AP® English Literature and Composition
Multiple-Choice Questions

The AP® English Literature and Composition exam consists of two sections: multiple-choice questions (MCQs) and free-response questions (FRQs). In this guide, we will focus on the first section, composed of MCQs and its format, and share some tips to score well on the exam. In addition, we have included some sample multiple-choice questions (MCQs) from previous AP English Language and Composition tests to help you prepare for this section.

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Format of AP English Literature MCQ section

A frequently asked question is, “How many MCQs are on the AP Lit exam? ” On the AP Lit exam, there are 55 multiple-choice questions and just 60 minutes to complete this section of the test, which counts for 45% of the exam score. Each question has the same weight and covers seven of the nine-course units. The table below is a summary of how each skill is weighted in this section.

Skill Category Exam Weight
Function of character 16-20%
Function of setting 3-6%
Function of plot and structure 16-20%
Function of narrator or speaker 21-26%
Function of word choice, imagery, and symbols 10-13%
Function of comparison 10-13%
Arguments about interpretations of a text 10-13%

How to Approach AP English Literature and Composition Multiple-Choice Questions

For many students, the MCQ might be the most difficult section of the test because it requires considering five answer choices and answering 55 questions within an hour. Understanding the options and selecting the correct answers in that amount of time can be challenging. Here are some tips to help you prepare for the difficulty of the readings and work quickly.

  1. Start with the passage that seems the easiest.

    Because all the questions are equally weighted, you should answer as many as you can in the allotted time, which means a good strategy is to work with the easy passages first. The prose selections are often the easiest to understand, so you may want to begin with them and come back to the questions in the poems.

  2. Annotate the poem or passage as you read.

    Make notes in the margins of the test booklet while you are reading to call attention to patterns in word usage, summarize paragraphs and stanzas, and note the images and symbols used.

  3. All parts of an answer must be accurate for the answer to be correct; partly right isn't close enough.

    Sometimes, students are fooled into thinking an answer is correct because a part of the answer choice is right. However, the rest of the answer may contain inaccurate information that makes the entire answer wrong. Eliminate answers that the text can't completely support.

  4. Focus on the lines indicated in the question and surrounding details.

    Many questions direct you to look at specific lines, paragraphs, and stanzas. Use only those lines to find the right answer to the questions. Don't select an answer supported by evidence from another section of the passage or poem.

  5. Avoid answers that contain language directly taken from the passage.

    The wording from the passage is rarely found in the correct response. Using words from the passage is a common trick used in wrong answers on the exam.

  6. If you can’t determine the right answer, focus on finding what makes each choice wrong.

    Eliminating obvious wrong answers will help you narrow down the choices and make a better guess, if necessary.

  7. Study basic terms for literary devices and tone words.

    Understand the concepts of metaphor, simile, allusion, personification, imagery, and figurative language. Also, study tone words that frequently show up, like ambivalent, condescending, contempt, cynical, didactic, indifferent, indulgent, mocking, nostalgic, pedantic, resigned, satiric, somber, wry, etc.

  8. Answer every question.

    There is no penalty on the exam for incorrect answers, so you should always take your best guess at answers. You only have to answer about 55% of the questions correctly to receive a passing score on the MCQ section, so the odds are better if you record an answer for every question.

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AP English Literature Multiple-Choice Examples

The following examples of AP English Literature multiple-choice practice questions from the UWorld QBank illustrate the different kinds of questions you may see.

How can I Practice AP English Literature Multiple-Choice Questions?

One of the best ways to improve your MCQ score is to practice answering lots of questions. By doing so, you will become familiar with the information typically asked for and the language used. At first, practice answering the questions at your own pace so you can think carefully about the answers. After you have developed your confidence and skill, it is wise to practice answering the questions at a pace similar to what you will experience on the exam: about a minute per question.

The UWorld AP English Lit question bank is an excellent source of practice MCQs. It contains over 600 questions that are very similar to the ones found on the actual exam. UWorld provides explanations to help you understand why the right and wrong answers are wrong. Knowing how to determine where you may have made a mistake in choosing an answer helps you avoid that mistake in the future. Additionally, the UWorld AP Lit question bank gives you the option to practice by taking both timed and untimed tests.

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Frequently Asked Questions

There are 55 MCQs on the AP Lit exam and three Free-Response questions. The MCQ section is worth 45% of the score, and the FRQ is worth 55% of the score.

An automated computer system grades the multiple-choice questions. The multiple-choice section is calculated similarly to previous AP multiple-choice sections in terms of how the raw score: you receive a point for each question you answer correctly, and there is no penalty for incorrect answers or the questions you leave blank.

The MCQ section of the AP English Lit exam consists of 55 questions to complete in one hour.

The College Board does not typically make their MCQ from past exams available publicly. That is why a resource like UWorld is the best way to practice for that section of the exam.


  1. (2023). AP English Literature and Composition. College Board.
  2. (2020, Fall). AP English Literature and Composition Course and Exam Description. College Board.

Read More About the AP English Literature

Do you have difficulty answering AP English Literature Free Response Questions (FRQs)? Check out sample FRQs and UWorld’s expert advice to excel in this exam section!
Ultimate study tips and ideal materials can smoothly level up your exam prep. Here’s our AP English Literature Study Guide, developed by experts to ace your exam easily.
Don’t get overwhelmed with the AP exam format. Get a clear picture of the AP English Literature Exam Format here: providing exam structure, question types, weights, & more!
Want to know if AP English Literature suits you? Get a better sense of the AP English Lit exam with our all-inclusive exam guide, explaining what’s on the exam, why take it, etc.
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