Each edition of the test consists of approximately 230
questions on poetry, drama, biography, the essay, the short story, the
novel, criticism, literary theory, and the history of the language.
Some questions are based on short works reprinted in
their entirety, some on excerpts from longer works.
The test draws on literature in English from the British
Isles, the United States, and other parts of the world. It also contains a
few questions on major works, including the Bible, translated from other
The test emphasizes authors, works, genres, and
movements. The questions may be somewhat arbitrarily classified into two
groups: factual and critical.
The factual questions may require a student to identify
characteristics of literary or critical movements, to assign a literary work
to the period in which it was written, to identify a writer or work
described in a brief critical comment, or to determine the period or author
of a work on the basis of the style and content of a short excerpt.
The critical questions test the ability to read a
literary text perceptively. Students are asked to examine a given passage of
prose or poetry and to answer questions about meaning, form and structure,
literary techniques, and various aspects of language.
Literary Analysis: 40-55%
Questions that call on an ability to interpret given passages of prose and
poetry. Such questions may involve recognition of conventions and genres,
allusions and references, meaning and tone, grammatical structures and
rhetorical strategies, and literary techniques.
Recognition of date, author, or work by style and/or content (for literary
theory identifications see IV below).
Cultural and Historical Contexts: 20-25%
Questions on literary, cultural, and intellectual history, as well as
identification of author or work through a critical statement or
biographical information. Also identification of details of character, plot,
or setting of a work.
History and Theory of Literary Criticism: 10-15%
Identification and analysis of the characteristics and methods of various
critical and theoretical approaches.