AP English Language Practice Test 1

The AP English Language and Composition course is designed to help students become skilled readers and writers of prose. Below is the first of our AP English Language Practice Tests.



Directions: The multiple choice portion of the AP English Language exam consists of passages from prose works along with questions about the content, form, and style of these passages. After reading this passage, choose the best answer to each question and click on the corresponding letter of your choice. Then click on the right arrow when you are ready to move on to the next question.

Questions 1-11. Read the following passage carefully before you choose your answers.

(The following is an excerpt from The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass.)

Mr. Severe, the overseer, used to stand by the door of the quarter, armed with a large hickory stick and heavy cow skin, ready to whip any one who was so unfortunate as not to hear, or, from any other cause, was prevented from being ready to start for the field at the sound of the horn. Mr. Severe was rightly named: he was a cruel man. I have seen him whip a woman, causing the blood to run half an hour at the time; and this, too, in the midst of her crying children, pleading for their mother’s release. He seemed to take pleasure in manifesting his fiendish barbarity.

Added to his cruelty, he was a profane swearer. It was enough to chill the blood and stiffen the hair of an ordinary man to hear him talk. Scarce a sentence escaped him but that was commenced or concluded by some horrid oath. The field was the place to witness his cruelty and profanity. His presence made it both the field of blood and of blasphemy.

From the rising till the going down of the sun, he was cursing, raving, cutting, and slashing among the slaves of the field, in the most frightful manner. His career was short. He died very soon after I went to Colonel Lloyd’s; and he died as he lived, uttering, with his dying groans, bitter curses and horrid oaths. His death was regarded by the slaves as the result of a merciful providence.

Mr. Severe’s place was filled by a Mr. Hopkins. He was a very different man. He was less cruel, less profane, and made less noise, than Mr. Severe. His course was characterized by no extraordinary demonstrations of cruelty. He whipped, but seemed to take no pleasure in it. He was called by the slaves a good overseer.

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Your answers are highlighted below.
Question 1
Which statement does NOT describe Mr. Severe?

A
A sadistic tyrant
B
So brutal that the slaves viewed his death as a blessing
C
A disgusting, cruel slave owner
D
Somewhat inhuman
E
An archetypical slave overseer
Question 1 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (C). Don't ignore the word "NOT" in the question. It means that 4/5 choices WILL accurately describe Mr. Servere. Douglass gives many showing details in this passage to highlight Mr. Severe's brutality: his beating of slaves, his foul language, his overall cruelty. Although he is disgusting and cruel, Mr. Severe is the overseer, not the slave owner.
Question 2
What is ironic about the last sentence of the passage?

A
Mr. Hopkins took no pleasure in beating the slaves.
B
Mr. Hopkins didn't curse like Mr. Severe did.
C
The slaves thought he was not a good overseer.
D
Mr. Severe was quieter than Mr. Hopkins.
E
Mr. Hopkins seems almost kind in comparison to Mr. Severe.
Question 2 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (E). Situational irony, having something turn out differently than expected, is evident in Mr. Hopkins' treatment of the slaves. Although he beat them "he seemed to take no pleasure in it" and the slaves actually thought he was a good overseer, even though he still beat them.
Question 3
Which of the following statements is NOT true about the passage?

A
Douglass creates a horrifying picture of slavery by showing in graphic detail the violence and cruelty of Mr. Severe.
B
Douglass creates a feeling of pathos in the reader by using auditory imagery (crying children, cursing, the sound of the horn).
C
In spite of the violence, there is humor at the end of the passage when he describes the kinder overseer, Mr. Hopkins.
D
Douglass creates emotion in the reader by using blood as imagery to support Mr. Severe's cruelty.
E
Douglass works hard to portray Mr. Hopkins as much more likeable than Mr. Severe.
Question 3 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (C). Look carefully at the question stem, and don't ignore the word "NOT". There's no humor, just irony, in the last paragraph. Also, Mr. Hopkins is not very kind or likeable; he's just less horrid than Mr. Severe.
Question 4
Which answer best describes the author’s tone or mood in this passage?

