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Take the AP Lit exam with Sonlight 530?

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OK, I bought the 530 IG and materials because my dd really, really wants to take the AP Lit exam this May. She's just finishing week 1. Now I'm kind of freaking out because I'm hearing stories about kids not doing fabulous (like a score of 3 -- respectable, but I'm expecting consistent 4s and 5s). And it sounds like lots of kids who use the program aren't necessarily taking the AP test at all. Again, the only reason I bought it is BECAUSE of the AP test. <sigh>


So I was already thinking to trim out a couple of "non-AP" books (or at least delay them until after the exam), and possibly add in an extra book or two that seem like more obvious AP Lit choices. BUT I would really love to hear any experiences from anyone here with 530 and taking the AP Lit exam -- c'mon, let me hear it: the good, the bad, the ugly. Honesty, above all else, please! Did you do it as is, readings, writings, etc.? Modify? Help!


I'm wondering if there are *too many* reads, with not enough depth??


There was someone here who told me her more science-oriented son did 530 his junior year and passed the AP (although I don't remember the score, if she said it). If you're out there, did he just do the entire program as outlined? Did he also do an AP test prep book a few weeks ahead??

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My daughter took the AP Lit exam this spring, but did not use the SL materials. She scored a 5. I recommend comparing what's in the SL materials with the AP course descriptions for Eng Lit. You can get it here:




The main skills tested on the AP Lit exam are:

- the ability to quickly read college-level literature passages and poetry, and fully comprehend them.

- the ability to analyze those passages.

- knowledge of many literary terms. The terms are defined in good prep books, such as Cliff's and Barron's. They are also explained well in the book SWB recommends, called Essential Literary Terms.

- thorough knowledge of at least 5 quality literature books for the Open Response essay. The books should be well-chosen to cover all the different types of questions that may appear.

- the ability to write three reasonably well-thought-out essays by hand (in ink) in two hours.


I hope you get an answer to your real question. In case you want to do this without SL, you are welcome to PM me with a general plan. Dd and I worked out this plan to help her cousin and a friend study for the AP next spring.



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Thank you for taking the time to reply, GardenMom. I always like your posts. :)


I've never bought Sonlight before and had certain expectations. Maybe it will all be fine, I don't know. I started out thinking we'd self-study for it, but when posting here about that possibility and thinking about my own limitations (with keeping up with reading, discussion, essay assignments, structure) -- when I feel like I can barely hold on to daily life with my little ones -- I thought Sonlight seemed like the "perfect" answer because of having self-guided questions on daily readings, etc. Ugh! I am torturing myself!


We have a self-study AP Psych going, and I think that is going quite well, but it's a different type of test. Having a good AP textbook as a base makes it so much easier! lol


I have looked over the college board site, but honestly it feels like edu-double-speak sometimes. I will try again, now with SL materials in hand. It may be that we keep some of the units (like Wuthering Heights and Sound and Sense?) and modify from there??


More thoughts and replies welcome!!

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Hi Stacey, I think you can study for the AP Lit test using any of the recommended AP books, or at least include a good smattering of novels they recommend since they're likely to be richer in literary elements.


Does Sonlight include a study of literary terms for each book?


I've studied the AP Lang test pretty thoroughly and I assume the Lit test is similar (I could be wrong though). What I think they want to see is how the author uses literary devices and what effect they have on the reader or the work. For example, in "The Interlopers" Saki uses irony to emphasize his theme that conflicts should be solved sooner, rather then later as tomorrow may be too late.


If you were writing an essay on this thesis you would then expand this statement to provide proof of this.


Does Sonlight have writing assignments or analysis similar to this? If not, you could add it in. You can find literary elements used in the book via cliff notes or spark notes and have your dd analyze the book for their use.


Another thing that most AP Lit courses utilize is journals. A list of terms is given out at the beginning of the yr and when the student comes upon a use of the literary device in their reading they write about it and its effect in the journal. You could add this to Sonlight too. A google search of AP literature literary devices might turn up a pre-made list that you could use.

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Having a good AP textbook as a base makes it so much easier!/QUOTE]

You are right. AP Lang & Lit would be much more straightforward if there were texts. I found one for Lang, but after dd studied for both herself with a collection of prep books, novels, and Cliff's notes (plus mom-input on her essays), I don't think we'd need one.


I think the difference is that Chemistry, math, etc., teachers pretty much agree on which concepts are key to those subjects. English teachers all have their favorite novels, poets, etc., plus (my AP-English-teaching sil told me) they get bored and like to switch around from year to year.



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Here are the differences between the two AP English exams:


Language: Nonfiction, such as essays, biographies, political writings. Emphasizes rhetorical techniques (which include some lit techniques). Essays include: 1 Synthesis, 1 analyzing a nonfiction passage, 1 free-response persuasive.


Literature: Fiction, including novels, short stories, poetry and plays. Emphasizes literary techniques (overlaps rhetorical, which is why high schools often teach Language in 11th, and Lit in 12th), includes poetry analysis for meaning but not deeply into meter (thank goodness). Essays usually include: 1 fiction passage analysis, 1 poetry passage analysis, 1 open-response essay where you talk about a book of your own choosing (and you had better know it very, very well).


We found that we didn't need any of the recommended AP English Textbooks on the CB website. They were either lit anthologies or writing how-to books, and did not seem to be helpful learning the skills needed. The Cliff's and Barron's prep books were the best texts we found.


Yes, you do need to teach to the test, but you will learn a lot while doing so. Dd cemented her knowledge of literary and rhetorical techniques, learned several novels on a deep level, and learned to write coherent, on-topic essays fast.



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Garden Mom,

Did you have a preference between Cliff's and Barron's, or did you use both? Can you provide an Amazon link (or ISBN) for them?




We used both. We found we needed them in order to have enough MCs (Multiple Choice questions) for practice. In addition, they both have their strengths and weaknesses. Don't forget that the course description for Engl Lit on the CB website has sample MCs and essay questions. In addition, sometimes you can get prep books online or in hardcopy from your library. Watch out for Engl. Language, because it changed a bit a few years back to include the synthesis essay. I believe you are pretty safe with older Lit prep books.


We had bought a Princeton Review prep book for the English Language exam, but found it wasn't what we wanted. PR has been good for some exams, but for the English the attitude was that you didn't have to work that hard to pass. Dd didn't want to just pass.


We usually buy two prep books for an AP course for the reasons above. The only one I didn't was for Calculus.



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My dd did Core 530 last year and took the AP English Lit exam. We focused on the books listed for AP in the IG, added in a few more American Lit books, and she worked on essay writing with a tutor for one month through WriteGuide. (I just didn't have the time to focus on that while teaching my other children.) I also adapted some of the writing assignments to be more like the analytical essays/questions on the AP exam. Dd used the AP prep guide which SL sells (Princeton, I think?).


She did very well, but she had also taken an AP English Language class the year before, so she was familiar with the AP format.

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