The Best AP English Literature and Composition Books

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best ap literature and composition books

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Are you looking for the best AP English Literature and Composition books so you can pass your AP exam and score a 5?

Then you’re in luck. We’ve narrowed down the Best AP English Literature and Composition books for you today.

The AP English Literature and Composition exam questions your close reading and critical analysis of imaginative literature to examine your understanding of the ways writers use language to provide both meaning and pleasure.

AP English Literature and Composition Exam Overview

The AP English Literature and Composition exam is 3 hours long and has two sections — multiple choice/short answer and free-response. Each section is divided into two parts. You can see here for the AP English Literature and Composition Course Overview.

The multiple choice section tests critical reading skills. You will read several passages and answer questions about the content, form, and style of each.


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The free-response section tests your ability to analyze and interpret literary texts by composing clear and effective essays.

Last Time The Exam Changed

The AP English Literature and Composition Exam has not been changed and there is no indication that it will change in the near future.

The Best AP English Literature and Composition Books

Our Review 5/5: Best AP English Literature and Composition Textbook

The Norton Anthology of English Literature: The Major Authors, 9th Edition

This really is a fantastic textbook if you’re studying for the AP English Literature and Composition exam.

We recommend really comprehending the examples and analyze the text in this book in order to practice and get a great sense of how to respond on the actual exam.

The text is well-organized, engaging, and appropriately succinct. This textbook covers 100% of the material you will be tested on, guaranteed.

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Our Review 4.7/5: Best AP English Literature and Composition Review Book

Cracking the AP English Literature & Composition Exam, Proven Techniques to Help You Score a 5

The best review book for the AP Lit & Composition Exam is the Princeton Review book.

If you do plan on getting this review book, which is priced low, we recommend diving into the 2 full-length practice tests with detailed answer explanations and scoring worksheets, all the practice drills for poetry and prose passages.

Also, practice with the sample essays with tips to help you effectively plan and organize your own writing on the day of the exam.

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Our Review 4.9/5: Best AP English Literature and Composition Prep Book

AP English Literature & Composition Crash Course Book

This prep book includes everything you need to know to help achieve a high score. This book is fantastic in preparing you for the exam. There are many reviews from students who are confident in scoring a 4 or 5 after studying using this prep book.

This book is to the point on all topics. We recommend it to someone who’s already on track for a 5 who wants to review to ensure their score, or someone who is facing the threat of a 1 and needs to learn as much as possible as efficiently as possible.

It has a few practice problems at the end of (almost) each chapter (the extent of these problems depends on how much content was covered in the chapter) that are great for checking your understanding. Great supplemental study option to add to your arsenal along with your textbook and review book as it’s fairly cheap.

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AP Literature Resources for You

Textbooks

The most important thing you can do, truthfully, is to get a good textbook for your AP exam. It’s your tool for helping you learn the material that will be on the exam, help structure your preparation, and allow you to test your learning comprehension with review questions. It’s critical that you choose the books that are recommended as those will help you best prepare.

Our recommendation is that you absolutely study The Norton Anthology of English Literature: The Major Authors textbook in order to fully prepare for the AP English Literature & Composition Exam. 

Here are some ideas for finding other good textbooks:

  • Check the College Board’s list of textbook recommendations on the AP course audit page for your exam.
  • If you’re self-studying for an AP course that your school is offering, you can see if they have a textbook used for the actual course.
  • Be diligent in reading reviews of any textbook you are planning on buying, and see if it helped others prepare for the AP exam.

Review Books

A good AP review book is probably the second-most important resource you can have, after a good textbook. It’s not the most comprehensive manner of studying, but, it will allow you to review the most important information for the AP exam. For example, if you have gone through your textbook, then as your test day draws closer, you may want a review book to keep the information lucid in your short-term memory. The Princeton Review and Barron’s are two generally well-regarded AP review book sources, but make sure you’re getting the best book for the specific course you are studying.

Our review book of choice for the Literature Exam is Cracking the AP English Literature & Composition Exam: Proven Techniques to Help You Score a 5

Prep Books

A good AP prep book is probably the third-most important resource you can have, after a good textbook and review book. These prep book offer tips include everything you need to know to achieve a high score and it has comprehensive content review for all test topics, so if you know you’ll be fully covered to score a 5 on your next AP exam. The best part about prep books? They include tried-and-true strategies to help you avoid traps and beat the test, and that’s all that matters right now.

Our prep book choice for the AP Literature Exam is the AP English Literature & Composition Crash Course Book.

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