6 Best AP US Government and Politics Prep Books (2021)

Best AP US Government and Politics Study Books

Are you having difficulty studying for the AP U.S. Government and Politics exam? Are you worried that you won’t receive a passing score when exam time rolls around? If this sounds like you, don’t fret. Prep books can be the perfect solution because they cover the essential material that will likely be on the exam and help supplement classroom and textbook learning.

In this post, we’ve listed some of the best prep books that can help you score a 5 on the AP U.S. Government and Politics exam.

Best AP US Government and Politics Prep Books

1. AP US Government and Politics Premium: With 5 Practice Tests (Barron’s Test Prep)

Barron’s AP US Government and Politics prep book is the ideal choice if you’re looking for in-depth content review and lots of practice tests.

Publisher: Barrons Educational Series

Year: 2019

Number of pages: 344 pages

Our Final Grade: A+

Barron’s AP U.S. Government and Politics contains a comprehensive review of essential information that’s likely to appear on the exam. This review book also contains up-to-date content, such as Supreme Court decisions and the 2016 Presidential election.

Pros

  • 5 full-length practice tests
  • Updated content
  • Detailed answer keys and explanations for all practice test problems

Cons

  • Covers some information that may not be relevant to the exam

2. 5 Steps to a 5: AP U.S. Government & Politics 2020

For an easy to follow step-by-step study plan with review material, 5 Steps to a 5: AP U.S. Government and Politics may be the prep book for you.

Publisher: McGraw-Hill Education

Year: 2019

Number of pages: 352 pages

Our Final Grade: A

With McGraw-Hill Education’s 5 Steps to a 5, you’ll not only get extensive review material for the AP U.S. Government and Politics Exam, but you’ll also have access to their online portal that offers flashcards, games and more.

Pros

  • 5 practice exams
  • Practice exercises with detailed explanations
  • Access to the Cross-Platform Prep Course

Cons

  • Doesn’t offer many practice quizzes

3. Cracking the AP U.S. Government & Politics Exam, 2020 Edition

Cracking the AP U.S. Government and Politics Exam prep book is a viable solution if you’re looking for higher-level testing and exact terminology used on the exam.

Publisher: College Test Preparation

Year: 2019

Number of pages: 351 pages

Our Final Grade: A-

Cracking the AP U.S. Government and Politics Exam review book isn’t just a review book. It also provides test-taking strategies to help you test smarter and avoid traps. Plus, it contains a quick-reference glossary for essential dates, cases, and information that’s likely to be on the exam.

Pros

  • 2 full-length practice tests
  • Comprehension drills at the end of each review chapter
  • Strategies for comparison and data analysis questions

Cons

  • Not many illustrations (i.e. graphs, tables, etc.)

4. AP U.S. Government & Politics Prep Plus 2019-2020

Kaplan’s AP U.S. Government and Politics prep book offers a concise view of the most-tested content.

Publisher: Kaplan Publishing

Year: 2019

Number of pages: 480 pages

Our Final Grade: B+

Kaplan’s Prep Plus prep book for AP U.S. Government and Politics is an excellent choice for students who want to challenge themselves. It doesn’t spoon-feed you information. Instead, it encourages you to think critically, which is what you’ll have to do on the exam if you want a passing score.

Pros

  • 3 full-length practice exams
  • Pre- and post-quizzes in each chapter to gauge your progress
  • Online quizzes

Cons

  • Can’t be used as a crash course reviewer

5. AP® U.S. Government & Politics Crash Course, For the 2020 Exam, Book + Online: Get a Higher Score in Less Time (Advanced Placement Crash Course)

If you’re on the lookout for a quick-review study guide and crash course for last-minute cramming, then REA’s AP U.S. Government and Politics Crash Course is your best bet.

Publisher: Research & Education Association

Year: 2019

Number of pages: 336 pages

Our Final Grade: B-

REA’s Crash Course provides you with information that’s just enough to get through it quickly, which is convenient if you’re trying to do some last-minute cramming. It’s a great supplement to more in-depth review books.

Pros

  • 1 full-length practice test online
  • Targeted review
  • Test-taking strategies and advice

Cons

  • Doesn’t contain an index

6. AP US Government and Politics: Review Book and Practice Test Questions for the AP US Government and Politics Exam (Guide to 5)

Accepted, Inc.’s AP U.S. Government and Politics review book is a quick, yet full review of what you need to know for the exam.

Publisher: Accepted, Inc.

Year: 2020

Number of pages: 170 pages

Our Final Grade: C

Accepted, Inc’s AP U.S.Government and Politics review book provides essential review content that’s specifically tailored to your exact needs. There’s no fluff or filler, which helps you stay focused on what you need to review for the exam.

Pros

  • 4 full-length practice tests
  • Practice questions
  • Test tips and strategies for a higher score

Cons

  • May need additional material to supplement review

Frequently Asked Questions

Is AP U.S. Government and Politics Easy?

Obviously, like any other AP course, AP U.S. Government and Politics will be more challenging than a typical high school level government and politics class.

