AP English Language Practice Test 2

The AP English Language & Composition course is designed to help students become skilled readers and writers of prose. Below is the second of our three free 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 1-13. Read the following passage carefully before you choose your answers.

(The following is an excerpt from A Man of Letters as a Man of Business by
William Dean Howells.)

I think that every man ought to work for his living, without exception, and that when he has once avouched his willingness to work, society should provide him with work and warrant him a living. I do not think any man ought to live by an art. A man’s art should be his privilege, when he has proven his fitness to exercise it, and has otherwise earned his daily bread; and its results should be free to all. There is an instinctive sense of this, even in the midst of the grotesque confusion of our economic being; people feel that there is something profane, something impious, in taking money for a picture, or a poem, or a statue. Most of all, the artist himself feels this. He puts on a bold front with the world, to be sure, and brazens it out as business; but he knows very well that there is something false and vulgar in it; and that the work which cannot be truly priced in money cannot be truly paid in money.

He can, of course, say that the priest takes money for reading the marriage service, for christening the new-born babe, and for saying the last office for the dead; that the physician sells healing; that justice itself is paid for; and that he is merely a party to the thing that is and must be. He can say that, as the thing is, unless he sells his art he cannot live, that society will leave him to starve if he does not hit its fancy in a picture, or a poem, or a statue; and all this is bitterly true. He is, and he must be, only too glad if there is a market for his wares. Without a market for his wares he must perish, or turn to making something that will sell better than pictures, or poems, or statues. All the same, the sin and the shame remain, and the averted eye sees them still, with its inward vision. Many will make believe otherwise, but I would rather not make believe otherwise; and in trying to write of Literature as Business I am tempted to begin by saying that Business is the opprobrium of Literature.

Literature is at once the most intimate and the most articulate of the arts. It cannot impart its effect through the senses or the nerves as the other arts can; it is beautiful only through the intelligence; it is the mind speaking to the mind; until it has been put into absolute terms, of an invariable significance, it does not exist at all. It cannot awaken this emotion in one, and that in another; if it fails to express precisely the meaning of the author, it says nothing, and is nothing. So that when a poet has put his heart, much or little, into a poem, and sold it to a magazine, the scandal is greater than when a painter has sold a picture to a patron, or a sculptor has modeled a statue to order. These are artists less articulate and less intimate than the poet; they are more exterior to their work. They are less personally in it.

If it will serve to make my meaning a little clearer we will suppose that a poet has been crossed in love, or has suffered some real sorrow, like the loss of a wife or child. He pours out his broken heart in verse that shall bring tears of sacred sympathy from his readers, and an editor pays him a hundred dollars for the right of bringing his verse to their notice. It is perfectly true that the poem was not written for these dollars, but it is perfectly true that it was sold for them.

The poet must use his emotions to pay his bills; he has no other means. Society does not propose to pay his bills for him. Yet, and at the end of the ends, the unsophisticated witness finds the transaction ridiculous, finds it repulsive, finds it shabby. Somehow he knows that if our huckstering civilization did not at every moment violate the eternal fitness of things, the poet’s song would have been given to the world, and the poet would have been cared for by the whole human brotherhood, as any man should be who does the duty that every man owes it.

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Question 1
What is the thesis or controlling opinion in this passage?

A
"There is an instinctive sense of this, even in the midst of the grotesque confusion of our economic being; people feel that there is something profane, something impious, in taking money for a picture, or a poem, or a statue."
B
"I think that every man ought to work for his living, without exception ..."
C
"...once avouched his willingness to work, society should provide him with work and warrant him a living."
D
"Business is the opprobrium of Literature."
E
“Without a market for his wares he must perish, or turn to making something that will sell better than pictures, or poems, or statues.”
Question 1 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (D). Not all writing has its thesis or controlling opinion in the first paragraph or the first sentence of a paragraph. Start looking for the thesis at the start of the passage, but keep an open mind until you have read the whole passage. Opprobrium means shameful disgrace. The author is saying that writers and other artists are not like businessmen or doctors because they create art, which cannot be valued like a manufactured good or a professional service.
Question 2
What is the philosophical dilemma in this passage?

A
Artists should be supported and allowed to work on their art without worrying about money.
B
Art should be free to the viewer; however, many artists know they would starve unless they make art that people will buy.
C
A priest and a doctor get paid for performing their services, so an artist should too.
D
Even though artists create beauty, there is something "false and vulgar" in their achieving commercial success.
E
Artists in general should assert their willingness to work.
Question 2 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (B). A dilemma is a difficult choice. A person is forced to choose between two equally attractive or unattractive things. Here the writer of the passage thinks artists should not receive money for their art, but many artists have no choice but to take money in order to make a living. That situation is an accurately described “dilemma.”
Question 3
What rhetorical strategy is contained in the examples of the doctor, the priest, and the justice?

A
Appeal to authority
B
Example
C
Simile
D
Allegory
E
Analogy
Question 3 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (E). The purpose of rhetorical strategies is to make a piece of writing more persuasive. An analogy is a similarity or likeness between two things. Here, the narrator is comparing the work of an artist to other professions.
Question 4
Which sentence best supports the writer's claim that a man should not live by an art?

