Course Tour—AP Spanish Lang v. AP Spanish Lit.

The Basics

AP Spanish Literature & Culture and AP Spanish Language & Culture are college-level courses, which require a strong foundation in Spanish prior to entering these courses. 

AP Spanish Language is a similar structure to traditional high school language courses, focusing on students’ ability to converse in Spanish and deepening their understanding of Spanish-speaking cultures. 

AP Spanish Literature is often seen as the more difficult of the two courses due to its break from conventional language classes, focusing instead on reading, interpreting, and presenting in Spanish as students interact with short stories and excerpts from Spain, Latin America, and U.S. Hispanic texts.

The Exams

Although many exams will have digital testing options in 2021, AP Spanish Literature and AP Spanish Language will be offered in paper format only. 

AP Spanish Language

  • Multiple Choice: 30 questions in 40 minutes. [23% of score]

    • Interpretations of print materials such as journals, maps, and letters.

  • Multiple Choice (Audio): 35 questions in 55 minutes. [27% of score]

    • 2 sets of print and audio combined

    • 3 sets of audio only

  • Free Response Written: 2 questions in 1 hour 10 minutes. [25% of score]

    • Interpersonal Writing: read and reply to an email message.

    • Presentational Writing: form and articulate an argument based off of provided sources.

  • Free Response Spoken: 2 questions in 18 minutes. [25% of score]

    • Interpersonal Speaking

    • Presentational Speaking

AP Spanish Literature

  • Multiple Choice (Audio): 15 questions in 20 minutes. [10% of score]

    • 3 sets of questions based off authentic audio texts

  • Multiple Choice (Reading): 50 questions in 1 hour. [40% of score]

  • Free Response: 4 questions in 1 hour 40 minutes. [50% of score]

    • 2 short answer questions: Text Explanation and Text and Art Comparison

    • 2 essay questions: Analysis of a Single Text and Text Comparison

The Statistics*

AP Spanish Language

  • 187,133 students took the AP Spanish Language exam in 2019.

  • Of those students who took the exam, 88.7% scored a 3 or higher.

  • The means score was a 3.71.

  • 25.2% scored a 5! (30.5% in 2020)

AP Spanish Lit

  • 29,345 students took the AP Spanish Literature exam in 2019.

  • Of those students who took the exam, 72.3% scored a 3 or higher.

  • The mean score was a 3.10.

  • 9.5% scored a 5! (17.6% in 2020. WOW.)

*All statistics are sourced from College Board 2019 & 2020 score distributions

Additional Course Facts

  • Spanish Lit and Spanish Lang are taken in either a student’s junior or senior year, without much preference for one or the other. It is worth noting, however, that approximately 6 times as many students take Language as take Literature.

  • Some colleges will accept a passing AP score as college credit, which can decrease college costs.

  • College Board is introducing some changes to most AP Exams in 2021, so make sure you’re looking at the new formats when you’re practicing!

Which course should you take?

Choosing between these courses really comes down to what sort of skills you want to explore within Spanish. AP Spanish Language focuses on communication. You watch films, respond to emails, and listen to music. This focuses on active speaking and interaction. AP Spanish Literature, on the other hand, focuses on reading comprehension and exposes students to a wide survey of Spanish-speaking authors.

Both courses have immense merits! AP Spanish Lang is excellent for students who hope to reach a daily level of fluent Spanish conversation or who hope to work in business or social careers that interact with a variety of cultures. AP Spanish Lit is perfect for the humanities enthusiast who wants to test out their skills in a different language or who hopes to major in fields like history, philosophy or comparative literature.

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