The introduction of a literary analysis essay presents the text and background, and provides your thesis statement; the body consists of close readings of the text with quotations and analysis in support of your argument; and the conclusion emphasizes what your approach tells us about the text.
You'll also want to read to improve your close-reading and rhetorical analysis skills. When you do read, really engage with the text: think about what the author's doing to construct the novel/poem/play/etc., what literary techniques and motifs are being deployed, and what major themes are at play. You don't necessarily need to drill down to the same degree on every text, but you should always be thinking, "Why did the author write this piece this way?"
Perhaps the most critical piece in reading to prepare for the AP Lit test, however, is for the student choice free-response question. For the third question on the second exam section, you'll be asked to examine how a specific theme works in one novel or play that you choose. The College Board does provide an example list of works, but you can choose any work you like just so long as it has adequate "literary merit." However, you need to be closely familiar with more than one work so that you can be prepared for whatever theme the College Board throws at you!
Section B will be an essay involving close-reading and critical analysis of poetry. You will be expected to demonstrate ability to explicate a poem, displaying knowledge of poetic forms and understanding of poetic devices. See scoring criteria here. [pdf]
ENGL 125, Readings in English Poetry I, provides an introduction to the English literary tradition through close reading of select poems from the seventh through the seventeenth centuries. Emphasis on developing skills of literary interpretation and critical writing; diverse linguistic and social histories; and the many varieties of identity and authority in early literary cultures. Readings may include Beowulf, The Canterbury Tales, Middle English lyrics, The Faerie Queene, Paradise Lost, and poems by Isabella Whitney, Philip Sidney, William Shakespeare, Amelia Lanyer, John Donne, and George Herbert, among others. The density and complexity of poetic language make this literature an ideal starting place for the training of sophisticated readers and effective writers. Through critical analysis, active discussion, and especially written argument, students balance a broad view of literary tradition with close attention to language and form. ENGL 125 is a foundational course for the English major but is open to all students regardless of intended major. 2b1af7f3a8