When it comes to tests, the APs aren’t fooling around. There’s so much they can do for you (free college credits, anyone?) that the stakes can feel impossibly high. But if you’ve found your way here, you’re already on track to ace your AP Literature exam! Sure, it’ll take some prep, but it’ll be totally worth it once you see those high scores popping up on-screen after test day. See how prepared you are for your exam with Magoosh’s AP Literature quiz, then come back to this post for a guide on how to prep before test day (and scroll down to the bottom of the post for quiz answers and explanations)!
AP Literary Terms
First things first: literary terms are super important on the AP Literature exam. You probably already know this—but did you also know that the way that you study them can have a big influence on your score? Starting with lists of words is a good place to start; turning them into flashcards is even better. However, the exam isn’t going to ask you to simply define literary terms. Instead, it’ll ask you to identify them in context. With that in mind, come up with several examples for each key term and turn those into flash cards, instead. When you see a similar construction on test day, you’ll be able to make connections much more easily.
Another way to practice using AP literary terms is to make everything you read into your own AP Literature quiz. How? Highlight every literary device you see used in everything you read for fun. For bonus practice, work with a trusted study partner and exchange materials at the end of the week to see where you agree and disagree (and then figure out who’s right!).
English Literature Multiple Choice
Mastering the material is super important for AP Literature. However, mastering the format of the exam is equally important. For example, how are you going to approach those multiple-choice questions? In this case, nothing beats practicing with official materials.
For most students, the strongest strategy with AP Literature multiple-choice questions is to read the question, come up with your own answer before you look at the printed answer choices, and then see which one matches your prediction best. Why? This will prevent you from getting distracted by wrong answer choices that seem “almost” right. (Tip: no answer choice on the AP exam is “almost” right—there’s only one correct answer, as you’ll see if you take our AP Literature quiz above!)
If timing is an issue for you, practicing with official materials will also help—but there’s another hack. In the last ten minutes of the multiple-choice section, skim through your unanswered questions and eliminate all choices you know are wrong. Then, take your best guess on the remaining choices. Going from five answer choices to four ups your odds of getting the right choice from 20% to 25%. Eliminate one more, and you’re up to a 33% chance of answering correctly. One more and it’s 50%! If you find yourself in a situation where you have to blindly guess on multiple items, choose the same answer choice and plug it in for all of the remaining questions—you’re more likely to get at least a few points than if you chose random letters.
AP English Literature and Composition Practice Test
Of course, randomly guessing shouldn’t be your main strategy for on the AP test! That’s why, once you’ve taken the AP Literature quiz, it’s important to keep going with a full-length AP English Literature and Composition Practice Test (official materials are a great place to start).
Many students take practice AP exams, but far fewer know how to use them to their advantage. To maximize how useful this test prep is, plan to spend at least as much time studying your finished exam and your answers as you did taking the test. Review the questions you got wrong. Label what they were testing: vocabulary? Literary devices? Rhetorical devices? Keep a running list of your problem areas and brush up on them between practice exams. Review your correct answers, as well. Did you get them correct by guessing? Should you still go back and review that material? Were you unsure about anything? Thorough review will help you master the test!
Studying for AP Literature: AP Literature Quiz Answers and Explanations
Speaking of reviewing your work…are you ready to take a look at the answers and explanations to the AP Literature quiz at the top of this post? Here they are!
- Q: “Fancy footwork”, “jumping Jehosaphat”, and “weeping willow” all make use of which literary device?
Alliteration is the use of multiple words beginning with the same letter: in these cases, F, J, and W.
- Q: Which of the following is an accurate definition of an oxymoron?
A: The coupling of contradictory terms, as in “speedy slug.”
An oxymoron is a phrase that seems like it couldn’t be true, based on the definitions of one of the words. In this example, a slug is by nature slow, so it makes the reader think twice to consider a “speedy” slug.
- Q: “The mountain roared at the valley below”, “the star winked playfully”, and “the cloud heaved its mighty chest” are all examples of which literary device?
Any time the AP exam asks you if something is an example of personification, ask yourself two questions: can this thing actually, literally perform that action? Does a human being normally do that? Mountains can’t literally roar, but humans can. Stars can’t literally wink, but humans can. Clouds can’t heave their chests…you get the idea!
- Q: Some protagonists, such as Hamlet, have a characteristic that will ultimately bring about their downfall. Also known as hamartia, what is the name of this term?
A: tragic flaw
Poor doomed protagonists. When a character has tendencies to do something that harms them in the story’s climax, that’s a tragic flaw (AKA hamartia). Tragic, no?
- Q: Exposition, rising action, climax, and resolution are the four elements of what?
Plot is the narrative structure of a story, and we divide it into these four parts. Exposition sets the stage for the story; rising action shows us how the characters get from the mental, emotional, and/or physical place they are at the beginning of the story to the story’s most important moment; the climax is that most important moment; and resolution (whether happy or sad) is what happens after that big moment.
- Q: A cliché is most similar to which of the following?
A: dead metaphor
Actions speak louder than words. Love is blind. A bird in the hand…are you asleep yet? There are some phrases that have become so overused that they no longer make us think hard. These are known as clichés, which are pretty similar to dead metaphors (think: “window of opportunity” and similar figurative phrases).
- Q: What do we call a speech delivered by a character to the audience while no other characters are present?
Hamlet to the rescue once more! Perhaps the most famous giver of soliloquies, Hamlet speaks to the audience while he’s all alone. If you have trouble remembering this, think of it as his “solo.”
- Q: “Truth is beauty, beauty truth” is an example of
A chiasmus is the reversal of structure in back-to-back clauses for artistic effect. Here, truth and beauty swap places between the first and second clauses, making this a classic chiasmus.
A Final Word
Sorry about that (literature joke!). Congratulations on making it through the AP Literature quiz and study advice guide. Ready for next steps? Dive into your practice tests, start making your flashcards, work on mastering your multiple-choice questions, and you’ll be golden by test day (start here: there’s at least two instances of figurative language in that last sentence—can you identify them?). Good luck!
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About Rachel Kapelke-Dale
Rachel is one of Magoosh’s Content Creators. She writes and updates content on our High School and GRE Blogs to ensure students are equipped with the best information during their test prep journey. Rachel has helped students around the world prepare for various standardized tests, including the SAT, ACT, TOEFL, GRE, and GMAT, and she is one of the authors of our Magoosh ACT Prep Book. Rachel has a Bachelor of Arts in Comparative Literature from Brown University, an MA in Cinematography from the Université de Paris VII, and a Ph.D. in Film Studies from University College London. For over a decade, Rachel has honed her craft as a fiction and memoir writer and public speaker. Her work has appeared in over a dozen online and print publications, including Vanity Fair Hollywood. When she isn't strategically stringing words together at Magoosh, you can find Rachel riding horses or with her nose in a book. LinkedIn
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