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Ap Spanish Literature Essay Rubrics

The AP Spanish Literature course is taught entirely in Spanish. The goal of the class is to develop students’ interpersonal, presentational, interpretive, critical reading, and analytical writing skills using short stories, novels, poetry, and essays from Spanish-speaking authors throughout the world. Specific cultural contexts and historical and temporal events are explored through lessons focused on connections and comparisons using various media like art and film, as well as texts chosen from a reading list of 38 titles (here you can find the most recent list of titles and authors). Well-known authors and poets include Federico García Lorca, Miguel de Cervantes, Gabriel GarcíaMárquez, and Isabel Allende, among others.

This AP Spanish study guide will briefly outline the format of the AP Spanish Language Exam, putting particular emphasis on the AP Spanish Literature Free-Response section. It will provide insights into why the free-response section is important to the overall test results, mention content covered in the free-response section, as well as inform interested test takers on how to prepare for AP Spanish Literature Free-Response section. Finally, this guide will provide you with AP Spanish Literature Exam tips to help you answer the free-response questions, and provide AP Spanish Literature practice questions.

What is the Format of the AP Spanish Literature Exam?

At the end of their course work, students sit for a three-hour-long AP Spanish Literature and Culture Exam. Here they are evaluated on their ability to use interpretative and presentational modes of communication, as well as their ability to reflect upon the diversity held within a number of Spanish literary sources. Exam questions draw from material covered in the required reading list, as well as other sources not directly discussed in the course. The goal of this is to encourage students to relate the knowledge that they learned in the required texts to an assortment of sociocultural, geopolitical, artistic, and historical circumstances. Students are expected to have mastered a number of literary terms and to have a comfortable command of literary analysis and comparisons techniques within and between texts.

The AP Spanish Literature Exam is made up of two sections broken down into various components. Each section is 50% of the final exam score. Section I, which lasts an hour and 20 minutes, consists of 65 multiple choice questions. You will learn about techniques for success in this this section in another article.

Section II, the AP Spanish Literature Free-Response section, asks test takers to answer four questions in an hour and 40 minutes. This section is also worth 50% of exam score. Unlike other sections, students are allowed to budget their time independently within the given time limit.

Two Short Answer Questions ask students to do a Textual Explanation and a Text and Art Comparison. On the Textual Explanation component, students are required to read a pre-selected excerpt of text from the required reading list. They should identify who wrote the text, the time period it is set in, and then discuss thematic elements as they relate to the larger work it was extracted from. The Text and Art Comparison component again engages with a pre-selected excerpt of text from the required reading list, but also brings in an unfamiliar piece of art. Students are then asked to identify how the art is applicable to the text, be it similar in genre, time period, or structure.

In the next component, test takers write two more essay questions. The first is an Analysis of a Single Text from the required reading list. Here they engage not only in the historical, cultural, or social context of the piece, but also analyze how characters within are represented as well. The Text Comparison component then has students read two excerpts, one from the required reading list and the other not. They are asked to consider the literary devices that the authors employ in each and relate that to thematic issues given in the question prompt.

Why is the AP Spanish Literature Free-Response Important?

70% of an essay’s score depends upon the writer’s ability to relate to the content accurately, the remaining 30% focuses on language usage. As such, the Free-Response section of the exam is scored by trained college faculty and AP teachers. Like the multiple choice section, it comprises 50% of your final exam grade. Tests scorers read through responses, score them based on a rubric, and then weigh them together with other students’ scores. From there, section scores are combined and summed together for an AP composite score of a 5, 4, 3, 2, or 1 (5 being the highest and 1 being the lowest).

What Content is Covered in the Free-Response Section of the AP Spanish Literature Exam?

The Free-response section essays are used to test takers’ interpretation, analysis, and critical writing in Spanish. Content covered includes literary criticism, as well as thematic, comparative, and textual analysis in poetry and fiction. Themes include societies in contact, the construction of gender, time and space, literary creation, interpersonal relationships, and the dual nature of being.

How can Test Takers Prepare for the AP Spanish Literature Free-Response Section?

In this section, you’ll find a few suggestions on how you can conduct your own AP Spanish review during your free time.

Reading & Writing

One of the best things you can do to prepare for the AP Spanish Literature exam is to read lots literature. Crack open a novel or read some poetry for at least an hour per day. Do not read just to understand; read to question, critique, and analyze as well.

Practice writing each of the essay components using an outline of what you plan to say. Be sure you present clear thesis sentences and conclusions. After you have written your practice essays, edit and proofread your work so that you can begin to recognize problems in either your writing style or your use of language. Also, keep an eye out for any content that may not be relevant to the question being asked. Once you have written a few practice essays, time yourself under conditions and constraints as those of the AP Spanish Literature Exam.

Use flashcards to remember literary vocabulary such as rhetorical devices, figures of speech, rhyme, meter or other poetic terms, as well as expressions and transitional phrases. You may also want to jot down important words that may be in the questions themselves likeanaliza, explica, describe, comenta, and so on to help you remember.


