Read the Right Stuff for the AP* English Literature Exam

Preparing for the Advanced Placement* (AP) English Literature and Composition exam can be overwhelming. No matter how you look at it, you're going to be required to do a lot of reading. The good news is that you can take your cues from the authors who have shown up most often on previous exams to help you focus your study.

Based on the examinations of the last 20 years, the following is a list of the authors, plays, and novels that have been suggested for use on the open essay question for the AP English Literature and Composition exam. This list represents the authors and works that students have chosen to write about most often. A handful of other titles often appear on recommended reading lists (Melville's novel Redburn, for example) that hardly anyone wrote about, and these names have been omitted.

Over the years, the most frequently chosen novels have been Conrad's Heart of Darkness, Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter, Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, and Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. The plays that students write about most often are Miller's Death of a Salesman, Williams' The Glass Menagerie, and Shakespeare's Hamlet. There have, of course, also been hundreds of other appropriate novels and plays that were not on the lists of suggested titles.

Chinua Achebe: Things Fall Apart
Aeschylus: the Oresteia
Aristophanes: Lysistrata
Jane Austen: Pride and Prejudice
Samuel Beckett: Waiting for Godot
Bertolt Brecht: Mother Courage and Her Children
Charlotte Bronté: Jane Eyre
Emily Bronté: Wuthering Heights
Albert Camus: The Stranger
Anton Chekhov: The Cherry Orchard
Kate Chopin: The Awakening
Joseph Conrad: Heart of Darkness, Lord Jim, Victory
Daniel Defoe: Moll Flanders
Charles Dickens: David Copperfield, Great Expectations, Hard Times, A Tale of Two Cities
Feodor Dostoevski: Crime and Punishment
Theodore Dreiser: An American Tragedy, Sister Carrie
Ralph Ellison: Invisible Man
Euripides: Medea
William Faulkner: As I Lay Dying, Light in August, The Sound and the Fury
Henry Fielding: Joseph Andrews
F. Scott Fitzgerald: The Great Gatsby
Gustave Flaubert: Madame Bovary
E. M. Forster: A Passage to India
William Golding: Lord of the Flies
Thomas Hardy: Jude the Obscure, Tess of the D'Urbervilles
Nathaniel Hawthorne: The Scarlet Letter
Joseph Heller: Catch-22
Lillian Hellman: The Little Foxes
Ernest Hemingway: The Sun Also Rises
Zora Neale Hurston: Their Eyes Were Watching God
Aldous Huxley: Brave New World
Henrik Ibsen: A Doll's House, An Enemy of the People, Hedda Gabler, The Wild Duck
Henry James: The Turn of the Screw, Washington Square
James Joyce: A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
Franz Kafka: Metamorphosis, The Trial
D. H. Lawrence: Sons and Lovers
Sinclair Lewis: Main Street
Gabriel García Márquez: One Hundred Years of Solitude
Herman Melville: Billy Budd, Moby Dick
Arthur Miller: All My Sons, The Crucible, Death of a Salesman
Toni Morrison: Beloved, Song of Soloman
Flannery O'Connor: Wise Blood
Eugene O'Neill: The Hairy Ape, Long Day's Journey into Night
George Orwell: Animal Farm, 1984
Alan Paton: Cry, the Beloved Country
Jean Rhys: Wide Sargasso Sea
Jean-Paul Sartre: No Exit
William Shakespeare: Hamlet, Julius Caesar, King Lear, Macbeth, The Merchant of Venice, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Othello, Romeo and Juliet, Twelfth Night
George Bernard Shaw: Major Barbara, Man and Superman, Mrs. Warren's Profession, Pygmalion
Mary Shelley: Frankenstein
Sophocles: Antigone, Oedipus Rex
John Steinbeck: The Grapes of Wrath
Tom Stoppard: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead
August Strindberg: Miss Julie
Jonathan Swift: Gulliver's Travels
Leo Tolstoi: Anna Karenina
Mark Twain: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Voltaire: Candide
Kurt Vonnegut: Slaughterhouse Five
Alice Walker: The Color Purple
Evelyn Waugh: The Loved One
Edith Wharton: Ethan Frome, The House of Mirth
Oscar Wilde: The Importance of Being Earnest
Thornton Wilder: Our Town
Tennessee Williams: The Glass Menagerie, A Streetcar Named Desire
Virginia Woolf: To the Lighthouse
Richard Wright: Native Son

Once in a while, an open question allows for the choice of a poem rather than a novel or play. The following poems have been included in the list of works on the exam. (Do not write on one of these works if the question calls for a novel or play.)

Robert Browning: "My Last Duchess"
T. S. Eliot: "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock," "The Waste Land"
Homer: The Iliad, The Odyssey
Milton: Paradise Lost
Pope: "The Rape of the Lock"

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