How AP English Helps with SAT Prep

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How AP English Helps with SAT Prep

By: Dr.  Dawn Weathersbee

Many states and colleges offer merit-based scholarships that are directly tied to high SAT or ACT scores,  in addition to other criteria such as GPA. These scholarships can mitigate the ever-rising cost of college tuition. However, another way to help alleviate the cost of college is to earn college credit through Advanced Placement courses taken for free during high school. 

In many instances, the school or district will pay for students enrolled in AP courses to take the proficiency exam, but even if a student must cover the cost, $93 for the chance to save thousands is still a financially sound decision.  

As a former SAT prep teacher for Evidence-based Reading and Writing, a former AP English Literature and Composition teacher, and a current AP English Language and Composition teacher, I can attest to the fact that while each test’s focus is slightly different, the basic skills involved are all the same. 

To keep this simple, of the two AP courses mentioned, let’s focus on the skills necessary to be successful on the AP English Language and Composition exam. This exam is comprised of two primary components: 

  1. A multiple-choice section that asks students to analyze passages for style and conventions and analyze passages for the author’s use of rhetoric.
  2. A writing section that asks students to again analyze a passage for the author’s use of rhetoric and compose a cogent essay in regard to that in addition to asking students to compose cogent essays that are argumentative in nature.  

Thus, at its root, this exam asks students to read, to comprehend what they read on a literal level, to analyze what they read for its rhetoric, to evaluate what they read for style and conventions, to answer focused questions about what they read, to write essays about what they read, and finally to create their own arguments.  

Does this sound familiar? It should. 

As any student who has taken a SAT prep class or the actual SAT can attest

They must perform these same tasks on the SAT Reading Test and the SAT Writing and Language Test.

And the success does translate to success on the SAT.

My students are often surprised at how much their SAT Evidence-Based Reading and Writing scores increase as a direct result of taking AP English Language and Composition. Indeed, as a concrete example, one student I taught during the 2019-20 school year in AP Lang (as we call it) had a 130 point increase in his Evidence-Based Reading and Writing score between the end of his sophomore year and the end of his junior year as a direct result of the skills acquired through successful completion of my AP English class. In addition, this young man also scored a 4 on the AP exam, which will earn him college credit. This student has now exempted 3 hours of college English and earned a high enough composite SAT score to qualify for state merit-based scholarships. This is a savings of thousands of dollars simply because he took an AP English class and was diligent about learning the material. While not every student will have this same outcome, these results are typical for my students. 

College can be expensive, but there are ways to save. SAT prep teachers and AP teachers alike will tell you that taking AP English Language and Composition in high school, which can earn you potential college credit and increase your SAT scores, is certainly one of those ways. With that said, it is my strong recommendation that you should consider enrolling your college-bound child in AP English Language and Composition; it will not only help make your child college-ready, but it will have the added benefit of helping to ready your child for the SAT as well.

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