English Advanced Placement Criteria

The Upper School English curriculum includes required core courses for 9th and 10th grade English. Upon successful completion of these courses, students will be recommended for either Advanced Placement English Language and Composition or English Electives in 11th grade and may then elect to take AP English Literature and Composition or a Senior Elective in the 12th grade, regardless of 11th grade placement.

Because we recognize in our students the differing interest levels and mastery of reading, writing, and analytical skills, our program expands at the 11th grade to offer courses either at the AP Language and Composition (11th) and AP Literature  and Composition (12th) levels or the American Literature (11th) or World Literature (12th) electives.

Students entering 11th grade may be recommended either for:

  • Advanced Placement English Language and Composition (core texts in American Literature)
  • Electives (which focus on topical studies in American Literature)

The AP English Language class provides a course of study for students who have demonstrated high achievement and a passion for literary studies and/or rhetoric. The work at this level is more advanced in both a qualitative and quantitative sense. Here students are invited to investigate literature written in a variety of rhetorical contexts in greater depth and detail, to consider more difficult concepts, and to write compositions utilizing high level thinking and writing skills.  The recommendation of the student’s 10th grade English teacher is required for entry to 11th grade AP Language and Composition.  Criteria considered by teachers for permission to enroll in the AP English Language sections are the following:

  • A course grade of 90% or better, with an average on literary analysis papers of 90% or higher
  • Demonstration of superior writing skills on a variety of essay types, particularly in the development of meaningful theses and the ability to fully structure and explain an argument
  • Demonstration of  the habit of close reading and a willingness to share ideas in class discussion in a particularly meaningful way
  • A demonstrated responsibility in completing all work in a timely and thorough manner
  • A demonstrated willingness to commit to the demands of an AP curriculum by taking responsibility for one’s own learning
  • An additional requirement exists for transfer students: they must submit a copy of their best paper of literary analysis from a previous English class for evaluation.

Students who seek more support with their writing, beginning with a thorough review of the fundamentals and then building on that through feedback and coaching throughout the writing process will be placed in 11th grade electives.  All elective students will be prepared with the reading and writing skills required for college level success and may opt for AP English Literature in their senior year.


Because the College Board offers the two AP courses in English as a sequence, our expectation is that students will continue from AP English Language and Composition in the 11th grade to AP English Literature in the 12th. Any student who opts to take Advanced Placement English Literature and Composition in the senior year commits to the demands of the AP program, which encourages advanced thinking, reading, and writing skills in a challenging curriculum that is the equivalent of a college English class.