The 2012 AP English Language and Composition Exam consisted of 50 to 55 multiple-choice and three free-response writing questions. The 2012 free-response questions tested students' understanding of synthesis, rhetorical analysis and argument in writing.
The synthesis essay focused on whether or not the U.S. Postal Service should undergo restructuring in light of the changing world. Students read seven source articles and then wrote an argument for or against restructuring using three of the supplied articles as references.
The second question of the written test asked students to analyze the rhetorical strategies that President Kennedy used in a 1962 speech regarding the rise in steel prices in the United States. Students read the full speech and supported their analysis with direct references from the text.
For the final question, the test provided two quotes, the first on certainty by American educator and journalist William Lyon Phelps, and the second concerning doubt by British author and mathematician Bertrand Russell. Students wrote an argumentative essay taking the position on the relationship between certainty and doubt, while providing examples and evidence.
The multiple-choice questions provided excerpts from books and historical texts: ten or more questions about rhetorical strategy, stylistic features, relationships in writing and the purpose of different passages in the text, followed each segment.