4 Best AP Chinese Language & Culture Exam Prep Books (2022)

Best AP Chinese Language Study Books

The AP Chinese exam requires a lot of thoughtful preparation. You must invest in the right tools to set you up for success. There are many AP Chinese Language and Culture prep books that will give you insights on what to expect from the big test and how to answer specific questions. If you decide on a quality prep book, you must make sure it gives you the blueprint for succeeding on test day.

Our goal with this article is to provide you with valuable options for prep books. We highlight the top choices online right now, the benefits and drawbacks of each, as well as our final grade. Toward the end of the article, there are critical questions that you might be wondering about. After you are done reading, you should have no hesitations about what you need to do to prepare for the AP test.

Reviews of the Best Chinese AP Exam Prep Books

1. Barron’s AP Chinese Language and Culture with MP3, CD, Third Edition

Barron’s AP Chinese Language and Culture prep book offers you a comprehensive option with many digital and print learning forms.

Publisher: Barron’s

Year: 2019

Number of Pages: 624

Our Final Grade: A

Barron’s AP Chinese Language and Culture prep books are an excellent option for someone who wants to dive into all forms of learning. Included within the package, you will find two practice exams that are fuller length. The book also provides detailed answers to these exams, including the optimal way to answer them. Barron’s book also has exercises and practice questions for all test situations.

A substantial aspect of the Barron prep book is the MP3 and CD capabilities, which provide vital information to help you prepare for the speaking and listening parts of the exam. The prep book also focuses on crucial review, and it includes a refresher for all components of the test, including writing, reading, grammar, speaking, and culture.

This book is representative of what the AP exam will expect from you. If you invest meaningful time in this product, you will be confident, heading into test day.


  • Extra learning avenues with the MP3 and CD
  • Includes review sections for all areas of the test
  • Backed by a trusted publisher in Barron’s


  • The design of each learning unit may not be optimal for some Chinese teachers.

2. 5 Steps to a 5: AP Chinese Language and Culture

5 Steps to a 5: AP Chinese Language and Culture provides a clear, step-by-step framework to prepare for the AP exam adequately.

Publisher: McGraw-Hill Education

Year: 2020

Number of Pages: 342

Our Final Grade: A-

If you like following a structured process for studying, then the 5 Steps to a 5 prep book will be useful. Included inside are two practice exams, including detailed answers and explanations for all parts of the test. Although the book is over five years old, it is updated to reflect a modern test format. 5 Steps to a 5 is a trusted program that will help coach you to succeed on the AP Chinese exam.

You also gain critical insights into the Chinese characters taught in both traditional and straightforward characters. Another excellent feature of this prep book is the comprehensive program for audio, housed on an MP3 disk. Not only can the student enjoy a structured, organized process of learning, but he or she can do it via the book or digital format.

The author, JianMin Luo, brings valuable experience to this book. She teaches Chinese for high school students, and she is a certified grader for the AP Chinese test.


  • Structured learning provides a valuable blueprint
  • Written by an author who grades the final AP exams
  • Precise information on Chinese characters makes the book diverse


  • The book is not the best option for someone who likes to learn in their format

3. AP Chinese Language and Culture Simulated Tests (Sunny X. Yu Bih-Hsya Hsieh)

AP Chinese Language and Culture Simulated Tests Book, written by two experienced teachers, helps drill you until you are fully confident for the test day.

Publisher: CLERC Publishing

Year: 2010

Number of Pages: 175

Our Final Grade: B+

If you are someone who enjoys self-learning and training, this prep book will be a valuable solution. It includes eight full-length simulated exams, including a set of explanations and answers useful for the test. You can also duplicate the review conditions because the book is catered for form, content, and timeframe.

The MP3 portion of this package also comes with a full script and training aid, which helps build your confidence for the verbal section of the AP Chinese exam. Much like the first competitor mentioned on the list, the simulated test book also provides traditional and straightforward characters for a review. Backed by a pair of experienced teachers, you will receive valuable content from this prep book.


  • The book provides a long set of practice exams
  • The simulation of the actual test is a level above the competitors
  • MP3 audio component is robust


  • The book is not the best option for someone who likes to work with a teacher or partner.

4. Strive for a 5: AP Chinese Practice Tests

Strive for a 5: AP Chinese Practice tests provide you with a robust set of practice tests and tools that help you successfully navigate the AP exam.

Publisher: Cheng & Tsui Education

Year: 2010

Number of Pages: 400

Our Final Grade: B

Strive for a 5 AP Chinese prep book plays the role of a dedicated coach because of the critical tips and suggestions that it provides. You will not be short on preparation drills with this book, which helps build up your confidence for the big day. This product gives you an in-depth review of how the test will be structured. It also provides quizzes that cover many themes that are included in an AP Chinese class.

The separating factor of Strive for a 5’s prep book is the eight practice tests that are full-length and comprehensive. Most prep books include two or three, but this extensive collection will help give you an accurate visualization of what the test will look like. The different criteria are classified into key themes like economics, entertainment, education, family, daily life, geography, and more.


  • The number of practice tests is unmatched
  • The book reviews all themes that you will see on the test
  • The robust set of drills help make you confident for test day


  • The audio portion of this package is sometimes tricky to follow


What is the optimal amount of preparation time that I should spend studying?

Depending on your level of knowledge, you should budget at least 1-3 months in preparing for the AP Chinese exam. You want your time to get ready, but you also want to leave time to ask questions for teachers and other mentors. It is also wise to leave at least a week open for the final review.

For the written responses, what type of characters should the student utilize?

The student can choose between simplified or traditional Chinese characters when preparing responses for the written portion.

What are the different ways that the AP Chinese exam is administered?

The exam is given on a computer.

When does the AP Chinese exam usually take place?

The test is administered each year in the earlier part of May.


Whether you enjoy individual or group learning, there are various valuable prep book options to set you up for success. You can find books that include extra practice tests, or packages that include an audio version. The critical thing to remember is you get the results reflective of how much time you put in. Define your goals, then budget the necessary time to get a successful score!

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Hannah Young

Contributor at ExamCave. Hannah is pursuing a degree in middle school English education at The Ohio State University. Hannah has worked as a writing and math tutor for elementary, middle school, and high school students.