AP - English Lit. Expectations

Ms. Green’s

12th Grade AP - English Literature and Composition Course


-          Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy


Since an AP course is a high school course that leads to testing with the equivalence of a freshman level college course, it will be taught with the same expectations for my students.

A typical freshman English 101 / 102, 3 unit semester-long, college course, requires 1-3 hours of homework per hour of in-class lecture and discussion. 

3 unit courses typically only meet over the course of a semester for 3 hours a week.   The rest of the work rests solely upon the students to complete.  Students can therefore expect to be responsible for 3-9 hours of homework for that course each week.

However, since our course is a two-semester class instead of one, and we meet for 5 hours a week, it is a more student supportive environment for learning while still maintaining the rigorous expectations of a college-level course.  As such, students can typically expect 5 – 7.5 hours of homework per week.  This is the parameter you should use for budgeting or scheduling your homework time.    

Seriously, when you are taking AP courses, you should plan a real life, 7-day schedule of school time and blocks of homework time to balance with your other activities and responsibilities.  Yes, there’s an app for that.  Yes, I am being ‘for real.’  High school kids tend to think that they can ‘make time’ for whatever.  You can’t make time.  Time is what it is.  It’s finite.  We do not create it.  You cannot steal it from other places in your life without consequences.  Schedule enough time to sleep and to have recreational activities so you don’t burn out.

The time it actually takes to complete the required tasks will vary based on the organization, determination, and preparation of the students.  Some students will be able to effectively complete the work sooner; some will need more time.  Schedule accordingly. 

For the daily reading, I do not expect students to sit down with a book and stare at it while a timer ticks down the minutes and stop reading when the alarm sounds. 

I do expect for students to be able to sit down and read 20-30 pages, or complete chapters as assigned, without interruption.  This builds the required reading endurance that is necessary for college work.  In college, one is expected to have assigned texts or text chapters read before class to prepare for discussion.  I expect you to be able to discuss the texts and participate in class activities. 

However, there is flexibility with your reading schedule.  Unless it is an assignment that needs to be completed for the next day’s discussion and activities, you can schedule your, shall we say, “reading quota” for days during the week when you have more time

Students will be reading notable works of English Literature all year.  (Please see the AP Literature book list attached below  and choose your reading from it.)  There will be weekly reading logs accompanying these novels to record pertinent citations and poignant passages from the text, clarify the selected citations with essay level commentary, and general summaries of the work to demonstrate your understanding of your growing literary repertoire.  The reading log, based on ~100 pages per week, will be due on Mondays (or the first day of the school week).   

As in English 101 / 102, expect to have a novel completely read every few weeks and move on to the next one.  Novels must be from the class’s book list.  100 pages a week may sound like a lot, but it goes quickly.  In Junior/Senior college-level English classes, students read a novel a week per class.  So, for our college freshman level, this is an appropriate pace of reading.  Remember, this is just your general homework reading to broaden your literary scope.  It is not your only homework. 

In class, text-based discussions and other related activities, which prepare students for the AP exam, will culminate, typically, in writing assignments.  Students will have various writing assignments usually ranging from 500-1500 words and research papers with Works Cited.  

500 words is 1 page single-spaced, or 2 pages double-spaced, with a 12 pt font, and 1” margins. 

 Do not be daunted by this. 

 Once you are informed about a text, you will have a lot to say.  You may find yourself needing to tailor your writing down to be more concise rather than fluffing it up like a feather pillow to fill the page allotment.   More does not necessarily mean better. 

 Papers will be produced using MLA (Modern Language Association) format, parenthetical citations, and Works Cited pages.  All final drafts will be, of course, typed.

 Other in-class assignments will include the use of composition books for Journaling and another for Vocabulary, Notes, Graphic Organizers, and Writing - early drafting.  There will also be loose-leaf paper assignments.  So, students will be required to utilize both composition books and a binder/folder with loose-leaf paper available.



A word to the wise:

Spiral notebooks make me want to cry. :`( 

There is nothing I abhor more than asking students to take out paper for such and such activity and watching them painstakingly remove raggedy edges of paper, bit by bit, for the next five minutes just to find these scraps dusted off their desks and all over the floor.  >_<

This will not fly in college.  It is not acceptable in my class.  The answer to spiral notebooks is a resounding no

It’s time to step-up your game if you have not already done so.  It’s time for grown-up, college ruled, loose-leaf paper.    

All work must be completed in blue or black ink (pen and printer ink).  You may use pencil for drafting, notes, vocabulary, and smaller activities.   



Breathe – it’s just AP

Yes, it’s a college-level course and this may sound scary, but it is less terrible than it seems.  You have an entire year to complete a single-semester college English course. 

You have what it takes to take a college-level class if you have the will to try.  You CAN succeed in AP if you want to.  Don’t miss an opportunity to save money with college just because you didn’t want to ‘read and write more’ than the other kids.   

