AP Lang vs AP Lit: Which Course is Right for You?

Are you a student considering advanced English courses but feeling confused? Don’t worry; you’re not alone! Choosing between Advanced Placement English Language and Composition (AP Lang) and Advanced Placement English Literature and Composition (AP Lit) can take time and effort. It is like picking between two delicious ice cream flavors with unique tastes. But fear not! In this blog, we will discuss AP Lang vs AP Lit and break it down in simple terms.

These courses are designed to challenge students and enhance their English language and literature skills, but they are different. So, which one should you choose?

To help you understand, we will explore the differences, similarities, and what each course offers, helping you decide which one is the perfect scoop for your English education. At the end of this blog, once you have all the information about each course, you can get the clarification to choose your college credit and advanced placements.


AP Lang vs AP Lit

1. What do AP Lang and AP Lit Courses include?

Before diving into the differences, Let us start with the core of these exams and what AP Lang vs AP Lit includes.


AP Language and Composition AP Literature and Composition
  Course Details
  •  This course is about improving critical reading and writing.
  •  You will learn non-fiction works, analyze what you read, and understand it better.
  •  You will write essays explaining specific ideas, proving points, or convincing others.
  •  This course teaches you how to understand and evaluate different fiction works, poems, and dramas.
  •  You will read and write essays on these works to explain what you think about them.
  Skills Assessed
  •  Reading carefully and understanding what you read.
  • Assessment of a source of information
  •  Getting information from different places and putting it together.
  •  Drafting an argument supported by evidence.
  •  Writing and improving a write-up.
  •  Reading a text closely and making conclusions from the details.
  •  Find out what techniques an author uses and how they affect the story.
  •  Coming up with your ideas about a text.
  • Explain your concepts and make arguments in your writing.



Summarizing, AP Lang vs AP Lit:

AP Language and Composition: This course focuses on improving your writing skills, analysis, and argumentation. You will read and analyze various nonfiction texts, including essays, articles, speeches, etc. The goal is to become a proficient writer and critical thinker.

AP Literature and Composition: AP Lit, on the other hand, delves into the world of literature. It involves the study of poetry, prose, and drama from different periods and cultures. You will analyze literary devices, themes, and interpretations in addition to writing essays and creative responses.

2. Differences & Similarities: AP Lang vs AP Lit

Now, let’s explore the key distinctions and common points between these two courses:

AP Lang AP Lit
  • focuses on nonfiction
  • emphasizes argumentation, persuasion, and analysis of real-world texts
  • You will write essays, speeches, memoirs, and analyses.
  • A college-level course that introduces literary analysis
  •  revolves around literature, including fictional texts, poetry, and drama
  •  indulges in the study of literary works, including novels, plays, and poems
  •  analyzes the literary elements and themes within these texts and writes essays analyzing the literature
  • A college-level course that introduces literature
  • Improves your critical thinking and analytical skills, helping you communicate more effectively.
  • You will write essays and practice timed writing
  • Both courses require reading and comprehension skills, albeit in different contexts.

3.Comparison of the Curriculum of both courses

The table below gives an overview of what the AP Lang vs AP Lit exam syllabus and the course content involves.:

Unit AP Language and Composition AP Literature and Composition
1 Learn how to spot and examine the ideas presented in a text. Also, determine if the writer supports their thoughts with good reasons and proof. Short Fiction I:

For critical reading skills, interpretation, and analysis

2 Discover how writers organize information and evidence to back a point and connect with a particular audience. Poetry I:

For critical reading exploration in poetry and analysis of similar stuff in various poem types

3. Indulge different views on a topic and see how different arguments can relate. Longer Fiction or Drama I:

Observe your capability to form longer works from the previous 2 literary techniques. Also, understand the development of the characters and their interaction during the narrative.

4. Explore how writers choose ways to develop their arguments, introduce their ideas, and conclude their writing. Short Fiction II:

Indulge more in the various characters and their roles. Also, understand how the viewpoint of the narrator can form storytelling.

5 Focuses on the tiny choices writers make to bring all the parts of their argument together. Poetry II:

Indulge into different types of poetry and see how their structure and figurative language can shape and change their meanings.

6. Learn to tell the difference between a writer’s position and perspective. Also, find out how to consider bias and include and address different viewpoints in an argument. Longer Fiction or Drama II:

Here, explore how longer literary works with various writing tricks play out. Also, see how characters transform (or don’t) as the plot unfolds.

7. Look at the wide range of arguments about a topic and what makes each one strong or weak. Short Fiction III:

Examining how short stories connect with the world and society they’re written in. We will see how they reflect the author’s experiences.

