AP English Language & composition exam


The Princeton Review AP English Language and Composition Practice Tests and Explanations


Practice Test 1


Three hours are allotted for this examination: 1 hour for Section I, which consists of multiple-choice questions, and 2 hours for Section II, which consists of essay questions. Section I is printed in this examination booklet. Section II is printed in a separate booklet.


Time—1 hour

Number of questions—54

Percent of total grade—45

Section I of this examination contains 54 multiple-choice questions. Therefore, please be careful to fill in only the ovals that are preceded by numbers 1 through 54 on your answer sheet. 

General Instructions


INDICATE ALL YOUR ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS IN SECTION I ON THE SEPARATE ANSWER SHEET. No credit will be given for anything written in this examination booklet, but you may use the booklet for notes or scratchwork. After you have decided which of the suggested answers is best, COMPLETELY fill in the corresponding oval on the answer sheet.


Chicago is a

(A)   state

(B)   city

(C)   country

(D)   continent

(E)   village

Sample Answer


Many candidates wonder whether or not to guess the answers to questions about which they are not certain. Multiple choice scores are based on the number of questions answered correctly. Points are not deducted for incorrect answers, and no points are awarded for unanswered questions. Because points are not deducted for incorrect answer, you are encouraged to answer all multiple-choice questions. On any questions you do not know the answer to, you should eliminate as many choices as you can, and then select the best answer among the remaining choices.

Use your time effectively, working as rapidly as you can without losing accuracy. Do not spend too much time on questions that are too difficult. Go on to other questions and come back to the difficult ones later if you have time. It is not expected that everyone will be able to answer all the multiple-choice questions.

The inclusion of the passages in this examination is not intended as an endorsement by the College Board or Educational Testing Service of the content, ideas, values, or styles of the individual authors. The material has been selected from works of various historical periods by a committee of examiners who are teachers of language and literature and who have judged that the passages printed here reflect the content of a course of study for which this examination is appropriate.



Time—1 hour

Directions: This part consists of selections from prose works and questions on their content, form, and style. After reading each passage, choose the best answer to each question and completely fill in the corresponding oval on the answer sheet.

Note: Pay particular attention to the requirement of questions that contain the words NOT, LEAST, or EXCEPT.

Questions 1-10. Read the following passage carefully before you choose your answers.

In his 1729 essay “A Modest Proposal,” Jonathan Swift wrote the following:

1. This text can best be described as

(A)   scientific

(B)   satirical

(C)   forthright

(D)   humanitarian

(E)   sadistic

2. In the first, second, and fourth paragraphs the author relies on dubious

(A)   similes

(B)   ad hominem arguments

(C)   extended metaphors

(D)   arguments from authority

(E)   appeals to ignorance

3. “Probationers” (line 13) are

(A)   children learning how to steal

(B)   children on probation

(C)   adults on probation

(D)   apprentices working at a trade

(E)   young artists

4. The phrase “the charge of nutriment and rags having been at least four times that value” (lines 24-26) is humorous because

(A)    food was relatively cheap at that time

(B)   “four times” is a hyperbole

(C)   rags could be found free

(D)    we don’t know who is being charged

(E)   “rags” is unexpected diction

5. The word “fricassee” (line 35) is obviously a(n)

(A)   animal

(B)   child

(C)   dish

(D)   place

(E)   master

6. In lines 36-44 the author adopts the standard rhetorical pattern of

(A)   process analysis

(B)   example

(C)   cause and effect

(D)   deductive reasoning

(E)   analogy

7. The phrase “always advising the mother to let them suck plentifully in the last month” (lines 47-48) extends the comparison between the children and

(A)   properly nourished mammals

(B)   poor and ruthless parents

(C)   savages

(D)   animals raised for slaughter

(E)   the poor treatment of animals

8. In line 58, “dear” means

(A)   expensive

(B)   sweet

(C)   cherished

(D)   unforgettable

(E)   unhealthy

9. In context, “devoured” (line 60) is an effective word choice because

(A)   it fits both figuratively and literally

(B)   it is appropriate only literally

(C)   it is indicative of the landlords’ plight

(D)   it works as a sentimental appeal

(E)   it reveals the author’s point of view

10. According to the author, the proposal

(A)   makes good economic sense and helps the poor

(B)   provides food for the needy and the rich, alike

(C)   makes good economic sense but does not benefit the poor or rich

(D)   benefits the rich in several ways

(E)   benefits everyone in many ways

Questions 11-14. Read the following passage carefully before you choose your answers.

From the article “The Hairy Maid and the Harpsichord: Some Speculations on the Meaning of Gulliver’s Travels,” by Dennis Todd, originally published in the scholarly journal Texas Studies in Literature and Language Volume 34 Issue 2, pp. 239-283. Copyright © 1992 by the University of Texas Press. All rights reserved.

