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Tips, Tricks, and Reading Lists to Help Prep for AP English

written by: Jarod Saucedo•edited by: Wendy Finn•updated: 6/3/2015

Are a student looking taking an Advanced Placement English course? If so, an AP reading list for the college bound student is important list to consider. Read on to learn about how you can prepare for the English Language Composition and or English Literature and Composition course.

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    Preparation An AP reading list  is not for the faint of heart. However, completing it will not only prepare you for college, it will help you in an AP English course. For the course, not only do you have to learn a plethora of English rules and grammar, but you must also become well acquainted with many books titles. These titles usually range in prose styles from books to poetry and most are regarded as literary classics.

    It is important that you obtain a reading list for these titles so that you can prepare for taking an AP course or if you wish to take the AP exam at the end of the year. Based on your decisions, it would be better to read five or more of these titles and it also helps to read across several mediums. Doing so will allow you to have a better shot at performing well on the exam when you have to answer an essay question based on the books you have read.

    One important caveat to remember is that these titles depend on which AP English course you are taking. For example, it's better to focus on American authors when taking English Language and Composition while also focusing on British authors when taking English Literature and Composition. This is because each AP course and their accompanying exams specifically deal with either American or British works.

    Please note that these are not the only titles you can choose from. Your teacher or school might provide you will additional books that you can choose.

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    Recommended Titles for English Language and Composition

    Here is an AP reading list for the college bound student involving English Language and Composition. If you are taking this class, remember to read books that are associated with American writers. It does not hurt to read novels that are non-American, however it would help if you decide to take the exam.

    Twenty Recommended Novels:

    • F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
    • Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird
    • Jack London, Call of the Wild
    • Herman Melville, Moby Dick
    • J.D. Salinger, Catcher in the Rye
    • John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath
    • Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
    • Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God
    • Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter
    • Stephen Crane, The Red Badge of Courage
    • Kurt Vonnegut Jr., Slaughterhouse-Five
    • Louisa May Alcott, Little Women
    • Frank L. Baum, The Wizard of Oz
    • Edith Wharton, Ethan Frome
    • Henry David Thoreau, Walden
    • Harriet Breecher Stowe, Uncle Tom's Cabin
    • Sinclair Lewis, Main Street
    • Willa Cather, O Pioneers!
    • James Fenimore Coopers, Last of the Mohicans

    Five Recommended Plays:

    • Tennessee Williams, The Glass Menagerie
    • Arthur Miller, The Crucible
    • Thornton Wilder, Our Town
    • Lorraine Hansberry, A Raisin in the Sun
    • Edward Albee, Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolf?

    Five Recommended Poets:

    • Ralph Waldo Emerson
    • Emily Dickinson
    • Robert Frost
    • Edgar Allan Poe
    • Walt Whitman
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    An AP reading list for the college bound is also mandatory for English Literature and Composition. Like the previous section, it would be better if you focused on British writers and poets when taking English Literature and Composition. This is because the this AP exam is catered towards British literature.

    Twenty Recommended British Novels:

    • Anonymous, Beowolf
    • Jane Austin, Pride and Prejudice
    • Charles Dickens, Great Expectations
    • Geoffrey Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales
    • Sir Thomas More, Utopia
    • George Orwell, 1984, Animal Farm
    • Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre
    • Mary Shelley, Frankenstein
    • Lewis Carroll, The Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
    • George Eliot, Middlemarch
    • H.G. Wells, War of the Worlds
    • Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
    • Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness
    • Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden
    • Henry Fielding, Tom Jones
    • Rudyard Kipling, The Jungle Book
    • Robert Louis Stephenson, Treasure Island
    • D.H. Lawrence, Sons and Lovers

    Five Recommended Plays:

    • William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth
    • Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest
    • George Lillo, The London Merchant
    • Robert Bolt, A Man for All Seasons

    Five Recommended Poets

    • John Milton
    • William Wordsworth
    • John Keats
    • William Shakespeare
    • Samuel Coleridge
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    Tips and Tricks for the Reading List

    Here are some general tips and guidelines when you are considering the an AP reading list for the college bound:Books! 

    1. Make sure to be well-rounded when choosing titles to read

    It's very important that you choose titles that are across the mediums. Make sure that you choose a couple novels, and at least one poet and playwright. By doing so, you can prepared for anything that the AP tests throws at you whether it is a poem or even a short excerpt.

    2. Read, read, read

    If you read as much as you can, chances are that it will become easier to digest material that the test may have. It will also make you a better writer with the amount of material you have gained by simply reading.

    3. Choose books you enjoy

    Even though you are reading to prepare for the exam or perhaps the course, remember to pick a book, play, or poem that you will enjoy reading. Reading a book that does not interest you will be difficult--not to mention potentially boring.

    4. Try to take notes while reading

    When reading a book, make sure to jot down some notes while reading. For example, what are some themes? Does the author use a particular style? Is he or she using literary devises to convey a theme? You don't have to take very many, but it would benefit if you could remember some of these particular things while reading.

    5. Write, write, write

    As important as reading is, writing is just as important. Write whenever you can, whether you are simply taking notes or having to write a multitude of essays. Over time, you will become acquainted with your writing style and it will help you tremendously when you have to write three essays in two hours on the AP exam.

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    College Board. "101 Great Books."

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    College Board. "English Literature."


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