The Best AP English Language and Composition Books

Exam Info And Course Content

The AP English Language exam consists of 2 sections. The first one is a multiple choice one that has 52-55 questions, lasts an hour, and makes up 45% of your exam’s score.

The second section is free response. You have 15 minutes to read source materials of a prompt, and then you get 120 minutes to answer 3 prompts within an essay. It makes up 55% of your total exam score.

College Board provides free example test questions, so click here if you want to check them out.

Next Exam Date

Wednesday, May 9th, 2018

Last Time The Exam Changed

The exam has never been changed, and there are no plans for changing it in the near future.

The Best AP English Language and Composition Books for 2018

Book CoverDescriptionOur RatingPrice
The Best AP English Language and Composition TextbookThe Language of
Composition: Reading,
Writing, Rhetoric
2nd Edition

Renee H. Shea
Lawrence Scanlon
Robin Dissin Aufses

(Best Textbook)
5.0View Price
Barron's AP English Language And Composition Best Ap PrepBarron's AP English
Language and Composition
7th Edition


(Best Review Book)
4.5View Price
AP English Language Crash Course Best AP PrepCrash Course: AP English
Language and Composition

Dawn Hogue

(Best Prep Book)
4.5View Price

The Best AP English Language and Composition TextbookThere are a lot of appropriate textbooks you could use to help prepare for the AP English Language and Composition exam, but so few are tailored so well for AP specifically. Many of the top english textbooks used in American high school do well to prepare you, but this textbook covers 100% of the material you will be tested on, guaranteed.

Before you purchase and review book or prep book that we recommend below, it’s important that you purchase this textbook for the right context and for the correct fundamental understanding. This textbook has a sufficient amount of practice questions, although not all the questions are in the same format that you will find on the actual AP exam.

Renting options may be available, you can click on the book cover to view the rental price.

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AP Language and Composition Barrons 2017You should order at least 2 review books for the test as it is a very tough test to take and prepare for.

Barron’s review book is one of the best ways to prepare for the exam. It has 5 full length practice exams, and you get a bonus online practice test.

It also offers advice for answering multiple choice questions, and has a whole chapter dedicated to helping you write a proper synthesis essay.

The Diagnostic test is also very useful as it helps gauge where you are currently at and what you need to study more.

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AP English Language Crash Course Best AP PrepThe Crash Course book is also a must have as it is the best way to brush up on the rhetorical elements you specifically need to know for the exam, and it also describes in depth different tricks you can use to improve your essay which is 55% of your total AP score.

You also get one more practice test which should help you feel more confident on the day of the exam.

This book is old, but it’s much better compared to the other new books that have come out in the past couple years.

We also recommend reading and analyzing books by some of the authors in the self-study section, especially if your teacher does not assign any out of class reading.

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Self-Study Tips

The AP English Language exam is one of the hardest ones to self study for.

College Board doesn’t offer an actual reading list, but they do recommend a few authors.

Your best bet would be to start studying at least 6 months before the exam and reading at least one book from each of the following sections and making sure you’re thinking about why the author chose the certain words, sentences, and writing structures that he used.

    1. Trade Books- In depth arguments on a single topic by the following authors:
        1. Nicholas Carr
        1. Dave Eggers
        1. Jonathan Safran Foer
        1. Jane Goodall
        1. Malcolm Gladwell
    1. Extended Texts
        1. Mary Wollstonecraft
        1. Henry David Thoreau
        1. Charles Darwin
    1. Speeches
        1. Abraham Lincoln
        1. F.D. Roosevelt
        1. MLK Junior
        1. Robert Kennedy
        1. Indira Gandhi
    1. Essays
        1. Thomas Paine
        1. Ralph Waldo Emerson
        1. John Muir
        1. Annie Dillard
        1. Charles Lamb
        1. Oscar Wilde

Read every day for at least 15 minutes, and make sure to actually analyze the texts. Go over the Barron book and take the Diagnostic exam.

Practice the multiple choice questions as much as you can, and start reading more and taking more practice tests as you get closer to the exam.