AP English Language & Composition

Course Overview

All-around-the-world-through-reading.jpgBlue Tent Online's AP English Language and Composition class is designed for homeschooled juniors and seniors (16+) who enjoy reading, sharing, and comparing. The College Board has designed this college-level class to focus on non
-fiction, and beginning with your selection of one of five summer book choices, you and your classmates will read a wide variety of books, essays, and articles that address social, economic, psychological, and political issues. You'll grapple with issues that are relevant to you today, as you zoom in and weigh each writer's argument. You'll consider language as a tool, evaluating the speaker—audience—subject connection within the framework of the classical rhetorical triangle.
Throughout the year, you'll read time-tested and award-winning literature and non-fiction. Drawing on your class text, The Language of Composition, you will analyze, and discuss essays, excerpts, and articles that are organized in themed units that offer a broad range of perspectives. You'll read two works of fiction—written by John Steinbeck and George Orwell—zooming in on those writers' overarching arguments from a rhetorical perspective. Reflecting on contemporary editorial/opinion articles, you'll measure the tenor and temperature of syndicated columnists (whose newspaper columns you will select based upon your own interests and persuasion).  You'll read and listen to an array of modern and historical speeches and—as you take in this diverse assortment of material—you'll become increasingly adept at sleuthing for rhetorical clues and connecting them back to a writer's purpose. But you won't do all this on your own! A Socratic approach to class discussions will welcome and encourage your opinions, as you actively consider, compare, and debate your views in friendly, collaborative online forums.
  • Blue Tent's AP Language class is designed for homeschooled juniors and seniors who have had two-to-three years of high school writing instruction and practice. You understand the fundamentals and want to fine tune. Over the year, you'll learn (or reinforce) MLA formatting. You'll use the MLA framework in all your writing, putting its core conventions into practice each week and solidifying the nuances of parenthetical citation and works cited pages. You'll tackle synthesis, argumentative, and rhetorical analysis essays. Even in your writing, active, weekly online discussions are at the core of the class. You and your classmates will share all of your compositions in class forums—and then offer supportive, helpful feedback. Your instructor will offer detailed feedback on each paper you turn in, so writing for a meaningful audience of your peers, in addition to your teacher, will offer you the incentive to invest yourself in your work and hone your expression.  And you'll benefit from the modeling of others—gleaning ideas—as you observe how other students approach each writing task.  Participation in text-based discussion forums is a foundational part of Blue Tent classes. AP Language is not about "right answers." It's about developing argumentative skillfulness and an effective writer's voice. 
  • This course will help you prepare for the AP Language exam in May and for college courses in the future. The reading and writing you undertake throughout the year will help you hone your critical thinking and enhance your writing skillfulness. Timed writing and critical reading exercises will be interwoven into the ongoing coursework.  In the second semester, you will ramp up test prep, and about a month before the exam, you will shift gears and focus exclusively on AP test prep, with writing assignments that simulate both the AP exam content and its conditions. You will scrutinize and critique actual, scored AP essays written by students for past exams, you'll review feedback and commentary from AP readers/scorers, and you'll take several full practice tests from actual released exams.  As the year draws to a close and the AP exam beckons, you'll have a firm grasp of what to expect in that culminating activity.  And you will feel prepared for success.  Most importantly, after the AP exam is over and you let out a big sigh of relief, you'll know you're ready for that next step: college writing and analysis.
Enter AP Language eager to share and debate.  Join a community of friends from across the country, and expand your horizons!

Course Goals

  • To focus on three modes of writing: the synthesis essay, argument essay, and rhetorical analysis essay
  • To engage in formal and informal writing to practice and develop your "writer's voice"
  • To craft compositions that introduce a complex central idea and develop it with sufficient and appropriate evidence drawn from personal knowledge and experience, as well as from secondary sources
  • To engage in rhetorical analysis that identifies and communicates the writer's target and purpose in an active, arguable manner and offers detailed evidence of the rhetorical tools and strategies employed to achieve that purpose
  • To successfully synthesize sources, while ensuring your voice stays in the lead as you develop a complex interweaving of experts and evidence
  • To craft thesis statements with precision in all modes of writing—and then maintain a focused and fluid defense of your central argument
  • To correctly and consistently apply recently updated (8th edition) MLA conventions, including page-formatting, parenthetical citation, and works cited source constructions
  • To move beyond competent in essay construction, with compelling and original openings, succinct, arguable thesis statements and topic sentences, and robust, well-supported body paragraphs
  • To collaborate with your instructor in pre-writing argument development, with revisions and fine-tuning prior to essay drafting
  • To respond to detailed writing feedback provided by the instructor—correcting and improving in the revision stage
  • To develop and refine vocabulary, syntax, and mechanics, demonstrating growth and maturity in your writing

Student Resources

Course texts (please pay careful attention to the correct editions):
The Language of Composition, 2nd Edition, Shea, Scanlon, and Aufses
They Say / I Say: The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing. with 2016 MLA Update, 3rd Edition,
Gerald Graff and Cathy Birkenstein
NEW: MLA Handbook, 8th Edition
NEW: Princeton Review Essential SAT Vocabulary Flashcards, 2nd Edition
Barron's AP English Language & Composition, 6th Edition
Summer reading (your choice of one):
Fiction and non-fiction read by the class during the year (any editions; library books and ebooks are fine):

EasyBib EDU: Free subscription access to an expanded platform of citation tools.
New York Times: A free online subscription will be provided by the instructor.