Some hard-work now, adds up to saving money (and time spent) in college later.  Passing AP exams with a 3, 4, or 5 will help you transition to a university better prepared to succeed.      

However, if you are not committed to keeping deadlines, completing summer assignments, or maintaining a 5 to 7.5 hour weekly homework schedule, for this one class, you may not be ready for AP. 


FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions):

1. How do I join?

 If you are interested in this course, select it on your preference sheet that you turn in to your counselor in the 11th grade, and get an approval signature from your current English teacher.  Come to the brief meeting for AP English Lit., which will be scheduled before the end of the semester (date for 2017: May 18th after school - Room 38). 

 Have a current, valid e-mail address prepared.  You will need computer & internet access to complete the summer work.

You will need to join our Edmodo class for the summer work.  The join group code and URL will be provided at the 'summer work' meeting for AP English Literature.

If you're just trying to fill out your preference sheet for next year, please keep reading the FAQ, and hopefully, your general questions will be answered.

2. What is the Summer Work?

Summer work will include: letter of intent, literary terms, reading an assigned novel, reading & responding to a related article, assigned novel study (divided into 2 parts, each with thematic analysis questions), and a drafting thematic paper on the novel study. 

 Participation in the summer work is mandatory.

 If it is not completed (there will be deadlines), you may not be joining this course in the Fall. Or worse! Your counselor could keep you programmed in the class totally unprepared for the course, and you'll be left there to fail. That will be a fun way to spend your Senior year, right? 

Please understand: This is a year-long course and summer work counts as prep for the course.  My summer work is not the kind that you can just say you did and then show up in the Fall.  If you skip it, you will not be prepared for the lessons we start with in the Fall semester and have no idea what to do.  You will, for the most part, turn in your work online with Edmodo DURING the summer.

Note: All of the assignments will be posted early, so they can be turned in early.  Due dates will not necessarily interfere with travel or vacation plans (unless you procrastinate).

3. Is there a lot of writing?

It's English Literature and Composition.  There is a LOT of writing.   There are multiple-draft, typed papers in MLA format as well as many in class essay to prepare for the AP exam essays.  You need to be able to write complex, well-supported analytical college-level papers and write 3 styles of 40-minute essays (poetry, prose, and open-ended).  There are also several short writing assignments, dialectical journals, allusion studies, and continuous analysis and explication assignments.  You need to learn how to break down highly complex texts very quickly to handle the AP exam. 

4. Is there a lot of reading?

Short answer: Yes

Long Answer: YES

You will be reading all the time, in and out of class, and the only time you're not reading is when you're discussing the reading so you can write about the reading.  You will read prose excerpts and short stories, full-length dramas, full-length novels (completing a full novel every 3-4 weeks on your own), and reading a continuous array of poetry.  The AP Lit. testing trend is that students tend to score worse on the poetry multiple-choice questions and the poetry essay than the prose, particularly with anything before the modern era, so I bolster the weak points to fortify you for the exam.  Our reading range is primarily 16th century English Literature through modern day; however, I do go back to ancient epics and dramas for a foundation. 

5. Is the AP Lit. Test hard?

AP Literature is a very difficult exam. Throughout the US less than 8 percent of the students who took the exam were able to score a 5 in 2014 and 2015.  The language is particularly challenging.  You WILL encounter words you do not know.  This will make it hard to understand the questions and the answers.  There will be words in the text excerpts that you do not know.  This will make it hard to analyze and explicate the text.  Your job will be to note down, look up, and study the words you did not know for our test prep.  If you are a passive learner and are used to just asking teacher what words mean or ignoring them, you will not do well in this course. 

6. How do I know if I should take this class?

Do you like English?  If you don't like English class in general, you really won't like this class.

Do you like reading on your own?  If you do not like reading, this class will be hell for you.

Are you comfortable with writing a lot, in and out of class?  If not, you will fall behind and may not ever catch up.

Are you able to manage your time and specifically put 5-7.5 hours PER WEEK into JUST this class for Homework?  If you do not have the time, this class will overwhelm you.

Do you have good attendance?  If you are chronically absent, this class will be very difficult to keep up with.

Are you comfortable with studying on your own and testing yourself at home? If you only do work because the teacher specifically assigns it, you may not get enough practice to meet your unique learning needs for this course.  Different students need to focus on different tasks.  Everyone is different, and I do not believe in forcing everyone to do the same thing all the time.  You have to make study choices for yourself to be successful at university.

Are you only taking this class to fluff up your College Applications?  Then you're taking it for the wrong reason. 

You will probably become disenchanted by the 5 week report card when the (possibly neglected) Summer Work counts very heavily, and then you won't be allowed to change your class because all the other Senior English classes will already be full.  If you are lazy, I can guarantee that Summer Work will be your albatross

Take this class because: you like English, you like reading and writing, you have the time, and you're a dedicated student who is motivated towards success. 

