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Question of the Day: AP English Language

Adapted from “Civil Disobedience" by Henry David Thoreau (1848)

I heartily accept the motto,—“That government is best which governs least”; and I should like to see it acted up to more rapidly and systematically. Carried out, it finally amounts to this, which also I believe,—“That government is best which governs not at all”; and when men are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which they will have. Government is at best but an expedient; but most governments are usually, and all governments are sometimes, inexpedient. The objections which have been brought against a standing army, and they are many and weighty, and deserve to pre­vail, may also at last be brought against a standing government. The standing army is only an arm of the standing government. The government itself, which is only the mode which the people have cho­sen to execute their will, is equally liable to be abused and perverted before the people can act through it. Witness the present Mexican war, the work of comparatively a few individuals using the standing government as their tool; for, in the outset, the people would not have consented to this measure. This American government—what is it but a tradition, though a recent one, endeavoring to transmit itself unimpaired to posterity, but each instant losing some of its integrity? It has not the vitality and force of a single living man; for a single man can bend it to his will. It is a sort of wooden gun to the people themselves. But it is not the less necessary for this; for the people must have some complicated machinery or other, and hear its din, to satisfy that idea of government which they have. Governments show thus how successfully men can be imposed on, even impose on themselves, for their own advantage. It is excellent, we must all allow. Yet this government never of itself furthered any enterprise, but by the alacrity with which it got out of its way. It does not keep the country free. It does not settle the West. It does not educate. The character inherent in the American people has done all that has been accomplished; and it would have done somewhat more, if the government had not sometimes got in its way. For government is an expedient by which men would fain succeed in letting one another alone; and, as has been said, when it is most expedient, the governed are most let alone by it. Trade and commerce, if they were not made of India rubber, would never manage to bounce over the obstacles which legislators are continually putting in their way; and, if one were to judge these men wholly by the effects of their actions, and not partly by their intentions, they would deserve to be classed and punished with those mischievous persons who put obstructions on the railroads. 

But, to speak practically and as a citizen, unlike those who call themselves no-government men, I ask for, not at once no govern­ment, but at once a better government. Let every man make known what kind of government would command his respect, and that will be one step toward obtaining it.

The dominant rhetorical device exhibited in the passage's opening sentences demonstrates __________.

a paradox



an understatement

The English language is an intricate study of many different rules regarding grammar, punctuation, tense, and other parts of speech. As you prepare for your AP English Language test, you will want to find ways to study that will prepare you for questions that you might see on your test. While there are many different options for you to use as you prepare for the test, one way is to use the AP English Language Question of the Day from Varsity Tutors’ Learning Tools. By using the Question of the Day, you will receive a unique AP English Language sample question each day that will help you review the information that may be on the test and get you in the habit of studying for your test on a daily basis. Whether you need English tutoring in Providence, English tutoring in Nashville, or English tutoring in San Antonio, working one-on-one with an expert may be just the boost your studies need.

Using the Question of the Day each day as you prepare for the exam can help get you into a daily AP English Language review routine. Taking just a few minutes out of each day to focus on your review will keep your mind fresh when it comes to the topic. Each day, you will get a multiple-choice question that pertains to an AP English Language topic. In many questions, you will receive a passage to read. This will require you to think critically about the whole passage, as well as the specific concept that the sample question pertains to. Varsity Tutors offers resources like free AP English Language Practice Tests to help with your self-paced study, or you may want to consider an AP English Language tutor.

Once you answer the question, you will be given a number of different tools and statistics that can be valuable in your test preparation. One of the main benefits of the Question of the Day is the full explanation of the answer. This can be very important, especially if you don’t understand the correct answer or the process by which the correct answer was obtained. By receiving a full explanation along with the answer, you will be able to go beyond the simplicities of the AP English Language sample question itself to gain a full understanding of the concept as well. In addition to the AP English Language Question of the Day and AP English Language tutoring, you may also want to consider taking some of our AP English Language Flashcards.

Another feature of the Question of the Day are the statistics that you will receive by answering each question. These statistics will provide you information about how many correct answers you have in the subject, your percentile versus that of others who have also answered the question, and how much time it took you to answer the question against the average. By having these statistics at your disposal, you will be able to measure yourself against other prospective test-takers and get an idea of how you measure up against them. Further, it will help to focus your AP English Language study plan by giving you an idea of what types of questions you are strongest with, as well as where you may be able to improve.

The AP English Language Question of the Day gives you the opportunity to receive a question each day that’s similar in format to your upcoming AP English Language test. It’s just one of many review resources available from Varsity Tutors’ Learning Tools, all of which can help you as you move forward toward the test.

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