Homeschoolers are readers! Students who have read one or more of the class selections may opt to either re-read or substitute an alternative (in collaboration with the instructor).

Representative Course Activities

  • Reading and analyzing non-fiction books, essays, articles, speeches, and visual media
  • Annotating and note-taking on assigned reading
  • Weekly responses to class readings on class discussion forums
  • Weekly critical reading quizzes (with an instructional design)
  • Writing instruction and detailed individual feedback on all essays
  • Argumentative, analytical, and research-based (synthesis) essay writing, with peer modeling/discussion
  • Timed AP essay and multiple choice practice drawn from released exams
  • Review/critiquing of student-essay examples drawn from actual AP exams
  • Optional participation in several text-based chats during the year (transcripts available to those who opt out or who are unable to attend in real-time)

 Summer Assignment

Over the summer, you'll be asked to read one of the five summer options listed above. These books were carefully selected to offer you a variety of choices that I hope you will enjoy and appreciate. Before class starts, plan to write a 2-3 page essay about your book. I'll send out instructions over the summer, and I'll ask you to upload your essay on the first day of class. That will get you started sharing and comparing with your new class friends. Don't stress about writing the "perfect" paper. You'll start the year with an A+ on this first essay!

Online Format

This is an asynchronous course. While there are here are no live or recorded lectures. The class is highly interactive, with students and the teacher utilizing a variety of tools—including weekly discussion forums—for interaction and instruction. Because there is no single time the class "meets" during the week, you have the flexibility to complete the assigned weekly coursework in a manner that fits your busy high school schedule. 

Assignments are set up on a Monday-Sunday framework, with due dates typically on Wednesdays, Fridays, or Sundays. You will access the website regularly (most students check in daily) and interact with your classmates in a give-and-take manner, according to your own academic and family schedule.
While there is no "live" component to the class, interaction is frequent and friendly. Your active participation in discussion forums is a core component of this class. Peer-to-peer dialogue and debate are what make the class engaging and enjoyable!  
moodlepowered.jpgAll Blue Tent classes are hosted on Moodle, a learning management system that is popular among online educators and universities. You will complete assignments directly on the password-protected website that your instructor has created just for your class.  You will upload your writing assignments as Microsoft Word documents and receive feedback from the instructor in pdf form.  Some of your handwritten assignments will be scanned or photographed—cellphone photos work just fine!—and uploaded.
You don't need to be a techie to take this online class. All you need is a computer with an up-to-date browser and any version of Microsoft Word (all compositions will be uploaded as Word files). Whether you've taken an online class before or not, you'll expand your cyber skills.  And your instructor will help you every step of the way.

Course Tuition, Size, and Schedule

AP Language is open to home-schooled juniors and seniors who are 16 years of age or older.  The course will be capped at 20 students. Tuition for 2017-2018 is $675 for the year, payable to Blue Tent Online at registration.

AP Language will begin on Monday, August 21, 2017 and conclude with the AP exam on Wednesday, May 16, 2018. The website will open one week early and will remain open for a few weeks after the AP exam for optional discussion, debriefing, and downloading of student records. There will be a one-week fall break, a short Thanksgiving week, a two-week Christmas break, and a one-week spring break.

The Instructor

Want to learn more about the AP English instructor? 
  • Meet the instructor, Brigid Thompson.
  • Read about recent AP English exam results for Blue Tent students, and see what parents and students have to say about Brigid's classes on Results & Feedback.


Students and parents often wonder: AP Literature or AP Language?  And if both, in what order?  While AP English Language and Composition is most commonly taken by juniors and AP English Literature and Composition is most commonly taken by seniors, there is no "right" order.  They are very different classes with distinct objectives. The College Board does not mandate or recommend that students take them in a particular sequence. You might find it helpful to read over the College Board course descriptions.

Students can expect to spend an average of 10 hours per week on Blue Tent AP English coursework.
Please contact Brigid Thompson if you have questions about the class. If writing level is a question, forward a representative writing sample for prompt, candid feedback.

Blue Tent Online AP English courses comply with the AP Course Audit process 
and have been authorized by the College Board.