11. The purpose of the passage is most likely to

(A)   describe the cultural landscape in Gulliver’s Travels

(B)   draw a comparison between the fictional world Gulliver experienced and the similar imaginative elements of eighteenth-century London

(C)   point out the superfluous nature of entertainment in Swift’s London

(D)   provide evidence that Swift’s satire is derived from the natural curiosity of European royalty

(E)   discredit the notion that Gulliver’s Travels is a wholly original work

12. The footnote 1 in line 27 indicates that

(A)   the article first appeared as an addendum to Gulliver’s Travels

(B)   Gulliver’s Travels was first published in 1939

(C)   the quotation “looked like the … Theater” was excerpted from Gulliver’s Travels, part of a 14 volume set of Swift’s works

(D)   the quotation “looked like the … Theater” was originally written by Herbert Davis

(E)   Gulliver’s Travels was reprinted in its entirety in 1939, and credited to Herbert Davis instead of Swift

13. The footnote 2 in line 39 indicates

(A)   the quotation was taken from a professional journal

(B)   the quotation refers to a 1710 exhibit in Amsterdam

(C)   the quotation originally appeared in Gulliver’s Travels in 1883

(D)   the quotation, describing a miniature exhibition of Amsterdam, first appeared in a book by John Ashton

(E)   the quotation was originally published in a newspaper

14. The detail in lines 50-56 suggest the scene is viewed by which of the following?

(A)   an impartial anthropologist

(B)   an intrigued visitor

(C)   a critical literary scholar

(D)   an argumentative architect

(E)   a struggling writer

Questions 15-22. Read the following passage carefully before you choose your answers.

15. It can be inferred from this passage that

(A)   Rousseau’s novels predate those of Abbé Prévost

(B)   most critics concur that French Romanticism began with Abbé Prévost’s works

(C)   Nivelle de la Chausée is most famous for his novels

(D)   the eighteenth-century novel is not relevant to the discussion of French Romanticism

(E)   Romantic paintings often depict emotional contemporary issues

16. It can be inferred from this passage that Romantic works often include

(A)   scenes in gloomy interiors

(B)   battles with Goths

(C)   scenes from the Wild West

(D)   discussions with neighbors

(E)   vividly decorated chambers

17. The word “morphology” (line 16) most closely means

(A)   structure

(B)   sickness

(C)   psychology

(D)   death

(E)   revolution

18. The “gratuitous demonstrations” (line 20) are

(A)   free of charge

(B)   calm portrayals

(C)   not directly tied to the plot

(D)   tips for the actors

(E)   gratifying plays

19. The “comédies larmoyantes” (lines 22-23) are characterized by

(A)   the overwrought emotionalism of the characters

(B)   the subdued control of the action

(C)   complicated rhetoric

(D)   the death of the main characters at the end of the play

(E)   extravagant sets

20. “Revolutionary” (line 27) is capitalized because it

(A)   refers to a specific revolution

(B)   designates a literary movement

(C)   is a key word in the passage

(D)   is part of the author’s title

(E)   refers to a specific dramatist

21. The last sentence (lines 21-29) in the passage is

(A)   a period

(B)   a run-on sentence

(C)   a metaphorical conclusion

(D)   not to be taken literally

(E)   an attack on the dramatist Mercier

22. Most likely, the passage is part of

(A)   a historical study of drama

(B)   a textbook on history

(C)   a study of Romanticism

(D)   an article in a travel magazine

(E)   a political history of France

Questions 23-33. Read the following passage carefully before you choose your answers.

In 1792, Mary Wollstonecraft wrote the following in the Introduction to her book A Vindication of the Rights of Women:

23. In the initial paragraph, the author employs both

(A)   apology and classification

(B)   irony and exposition

(C)   analogy and extended metaphor

(D)   flattery and epithets

(E)   induction and persuasion

24. In the initial paragraph, the author decries

(A)   traditional feminine attributes

(B)   traditional male attributes

(C)   modern sexuality

(D)   the importance of love

(E)   the importance of sentiments

25. In the initial paragraph, the author suggests that

(A)   men prefer strong women

(B)   a man will never truly love a strong woman

(C)   men never respect strong women

(D)   women need emotional and physical strength

(E)   women need intellectual and physical strength

26. The author ties the second paragraph to the first by using the words

(A)   “vessel” and “touchstone”

(B)   “soften” and “inferior”

(C)   “laudable” and “sex”

(D)   “slavish” and “virtue”

(E)   “soften” and “weak”

