According to the “Course Description” for AP Language and Composition released in 2014 by the College Board, an “AP Language and Composition course requires students to become skilled readers of prose written in a variety of rhetorical contexts and skilled writers who compose for a variety of purposes. Both their reading and their writing should make students aware of interactions among a writer’s purposes, reader’s expectations, and an author’s propositional content, as well as the genre conventions and the resources of language that contribute to effectiveness in writing (9).
“At the heart of an AP Language and Composition Course is the reading of a various texts. Reading facilitates informed citizenship and thus increases students’ capacity to enter into consequential conversations with others about meaningful issues. Also contributing to students’ informed citizenship is their ability to gather source materials representing particular conversations and then make their own reasonable and informed contributions to those conversations. Students’ ability to engage with outside sources in their reading, writing, and research is an important measure of their intellectual growth (9).
“While writing represents a significant component of this course, the core skill required is the ability to read well. In reading another writer’s work, students must be able to address four fundamental questions about composition: what is being said? (message); to whom is it being said? (audience); how is it being said? (style); and why is it being said? (purpose). The answers to these questions inform students’ own composition process as they learn to read like writers and write like readers” (9).
With regard to the type of reading for this course, the College Board suggests texts that represent a clear rhetorical situation, speak to a variety of genres, could be read in an introductory composition course in college, require teacher direction for students to discern meaning, and rate as upper high school level on the Lexile chart (10). With regard to the amount of reading for this course, the College Board suggests students are reading challenging texts every day and are “spending at least 8 hours per week (both inside and outside of class) engaged in their reading and writing.” Students “should gain considerable practice in reading a wide variety of nonfiction texts—from newspaper editorials to critical essays and political treatises—in order to find out what others are thinking, saying, and doing in the world. Familiarity with these conversations will help students become informed and rhetorically competent writers who not only consider the views of others but use writing as a way to formulate and convey their own responses.”
Overall, this course aims to “cultivate the reading and writing skills that students need for college success and for intellectually responsible civic engagement. The course guides students in becoming curious, critical, and responsive readers of diverse texts, and becoming flexible, reflective writers of texts addressed to diverse audiences for diverse purposes” (11).