5 Best AP Physics C: Mechanics Prep Books (2020)

Best AP Physics C Mechanics Study Books

Newton’s laws of motion and linear momentum are not easy topics to understand. But, getting a 4 or 5 on the Physics C: Mechanics AP test will prove your mastery over these complex theories and applications. In order to do this, we recommend getting a prep book.

The right prep book for you will cater to your unique learning style and give you an overview of the test. Some AP Physics C: Mechanics Prep Books focus on written material and explanations, while others can connect you with online videos and practice tests. We are confident that the time spent studying in one of these books will help you to pass the AP test with flying colors.

Best AP Physics C: Mechanics Prep Books

There are many ways to study for a test. But, AP tests have a unique standardized format that is challenging for many. But, succeeding on this test could mean college credit for you. In addition to this, having a solid understanding of the concepts sets you up for success in any future physics or engineering classes you may take.

So, what are the Best AP Physics C: Mechanics Prep Books? Starting with our favorite, they are:

1. Cracking the AP Physics C Exam, 2020 Edition: Practice Tests & Proven Techniques to Help You Score a 5 (College Test Preparation)

Publisher: Princeton Review

Year: 2019

Number of pages: 656

Our Final Grade: A++

Paired with online resources, the Princeton Review provides tried-and-true test strategies, comprehensive content, and practice tests for a well-rounded prep book.

Professionals in preparing students for all sorts of exams, Princeton Review’s Cracking the AP Physics C Exam book is a solid resource for anyone shooting for a 5 on their AP test. Both full-length practice tests have fully explained answers for a deeper understanding of the concepts.

Students can practice the recommended exam strategies and pacing tips on the included tests, too. By understanding how to logically guess on the AP test, these precise tips can bump your score from a 4 to a 5.

This book has a comprehensive review of every test topic with a multitude of visual aids, like charts and figures, to illustrate the tough concepts. Online study plans can help you stay on track for test day.

Lastly, this book has been written by actual AP Physics teachers who lend a bit of personality and humor to the text. So, there will be just a tinge of entertainment as you are delving deep into all aspects of Magnetism and Newton’s Laws.

Pros

  • Clear explanations of all problems
  • Includes suggested study plans for any timeline
  • Updated for the 2020 AP Physics: C Test

Cons

  • No specific author means the book lacks personal insight

2. 5 Steps to a 5: AP Physics C 2021

Publisher: McGraw-Hill Education

Year: 2020

Number of pages: 352

Our Final Grade: A+

The most up-to-date AP Physics:C Prep Book available, this is an excellent choice for anyone who needs plenty of practice exams and detailed explanations.

The 5 Steps to a 5: AP Physics C 2021 version begins with an incredible five-step study plan that shows you exactly what to do to optimize your performance on the AP test. By walking you through multiple practice tests and the most recent test changes, students will have boosted confidence from this book on test day.

Written by AP Physics B and C teacher Greg Jacobs, this book is a proven guide to success. The teacher’s perspective brings a healthy taste to this book, as the author understands how to explain difficult concepts to students.

Diagnostic tests show students what aspects they need to study more than others. In addition, Jacobs explains all the test strategies he lends to his own students. He includes extra drills on the toughest topics that are commonly missed on the AP test, like Motion Graphs and Simple Circuits.

Overall, this brand-new prep book is a solid resource to help students achieve a 5 on their AP test.

Pros

  • 3 Practice exams
  • Four-minute drill prompts help students to work faster
  • Extra time spent on subjects known to be difficult on the AP exam

Cons

  • The latest version not available until October 2020

3. AP Physics C: With 4 Practice Tests (Barron’s Test Prep)

Publisher: Barrons Educational Series

Year: 2020

Number of pages: 656

Our Final Grade: A

A comprehensive guide to all aspects of the AP Physics C: Mechanics test, Barron’s Test Prep provides an excellent resource in this book for any student wanting a 5 on their AP test.

