On the AP exam, there are multiple-choice questions and an essay question on poetry. The multiple-choice questions range from identifying the antecedent to a pronoun in one of the lines to identifying the prominent poetic device in the poem. A great way to have students understand the multiple-choice is to give them some examples of the kinds of questions that are asked and the different types of answers, which can be found in any test prep book, and have the students write their own questions. While not all the questions themselves may be good, the product is not really the important thing, the process is.
AP essay questions use either one or two poems and range in question, but the type of question is usually the same. I looked at the past questions and have found some recurring elements. Many prompts including asking for how the poem’s diction or language describes the speaker’s attitude towards something or someone in the poem. Students are also asked to show how the attitudes in two poems differ. One asks for students to pay attention to the physical intensity of the language and show how the poet conveys the whole meaning of the experience in the poem than just the literal. A few others ask how the language reflects the changing perception and emotions of the speaker. Lastly, many ask a question and then suggest students can include elements such as diction, imagery, metaphor, rhyme, rhythm, form, and syntax to answer the question. Of course students should only choose two or three elements so they can develop their argument comprehensively. At an AP workshop I went to, the instructor suggested that if the students use the prompt in the thesis statement, they add strong adjectives in front of the poetic element, i.e. vivid imagery, medical or bodily or antiquated diction.