27. The word “vessel” (line 20) is a metaphor for

(A)   sex

(B)   woman

(C)   man

(D)   phrase

(E)   character

28. The author suggests that a woman’s worth may be best judged by

(A)   comparing her with a praiseworthy man

(B)   examining the elegance of her writing

(C)   evaluating the strength of her character

(D)   evaluating her physical beauty

(E)   examining her manners

29. The author proposes to write in a manner that is both

(A)   cogent and emotional

(B)   polished and intellectual

(C)   ornate and rhetorical

(D)   elegant and cerebral

(E)   convincing and flowery

30. The words “pretty nothings” (line 43) are a reprise of

(A)   “letters and conversation” (lines 41-42)

(B)   “essays” and “novels” (lines 40-41)

(C)   “flowery diction” (line 40)

(D)   “rounding periods” (lines 34-35)

(E)   “members of society” (line 39)

31. With the phrase “dropping glibly from the tongue” (line 44) the author begins

(A)   a caricature of women

(B)   a critique of turgid bombast

(C)   a panegyric of sugary writing

(D)   an analysis of sentimental writing

(E)   an extended metaphor

32. One can infer from the passage that to become strong human beings, rather than mere children, young women need

(A)   an education different from that of young men

(B)   more understanding husbands

(C)   obliging husbands

(D)   a good marriage

(E)   the same education as that of young men

33. The tone of the final paragraph is

(A)   sardonic

(B)   condescending

(C)   ironic

(D)   sarcastic

(E)   haughty

Questions 34-41. Read the following passage carefully before you choose your answers.

In his 1995 book The End of Education, Neil Postman wrote the following:

34. The “engineering of learning” (line 2) most nearly means

(A)   development of schools

(B)   building of schools

(C)   educational methodology

(D)   building up of knowledge

(E)   study of engineering

35. The “old saying” (lines 3-4) serves as

(A)   an analogy to the sentences that follow

(B)   a contrast to the sentences that follow

(C)   an illustration of the first sentence

(D)   a historical interlude

(E)   a tribute to tribal lays

36. The series of infinitives in the initial paragraph emphasizes that the learning process is

(A)   long and tedious

(B)   multifaceted and impersonal

(C)   active and varied

(D)   difficult and trivial

(E)   mechanical and complicated

37. According to the author, motivation is

(A)   not important

(B)   synonymous with reason

(C)   abstract and fleeting

(D)   momentary and concrete

(E)   psychological and enduring

38. Both the first and third paragraphs contain

(A)   aphorisms

(B)   ironical statements

(C)   syllogistic reasoning

(D)   ad hominem arguments

(E)   notable parallelism

39. In line 32 , “god” most nearly means

(A)   religion

(B)   deity

(C)   reason

(D)   person

(E)   Nietzsche

40. The author employs the argument from authority as

(A)   a contrast to his point of view

(B)   a relevant concrete example

(C)   an apt analogy

(D)   an example of cause and effect

(E)   an illustration of the cruelty in schools

41. The paradox in the final sentence rests on

(A)   different meanings of “end”

(B)   a crass simplification

(C)   the comparison between schooling and learning

(D)   the eternal process of learning

(E)   a new way of bringing schooling to an end

Questions 42-47. Read the following passage carefully before you choose your answers.

From Plessy v. Ferguson (1896):

42. The speaker in this passage is

(A)   delivering a political speech

(B)   rendering a legal judgment

(C)   reminiscing about the past

(D)   a state governor

(E)   involved with the railroad company

43. In the first paragraph, the series of rhetorical questions serves the speaker’s strategy of reasoning by

(A)   appeals to authority

(B)   analogy

(C)   description

(D)   induction

(E)   deduction

44. Based on the passage, the speaker holds that

(A)   racial equality will become a reality in America

(B)   civil equality is guaranteed by the Constitution

(C)   racial equality is guaranteed by the Constitution

(D)   both civil and racial equality are guaranteed by the Constitution

(E)   neither civil nor racial equality is guaranteed by the Constitution

45. In line 50, “pernicious” most nearly means

(A)   just

(B)   unjust

(C)   useful

(D)   propitious

(E)   harmful

46. In the speaker’s opinion, the Louisiana law is subject to censure by

(A)   either the United States Congress or the United States Supreme Court

(B)   Louisiana legislation only

(C)   United States legislation only

(D)   the people of Louisiana only

(E)   neither the United States Congress nor the United States Supreme Court

47. The style of the entire passage can be best described as

(A)   ornate and whimsical

(B)   dry and objective

(C)   abstract and legalistic

(D)   terse and opinionated

(E)   probing and subtle

Questions 48-54. Read the following passage carefully before you choose your answers.

