8 Best AP United States History Prep Books (2020)
AP US History addresses all the events, people, processes, developments that happened in 1491 to the present. Therefore, the exam can be a bit challenging given the number of details and events you need to remember.
Having the right prep book comes in handy when you’re about to take the AP US History exam.
In this detailed review, we list some of the best AP United States History prep books that will help you get that high score in your exam.
The Best Books to Prepare for the AP US History Test
Table of Contents
- Best AP United States History Prep Books
- 1. Sterling Test Prep U.S. History: Complete Content Review for AP US History Exam
- 2. Cracking the AP US History Exam
- 3. AP U.S. History Prep Plus 2020 & 2021
- 4. Barron’s AP United States History
- 5. 5 Steps to a 5: AP U.S. History
- 6. AP U.S. History Crash Course Book
- 7. Epic U.S. History Review Book
- 8. AMSCO’S United States History: Preparing for the Advanced Placement Examination, 2020 Edition
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Final Thoughts
Best AP United States History Prep Books
Some of the helpful books for anyone looking to ace their exam include:
1. Sterling Test Prep U.S. History: Complete Content Review for AP US History Exam
A top-rated prep and review book
Publisher: Sterling Test
Number of Pages: 348 pages
Our Final Grade: A
The Sterling Test Prep U.S. History: Complete Content Review for AP US History Exam boasts an organized and easy to understand structure and seamless content.
What makes this prep book a must-have is the order in which it’s organized. Everything is arranged in a periodical manner, something that allows you to internalize the essential concepts in a particular period in American History. You’ll love the book’s simple layout that makes it easy to read.
Each chapter is detailed to ensure that you don’t miss any information. Apart from being the best prep and review book, the Sterling Test Prep U.S. History can also be used as part of the course work as it follows the order that teachers use for American History.
However, the book lacks sample tests that you can use to test your knowledge of already read chapters. Also, it’s expensive compared to other prep books, but it gives you value for your money as it follows the outline provided by the College Board for AP United States History.
- A comprehensive book that is curriculum-oriented
- Works as both a prep book and supplementary material for the AP US History exams
- It follows the college board suggested outline
- Pricey than other prep books
- Doesn’t have sample or practice tests
2. Cracking the AP US History Exam
The best overall prep book for AP US History exams
Publisher: The Princeton Review
Number of Pages: 464
Final Grade: B+
Cracking the AP US History Exam is the best prep and review book to get if you want to get a score of 5 in your exam. The book features well-rounded materials that cover major historical events and information that you’re likely to get in the exam.
Unlike other books, the Cracking the AP US History Exam book summarizes each section in a concise manner. With each summary, you should recall what you’ve learned in American History.
You’ll find useful practice tests and review questions in this book. It will be easier to retain information as the end of this section are questions, by the time you are done, you’ll have retained all the essential details.
Furthermore, the practice tests are challenging like the actuaL AP History exam. You get to experience what it feels like to sit for the real test once you’re done with the tests.
The book also comes with pointers on how to answer multiple-choice exams. While it may not be the cheapest option available, you get value for every coin spent. Its rating online proves that customers love the content on this AP US History exam book.
- Has a guide on how to handle multiple-choice questions and essay question
- Contains detailed coverage of essential facts and concepts
- The premium package has five full-length practice tests
- The practice tests are challenging like those on the actual exam
- A bit pricey
3. AP U.S. History Prep Plus 2020 & 2021
A targeted and comprehensive prep book with lots of practice
Publisher: Kaplan Test Prep
Number of Pages: 624 pages
Final Grade: B
Are you looking for a review and prep book that gives you a lot of practice? You should consider getting the AP U.S. History Prep Plus 2020 &2021 Edition. The book has been aligned and restructured to meet the new curriculum needs and exam format.
As a student, you get a pre-chapter assessment with lots of practice questions online and in the book. The three full-length practice tests come with complete explanations for every question. You also get a concise review of tried and tested content to build your skills and confidence.
What’s more, you can choose the amount of prep you need for each era from the Rapid and Comprehensive content review sections. Instead of getting everything combined, the AP U.S. History Prep Plus gives you bite-sized test sets, customizable study plans, expert strategies, and a guide to work with whether you’re looking for a comprehensive review or targeted prep.
The online resources are available at Baptist.com/more online. You need your book to complete the online process. Kaplan claims to invent the test prep that has been helping students score highly and join colleges for 80 years.
- The book provides tons of practice
- Has updated content to match the exam format
- Some previous buyers thought the practice tests were not as challenging
- The book doesn’t have answer explanations for the multiple-choice questions
4. Barron’s AP United States History
Comprehensive US History overview prep book
Publisher: Barron’s Educational Series
Number of Pages: 576
Our Final Grade: B
Barron’s AP United States History book is based on the main time periods of American history. There are practice exams that test your preparedness for the actual exam. You get lots of content that seeks to give you a comprehensive review of the upcoming exam.
Find full-length practice tests inside, with two in the book and three online. All tests have detailed answer explanations. You also get test-taking strategies when handling long essays, multiple-choice, short answers, and document-based questions.
Barron’s AP United States History book provides a detailed review of all topics on the curriculum including the American Revolution, Pre-contact American Indian Societies, the Civil War and Reconstruction, the Great Depression, the Cold War, World War II, Bush, America in the Age of Clinton, and more.
