At my site, we coordinate an outside reading project that also incorporates films. The subject? Dystopian visions. Students are divided into groups of 3 or 4, and then must read 1984 and another book of their choice. Options include Player Piano, Fahrenheit 451, We the Living, Anthem, The Handmaid's Tale, etc. Brave New World is on the senior list, & AP Language is a junior course, which is why it's not included. Then they choose a film to supplement their reading. They must write a critical analysis of both novel and film, and engage in class discussions on their choices. Film choices include Bladerunner, Children of Men, The Road, Brazil, 12 Monkeys, Minority Report, and many others. It's an interesting way to end the year, and often results in some very serious considerations of our own society and future.
In my department, there are three of us who teach the AP Language course, and for the past two years we have given the students an independent critical reading/synthesis project. Basically, the students are put into small groups and each chooses a text from our bookroom that we have not covered in the course. The group must find five secondary sources to supplement the text and then present all of it to the class in a seminar.
At my previous school, students who sat the AP exams were exempt from the final.
It's always a good thing to use past exams to prepare for the test, and that works just fine for a final. Doing something else really depends on your philosophy about the purpose of a final--to demonstrate mastery of specific past learning (i.e., the cool projects mentioned above) or to demonstrate the application of past learning on new material (i.e., a practice exam from a previous year). I tend to lean toward the latter; but if I run out of time for a final project before a final, I'm not averse to the former.
As does poster #4, I have my students partake in an outside reading project. Outside, in every aspect of the word. We sit outside on the lawn and read, read, read. Finally, after the exam, everyone can take a deep breath and enjoy reading for pleasure. I don't have them write an essay, although I must say I'm intrigued with the idea from poster #5 (I might just incorporate that next year), but they do put together a CD soundtrack of the book as a final,culminating project. Some students REALLY get into it, and it is a creative, relaxed way to analyze what was read. A student told me it was an "epic" assignment. I'll take it.
I have an outside reading project that I do. Students must choose a non-fiction book and do the following:
1. Close reading / annotations
2. Passage analysis
3. Categorize the author's style using a creative measuring system and cite with evidence
4. Explain what is more believable: the non-fiction book you read or an adapted fiction equivalent
5. Adapt it into a much shorter version (like a children's book or study guide)
When I taught AP Language and Comp, I designed the regular course exams to follow the AP exam format. For the final exam, I used a more traditional high school essay exam prompt. Students were required to draw evidence from the four main reading selections of the semester (The Scarlet Letter, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Crucible, and In Cold Blood).
My thinking is, if they practice the AP exam format all semester, then I want to administer a comprehensive essay final similar to what I would give to a non-AP honors class.
You didn't indicate if this was English language, but I assume that it is. I teach a different AP course, but use the AP Central's website all the time, which contains the AP exams for years past. Whenever possible I try to give them the same tests the Colege Board designs. Here's the link:
Im not a teacher, but I'm a student. Toa ll you teachers of AP Lang, wouldn't it be more beneficial for students to practice writing, especially since that is the main focus of the AP Exam? What is the point in trying to read and analyze such long books as "The Scarlet Letter" or "A Tidewater Morning" When the exam is simply going to give us a prompt and a few short sources to draw information from? In my opinion, as well as many other fellow students, reading and analyzing such long pieces is time wasting, and does not help to improve our overall exam scores at all.
I'm only a student, however I think that were I a teacher, I might ask my students to write an cohessive and intelligent essay of a specified length, in which they must make their case, and argue for what grade they feel they diserve. E.g. "I feel an analysis of this past year will reveal that I diserve a 93% as evidenced by my work ethic, the quality of my writing and my personal growth despite my turning many things late." Or something like that, and have them expound. This would allow you to assess their writing, as well as have them reflect on their growth, and themselves as students. It would also provide you with insight to the modern students world. But overall, I think that this assignment would make students look at themselves, their accomplishments and merits, as well as their flaws, and it provides a great oppertunity for personal growth and development.