AP English Language

Develop Strategies for Success


Introduction to the Analysis Essay

Types of Analysis Essay Prompts

What Kinds of Questions Are Asked in the Analysis Essay?

Let’s look at a few of the TYPES of questions that have been asked on the AP English Language and Composition exam in the past. These types may seem more familiar to you if you see them in the form of prompts.

• Analyze an author’s view on a specific subject.

• Analyze rhetorical devices used by an author to achieve his or her purpose.

• Analyze stylistic elements in a passage and their effects.

• Analyze the author’s tone and how the author conveys this tone.

• Compare and/or contrast two passages with regard to style, purpose, or tone.

• Analyze the author’s purpose and how he or she achieves it.

• Analyze some of the ways an author re-creates a real or imagined experience.

• Analyze how an author presents him- or herself in the passage.

• Discuss the intended and/or probable effect of a passage.

You should be prepared to write an essay based on any of these prompts. Practice. Practice. Practice. Anticipate questions. Keep a running list of the kinds of questions your teacher asks.

It’s good to remember that the tasks demanded of you by the question remain constant. What changes is the source material on which you base your response to the question. Therefore, your familiarity with the terms and processes related to the types of questions is crucial.


Don’t be thrown by the complexity of the passage. You choose the references you want to incorporate into your essay. So, even if you haven’t understood everything, you can write an intelligent essay—AS LONG AS YOU ADDRESS THE PROMPT and refer to the parts of the passage you do understand.

Watch for overconfidence when you see what you believe to be an easy question with an easy passage. You are going to have to work harder to find the nuances in the text that will allow you to write a mature essay.