Preparing for the a.p. test

Preparing for the a.p. test
Preparing for the a.p. test
Last minute ideas for nabbing that 5
Strategies for studying – poetry
Review the chapters for definitions and ideas regarding key terms.
Choose one of the poems that we have not read for class (you can choose poems from the
chapters or from the collection at the end of the book). Remember to look at pre-20th
century poems as well as more contemporary poems.
Read the poem at least twice and then “work it” for SOAPS and TPCASTT.
Determine what you think to be the central idea/meaning of the poem (the final T of
TPCASTT) and mark the poem for all devices that you find.
If the poem is metrical (not free verse), scan it to see if you can determine rhythm and
meter. Consider how they contribute to meaning.
Find specific tone words that you would use to describe the poem. Consider where the tone
shifts (remembering that it can shift more than once).
Write out a prompt or two that you would give someone to write about for the poem.
Consider ideas like “how do (insert variety of poetic devices) create/contribute to speaker’s
attitude/poet’s social commentary/deeper meaning, etc.
Practice in intro and thesis for the prompt. Outline your paragraphs. Consider you
Repeat all of the previous steps. ☺
Strategies for studying – prose
For the Open Question:
Choose two novels to prepare that are different in style or genre.
For those books, memorize the author’s name (and how to spell it!) and all the key
characters’ names (and how to spell them!).
Study the reduction – focus on elements that make the novel unique whether it is satire,
magic realism, motifs, point of view, themes, author’s style, etc. Know that info backwards
and forwards.
Find key scenes that correspond to those elements and to the story in general. Re-read
those scenes the day or two before the test, focusing on detail.
Review all related handouts and materials (excerpts of literary criticism, study guides, etc.)
Create a theme based question for the novel (analyze how author uses symbol/motif/foil
relationship/parent-child relationship/death scene/setting and how it contributes to the
meaning of the work as a whole).
Practice in intro and thesis for the prompt. Outline your paragraphs. Consider you
For the Prose Essay:
Choose a brief, coherent passage from one of our novels (or other novel of “literary
merit”) and assess the relationship between style and meaning. Mark it up and prepare for
a generic essay prompt – “how do (insert list of literary and stylistic devices here)
contribute to characterization/tone/impact on character/social commentary/relationship
with setting, etc.”
Practice an intro and thesis and outline your paragraphs. Consider your conclusion.
Strategies for Test Day – Multiple Choice
Read each passage fully and take your time.
You may need to re-read poems a second time before you look at the questions.
Read the questions slowly, focusing on the key words in the question (can be inferred,
passage as a whole, context, not, least, most, principal, speaker, etc.)
Before you look at the answers, anticipate how you would answer the question. Trust your
instincts and try not to over think the question.
In considering the answers, ask yourself what distinguishes one answer from another. Is
one more specific, concrete, broad, etc.
If you are absolutely stumped by a question, SKIP IT (marking your scantron carefully)
and move on. If you have time, come back and look at it again.
Strategies for Test Day – essays
Read all of the essay questions first. Decide the order in which you want to write them.
You may choose to tackle the harder question first leaving your easier prompt for last or
you may choose the reverse. Choose the approach that works best for you.
Read the prompts carefully – pay attention to specific wording. Does the poetry prompt
ask you to focus on the speaker? Poet? Comparison? Contrast? Does the open question ask
you to choose one character or does it say characters?
Take 5 to 10 minutes to brainstorm. The more organized you are, the faster you will
write. Actually mark, circle, or highlight examples from the text that you want to use in
your essay. The “passage prompts” require frequent and well selected text support
Use all the time that you have. If you complete two essays and end up with less than 40
minutes remaining, write as much of that third essay as you can. Remember, a blank page
earns you a 0, which will be averaged into your other essay scores; even a few paragraphs
of an essay could earn you a 5 or at least a 4.
Use authors’ names where applicable (introduce the author with her full name; refer to
her by last name only from then on.) Introduce title and author in your intro.
Focus your essay on what the author/poet creates/conveys/illustrates, not the
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