The chapters are well summaries, but not in a concise, clear, or short way. You also won’t find lots of practice tests. The tests that are available are not as challenging or difficult.
Overall, it’s a good book that summarizes the nine-time periods in US history. It’s also affordable despite its drawbacks. You can use it as a supplement to other instructional books recommended by your teacher.
- Has well-rounded content that delivers a quality review
- Comes with two full-length practice tests with answers
- Has helpful strategy tips
- The summary is not as clear or concise like its competitors
- Can be too wordy
5. 5 Steps to a 5: AP U.S. History
An instructional guide with a step-by-step study plan
Publisher: Daniel Murphy
Number of Pages: 512 pages
Final Grade: B
The 5 Steps to a 5: AP U.S. History is an instructional guide that provides a step-by-step plan that will help you achieve a 5 in an upcoming AP History exam. It acts as a useful study guide apart from being an essential review material.
The book has everything you need to prepare for your exam as it includes what the syllabus proposes. You also get sample quizzes and sample exams to help you test your knowledge and prepare you ahead of the upcoming exam.
The 5 Step Plan includes:
1. Setting up your study plan with three model schedules
2. Determining your readiness with an AP-Style Diagnostic Exam
3. Mastering the tips that give you an edge on exam day
4. Reviewing the terms and concepts you need to get a high score
5. Building your confidence with full-length practice exams
You also get six full-length practice exams, three in the book, and three on Cross-platform. There is an extensive glossary of key terms and proven strategies particular to each section of the test.
Unfortunately, the book doesn’t summarize the content in chronological periods. You may find it too detailed if you’re looking for a quick review book. You can use the book to supplement your course work, but you might have to opt for another option if you’re short on time.
- Provides an overview of the AP History exam and a guide on how to take on the test
- Comes with three practice tests and three more on Cross-Platform
- Has a 5-step plan to help you get a high score in the exam
- Not summarized in a concise manner
6. AP U.S. History Crash Course Book
Best value and targeted prep book
Publisher: Research and Education Association
Number of Pages: 256 pages
Final Grade: B-
If you’re looking for a prep book written in a clear and concise manner without skimping on critical information, you should check out the AP U.S. History Crash Course Book. The book offers a quick review of the AP US History topics and tips.
As a crash course, this book helps you study for the things you need to understand for the History exam. You won’t have to read through lengthy content or waste time on anything unnecessary as the book is direct to the point. It’s also an affordable book that gives you value for your money.
Unfortunately, the Crash Course Book only comes with one practice test, which can be limited. It also doesn’t explore some concepts and information in detail like what you’ll find in the actual exam.
- Provides a focused and targeted review
- Offers expert advice and strategies
- Comes with an online practice test
- Ideal for those short on time
- Doesn’t cover key concepts in great detail
- Only comes with one practice test
7. Epic U.S. History Review Book
A simple and detailed U.S. History book
Publisher: Jason Gray
Number of Pages: 100 pages
Final Grade B-
Most textbooks and review books are written for students, but not with the students in the mind of the author. However, the Epic U.S. History Review Book seeks to change this as Jason Gray writes this book with the student in mind.
You’ll find the book simple to relate to and understand. The author also breaks the monotony of having detailed and lengthy history textbooks. Epic U.S. History Review Book has everything written in a straight to the point approach. You only get the essential information in a concise manner.
There are essays and writing tips to help you learn how to handle the actual AP US History exam. It’s fun and easy to read book.
On the downside, the Epic U.S. History Review Book is not as in-depth as other books. You can only use it as supplementary material or for last-minute exam preparation.
- Fun and easy to read
- Covers the curriculum in a less tedious approach
- Has tips on how to write essays
- Works well for last-minute exam preparations
- Not as detailed or in-depth as its competitors
8. AMSCO’S United States History: Preparing for the Advanced Placement Examination, 2020 Edition
An organized and quick to read AP United States History book
Publisher: Perfection Learning
Number of Pages: 800
Final Grade: B
The AMSCO’S United States History new edition consists of last year’s course exam description framework in areas like reasoning processes, themes, historical thinking skills, and content.
The book has nine units arranged in chronological periods. All these units mirror the current AP U.S. History framework. As a student, you’ll find it simple to connect historical developments in different times and places as this book features eight historical themes that address topics in U.S. history and recurring patterns.
You will also find short-answer questions with secondary sources. That change is similar to what you’ll find in the exam. For a comprehensive review, the chapters conclude with a list of events, people, and key terms.
The only major drawback is that the student edition doesn’t come with an answer key. Teachers are the only ones who can access the answer keys for the practice questions.
- Updated content to match the current AP U.S. History framework
- Allows students to connect historical developments easily
- It lacks practice tests
Frequently Asked Questions
Some of the commonly asked questions on AP United States History include:
How Should I Study for an AP US History Exam?
For you to get a high score, you need to start studying three months prior to the exam. Start by studying the recommended textbooks and move to the review books. You should use the prep books or a crash course a few weeks to the exam.
Read next: The Best AP World History Exam Prep Books
How Difficult is AP US History?
AP United States History can be a bit challenging due to the fact that you have to recall what happened in chronological order. However, with regular studying and practice tests, you should get a high score.
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Studying AP United States History allows you to learn about human behavior in the past and how it’s related to the present. The above prep books are precise and targeted to ensure that you get the key concepts when studying for your exam.