Can You Score a 5 in AP English?


Zoe Samuel

6 Min Quiz

Image: shutterstock

About This Quiz

Advanced Placement English is an advanced class that the most gifted and competent high school students take in their final year (or two) of high school - or, if the opportunity only arises a little later, in the first year of college. AP English was previously a combination of English Literature and English Language, but the two have been two different courses since the '80s. These days, AP English is a matter of studying the literature and proving the ability to answer multiple choice questions and write essays about it. Of course, those are really just symptoms of the real goal of the course; to learn the skills that enable a person to gain a true and deep understanding of a text and parse out its meaning and construction.

Some might say, "Why is this a useful skill? After all, if you can read and write, do you need to do more than that? Can't you just pick up a book?" These people do not get a top score in AP English. They also don't know how to communicate as effectively, to understand themselves and their fellow man as deeply, they're more gullible and less informed, and they read more slowly and are less productive at work.

Fortunately, you're not one of those people - and this quiz is your chance to prove it!

If the question asks how the writer conveys tone, what aspect of the work should you focus on?

If the essay asks HOW the writer did something, the tools of their trade are the topic of discussion. That means the question is asking about their choice and arrangement of words. It is not asking WHAT they were trying to do, which would be about plot and other elements.


How many lines are in a villanelle?

A villanelle​ is a 19-line poem made up of triplets with repeating and alternating final lines. The last stanza is a quartet ending with both the final lines that repeated and alternated in the prior stanzas. A famous example of a villanelle is Dylan Thomas' poem, "Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night".


One of the main sections of a sonnet is the octet. What is the other main section?

A sonnet is a 14-line poem written in iambic pentameter. The first section is eight lines, called the octet. The sextet is the remaining six lines and typically represents a pivot in the emphasis of the poem.


To what literary movement does John Donne belong?

The Metaphysical poets include Donne as well as Andrew Marvell and others. Contemporaries of Shakespeare, their work is characterized by remarkably complex use of language, including borderline indecipherable conceits.


Which writer is considered the progenitor of the science fiction genre?

Mary Shelley wrote what is generally considered to be the first science fiction novel, "Frankenstein." She was in Geneva with her husband hosting a house party and they all challenged each other to write ghost stories.


Which of the below is NOT one of the recurring characters in Shakespeare's sonnets?

The Nasty Queen is not a character in the sonnets. Indeed, it would be a really bad idea to annoy the queen at the time, since Elizabethan England was a police state and you could get your head removed for such things.


Why did Shakespeare write "The Merry Wives of Windsor"?

Queen Elizabeth really loved the character of Falstaff so Shakespeare gave him his own play. This makes Merry Wives arguably one of the earlier spin-offs out there.


What job did John Milton have, besides poet?

John Milton was an extremely politicial figure and worked many years for Oliver Cromwell. Cromwell was the leader of the Roundhead movement that cut the head off Charless II during the English Civil War.


Which of the below is a simile?

A simile is where two things are compared in a way that acknowledges that the comparison is being made. For example, "This cake is like heaven" is a simile. Saying, "This cake is heaven" is not a simile as it is literally claiming the cake is heaven.


Which of the below correctly describes the meter of a trochee?

A trochee is the opposite of an iamb. That means it's one long, stressed syllable followed by a short, unstressed one.


How many syllables per line are in tetrameter?

Tetrameter is eight syllables. That's different to pentameter which has 10. Tetrameter is one of the most simple forms to learn.


What is the difference between a couplet and a triplet?

A couplet has two lines and a triplet has three. Sometimes they rhyme, other times they don't! It depends on the poem.


Which of the below is an example of a half-rhyme?

Girl and world don't rhyme at all, as the vowel sounds are different. A half-rhyme has the correct vowels for a rhyme but not the correct consonants.


Which of the below is an example of alliteration?

Alliteration means using the same first letter to create a recurring sound. For example, most tongue twisters involve one. The technique is also frequently used - albeit sparingly - in great poetry.


Which of the below is an example of consonance?

Consonance means the same vowel sounds are used. For example, in "Mike likes his new bike," the repeated K sound provides a continuity of sound. Consonance is an element in rhyming.


In poetry, what is enjambement?

Enjambement is when there is a runover line. The last two lines of Andrew Marvell's "To His Coy Mistress" is an example: "Thus, though we cannot make our sun %0DStand still, yet we will make him run."


Who wrote the first novel?

Defoe is considered the first novelist, as he wrote "Robinson Crusoe." There were previous prose works but none meet the modern definition of a novel. These days, novels are less confined by certain rules, such as including the protagonist's entire life.