A
Unless he sells his art he cannot live, that society will leave him to starve if he does not hit its fancy in a picture, or a poem, or a statue.
B
Its (art's) results should be free to all.
C
When he has once avouched his willingness to work, society should provide him with work and warrant him a living.
D
A man's art should be his privilege, when he has proven his fitness to exercise it.
E
Without a market to sell his product, there’s no point in an artist’s perseverance in his craft.
Question 4 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (D). The writer says that being an artist is a privilege that the person has to earn by producing quality work. He does not think that a man should earn his living through art. (E) is a slight distortion and the phrase “no point” is a bit too extreme to be correct.
Question 5
The author would be critical of a work of literature if it were

A
too fanciful and not grounded in truth
B
unable to contain the author’s intent
C
misinterpreted by the general readership
D
too literal and without imaginative appeal
E
emotional at the expense of being intellectual
Question 5 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (B). In the third paragraph, the writer says that “if it fails to express precisely the meaning of the author, it says nothing, and is nothing.” Above all, the author believes the intent of the author should be successfully conveyed.
Question 6
According to the author, what separates poets from other artists?

A
They use a much wider range of vocabulary to express themselves.
B
They are more objective about their own work.
C
They are more deeply connected to their own work.
D
They are less subjective about their own work.
E
They are unable to produce as varied a body of work.
Question 6 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (C). In the third paragraph, the writer compares poets to sculptors and painters, calling them “more exterior to their work” and “less articulate and less intimate.”
Question 7
How does the author view the idea of commerce as it is connected to the arts?

A
He sees it as a necessary evil.
B
He wishes the two were wholly unconnected.
C
He laments its effect on the development of young artists.
D
He believes it causes a lack of radical new works of art that challenge established ideas.
E
He does not see it as an important component in the life on an artist.
Question 7 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (A). The first paragraph discusses the shame an artist feels having to work for his art, and the author states he does “not think any man ought to live by an art.” In the second paragraph, however, he admits that “unless he sells his art he cannot live.” The author realistically understands that artists must sell their work to survive, even as he finds “sin and shame” in the concept. (E) may be tempting, but the writer discusses it in the first two paragraphs as having a huge impact on artists.
Question 8
The word “awaken” in the third paragraph most nearly means

A
rise up
B
stop sleeping
C
generate art
D
stir up
E
incite anger
Question 8 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (D). The word, in context, is used metaphorically. The author says that literature cannot “awaken this emotion in one, and that in another.” He means that a work will have the ability to stir up emotions inside an individual.
Question 9
Which of the following is NOT true of Literature?

A
It can create an emotional response.
B
It can trigger the senses.
C
It is an intimate art form.
D
It is extremely articulate compared with other forms of expression.
E
It can cause suffering to the artists who practice it.
Question 9 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (B). This is directly contradicted by the first two sentences of paragraph three. The author states that is “cannot impart its effect through the senses or the nerves as the other arts can.”
Question 10
Which of the following is the purpose of the fourth paragraph?

A
to introduce an example
B
to describe a type of art
C
to refute a previous notion
D
to explain in more detail a thesis
E
to discuss the consequences of being a painter
Question 10 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (A). This paragraph gives us an example: “a poet that has been crossed in love” and then develops it over the course of the next two paragraphs. It is meant to elaborate on the discussion of Literature in the previous paragraph. The paragraph is not concerned with a painter, but rather a poet.
Question 11
Who is the “unsophisticated witness” mentioned in the last paragraph?

A
the reader
B
an editor
C
the artist
D
a hypothetical bystander
E
the author himself
Question 11 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (D). The writer here is discussing a hypothetical situation in which a poet sells his work to an editor. The “unsophisticated witness” is meant to be an “average Joe”—someone like the reader or the writer, but not actually the reader or writer. The writer means that someone who could witness this omnisciently would see how the entire transaction is “ridiculous…repulsive…shabby.”
Question 12
With which of the following sentiments about “human brotherhood” would the author most likely agree?

A
Artists and businessmen are not in the same brotherhood.
B
Poets should stand aloof, and refrain from joining the human brotherhood.
C
The human brotherhood should support and nurture artists.
D
The average human being does not owe anything to other human beings.
E
The brotherhood unequivocally violates the eternal fitness of things.
Question 12 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (C). The last sentence states that “the poet would have been cared for by the whole human brotherhood, as any man should be who does the duty that every man owes it.” The author certainly believes all humanity is connected by a sense of duty, and also believes artists should be protected and helped in their art by other humans. (E) uses words from the paragraph, but the adverb “unequivocally” expresses a much stronger sentiment than would be agreed with by the writer.
Question 13
The tone of the passage could best be described as

A
Epistolary
B
Informational
C
Persuasive
D
Terse
E
Droll
Question 13 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (C). The writing here is old-fashioned and flowery. The author writes persuasively with many specific examples. He is emphatic, and doesn’t use much humor to convey his opinions.
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