48. The opening sentence of the passage contains

(A)   an expression of fear

(B)   an appeal to authority

(C)   a humorous simile

(D)   an irreverent attack

(E)   equivocation

49. The speaker is addressing

(A)   a friend

(B)   a group of his peers

(C)   a king

(D)   a crowd of voters

(E)   his political adversaries

50. The most significant transition takes place in

(A)   line 10 (“I have thought it consistent …”)

(B)   line 18 (“These were my objects …”)

(C)   line 22 (“But as a feeling of honour …”)

(D)   line 26 (“But, Sir, I will not …”)

(E)   lines 30-31 (“I will not, Sir, undertake …”)

51. All of the following are part of the same extended metaphor EXCEPT

(A)   “helm” (line 28)

(B)   “vessel” (line 29)

(C)   “fairly” (line 29)

(D)   “course” (line 30)

(E)   “unshackled” (line 41)

52. Which term in the first paragraph serves to prepare the dominant point of the final paragraph?

(A)   “disaffection” (line 13)

(B)   “enjoyment” (line 15)

(C)   “dangers” (line 26)

(D)   “tempestuous” (line 28)

(E)   “unfettered” (line 35)

53. Based on the passage, the speaker’s motivation to serve as Prime Minister is dictated mostly by

(A)   greed

(B)   political ambition

(C)   sense of honor

(D)   political power

(E)   youthful exuberance

54. The tone of the entire passage

(A)   remains consistently cynical

(B)   shifts according to the speaker’s mood

(C)   shifts from light to serious

(D)   becomes more frivolous in the final paragraph

(E)   remains consistently lighthearted



Time—2 hours

Number of questions—3

Percent of total grade—55

Each question counts as one-third of the total essay section score.

Question 1 Synthesis Essay……………suggested time—40 minutes

Question 2 Essay……………suggested time—40 minutes

Question 3 Essay……………suggested time—40 minutes

(Additional 15 minutes for reading sources at the beginning of Section II)

Section II of this examination requires answers in essay form. To help you use your time well, the coordinator will announce the time at which each question should be completed. If you finish any question before time is announced, you may go on to the following question. If you finish the examination in less than the time allotted, you may go back and work on any essay question you want.

Each essay will be judged on its clarity and effectiveness in dealing with the requirements of the topic assigned and on the quality of the writing. After completing each question, you should check your essay for accuracy of punctuation, spelling, and diction; you are advised, however, not to attempt many longer corrections. Remember that quality is far more important than quantity.

Write your essays with a pen, preferably in black or dark blue ink. Be sure to write CLEARLY and LEGIBLY. Cross out any errors you make.

The questions for Section II are printed in the green insert. You are encouraged to use the green insert to make notes and to plan your essays, but be sure to write your answers in the pink booklet. Number each answer as the question is numbered in the examination. Do not skip lines. Begin each answer on a new page in the pink booklet.



Time—2 hours

Question 1

(Suggested writing time—40 minutes.)

This question counts as one-third of the total essay section score.

Carefully read the following six sources, including the introductory information for each source. Then synthesize information from at least three of the sources and incorporate it into a coherent, well-written essay that develops a position on the most important consideration in granting suffrage to women in America.

Make sure that your argument is central; use the sources to illustrate and support your reasoning. Avoid merely summarizing the sources. Indicate clearly which sources you are drawing from, whether through direct quotation, paraphrase, or summary. You may cite the sources as Source A, Source B, etc., or by using the descriptions in parentheses.

Assignment: Relying heavily on the sources that follow, write a well-organized essay addressing this prompt: In democratic nations today, the ability to vote is presumed. Many consider this right a “natural right,” while others consider it a privilege or even a civic duty.

You may refer to the sources by their titles (Source A, Source B, etc.) or by the descriptions in parentheses.

Source A      (Anthony lecture)

Source B      (Daily Graphic)

Source C      (Hunt)

Source D      (66th Congress)

Source E      (Minor v. Happersett)

Source F      (Woman’s Sphere)

Source A

In 1872, Susan B. Anthony was arrested and charged with voting illegally. The following passage is the opening of her lecture entitled, “Is It a Crime for a Citizen of the United States to Vote?”

Source B

Political cartoon by Thomas Wust, The Daily Graphic, 1873

Source C

An excerpt from Judge Ward Hunt’s instructions to the jury in the case of United States v. Susan B. Anthony, June 18, 1873.

Source D

Joint resolution of the 66th Congress, May 19, 1919.

Source E

Minor v. Happersett, 88 U.S. 162 (1874)

Source F

Nineteenth-century political cartoon.

Question 2

(Suggested time—40 minutes. This question counts as one-third of the total essay section score.)

The passages that follow were published shortly after the appearance of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818). At that time, very few people knew the identity of the author. The first passage has been extracted from an anonymous piece from The Quarterly Review. The second passage is part of (Sir) Walter Scott’s review of Frankenstein in Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine.

Read the passages carefully. Then write a carefully organized essay in which you compare and contrast the manner in which each critic uses language to convey a point of view.

Question 3

(Suggested time—40 minutes. This question counts as one-third of the total essay section score.)

Read carefully the passage below. Then write an essay in which you support, refute, or qualify the claim that a “neutral” stand on race perpetuates racial imbalance.