Which of the below is noted for writing what they claimed was the first comprehensive English language dictionary?

While there were earlier English language dictionaries, Dr. Johnson's was upposedly the first comprehensive one. He took more than 20 years to write it.


Which experimental poet is noted for his spare, experimental poems in which the placement of the words on the page are a key part of the poem's form?

e e cummings does not capitalize his own name. His poems are a sort of shape poems, in which the words of the poem are laid out in a way that reflects the content of the poem.


Which social satirist, now one of the most popular authors in history, was unregarded in her time and made a lifetime total of about £650?

Jane Austen is one of the most beloved and successful writers of all time. However, during her life, she was not very loved and could not make a living with her pen. Her wealthy brother had to support her.


Which immensely popular Victorian novelist released his novel, "The Pickwick Papers," in serialized form starting in 1836?

Charles Dickens wasn't paid by the word, contrary to myth. He was paid by the installation, which is why his novels came out in serialized form.


For whom did Lord Tennyson write his elegy, "In Memoriam A.H.H."?

Arthur Hallam was Tennyson's best friend. When Hallam died, Tennyson expressed his grief in a very long lyrical poem.


Who was the first British Poet Laureate?

While Ben Jonson did receive a royal pension and Chaucer had a whole lot of patronage, the first official British Poet Laureate was John Dryden.


Why didn't Samuel Taylor Coleridge finish "Kubla Khan"?

Coleridge was indeed high when he came up with the poem, and then came down. However, his real problem was that the mailman arrived and they had a nice chat, during which he forgot the poem he'd planned.


What weather event, prompting months of chilly rain, inspired the writing of the novel, "Frankenstein​"?

The Year Without A Summer was the result of the eruption of Mount Tambora. It was the reason for Turner's paintings being so expressive; that's just what the sky looked like. It also inspired a lot of other great art.


Which Romantic poet best known for works such as "Childe Harold's Pilgrimage" died of malaria caught while fighting in the Greek War of Independence?

Lord Byron was a celebrity, always generating controversy and taking lovers from across society. He eventually went to Greece to fight against the Ottoman Empire and died of malaria.


If the essay question asks about the theme of a piece, what should the answer focus on?

Thematic elements are non-explicit messages, as opposed to dramatic elements which are explicitly expressed through the ​plot. For example, dramatically, George Eliot's "Middlemarch" is about a woman who marries an older man she believes is brilliant but is fooled. Thematically, it is about social expectations, duty, compassion, and judgment.


Which of the below is a metaphor?

A metaphor is like a simile except it doesn't acknowledge itself; that is, it is non-literal. For example, when there are a lot of men around, it's not literally raining men, but there may still be plenty to go around!


How does metaphor differ from analogy?

Metaphor is a figure of speech in which language is used in a non-literal way to illustrate the nature of something. Analogy is when two things are compared to highlight the nature of the first by literally comparing it to the second.


Which of the languages and language groups listed below is NOT a main source of loan words to English?

Loan words are words that came from another language and then got adopted. While English borrows heavily from Norse and the Romance languages and is itself one of the Indo-European languages, it doesn't have a lot of words from Japanese.


Which of the words below is NOT a portmanteau?

Portmanteau words are when two words combine to make a new one, as in brunch (breakfast+luunch) or ebonics (ebony+phonics). Toothpaste is not a portmanteau because both its components are contained in the word in their entirety.


What is an ad hominem argument?

"Ad hominem" comes from the Latin "to the person." That is, it means dismissing a person's argument based on something personal that does not tell you whether they know what they are talking about. Thus, "You're a redhead, therefore you don't understand Shakespeare" is ad hominem. "You have never read any Shakespeare, therefore you don't understand Shakespeare" is a good argument.


Which of the below offers the best definition of catharsis?

Catharsis is the process of feeling strong emotions and then enjoying a sense of being spent as a result. Tragedy is not just about feeling sad​ when it is done well; it should also induce catharsis. Examples of this being done successfully include Milton's "Samson Agonistes" and Shakespeare's "Hamlet."


Who was the first person to play Hamlet?

Richard Burbage was a celebrity in Elizabethan Theater and one of the greatest actors of all time. He was probably the first Lear, Hamlet, and Iago.


Which World War I poet was noted for his scathing commentary about the futility of the war, best expressed in his poem, "Dulce Et Decorum Est"?

Wilfred Owen was killed in action in 1918, just seven days before the end of the war. He wrote about how futile the whole project was and his poems are among the most powerful to be produced during the conflict.


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