Monday, January 20, 2014


So, I'm pretty sure I can objectively say that I'm pretty good at searching the web, and as far as I can tell Siddhartha has only appeared on the actual AP exam once. Here is the question:
"A bildungsroman, or coming-of-age novel, recounts the psychological or moral development of its protagonist from youth to maturity, when this character recognizes his or her place in the world. Select a single pivotal moment in the psychological or moral development of the protagonist of a bildungsroman. Then write a well-organized essay that analyzes how that single moment shapes the meaning of the work as a whole."

Source: College Board

Given that the assignment asks "[w]hat... these questions tell [us] about the AP exam," it would be kind of pointless to list questions here that weren't on the actual AP exam. Therefore, I'm only listing this one question because it is the only relevant question I have found.

This is actually the perfect question for this assignment, because the one passage we read from Siddhartha looks like it is the "single pivotal moment in the... development of the protagonist" referenced by the question. In this moment, Siddhartha is finally awakened completely as he realizes he is now nothing but himself. He has relinquished his entire social status in favor of his awakening, and at the end of the passage he seems to have realized his ultimate purpose. However, the last part of the question asks us to analyze "how that single moment shapes the meaning of the work as a whole," which I am unable to do because I haven't read the book. In order to fully answer this question, I'd need to know about Siddhartha's development both before and after this passage, so I could write about how this moment fits into his character development as a whole.

This question shows that the AP exam may reference some less-common literary terms (in this case, "bildungsroman"), accompanied by short explanations. Therefore, as test takers we are not necessarily required to know these more obscure terms, but if we are already familiar with them it may give us an advantage over others who are seeing them for the first time.

Also, this question shows that AP prompts may have multiple parts. In this case, we must describe the "single pivotal moment" in the character's development, "the meaning of the work as a whole," and how the two are related.

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