7. What do I do if I fall behind?  (Will I get an A for passing the AP exam?  Can I just do extra credit?)

If you fall behind, you have to make up the work within that grade period.  If you do not keep up, you will not pass.  There is no easy out.  I will not make special assignments and projects for you because that would not be realistically preparing you for university.  Read the syllabus and complete the tasks on the syllabus.  There are no tricks.  The AP results do not release until July, long after graduation, so I cannot base your grade on a maybe pass.  Extra credit only counts for 5% of your total grade, period.

8. What else do I need to know?

To get a general idea of the day to day of the course, you should read the course syllabus.  It will let you know exactly what we're doing and when.  Every "prompt" that you see on the syllabus is a writing assignment. 

You could look at the homework on SylmarHS.org for AP Lit (under: Classes & Homework - English). 

Check out my page: "AP Help: How do I . . . ?"



Final Advice:

Be an active participant in your own life.  Don't wait for things at school to just happen to you.  Make an account for the College Board to access free test prep materials.  This is good place to start to understand what to do and when: https://apstudent.collegeboard.org/takingtheexam/ap-calendar

Buy AP prep books for your AP courses, such as: 5 Steps to a 5 English Literature.  (Updated yearly)  Work through them at home to supplement your classroom coursework.  We have the 2016 edition of 5 Steps available in the Magnet, but you may wish to use the most current prep books as the May testing date nears.

Everyone who wants to be in an AP class is permitted to sign up for AP courses.  Students, especially Juniors at the end of the year, are told to, "take AP classes because it looks good for college apps!", and they have no idea what that really means as far as workload.  Do not expect all your classmates to be in the same place or at the same level.  It will not happen.  It's just like university.  You'll meet all kinds of different people there.  You'll know you worked your butt off to get in, but the guy who sat next to you, who also got accepted to the same university somehow, has a pencil up his nose.  It doesn't make sense, but that's how it is.

If you are serious about doing well, realize that you have to dedicate yourself to putting in the time and effort.  The test prep is challenging, but it's only a portion of our class.  Our class is a university-level English class.  However, it's also a Senior English class gearing you towards university, which means you will write your question based Personal Insight Statements as part of our course work, and you will have opportunities to get help with college applications and FAFSA both during and after school. 

Your AP syllabus for my class is about 11 pages long with many writing prompts.  We have to build a strong literary background and learn how to quickly assess and deeply analyze a wide variety of texts.  If you do not already know MLA, you will learn it in my class.  I will hold you to the same standards as a professor, and if you turn in uncited work or poorly formatted work, it will not receive passing marks.  Poorly put together or uncited papers will not even be scored for content by some English professors and TAs. 

There will be things you will not know and questions you will not understand, and part of your job as an AP student is not to wait passively to ask teacher and be told but to explore, look up, and learn what you do not know.  Yes, I am there to help you, but I cannot learn it for you.  You will be seated in groups for co-operative learning.  Study groups are extremely helpful at university, and I encourage you to foster these relationships in high school.  However, you cannot merely rely on my or anyone else's textual interpretations.  Yours may be even more profound if you think it through.  I don't know everything.  I don't expect you to know everything.  But, I expect you to figure it out when you need to know something. 

The AP Lit exam, which takes place towards the beginning of May, is 3 hours long.  You have 1 hour for a multiple choice portion which is 45% of your score.  You will have 2 hours to write 3 different essays, which is 55% of your score.  Two of the essays are based on your literary interpretation of a short text or excerpt, and the prompt will ask you to explore the text via certain literary terms or analytical ideas that you must understand and be able to cite evidence of and analyze appropriately.  The third essay is an open-response question about a theme, character type, symbolic element or other idea with a suggested list of about 20-30 different novels or plays, and you will choose one you know well from the list to base your essay response upon it.

By 'know well' I mean that you need to know the novel or play well enough to make specific textual references to it either through direct quotes or with very clear and specific event, scene, or character references.  This is why a strong literary background is so vital to this class.  If you have only sort of read maybe 1 or 2 literature level novels or plays a year "for English class" in your last 3 years of high school and only read popular fiction on your own (or do not read at all on your own), you will have a large deficit of literary knowledge and vocabulary to make up for. 

You will have practice with the types of complex, text-based multiple-choice questions you will encounter and practice with all 3 types of essays in class. And if you need more test prep practice because you don't 'get it' or you have test anxiety, you need to give yourself more test prep.  Another requirement for test prep is to attend the AP test prep courses at UCLA on Saturdays (at least 3x per AP course). It's a fantastic opportunity that our school provides for you. All you have to do is fill out the weekly field trip slip and get on the bus!