Coming in 2021: AP® Literature and Composition Guide

Coming in 2021: AP® Literature and Composition Guide

Having produced an emergency AP Literature guide for the 2020 online exam, I’ve decided to take the logical step and develop the condensed version into a full-length book for the AP Lit test.

The book will follow the same general organization as the Language and Composition guide—one half will be devoted to the multiple-choice reading (prose fiction and poetry), the other half to the three essays (poetry analysis, prose analysis, open response)—and will reflect the updated 2020 Course Description (half of the texts devoted to 20th-century works, the rest split between pre-20th century and 21st-century texts; no vocabulary in context or rhetorical identification). Each chapter will correspond to a specific question type.

While it is too early at this point to set a firm publication date, I am aiming for late winter or early spring. I will do my best to ensure that the book is available at least eight weeks before the exam.

If you are a student interested in submitting an essay for inclusion in the book, please email At this point, I am looking only for the poetry analysis and open response (“analysis that examines a specific concept, issue, or element in a work of literary merit selected by the student”). Essays must have been written in response to a specific AP Literature prompt from a previous year’s exam; they cannot be generic English-class assignments.


2020 condensed AP® Guides for online exams now available

2020 condensed AP® Guides for online exams now available

Update, 4/29:

The electronic version of my AP® English Language and Literature guide is now available on Amazon.


My and Larry Krieger’s mini-guides for the condensed 2020 online AP tests are now available!

Because of a technical issue that resulted in the print version of Larry’s book being delayed on Amazon by nearly a week, Larry asked me to post the entire book as a free PDF download on this site. Click here to access it (do not add to cart; scroll down and click on the link in the description).

If you would like to order a print copy, the book is now available on Amazon as well.

Unfortunately, Larry realized that he would not have enough to time to complete the AP Psychology guide and decided to let that project go.

For logistical reasons, I decided to combine the English Language and English Literature sections into a single print book which, as of 4/25, is available only on Amazon.

I’m currently in the process of trying to get the manuscript formatted so I can make the book available in electronic form. I’m hoping that will happen by mid-week.

I’m also currently trying to determine whether The Critical Reader will be able to stock the book as well, given delayed shipping times.

I’ll post an update as soon as I have more information.

Important announcement regarding 2020 AP exams (test questions; new, condensed guides)

In the past few days, the College Board has released important information regarding the 2020 AP exam schedule.

Tests will consist of free-response questions only; last approximately 45 minutes each; and be administered online from May 11-22nd, with additional makeup dates in June. 

After some discussion with my SAT vocabulary book co-author and APUSH expert extraordinaire Larry Krieger, I’m happy to announce that we’ve decided to release condensed (approximately 50-page) AP guides that specifically target the 2020 online exams. We’ll aim to make them available within the next 2-3 weeks, sooner if possible. 

Our current plan is as follows: I will be covering the AP English Language and Literature exams, and Larry will be handling APUSH. 


The 2020 dates and questions for these exams are as follows: 


  • AP English Literature (May 13, 2pm EST): Prose Analysis essay (on the full exam, Free-Response Question #2)


  • AP English Language (May 20, 2pm EST): Rhetorical Analysis essay (Question #2)


  • APUSH (May 15, 2pm EST): Modified DBQ with 5 sources (Question #1)
The LaGuardia protests and the privatization of the public school curriculum

The LaGuardia protests and the privatization of the public school curriculum

If you live in the New York City area, you might have heard about the recent student protests against cuts to the arts programs at LaGuardia High School (aka the “Fame” school).

I don’t normally focus on local news, but in this case, I think the real story is much larger than what’s getting reported; in fact, I think that it’s getting overlooked entirely. I happen to have some insider knowledge of the school (colleagues, former students), and although it’s unique in many regards, some of the changes it’s undergone are actually reflective of a much larger trend involving the creeping privatization of public education.

In case you haven’t been following the events, here are the basics: (more…)

AP® tests are replacing final exams – and that’s not a good thing

AP® tests are replacing final exams – and that’s not a good thing

A while back, I happened to find myself discussing the AP® craze with a colleague who teaches AP classes, and at one point, she mentioned offhandedly that with the push toward data collection and continual assessment, schools are increasingly eliminating the type of cumulative final exams that used to be standard in favor of frequent small-scale quizzes and tests that can be easily plotted for administrators’ consumption.

I poked around and discovered that some schools have also eliminated cumulative mid-term or final exams because such assessments are insufficiently “authentic” (read: not fun) or because of concerns about stress, or because so much time is already devoted to state tests.

I wasn’t really aware of that shift when I was tutoring various SAT II and AP exams, but it explained some of what I encountered: students had been exposed to key concepts, but they hadn’t been given sufficient practice for those concepts to really sink in. They were learning only what they needed to know for a particular quiz or test and then promptly forgetting the material.