AP English Language

Build Your Test-Taking Confidence


Explanations of Answers to the Multiple-Choice Section

The Annie Dillard Passage

1. C. Each paragraph opens with the words “the essay.” With this repetition, Dillard guarantees that the reader’s focus does not waver. It also provides the organizational framework of the passage. There is no passive voice present. (By the way, the previous sentence is an example of passive voice.) The author relates no personal narrative and does not identify herself with her audience.

2. E. In the first two sentences, the author blames “contrived entrances” for killing “the novel of idea.” She supports this in the next to the last sentence in paragraph 1 by criticizing “fabricated dramatic occasions.” Both of these examples point to the artificial construct of fiction.

3. D. The first paragraph contains two major cause-and-effect situations. The first is found in sentences 1–3, and the second is found in the last two sentences.

4. B. The first of the two sentences states what the essayist does: he thinks. The second sentence tells the reader how he thinks and writes. By writing two separate sentences, Dillard reinforces the equal importance of each of these points.

5. D. A careful reading of the sentence and a knowledge of how to locate antecedents can only lead the reader to choose “the real world.” Any other choice negates the correct meaning of antecedent/referent.

6. A. The second paragraph clearly develops its point through a contrast and comparison between prose and poetry. None of the other strategies is present in the paragraph.

7. C. Dillard’s subject is the essay. Her position is one of unswerving allegiance to its form and function. Nowhere does she criticize the essay or the essayist, and nowhere does she discuss innovations or the changing of its form. Dillard is an artist. This classification, however, does not reveal her stance on the essay form.

8. E. Knowing the definition of parallel structure and being able to recognize it makes the choice of E an easy one. (“Even if … even if …”)

9. C. Look carefully at sentences 1–3 of paragraph 3 and notice the author’s use of the words “connections,” “covenant,” “veracity,” and “truth.” With this specific diction, the only appropriate choice is C.

10. E. The only choice that contains two adjectives that are BOTH applicable to the author’s tone in this passage is E. The purpose of the essay is to inform/explain the function of the essay and the essayist. This, in itself, is the support for choosing E. The confidence is apparent in the writer’s discussion of the other forms of literature.

The Henry James Passage

11. C. This is located in the first sentence. Here James tells his audience that the quality of the mind of the producer is the key factor in creating high-quality art. The moral and artistic grow out of this quality. “Obvious truth” refers to his premise, and beauty is a by-product of the process.

12. E. James’s diction is indicative of an elitist attitude. Note phrases such as “No good novel will ever proceed from a superficial mind …” He closes out any other possibility for a creative endeavor of quality.

13. B. The question demands your close attention to the structure of the sentence. In this instance, beauty as truth is directly proportionate to intelligence. “This” applies to the novel, picture, statue. And, it is James’s vision.

14. D. A rule of thumb is a generally accepted truth as to how to proceed. In this context, James presents a ground rule for the young writer.

15. A. This is a straight question about antecedents. To find the referent, look back at the sentence preceding this one.

16. E. One needs to know and recognize examples of the terms used in this question. Here, “rather” opposes “generalizing” with “particularizing.”

17. D. The sentence in the middle of the passage beginning with “The other arts …” will indicate to the careful reader that James is making a point to the student that art forms other than the novel are “confined and hampered.” No other choice is appropriate in this context.

18. B. It is easy to see the parallel structure in this sentence. Notice “enjoy it”; “explore it”; “publish it”; “rejoice in it.” The other choices are not present.

19. D. This question may seem daunting at first, but careful examination of the structure of the lines reveals that James is telling the student not to allow himself to be cornered into following advice that limits his horizons. Ironically, James has already limited the scope of art and the artist.

20. D. The pronoun “this” in the middle of the sentence beginning with “All life belongs to you …” is your best clue to the answer “This” is referring to the word “art.” Therefore, the only appropriate choice is D.

21. C. Through both the process of elimination and recognizing that both parts of your answer must be correct, the only appropriate choice is didactic, because the author is attempting to instruct the young novelist and exhortative in his urging the young writer to “catch the color of life itself.”

The Herman Melville Passage

22. B. Throughout the passage, Melville builds his description on the comparison between items connected to the sea and those related to the land. Choices A and C are examples of this controlling analogy. D is another specific detail provided, and E is an example used by Melville to reinforce his description of the Nantucketer.

23. E. Paragraph 4 supports choices A, B, C, and D. The only choice not supported in the text is E.

24. C. The diction and selection of detail all support the tone of admiration. The hyperbole can easily be seen in paragraph 1 and the end of paragraph 3.

25. D. Italics are used for very definite reasons. The purpose here is for emphasis. Melville wants to draw the reader back to the only other italicized word in the piece— Nantucket—the very first word of the passage.

26. B. Here, pronouns are very important. In paragraph 2, this refers the reader to paragraph 1, which is about the island. These in paragraph 4 refers to the previous paragraph, which is about the inhabitants of Nantucket. The last sentence of the passage, while quite moving, indicates, again, a reference to Nantucketers. However, these in the first sentence of paragraph 3 is a definite shift in focus from the island to its inhabitants.

