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Let’s go through what the 2012 test takers did to score points of their own and what they did to lose them.Many test takers are tempted to jump right into the excerpt for the first FRQ, but it is a mistake to read the poem before the prompt.If you want a roadmap of the shortcuts, speed bumps, and twists and turns of the essay portion of the AP Lit exam, you’re in the right place.
Looking at past examples is a great way to be prepared and confident on the day you take your test.
We’d love for you to follow along with us as the College Board’s website.
The prompt for the 2012 FRQ #1 told students that they would be reading a contemporary poem by Li-Young Lee.
We would immediately start to think of other contemporary poems we studied before and draw experience from them.
It makes a strong argument that shows the test graders what to expect in the rest of the essay.
If your first sentences have spelling errors, graders will expect more to come.
We would then read the poem, marking it with either a POV for point of view or S for structure. Taking a couple of minutes to thoroughly and carefully read the prompt ensures you’ll answer the full question and often gives you a few hints on how to do so. Just like it’s important to make a good first impression in person, it’s important to make a good first impression in your essay.
And just like you supposedly only have a few seconds to make your impression in real life, you only have a few sentences in your essay. The above example is written clearly and succinctly without errors.
Or it’s terrible, because you get struck right out of the gate with the hardest question.
Whatever way you prefer to see it, one thing is certain: the first free response question is the hardest, meaning test-takers consistently score the lowest on this question throughout the years. The mean for all test takers in 2012 was a whopping 3.98. With enough practice, study, and hard work you can score a 9, even on the hardest question.