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Is AP French Hard? Is AP French Worth Taking?


written by

Charly Castillo

charly castillo

Sander Owens

sander owens

(editor)

published on september 19, 2020

Last updated on September 23, 2020

available on hyper typer

AP French is a great course to take for you if you have an interest in French language, culture, or linguistics, but for some, its difficulty may make you reconsider putting it on their schedules. Luckily, in this post, we'll be going over everything that you should know about the course from its yearly pass rate to its breakdown to its content, which will help you make that final decisionโ€”is taking AP French worth it?

Exam Breakdown

The first thing that we are going to look into is the format of the course. The test is broken up into 2 main sections, which each have different subsections:

Section 1A: Multiple Choice โšชโšชโšชโšซ

  • Interpretive Communication, where you are given 40 minutes to answer 30 questions on different print sources you're given.

Section 1B: Multiple Choice with Audio โšชโšชโšชโšซ ๐Ÿ”Š

  • Print and Audio Texts and Interpretive Communication, where you are given 55 minutes to answer 35 questions about the content of audio and print sources.

Section 2A: Free Response Written โœ๏ธ

  • Interpersonal Writing, where you are given 15 minutes to formally respond to an email.

  • Presentational Writing, where you are given 55 minutes (15 minutes of reading time, 40 minutes for writing) to write an argument essay using 3 given sources with different opinions on a similar topic.

Section 2B: Free Response Spoken ๐Ÿ’ฌ

  • Interpersonal Speaking, where you reply to a speaker in a simulated conversation 5 times and each response is 20 seconds (1 minute, 40 seconds of speaking time total).

  • Presentational Writing, where you give a 2-minute-long presentation that compares an aspect of Italian society to that of another community.

https://firebasestorage.googleapis.com/v0/b/fiveable-92889.appspot.com/o/images%2F-y06TV02OUMhT.jpg?alt=media&token=600a96fa-ec81-4c8f-b43c-efea0f1a8a62

Image Courtesy of Depositphotos. Look, it's you acing the AP French exam on test day!

How Difficult is AP French?

The first thing that we can look at to determine the difficulty of the course is the exam's score distributions.

Score Distributions

Year54321
202023.2%31.6%28.3%12.4%4.5%
201916.1%25.3%35.7%18.2%4.7%
201816.7%25.8%34.6%18.3%4.5%

Looking at the chart above, you can see that the majority of AP French test-takers get a passing score of 3 or higher. This is because the majority of people who take the exam are native speakers of the language and score higher, on average, because they are immersed in French at home ๐Ÿ  However, if you're a nonnative speaker and are worried that you can't get a 5 on the exam, you shouldn't be. It's completely possible to score a 5 with proper studying and hard work!

To get a feel for the difficulty of the course and the exam, we decided to include our tips on the easiest and hardest sections.

Typically, students find the free-response to be the easiest section of the exam:

There are different tricks that students can learn to maximize their points on the free-response section, such as using certain sentence stems and vocabulary words from each unit.
The prompts on the free-response section tend to be very open-ended, and because of this, there's a little wiggle room when responding. For example, the presentation always has "speak about something in a community", which can refer to pretty much anywhere, from your household to another continent!

And people typically find anything with audio to be the most difficult:

The audio can be difficult because if you miss a word or don't know the meaning of one, it can be hard to understand what the speaker is saying overall. Also, the audio is only allowed to be played a certain amount of times during the test, which means that you need to take lots of notes while listening and pay attention!
When doing any audio parts, you have to think on your feet and try to figure out which answer option best fits what you listened to while listening. It can be a lot!

Is AP French Worth Taking?

Based on all the information above, we would say yes, absolutely! Regardless of whether you are a native and nonnative speakers, taking the course is an amazing opportunity for those who want to save money at college. Getting a passing score on the exam can grant you credit at many universities and place you out of introductory French courses, so you can take more advanced ones or maybe not need to take a language at all! Taking AP French is also a great opportunity to improve your language skills and become fluent especially if you plan on going into teaching French, international relations, business, tech, and lots of other fields

If you've decided that taking AP French is the right choice for you, here are some tips to consider as well:

Start studying and practicing early by immersing yourself in the language. This can be by having conversations with native speakers or less formal means like watching TV shows and movies, reading newspapers, or listening to music in French. Any type of immersion will be beneficial in the long run.
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