8. Explore writers’ style choices and how they affect their arguments. Poetry III:

This unit goes deeper into understanding poetry and explores how differences, complex language, and other methods can add extra layers of meaning to poems.

9. Consider lots of different viewpoints as you create a complex argument. Longer Fiction or Drama III:

Bringing together everything learned so far and using skills to analyze complex stories or plays as a whole.


4. What is the Exam Pattern of the Courses?

Understand the exam style (first and second part of both exams) and the timings allotted for different things of the course of AP Language and Composition and AP Literature and Composition:

AP Lang vs AP Lit
Section I (45% of Score) Multiple Choice: 45

(Reading questions: 23-25

Writing Questions: 20-22)

Multiple Choice: 55

(Total 5 Questions with 8-13 Questions each)

Section II (55% of Score) Free Response

Total Questions: 3

Free Response

Total Questions: 3

  Exam Duration 3 hours and 15 minutes

(15 min more than Literature course for FRQs)

(1 Hour for 45 Multiple Choice)

3 hours

(1 Hour for 55 Multiple Choice

5. Score Distributions for Comparison

Below are the two types of tables:

Score comparison for the years 2019 to 2023

Students getting 3+ and 2- scores


College Board allots a final high score from 1 to 5. One is the lowest, and 5 is the highest (excellent performance) score.

When comparing the graphs and the statistics, you will find that students scoring 3+ have been higher for the English literature than the English Students. Thus, the English Language and Composition course can be deduced as a difficult one.

Further, English Language is more popular among AP students, so the total number of students appearing for the exam is also higher. These increased numbers affect the overall success rate comparison and lower the score percentage than the English Lit. The students prefer to take the AP Language course in their junior year, and when they are in their senior year, they undergo the English Literature course.

AP Language and Composition
AP Literature and Composition


AP Literature and CompositionAP Literature and Composition

AP Language and CompositionAP Literature and Composition


AP Literature and CompositionAP Literature and Composition

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6. Which Course is Right for You?

Now, the big question:  AP Lang vs AP Lit – which course should you choose? It largely depends on your interests, strengths, and future goals.

Choose AP English Language if:

  • You enjoy persuasive writing and argumentation.
  • You are interested in analyzing real-world texts, such as speeches and essays.
  • You want to develop strong communication and rhetorical skills.
  • You plan to pursue a career in law, humanities, sciences, finance, etc.

Choose AP English Literature if:


  • You have a passion for literature and love reading novels, poetry, and plays.
  • You enjoy exploring the deeper meanings and interpretations of literary works.
  • You want to improve your literary analysis and critical thinking skills.
  • You are considering careers or majors in literature, humanities, teaching, reading, or creative writing.

When deciding

When deciding, consider the following point of view:

Your Interests and Strengths in English:

Reflect on what you enjoy and excel at in English. If you are drawn to analyzing literature and discussing themes, Literature aligns with your interests. English Lang is a good choice if you thrive on crafting persuasive arguments.

Passion for Reading: If you’re an avid reader who enjoys delving into novels, poems, and plays, AP English Lit will be a more fulfilling experience.

Strong Writing Skills: If you excel in writing and are passionate about crafting persuasive arguments, AP Lang may be your calling.


Course Workload and Difficulty Level:

Consider your current academic workload and commitments. Both courses are challenging, like AP exams such as AP Physics I, AP Art and Design: 3-D, etc.. Still, English Literature might involve more reading and literary analysis, whereas English Language requires extensive writing and rhetorical analysis.


1. Which course do colleges prefer, AP Language or Literature?

Colleges’ preferences can vary based on your intended college major and each college’s specific AP credit policies. To determine if one AP English course is favored, you should check with the colleges you are interested in and speak to their AP coordinators.

2. Can I take both AP English Lang and AP Lit?

Yes, you can take both courses, but not simultaneously. Students undergo an AP Language course in their junior year and AP Literature in their senior year of high school. This decision is beneficial, especially when they are considering English, literature, or humanities majors.

3. Which AP English course is harder?

The difficulty can vary based on skills and a person’s own experience. AP Lang is often considered more focused on writing, while AP Lit involves a lot of reading and literary analysis. Your strengths and interests play a big role in determining which may be more challenging for you. However, with the proper guidance, lots of free resources, and an expert tutor, any AP course becomes much easier.

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The bottom line is that choosing between AP Lang and AP Lit ultimately comes down to your interests, strengths, and career aspirations. Both courses offer valuable skills and experiences that can benefit you in the long run. So, assess your preferences and goals and make the best choice for your path to success in the English language and literature. Thus, you may go ahead with your desired course after careful consideration.

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