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40-Minute Practice AP Exam

Poem/Passage Essay



Things to keep in mind:

#1  Make sure you answer the question… ALL parts of the question!

#2  Be detailed!  The more specifically you can discuss the text you’re analyzing (i.e., evidence AND explanations!), the stronger your essay will be.

#3 Stay focused and organized.

#4  Build in time to outline and proofread!


DUE: FRIDAY, APRIL 25 IN CLASS  (no 4:00 pm deadline on this!)



Total Time--2 hours

Question 1

(Suggested time--40 minutes.  This question counts one-third of the total essay section score.)

Read the following poem carefully.  Then write an essay in which you discuss how such elements as language, imagery, structure, and point of view convey meaning in the poem.


The Centaur*

  The summer that I was ten--   stopped and raised my knees,
  Can it be there was only one 35 pawed at the ground and quivered.
  summer that I was ten?  It must   My teeth bared as we wheeled
  have been a long one then--   and swished through the dust again.
5 each day I'd go out to choose   I was the horse and the rider,
  a fresh horse from my stable   and the leather I slapped to his rump
  which was a willow grove 40 spanked my own behind.
  down by the old canal.   Doubled, my two hoofs beat
  I'd go on my two bare feet.   a gallop along the bank,
10 But when, with my brother's jack-knife,   the wind twanged in my mane,
  I had cut me a long limber horse   my mouth squared to the bit.
  with a good thick knob for a head, 45 And yet I sat on my steed
  and peeled him slick and clean   quiet, negligent riding,
  except a few leaves for the tail,   my toes standing the stirrups,
15 and cinched my brother's belt   my thighs hugging his ribs.
  around his head for a rein,   At a walk we drew up to the porch.
  I'd straddle and canter him fast 50 I tethered him to a paling.
  up the grass bank to the path,   Dismounting, I smoothed my skirt
  trot along in the lovely dust   and entered the dusky hall.
20 that talcumed over his hoofs,   My feet on the clean linoleum
  hiding my toes, and turning   left ghostly toes in the hall.
  his feet to swift half-moons. 55 Where have you been? said my mother.
  The willow knob with the strap   Been riding, I said from the sink,
  jouncing between my thighs.   and filled me a glass of water.
25 was the pommel and yet the poll   What's that in your pocket? she said.
  of my nickering pony's head.   Just my knife.  It weighted my pocket
  My head and my neck were mine, 60 and stretched my dress awry.
  yet they were shaped like a horse.   Go tie back your hair, said my mother,
  My hair flopped to the side   and Why is your mouth all green?
30 like the mane of a horse in the wind.   Rob Roy, he pulled some clover
      as we crossed the field, I told her.
  My forelock swung in my eyes,    
  my neck arched and I snorted.  

--May Swenson

  I shied and skittered and reared.    

* A creature in Greek mythology that had the body of a horse and the head and torso of a man.