The Critical Reader: AP® English Language and Composition Edition is now available for purchase on Amazon. The book is carefully aligned with the revised (post-2014) version of the AP Lang/Comp exam provides a comprehensive review of all the reading and writing skills tested.


  • A complete chapter dedicated to each type of multiple-choice reading question and essay type.
  • Numerous multiple-choice practice questions covering literal comprehension, purpose, tone/attitude, rhetorical strategies, and footnotes.
  • Common essay pitfalls, with detailed examples of what to do and what not to do.
  • Sample student essays with in-depth scoring analyses.

I’ve also posted a preview so that you can see for yourself.

Now, a couple of notes:

First, I learned a LOT about how essay scoring works while writing this book. While the essays are scored holistically, I cannot overemphasize how helpful it is to understand the various criteria that get factored in and how they affect the overall score. I spent an enormous amount of time picking apart the sample essays and analyses provided on the AP Central site, and pinpointing the various features that corresponded to different score levels. (Christine Hyzinski, who teaches AP English at Montgomery High School in New Jersey, also helped me with some of the sample essay scoring, for which I am immensely grateful.) By the time I got done with the book, I was pretty sure I could do a bang-up job as a grader for ETS — not that I’d ever be allowed to, but still…

Second, to those of you who already have the main (SAT) Critical Reader, I realize you might be wondering whether this is basically the same book. The answer is no.

While the AP book, like the current SAT reading book, is adapted from the original (2013) edition of The Critical Reader, redesigned SAT reading and AP Lang/Comp reading are two entirely different animals. Although some of the same concepts are discussed by necessity, all of the practice passages and questions in the new book are different, and the books have very different emphases. In addition, there is nothing remotely comparable to the essay chapters in the SAT book.

So if you’re concerned about just getting a repeat of what you already have, rest assured that’s not the case.