The AP English Language and Composition course aligns to an introductory college-level rhetoric and writing curriculum, which requires students to develop evidence-based analytic and argumentative essays that proceed through several stages or drafts. Students evaluate, synthesize, and cite research to support their arguments. Throughout the course, students develop a personal style by making appropriate grammatical choices. Additionally, students read and analyze the rhetorical elements and their effects in non-fiction texts, including graphic images as forms of text, from many disciplines and historical periods.
Independent research on the academic benefits of the Advanced Placement English Language and Composition course indicates that not all students receive academic benefits from participating in the course. In a study with a sample size of over 90,000, the authors found that students who took the AP English Language and Composition course did not receive any increase in academic achievement unless they also prepared for and took the AP test. The authors controlled for over 70 intervening variables and found that AP students who took and passed the English Composition and Literature exam had ACT scores that were points higher than non-AP students or AP English students who did not take their course's AP test.  This led the authors to state that AP participation "... is not beneficial to students who merely enroll in the courses ..."  :p. 414