8 The Best AP Psychology Prep Books (2020)

Best AP Psychology Study Books

AP Psychology is a typical AP course. As such, the plethora of AP psych prep books out there are all advertised to be the best there is. From practice exams and test-taking strategies to the material covered, it can be challenging to determine which book is right for you.

So, what’s the best AP psychology prep book out there? Check out the top 8 books to which we give our stamp of approval.

Best AP Psychology Prep Books

1. AP Psychology Crash Course, 2020

A quick and affordable means of mastering AP Psychology.

Publisher: Advanced Placement (AP) Crash Course

Year: 2018

Number of pages: 288

Our final grade: A+

AP Psychology Crash Course is a quick, affordable means of studying for the upcoming AP psychology exam through a focused approach, especially if you don’t have that much time before your exam.

“AP Psychology Crash Course” is precisely what it sounds like: a crash course. Students will be able to use this prep book to quickly prepare for their exam in less time. It uses a “targeted review” strategy, so students will only study what they need to know for the exam. It’s perfect for the student whose exam is right around the corner.

If you’re the type of student who loves extra details and more thorough information, this crash course probably isn’t for you.

Pros:

  • With this prep book, prospective test-takers will only learn what they need for the exam, so any unnecessary details or material aren’t included.
  • There are a few test-taking strategies included, so students can study the content as well as useful tips to use during the exam.
  • The book does a great job of summarizing more complex vital concepts that will definitely make an appearance on the exam.

Cons:

  • This prep book islacking in detail,which could be a problem for those who want a more comprehensive source of material.

2. 5 Steps to a 5: AP Psychology, 2020 Edition

Explore personalized study strategies tailored to the type of student you are.

Publisher: McGraw-Hill Education

Year: 2019

Number of pages: 353

Our final grade: A

Although the title of this prep book gives it away, “5 Steps to a 5” is precisely that: it’s a five-step study strategy to help students get the highest score on their AP psychology exam. In particular, this option personalizes the study strategies based on the student’s personality and study habits, which sets it apart from other AP psychology prep books.

With hundreds of opportunities to practice and review the book’s material, “5 Steps to a 5” will give students the confidence they need for exam day. The in-depth answer explanations included with the practice questions will ensure students not only understand which is the correct answer, but why it’s the right answer.

Pros:

  • This prep book includes a guide that explains how long you should prepare for the AP psych exam based on your study habits and personality. That way, you can follow the mapped out study plan that’ll best fit you.
  • The “rapid review” section toward the end of the book outlines critical terms for easy review.
  • Two practice exams are included toward the end as well, both with clear, easy-to-read answer keys.

Cons:

  • Some of the practice questions appear easier than actual AP psychology questions you’d see on an exam.

3. Cracking the AP Psychology Exam, 2020 Edition

A comprehensive guide to the AP psychology exam with six practice tests.

Publisher: College Test Preparation

Year: 2019

Number of pages: 384

Our final grade: A-

Although most prep books for AP psychology tend to be dry or even dull, that’s not the case with “Cracking the AP Psychology Exam.” The conversational tone keeps things light while emphasizing the material you need to know to earn a high score on the exam. The test-taking strategies also work toward the student’s advantage, giving them more overall confidence and slashing pre-exam jitters.

However, this prep book doesn’t have a tried-and-true glossary, making it difficult for students to search for terms and definitions.

Pros:

  • The passages are casual and conversational, which makes it easier to read and, in turn, allows the information to be more digestible.
  • For students who have trouble organizing their studying, there’s a step-by-step guide to outline successful AP psychology studying.
  • This prep book outlines handytest-taking strategies so students will not only feel more confident but will know how to handle multiple-choice and free-response questions.

Cons:

  • This prep book doesn’t have an actual glossary, so to get all the information, you’ll have to read the book cover to cover — a significant inconvenience for students looking for a quick review guide.

4. Myers’ Psychology for the AP Course, Third Edition

An ideal guide to AP psychology if you’re studying solo.

Publisher: Worth Publishers

Year: 2018

Number of pages: 1,104

Our final grade: B+

Compared to other prep materials, “Myers’ Psychology for the AP Course” is considerably less dry. The voice of the authors comes through the text, making the content more engaging and easier to digest.

However, if you’re just looking for a quick read to review, this prep book might not be for you. The book has over 1,000 pages and goes into great depth — perhaps more depth than is needed.

Pros:

  • There are multiple-choice practice questions at the end of each unit to test your knowledge of the unit’s main concepts. This way, students can feel more confident they know the information.
  • This prep book includes a comprehensive timeline of milestones in psychology history so students can better visualize when these various psych discoveries took place.
  • The sections of the book are outlined clearly, so it’s easy to follow and review material.

Cons:

  • This prep book is very detailed, and has the potential to overwhelm some students.

5. AP Psychology Prep Plus, 2020 & 2021

Great for lots of preparation or just a quick review.