As the 5th edition of this book, Barron’s Test Prep AP Physics C book has honed their information to provide a clear and helpful resource for any student. In particular, they have improved the Mechanics section as well as the Electricity and Magnetism section to better prepare students for the AP exam.

Barron’s AP Physics C prep book was written by a physics professor at Brown University, Robert Pelcovits, and Joshua Farkas, M.D., who scored 5’s on many AP exams and an 800 on his Math SAT’s. This book comes from brilliant minds to help you fully understand all the concepts on the test. Not only that, but it includes many test-taking strategies for those who struggle with understanding standardized tests.

This book goes into every topic on the AP Physics C Exam, from kinematics and simple harmonic motion to capacitors and magnetic fields. For those who have a solid grasp on some concepts but not others, the included diagnostics test shows you exactly what areas you need to focus on.

Pros

  • Four practice tests (1 diagnostic test, 2 practice tests in the book, 1 practice test online)
  • All practice questions are explained
  • Plenty of diagrams, illustrations, and charts

Cons

  • Some questions are more complex than the actual AP test will be

4. The AP Physics C Companion: Mechanics

Publisher: Silly Beagle Productions

Year: 2017

Number of pages: 250

Our Final Grade: B+

This in-depth conceptual guide will help students understand every AP Physics C Topic on a deeper level.

Written by New York State’s 2014 Master Physics Teacher, Dan Fullerton, this AP Prep Book is an incredible resource to go alongside an AP class. As a full-time educator himself, Fullerton understands how to break down tough concepts for students who struggle to understand them.

This book contains over 350 problems for students to try. If you have trouble, each has solutions fully worked out so students can see the full process. This allows anyone struggling with the application of tough physics concepts to see exactly how to apply theories to actual problems one will find on the AP test.

While this is an incredible resource, it is a self-prescribed companion guide, not a specific AP test prep book. Anyone using this book should also study the College Board’s layout of the test and their practice tests, as none are included in this book.

Instead, this book focuses solely on helping students understand basic principles on the AP Physics C: Mechanics test as clearly as possible – and how to apply them.

Pros

  • Well-written for in-depth understanding
  • 350 worked-out problems
  • Online resources available at APlusPhysics.com

Cons

  • No test-taking tips

5. Kaplan AP Physics B & C 2014

Publisher: Kaplan Publishing

Year: 2013

Number of pages: 552

Our Final Grade: C-

This outdated book has multiple tests and practice questions but also has confusing explanations at times.

Complied by five different authors, this book has varying degrees of depth and explanations. Some areas are covered clearly, while others leave students more confused than when they started.

The book does provide two full-length practice tests on top of 125 other practice questions. While the instruction material lacks quality, it can be used for additional practice tests if that how a student prefers to prepare.

Pros

  • Includes One Diagnostic Test
  • Two Practice Tests
  • Inexpensive

Cons

  • Outdated with some confusing chapters

FAQ

Preparing for the AP Physics C: Mechanics exam can feel like a daunting task for many students and parents. To ease stress, especially on test day, it is best to understand not only the test material but the format of the test too.

How is the AP Physics C exam structured?

It has two sections: a multiple-choice section and a free-response question. Each is worth 50% of the final score.

The Multiple Choice section has 35 questions that students must finish in 45 minutes. The free-response section has three questions and also has a time limit of 45 minutes. This section will include either a lab-based or experimental component.

Can students use a calculator on the AP Physics C exam?

Yes, students are allowed one four-function scientific or graphing calculator for the exam.


Conclusion

Many students need additional assistance studying for AP Exams. While the class itself is helpful for understanding concepts, additional practice is required to boost confidence when taking the AP test. In addition, the right prep book can help students work through topics they may not fully understand.

If you’re looking for an all-around helpful prep book, we recommend the Princeton Review’s Cracking the AP Physics C Exam, 2020 Edition.

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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.