The Advanced Placement English Language and Composition course teaches students to write with richness and complexity in order to communicate clearly with advanced readers. The essays written in this course are to be less formulaic and more engaging to the reader. The focus is on the essay’s content and purpose as well as the intended reader. The students also need to be able to use a variety of research materials in their writing and be able to synthesize these various sources in an effective matter. Sources need to be cited in a critical manner and students must evaluate the legitimacy and purpose of the source.
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