The Best AP English Literature & Composition Books

Exam Info And Course Content

The AP English Literature exam consists of 2 sections. The first one is multiple choice, has 55 questions, lasts 60 minutes, and counts for 45% of your overall exam score.

The second section is free response. There are 3 prompts total and you have 120 minutes. You have to write a response to a literary analysis of a poem, literary analysis of a passage or prose fiction, analysis of an issue selected by you.

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 exams has never been changed and there are no plans for changing it in the future.

The Best AP English Literature & Composition Textbooks for 2018

Book CoverDescriptionOur RatingPrice
AP Literature & Composition TextbookNorton Anthology
of English Literature
9th Edition




The Norton Athology


(Best AP Literature
& Composition Textbook)
5.0View Price
Best AP English Literature & Composition Review BookCracking The AP English
Literature & Composition
2018 Edition


The Princeton Review

(Best AP Literature
& Composition Review Book)
4.8View Price
AP English Literature Crash Course Review BookCrash Course: AP
English Literature &
Composition, 7th Edition


Crash Course

(Best AP Literature
& Composition Prep Book)
4.6View Price

AP Literature & Composition Textbook

The Norton Anthology of English Literature: The Major Authors, 9th Edition, is one of the best AP English Literature & Composition textbooks you can purchase to prepare for the exam. On your exam, you will be expected to analyze and interpret various passages from major texts, some of which you will find in this textbook. The textbook shows you several examples and analyzes texts so you can get a good sense of how to respond on the actual exam.

While the review and prep books can help you take the test, the literature in them isn’t comparable to the depth you’ll find in the textbook.

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Best AP English Literature & Composition Review BookThe best review book for the AP English Literature exam is the Princeton Review book published this year.

It not only has 2 full length practice tests and sample prose, poetry, and essays that help you plan and organize your own writing on the exam, but it also reviews literary movements and gives you advice on what other books you should read.

We really like that they’ve updated several errors that were found in the previous edition

They multiple choice explanations are more detailed than in other books which makes it much easier to figure out what you’re doing wrong.

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AP English Literature Crash Course Review BookHowever, some think the book doesn’t place enough emphasis on the essay section, so your best bet would be combining the Princeton Review book with the AP English Crash Course book.

This book is old, but packed full of useful information and tips that other newer books don’t have.

It has a whole chapter dedicated to properly writing the essays, and it also has a summary of the plot, setting, and characters of books often cited on the AP test. (We recommend actually reading the works, but looking over the summaries the day before the test as it will help you immensely.)

If you buy the book, you will also get a free online practice exam that gives very detailed explanations and it automatically scores you so you can be confident of your ability on exam day.

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Self-Study Tips

The AP English Literature exam is fairly difficult to self study for because it tests your reading and writing skills instead of testing memorization.

You should look over the list of works which have been referenced to in past AP exams, and read at least a quarter of the ones on the list.

If you are a strong reader and a competent writer already, all you’ll need to do is review using Princeton’s book and read the summaries of the frequently used works in the Crash Course book.

You should also take at least 2 practice tests to make sure you know the format of the exam, but after that all you can do is read books that might be on the exam and improve your reading and writing skills.