A
Outraged
B
Wry
C
Laconic
D
Melancholy
E
Demanding
Question 4 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (A). The author’s tone can best be described as “outraged” because the author describes Mr. Severe's "cruel" treatment of his slaves in vivid detail. “Laconic” means terse or using few words. The author refers often to Mr. Severe's cruel words. “Melancholy” means sad or wistful. Angry or outraged better describe the tone of this passage, which highlights the cruelty of Mr. Severe. “Wry” means humorous – the tone of this passage is serious, and the characters, not the author, are “demanding.”
Question 5
What does the author mean by the phrase “so unfortunate as not to hear”?

A
Mr. Severe was hearing impaired.
B
The slaves with physical deformities were treated worse than the physically healthy slaves.
C
The plantation was too large for everyone to be within shouting distance.
D
Mr. Severe would punish slaves who didn’t move at the sound of the horn.
E
Many of the slaves were illiterate.
Question 5 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (D). By the phrase “as not to hear,” the author doesn’t literally mean that Mr. Severe or the slaves are actually deaf. He means that Mr. Severe would whip the slaves who did not hear or acted as though they had not heard the horn for whatever reason. Presumably, he did this because he was a cruel and unforgiving man towards the slaves.
Question 6
The passage can best be described as which of the following types of writing?

A
persuasive essay
B
extended dissertation
C
personal anecdote
D
historical summation
E
scientific observation
Question 6 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (C). The passage is an excerpt from “The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass.” The passage is written in the first-person, and is the personal story of Frederick Douglass. The closest description to this type of writing is a “personal anecdote.”
Question 7
Based on what is implied in the passage, who was Colonel Lloyd?

A
A black commissioned officer
B
A white slave owner
C
An abolitionist
D
A relative of the author’s
E
Another overseer
Question 7 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (B). The author is describing an “overseer” and has written of his experience as a slave. Most likely, Colonel Lloyd was another slave owner, and the author “went” to live with him, because he was sold.
Question 8
The information in the sentence below would fit most logically in which part of the passage?

At the sound of this, all must rise, and be off to the field.

A
As the first sentence of the passage.
B
In the first paragraph of the passage.
C
In the second paragraph of the passage.
D
In the third paragraph of the passage.
E
In the fourth paragraph of the passage.
Question 8 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (B). The “horn” is mentioned in the first paragraph of the passage. An extra sentence describing its role on the plantation should go in the same paragraph. If it was the first sentence of the passage, it would add confusion, since the sentence uses the pronoun “this” to refer to something that comes previously.
Question 9
The author uses the description of “cursing, raving, cutting, and slashing” in order to

A
emphasize the violence inflicted on the slaves by Mr. Severe
B
reveal the mercurial character of Mr. Severe
C
compare Mr. Severe’s personality with that of Mr. Hopkins
D
hint at another aspect of Mr. Severe’s personality
E
exemplify the level of humiliation slaves faced in the South
Question 9 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (A). The paragraph in which that detail is found emphasizes Mr. Severe’s bad personality and tendency towards violence. (E) may be tempting, but it is too broad. The passage is mostly focuses on Mr. Severe’s personality.
Question 10
Which of the following can be inferred from the sentence, “He whipped, but seemed to take no pleasure in it.”?

A
Mr. Hopkins was far more cruel than Mr. Severe.
B
Plantation owners required all of the overseers to whip their slaves.
C
Mr. Hopkins was not racist.
D
Mr. Severe liked to inflict pain on others, while Mr. Hopkins did not.
E
Mr. Hopkins did not have to whip the slaves to get them to work.
Question 10 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (D). The implication of this sentence is that Mr. Hopkins felt whipping was more of a duty than a pleasure. He did it because it was part of his job, but unlike the previous overseer, Mr. Severe, he did not take sadistic pleasure in it.
Question 11
Which of the following inferences can be made about the author?

A
He looked up to Mr. Hopkins.
B
He was frequently whipped.
C
He moved plantations frequently.
D
He was well-liked by his fellow slaves.
E
He became well-educated.
Question 11 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (E). In order to go from being a slave to writing such an eloquent autobiography, it must be true that the narrator received a good education. None of the other choices are necessarily true based on the passage. Though we know the narrator moved to Colonel Lloyd’s, we did not know if he moved “frequently.”
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