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Ethan Frome PRE-AP/AP Resource Guide Applied Practice English Curriculum Review by Jennifer Harrison

Applied Practice, Ltd.
3519 Cedar Springs Road, Suite A
Dallas, TX 75219

Applied Practice is a publisher that provides challenging test-preparation workbooks that allow students to encounter the format, question types, and terminology of Advanced Placement tests. However, Applied Practice's Ethan Frome does so much more than boost confidence before a test. It is a Literary Analysis class all on its own.

Students begin by reading passages taken from Edith Wharton's book Ethan Frome. These passages are provided in the workbook and are followed by multiple-choice questions. These questions challenge readers to examine characters, reactions, motives, and more. This level of deductive reasoning can be difficult, but the back of the book provides not only the answers to the multiple-choice questions but also detailed explanations telling students how to arrive at the correct answer.

After working through 12 different passages with questions, students go on to the essay section. It is recommended that students be timed for the essays in order to become accustomed to the actual AP test. This, of course, is not necessary if parents choose to use the workbook solely as a literary analysis course. Essay details include comparisons, character sketches, analyzing themes, and more. Six essay assignments are provided, as is a scoring guide.

I found the book to be quite challenging and most appropriate for 11th and 12th grade students. It might be intimidating for a student's first exposure to literary analysis, requiring parents to give an extra dose of encouragement. However, the answers and corresponding explanations in the back walk students through the material, explaining why some answers must be wrong and helping students realize why some answers must be right. Proceeding slowly, even students new to the subject can begin to learn how to analyze carefully.

At $49.95, this is a bit expensive for a course that doesn't last more than one semester. But if you view it as an investment and compare it to the cost of college credits the student could be testing out of, the price seems much more balanced.

Literary analysis is so important for our students, perhaps now more than ever before. Students (and adults) need to be able to read and understand not only the words on a page but also the depth of the story and the motive of the author. This workbook could easily be incorporated into the homeschool setting as a stand-alone course spread out over one to three months as part of a high school honors course. While the course content is worthy material on its own, students might want to consider taking the corresponding exam upon conclusion of the book. Many homeschooling families are not aware that students may take AP tests even if they have not taken the accompanying class through their local public school. Once a student passes an AP test, colleges may grant credit for the equivalent college course. Some colleges even give up to a year's worth of credit if a student passes three or more Advanced Placement exams. This resource guide through Applied Practice equips students to be fully prepared for both the Language and Composition exam and the Literature and Composition exam.

Product review by Jennifer Harrison, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, January 2010