Be mindful of the differences between literary analyses and paraphrasing or summarizing – many students confuse these on the exam and lose significant points. Try to find a small study group to work with to share your thoughts on a literary text. You may also ask members of the group to serve as peer reviewers of your practice work in progress.

How can Test Takers Answer the AP Spanish Literature Free-Response Questions?

Below are helpful insights regarding how you may want to tackle answering the free-response questions during the AP exam. Albert also offers test takers some additional useful tips to prepare them for the writing section of the AP Spanish Language exam (see Albert’s The Ultimate List of AP Spanish Literature Tips for further details as well).

  1. Know the instructions of the test so that you are prepared.
  2. Highlight or make notes on important concepts in the questions or in the texts.
  3. Do not paraphrase or describe the text – analyze it.
  4. Though you may want to spend a few sentences discussing your opinion or any thematic issues that arise – nature, the passage of time, love, friendship, war – be sure to focus on the questions being asked of you.
  5. Do not just list the types of poetic language or devices in the poem; analyze how they are used thematically or structurally to add significance to the work.
  6. Reference the text.
  7. If you are discussing a poem, be sure to analyze the form as it relates to the theme.
  8. Do not confuse the poetic voice with the author of the poem.
  9. Organization is key to a well-developed essay. Stay focused by relying on a quick outline.
  10. Prove in your response that you thoroughly understood the passage. Do not be vague but provide concrete examples.
  11. Provide strong examples from the cited passage to support your claims.

What are the AP Spanish Literature Free-Response Questions Like?

Below you’ll find some examples of real Free-Response Questions from the CollegeBoard’s AP Central (you can check out more detailed sample questions here). Try a few of these questions in the months before the test to ensure you are getting your fill of AP Spanish practice!

Text Explanation

Example 1:

Identifica al autor y la época del fragmento. Luego, explica el desarrollo del tema de las divisiones socioeconómicas dentro de la obra a la que pertenece. (Identify the author and the time period of the excerpt. After, explain the development of the theme of socioeconomic divisions within the work it belongs).

Text and Art Comparison

Example 2:

Lee la siguiente selección y estudia la foto. Luego compara la representación del tiempo y el espacio en las dos obras en relación a la época del Barroco. (Read the following selection and then study the photo. Compare the representation of time and space in the two works in relation to the Baroque epoch).

Analysis of a Single Text

Example 3:

Analiza cómo “A Roosevelt” representa las características del Modernismo y el contexto histórico en Latinoamérica en el siglo XX. En tu ensayo debes comentar los recursos literarios del poema. Debesincluirejemplosdeltexto que apoyentus ideas. (Analyze how the poem represents the characteristics of Modernism in Latin America in the twentieth century. In your essay, you must comment on the literary resources of the poem. You should include examples of the text that support your ideas).

Text Comparison

Example 4:

Analiza el efecto de los recursos literarios que los autores emplean en los dos fragmentos para desarrollar el tema de la construcción de la realidad. En tu ensayo, compara la presentación de este tema en los dos fragmentos. Debes incluir ejemplos de los textos que apoyen tus ideas. (Analyze the effect of the literary resources that the authors use in the two excerpts to develop the theme of the construction of reality. In your essay, compare the presentation of this topic in the two fragments. You should include examples of the texts that support your ideas).

How can Test Takers Practice for the AP Spanish Literature Free-Response Section?

This may all seem very daunting! Though it’s challenging, many students go on to earn very high scores on their AP Spanish Literature Free-Response section. There are countless resources available to test takers interested in studying for the AP Spanish Literature section. Students can improve their knowledge of Spanish literature through listening to and reading as many Spanish texts as possible. This may come in the form of books, music, television, or live performances like poetry meetings or academic talks. Meet with your fellow students, Spanish teachers or Spanish speakers in your community, and perhaps start a Spanish literature book club to discuss big ideas on the test – societies in contact, the construction of gender, time and space, literary creation, interpersonal relationships, and the dual nature of being. That’s all to say, if you engross yourself with the language and literature on a daily basis, over the course of a few months, you’ll be developing skills that will assist you for the day of test, and you’ll be opening yourself up to one of a kind social worlds in fresh, cerebral ways.

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Exam Overview

The AP Spanish Literature and Culture Exam assesses students' proficiencies across a range of modes of communication—with special attention to the interpretative and presentational modes of communication—and asks students to reflect on the many voices and cultures included in a rich and diverse body of literature written in Spanish. Exam questions assess all themes outlined in the course and exam description. Questions are based on works from the required reading list and ones that are not on the required reading list—the latter to allow students to apply what they have learned through the study of the required works and the historical and sociocultural contexts of those texts. The exam expects students to identify, explain, analyze and compare various works of literature, while using appropriate literary terms and while discussing the works within their sociocultural, geopolitical, artistic, and historical contexts.

Encourage your students to visit the AP Spanish Literature and Culture student page for exam information and exam practice.

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