What are the AP Language exams?
College Board offers 8 AP Language exams for high school students: AP Chinese Language, AP German Language, AP Italian Language, AP French Language, AP Japanese Language, AP Latin Language, AP Spanish Language, and AP Spanish Literature. Collectively, these tests are the "AP World Languages and Cultures" exams. Notably, Spanish students can take two different Spanish exams. The College Board offers these two exams during different testing slots. That means that strong Spanish students would do well to take them both in the same year!
All AP language and culture exams follow the same basic format. Part 1 is composed of multiple choice questions and Part 2 is composed of free response questions. Part 1 for all tests is made up of both reading questions and listening questions. (The AP Latin course, however, does not require a student to practice listening. This skill does not come up on the Latin exam.) The exact number of multiple choice and free-response questions varies from test to test.
How do I prepare for AP Language exams?
AP Language exams are unique in that students usually take four years of coursework to prepare for the test, as opposed to the typical one-year course schedule. Strictly speaking, however, there are no explicit prerequisites for these courses. Native speakers of any of the 6 spoken languages that College Board offers will likely find themselves on track to an easy 4 or 5. Be sure to practice reading comprehension in your given language, however; while most native speakers of a language have fluent aural comprehension, they sometimes have less experience with reading and writing.
Students declaring a language-related major — such as Classics, Romance Languages, or Comparative Literature — would of course benefit from having at least 1 such AP exam under their belts. A 4 or 5 on the AP Japanese Language and Culture or Chinese Language and Culture exams would supplement an East Asian Studies major. An AP Language exam also nicely supplements a related major like International Relations. And of course having a 5 on an AP Language exam if you're a math or science major shows a college that you have many academic interests and strong, multilingual communication skills.
If you want to learn more about all things AP, check out our Ultimate Guide here!