Therefore, it will contain a lot more involved information about government and politics. After you’ve completed the course, you should have a college-level understanding of the subject.

Is AP U.S. Government and Politics Worth It?

The answer to this question depends on what you want to get out of your high school education. Many students appreciate the fact that AP courses help develop their critical thinking and analytical skills, which are key attributes for excelling in college courses.

Therefore, taking AP U.S. Government and Politics can help provide a solid foundation for more advanced courses you may take in college on that specific subject. This is especially valuable for students who plan to major in Political Science and other related fields of study.

How Is AP U.S. Government and Politics Different from AP Comparative Government and Politics?

Because of their similar names, many students get the two courses confused. AP Comparative Government and Politics looks at and compares political cultures from a global perspective. It focuses on six countries: Great Britain, Russia, China, Iran, Mexico, and Nigeria. Whereas, AP U.S. Government and Politics solely focuses on the U.S.

How Vital Are Test Prep Books for AP U.S. Government and Politics Exam Preparation?

If you’re exceptionally proficient in advanced government and political concepts, then you’d probably do well with in-class instruction and textbook learning when taking the AP U.S. Government and Politics course.

But if you’re like most students, you may need supplemental material to help you retain information. So investing in a quality prep book can immensely help you gain the knowledge and skills you need to achieve a passing score on the exam.

What Topics Should an AP U.S. Government and Politics Prep Book Cover?

The prep book you choose to study for the AP U.S, Government and Politics exam should contain material that carries the most weight on the actual exam. For example, Interactions Among Branches of Government and Political Participation carry between 45% and 63% of the total exam.

Therefore, it may be wise to choose a prep book that focuses a lot on these particular units. Doing this will help you achieve the highest score possible on the AP U.S. Government and Politics exam.

Of course, make sure your chosen review book contains other topics that don’t contain as much weight, such as Foundations of American Democracy; Civil Liberties and Civil Rights; and American Political Ideologies and Beliefs.

How Many Practice Tests Should an AP U.S. Government and Politics Prep Book Include?

The AP U.S. Government and Politics course requires you to remember quite a few concepts, from important court decisions to key terms. However, the number of practice tests an AP U.S.Governent and Politics prep book should include will vary based on your unique needs. So if you feel like you need more practice, then make sure you select a book that contains plenty of practice tests.

Also, be on the lookout for prep books that have diagnostic tests that gauge your current knowledge of the subject material. This will help you focus on the content you need help with the most.

When Should I Start Using a Test Prep Book to Study for the AP U.S. Government and Politics Exam?

The best time to start using a test prep book for the AP Government and Politics exam will depend on the type of book you purchase. So if you get a prep book that’s more like a crash course for cramming, it may be beneficial to start using it as you get closer to the exam.

On the other hand, if your prep book is more comprehensive, it may be helpful to start using it throughout the course to supplement your knowledge and increase retention. These types of prep books tend to have more content. So if you start studying at the last minute, you probably won’t have time to go over everything covered in the book.

What Are Some General Tips to Help Me Prepare for the AP U.S. Government and Politics Exam?

Here are some of the best ways to study for the AP U.S. Government exam:

  • Assess your knowledge: Take a practice test to get a feel for what you know and where you should improve.
  • Use a prep book: Find a good test prep book that acts as a textbook for long-term studying, like Barron’s AP U.S Government and Politics. For additional review, get a quick-review study guide you can use for cramming, like REA’s AP U.S. Government and Politics Crash Course.
  • Practice multiple-choice questions: After learning your strength and weaknesses and reviewing the material, practice the multiple-choice questions to monitor your progress and brush up on your skills. Make a list of concepts that are still unfamiliar to you.
  • Practice the free-response questions: Answer practice free-response questions. Visit the College Board’s websites to view free-response questions dating back to 1999. They provide commentary and scores for specific questions. Use this as a guide to score your answers.
  • Take another practice exam: After practicing multiple-choice and free-response questions, take another practice test. This will help you see areas that still need improvement.

What Is the Equivalent College Level Course?

AP U.S. Government and Politics is equivalent to a typical college-level introductory course in United States government and politics.

What Is the AP U.S. Government and Politics Exam Format?

The AP U.S. Government and Politics exam has two sections: multiple choice and free response. The multiple-choice section has 55 total questions. The free-response section contains 4 questions,

When Do AP U.S. Government and Politics Scores Usually Come Back?

The College Board releases AP U.S. Government and Politics exam scores in July. This is, of course, assuming test materials arrive on time and there were no issues in matching your records.

How Do Students Typically Score on the AP U.S. Government and Politics Exam?

The AP U.S. Government exam averages a passing rate of 51.1%. In 2019, 21.9% of students earned a 5, 12.4% earned a 4, 29,8% earned a 3, and 20.1% earned a 4.


Conclusion

Choose one of our top recommended books for the best chance at a passing score on the AP U.S. Government and Politics exam. The right book for you will depend on your study habits and the amount of time you have left for the exam.

Just make sure you’re sticking to a detailed study plan and tailoring your review to your specific needs for the best possible results. And if you have a bit more time, don’t hesitate to use more than one review book.

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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.