Publisher: KaplanTest Prep

Year: 2020

Number of pages: 696

Our final grade: B

This option is the best for students looking for lots of practice. With over 1,000 practice questions, there’s plenty of opportunities for students to review and apply the information they’ve learned before their AP psychology exam. You’ll also be able to access online materials through the kaptest.com website.

However, this prep book isn’t the best option for students who get easily overwhelmed or find themselves lost in the information.

Pros:

  • There are both “rapid” and “comprehensive”review sections, so you can have control over how much preparation you really need for the exam.
  • Every question within the book also gives the student a complete explanation, so there’s never any confusion concerning correct answers.
  • There aresix full-length practice tests with over 1,000 practice questions, so students will get a feel for the exam before they even set foot in the exam room.

Cons:

  • This prep book is very hefty andcould be too overwhelming for some test-takers.

6. Barron’s ‘AP Psychology Premium, Ninth Edition’

A thorough guide to the AP psychology exam with six practice tests.

Publisher: Barron’s Educational Series

Year: 2019

Number of pages: 432

Our final grade: B-

Current AP psychology instructors wrote this prep book, so all the material covered in the latest “AP Psychology Premium” applies to the AP psychology exam. Students will thrive with the six full-length practice tests and will get to analyze a sample essay to get a better feel for their forthcoming essay prompt.

However, because there’s no glossary, Barron’s “AP Psychology Premium” is perhaps best for those who have a working knowledge and understanding of the terms and definitions.

Pros:

  • The initial diagnostic exam allows prospective test-takers to get comfortable with their strengths and weaknesses.
  • At the beginning of each chapter, there’s a helpful list of the most noteworthy psychologists you’ll need to know. This helps students focus on a select few names instead of a hundred different names.
  • This prep book includes six full-length practice exams toward the end of the book.

Cons:

  • There’s a complete lack of a glossary, which makes it very difficult for students to review terms and definitions when it comes time.
  • It’s very material-heavy, meaning there are long, monotonous passages, so students will have to take a deep dive into the text (often re-reading paragraphs over again).

7. Sterling Test Prep AP Psychology, 2020

A guide to AP psychology using a more in-depth style of learning.

Publisher: Sterling Test Prep

Year: 2018

Number of pages: 474

Our final grade: C+

Students struggling in their AP psychology class don’t need to despair. The “Sterling Test Prep AP Psychology” book is incredibly thorough, and as such, will connect the dots for students, so they have a better understanding of the content.

It’s organized clearly with relevant and helpful information. However, if you’re looking for test-taking strategies, you won’t really find them here. There are also not as many opportunities for practice, as it’s very material-heavy.

Pros:

  • This prep book is extremely detailed, providing students with a full breadth of knowledgeto use on their AP psychology exam.
  • The sections are divided into clear units, so prospective test-takers will be able to deep dive into specific areas while also ensuring they’re in relative knowledge territory.
  • It’s great material to use in conjunction with other sources.

Cons:

  • There isn’t much coverage on test-taking strategies, which can hinder students looking to improve their test-taking skills.
  • This prep book also doesn’t include many opportunities for practice, such as quizzes or practice exams.

8. Test Prep Books AP Psychology, 2020 and 2021

An excellent choice for AP psychology students who like to study on the go.

Publisher: Test Prep Books

Year: 2020

Number of pages: 257

Our final grade: C

This prep book has tons of practice, so you’ll be able to reiterate the information in multiple ways through practice. All-in-all, this option covers all the information students will need to know, although the depth of each chapter depends.

Some subjects — such as the brain and behavior — could’ve been covered more thoroughly. However, “Test Prep Books AP Psychology” is a good choice for the AP psychology student.

Pros:

  • Handy pocket guides are included, giving students a small guide they can carry everywhere to study on the go, with practice questions and content.
  • The book gives students three comprehensive practice tests to ensure you’ve grasped all the key terms and concepts.
  • Each practice test question is followed by a detailed explanation, so you’ll not only know the right answer but also understand why it’s the correct choice.

Cons:

  • This prep book could be a bit more thorough content-wise to make sure students remember vital details.

FAQ

What should I look for in an AP psych book?

Well, that depends on what type of student you are. For example, if you’re looking for a quick review, something like “Crash Course” would be best. If you’re having trouble in AP psych, you might want to look at a more thorough book.

Are there any red flags when it comes to prep books?

Certainly. One of the biggest red flags I notice is organization. If the book isn’t organized well or worse — if it’s not aligned with the current AP curriculum — ditch it.

How should I use my prep book?

The most important thing is that you feel prepared for the exam. For some students, this means breezing over the material and focusing on the test-taking strategies and practice questions. For others, it means reading and re-reading the review material.


The Verdict?

Whether you’re looking for a quick review or a comprehensive guide to the AP Psychology exam, there’s a review book out there for you. No matter what prep book you choose, the most important thing to remember is selecting an option that works well for you and your study habits.

AP Psychology isn’t an easy exam and you’ll be glad you chose to invest in one of the many helpful AP Psychology prep books on the market today.

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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.