I was looking for something else just now when I ran across "The Ten Commandments of AP Literature and Composition" written by AP Lit and Comp teacher Martin Beller. Given the Judeo-Christian influences in the writings of Dickens and Shakespeare, and the fact that you're about to undergo your first real AP-esque test experience, the advice is timely and worth passing on.
The Ten Commandments of AP English Literature and Composition:
1. I am the Prompt, thy Prompt; thou shalt have no other Prompt before
me. Thou shalt read the Prompt with rapt attention; the Prompt is thy
friend. Thou shalt address the Prompt. Thou shalt not just get the
general idea of the Prompt, nor shalt thou fight the Prompt or
substitute thine own ideas for the Prompt.
2. Thou shalt not postpone, omit or bury thy Thesis Statement.
3. Thou shalt not commit plot-summary, nor shalt thou cohabit with Reading Comprehension, for it is an abomination in my sight.
4. Thou shalt not commit free-floating generalization, but shall support and develop thy every assertion.
5. Thou shalt not confuse complexity with confusion, or subtlety with
indecisiveness; thou shalt not attribute thine own insensitivity or
ignorance to authorial ineptitude. The fact that thou gettest not the
point doesn't mean that the passage hath no point: thou hast missed the
point. Deal with it.
6. Thou shalt read every Multiple Choice question with the same
exquisite care that thou devotest to the essay Prompt: thou shalt not
'get the drift.' By the same token, thou shalt strive to read what the
writer actually wrote, not what thou expectest him or her to have
7. Thou shalt not finish early. Thou shalt spend plenty of thy time planning thine essay responses and reading them over.
8. Thou shalt guess when thou knowest not the answers.
9. Thou shalt not merely identify literary, rhetorical and stylistic devices, but shalt show how they function.
10. Thou shalt never permit thyself to become discouraged: I am the
prompt, thy Prompt. Thou shalt maintain thy focus, attention and
confidence. Yea, though thou hast totally screwed up thy last essay,
this next essay maketh a fresh start.