Style Analysis for Pre-AP® and Advanced Placement® English Students


This curriculum unit offers tested and proven materials for teaching style analysis to both Advanced Placement® English and Pre-AP®/Honors English classes. When our students finish, they are skilled in analyzing the kinds of prose passages that appear on the AP® English Literature and Composition exams. For our purposes, this packet breaks the elements of style into six units of study: 

1. tone and attitude
2. diction
3. detail
4. point of view
5. organization
6. syntax

Within some categories is a variety of synonyms that have appeared on Advanced Placement English tests over the years. We believe that, by teaching these six areas, we can demystify the process of style analysis for our students.  You will notice that the sample time line suggests a six-week unit. This is the format we have used most often, but we have done it in a variety of other sequences. We have taught the entire unit to 11th and 12th graders. We have taught the diction and detail sections at ninth grade, point of view at tenth grade, organization at eleventh grade, and syntax at twelfth grade. All these variations have worked. This unit borrows heavily from the training described in our Teaching Analytical Response to Literature, 4th edition publication.

Teachers have asked us if we duplicate the entire unit for our students. We make copies of various student handout pages as appropriate. Students need to mark passages, practice different techniques, and highlight various sections, and having their own copies to do this is essential. 

Teachers have also told us that these same approaches help students analyze poetry. We supplement our poetry instruction with analysis of techniques such as punctuation, visual layout on the page, omission of detail, rhyme scheme, and so on.  This brings us to one final comment: this unit is very flexible. We offer approaches based on firsthand experience, but we know that there are many other combinations that will work as well. We believe that all teachers adapt ideas to fit their own teaching styles, and this format, like those in all of our curriculum packets, is easily and successfully modified.