27. A. The only choice appearing in the first paragraph is parallel structure, which is used throughout the listing of “extravaganzas” that Melville bestows on Nantucket. Many of the items in the listing begin with the word that.

28. D. Keeping in mind the central focus of the passage, Melville’s retelling of the Native American legend is not to highlight or focus on Native Americans, but to reinforce his attitude toward the Nantucketers, whom he perceives in mythic proportions. He compares them to Noah, to Alexander the Great, and to Emperors.

29. B. The question requires the reader to be aware of the consecutive details that build in size and importance: from the clam to the whale.

30. E. The analogy established with Nantucket to Illinois is that of an island to a landlocked state. The only choice given that illustrates the same relationship is walrus to prairie dog. Here a walrus lives its life surrounded by the sea; whereas, the prairie dog is surrounded by the land.

31. B. The whale is a “mightiest animated mass.” This can only refer to the largest creature in the sea. “Himmalehan” and “Mastadon” reinforce the power and size of the creature.

32. C. The tone, diction, syntax, and selection of detail all point to Melville’s admiration of the fortitude, perseverance, and uniqueness of the Nantucketer.

33. D. In this question, the repetition balances the dual focus: the island and its inhabitants. The diction and syntax of this selection are not formal, but rather a grand folk myth of epic proportions.

34. B. Beginning with “There is more sand” and continuing to the end of the paragraph, Melville presents examples dependent upon extreme exaggeration.

35. E. The paragraph develops an extended analogy that compares the world of the sea to that of the land, such as sea to prairie, sailor to prairie dog. None of the other choices are valid in this context. The Lucy Stone Passage

The Lucy Stone Passage

36. D. If you chose E, you’re out of our class for the day. Seriously, it is obvious that the speaker both is outraged about the treatment of women and demands the right of women to be recognized. No other choice is correct in both descriptions.

37. E. The fifth sentence in paragraph 1 provides the answer to this question. In these two lines, the student should see that Stone makes a case that both women and blacks are not being educated and are by implication being treated in the same way.

38. B. If the student carefully looks at the sixth sentence in paragraph 1, he or she will see that it is valid to conclude that the speaker does not hold teaching in high esteem.

39. B. Each of these lines plays an important role in the speech. However, only one plays the role of controlling the entire thought process. The other choices are subtopics.

40. A. Anecdotal support is found in the first six sentences of paragraph 1. A direct quotation is located in the second half of paragraph 2. Facts are used in the fourth and fifth sentences of paragraph 1, and the appeal to emotion is presented in the seventh sentence of paragraph 2. There is no ad hominem argument in the speech.

41. A. Stone wants women to rise up and stop the oppression of their gender. But, according to this statement, she must actually see to it that women are oppressed until they can no longer bear it. It is only then that Stone sees their being willing to demand their rights.

42. E. If you look carefully at the section of the speech beginning with “I wish that women …” and ending with “frequent bar-rooms,” you will note that Stone says she is disappointed that women concern themselves only with the superficial. Her remarks about religion, foreign countries, fate, and men are in opposition to the actual choices. Notice the use of the word ephemeral.

43. C. The speaker aims for a logical conclusion when she points to Phillips’ definition of sphere. She creates an implied syllogism that if God cannot make a mistake, if God created each of us to do our best, this must apply to all—men and women alike.

44. B. To exhort: to urge, to warn earnestly. In her speech, Lucy Stone is urging her audience to begin to stand up for their rights as women. She wants them to understand what is oppressing them and, as a result, to “no longer bow down to it.” A careful reading of the passage will indicate that the basis for the speech is NOT telling a story, nor is there an attempt to amuse or describe. The last sentence provides the final impetus for her exhortation. The Poverty Excerpt

The Poverty Excerpt

45. E. The argument is derived from the examples presented in the other choices.

46. B. Each paragraph provides specific statistics to support the claim that welfare reform is not a complete success. This thesis is presented at the end of the passage, NOT at the beginning.

47. C. There is an indictment of the United States for failing to enact the policies and meet the goals that other countries have already put into practice.

48. A. A cursory look at the inclusion and preponderance of statistics and other data with little personal commentary support this choice.

49. A. All other footnotes cite sources, depend on other sources, or are personal commentary.

50. B. It doesn’t matter how many estimates there are. What is important is the authority and reliability of Swingle.

51. D. The presentation of so many statistics from various years demands a visual representation for clarity and ease of understanding. The other choices would only address a subjective aspect of the topic.

52. E. This source comes from an organization whose very name states its potential bias and agenda.

53. D. The words dismal and but, plus the phrases still a long way from and more compassionate all point to the author’s disapproval of the current policies of the United States.

54. C. Within the footnote, Working Paper and the Internet address point to a recent research project submitted to an academic institution.