essay writing in this course. All of this is in preparation for the AP English examination.

It’s safe to say that it’s nearly impossible to pass the AP Language and Composition exam if you don’t have a grasp on how to study for a class as stimulating as an Advanced Placement course.

Ultimately, the AP student will take a three-hour, 15- minute test, divided into two parts. Part one is a multiple-choice test that evaluates a student’s ability to analyze prose reading passages. The essay portion lasts two hours and 15 minutes, and the student must write three essays. The English essay topics are provided, and students should plan to spend about 40 minutes each.

Expectations for AP Essays

Essays that AP students write must be formal and reflective of standard scholarly English essay format.  Grammar and composition in AP language essays must be perfect, and vocabulary, tone, and style must be sophisticated beyond that of normal high school writing. The essays are graded on a score of 0-9. A score of 5 is the goal for college credit.

Some revisions were made in the scoring rubric for the AP English Language and Composition Essays (the formal name for the test), in 2018, and students should familiarize themselves with these through the resources below.

Where to Find Examples

The AP Central College Board website is the perfect place to begin. Here you will find a list of typical English essay topics as well as samples of AP language essays that received high scores. It will be important to study these prompts and review the structure and format of those essays that received high scores. The prompts will cover a variety of essay types, and reading these, as well as practicing writing essays from prompts from previous years will be critical to your success. If you are in an AP high school English course, rely on your teacher to take you through this preparation.

How to Craft a Solid AP Essay

Remember, you only have about 40 minutes for each essay. This means you will have to grasp the meaning of the prompt and then develop your thesis statement. At this point, you will want to construct an informal English essay outline, so that you stay on track and ensure that all of your points relate to your thesis. 

Write your body paragraphs first. Then, go back to the introduction and conclusion. Obviously, you must save a bit of tie for proofreading, because grammatical and mechanical errors will cost you dearly.

In the End…

If you are enrolled in an AP English course as a high school student, you will have all of the instructions you need. Your responsibility is to read, read, read, and to write, write, write as you progress through this course.

How ready is your essay? Choose the stage you are at right now
What’s next and what’s missing?

How ready is your essay?