7 Best AP Biology Books (2024's Most Recommended Picks) 

William Cohen
Published by William Cohen
Last Updated On: July 31, 2022

Acing an AP biology exam is tricky, but the right book may be able to help you ace it. With several options, how do you pick the right AP biology book?

After 52 hours of research and conversation with our team of academic experts, we've come up with this best AP Biology books review to help you find the right AP Bio material and crack that test.

7 Best AP Biology Books in 2022:

1 - Campbell Biology (11th Edition) (Editor's Choice)

Campbell Biology (11th Edition)

The Campbell AP Biology review book offers understandable content with the innovative use of art and photos to enhance teaching and learning. It is written by many well-known authors, including Lisa A. Urry, Michael L. Cain, and Peter V. Minorsky.

It provides engaging multiple-choice question tests to challenge the student’s skill and knowledge, which they can also apply to exercises in the textbook or online.

Based on our research, many students recommend this as the best AP Biology prep book. We like its visualizing facts and figures, making it easier to read than other AP Biology books. You can use it not only for the AP Bio exam preparation but also for your class. Unlike some review books, the Campbell Biology book is used in many college courses.

Additionally, the MasteringBiology™ assignments include an image walk-through and Galapagos evolution videos with visualizing questions and problem-solving exercises.

  • Well-written AP test prep book
  • Easy to read and understand
  • Contains in-depth explanations and quizzes
  • Includes graphics and photos
  • Not for last-minute studying

2 - Sterling Test Prep Review Book - High Yield AP Biology Questions

Sterling AP Biology

The Sterling AP Biology Practice Questions provides 1,500 biology questions that adopt biology's key concepts.

Most students we've talked to can attest that learning the essential concepts first before diving into individual review books is more valuable than memorizing the terms.

This book contains 4 sections that explain the concepts, making it stand out among the best AP Biology review books we've read.

The second part of the book also provides the answers to all practice questions, a thorough explanation of the correct answer, and how another answer that seemed right is wrong.

  • Detailed and well-written
  • Contains easy-to-understand concepts
  • Provides detailed answer explanations to practice questions
  • Does not match with the new AP biology exam

3 - Cliffs Notes - AP Biology textbook 5th Edition

CliffsNotes AP Biology, 5th Edition

The Cliffs Notes test preparation guide includes an updated content that is well-suited for the latest exam test preparation.

It focuses on the test-takers who need help in all subject areas.

This study guide offers an in-depth explanation of the laboratory investigation along with two full-length AP biology practice exam models. These features make it one of the best AP Biology books today.

You'll also find practice questions and answers at the end of each review chapter for pinpointing problem areas.

  • Affordable price
  • Recommended by teachers
  • Includes multiple-choice and free-response questions
  • Good as supplement or reference only
  • Content may be a bit dry

4 - Barron's AP Biology - 6th Edition

Barron's AP Biology

The Barron’s AP Biology review textbook is a best-seller in the field of biology. The book offers a comprehensive test guide with additional practice tests on a CD-ROM.

Based on our review, many find Barron's AP Biology review book helpful since it follows the new AP exam's style and content. We like how the multiple-choice questions, free-response questions, test-taking tips, and explanations are detailed yet easy to understand at the same time, making it one of the most well-loved review books for AP Bio.

You'll also find hundreds of practice questions with detailed explanations on the answers.

  • Easy to understand
  • Well-organized study guide
  • Includes two full-length practice tests
  • Includes multiple-choice and free-response questions
  • Several printing mistakes in the book

5 - 5 Steps to a 5 in AP Biology

5 Steps to A 5 AP Biology

5 Steps to a 5 is among the top-rated AP bio textbooks. Written by Mark Anestis, this AP biology study guide helps students score well on the test with its multi-platform compatibility and straightforward approach to studying.

The popular 5 Steps to a 5 AP biology textbook offers the latest AP exam course and syllabus. You may also purchase the online help that includes three practice tests in addition to the two in the book.

Moreover, the book provides detailed answers to each question with excellent test-taking study tips for your AP exams and lets you know how you can score higher in the exam and much more.


  • Supportive study plan approach with practice test
  • Multi-platform supported
  • Good as reference only

6 - Princeton Review's Cracking the AP Biology Exam - Premium Edition

Cracking AP Biology Premium

The Princeton Review's Cracking the AP Biology Exam book offers all of the classic study materials like book reviews, AP connect extras, test-taking tips, strategies, and more via the Princeton Review's online AP portal.

This latest edition of the AP biology textbook offers five full-length practice tests with explanations of the answers.

The Princeton Review also offers an eBook edition for online learning and crosses linked questions, answers, and extra knowledge.

  • Understandable context
  • Extra 5 practice tests
  • Some pages may be missing if you purchase the old book

7 - Kaplan's AP Biology Prep Plus


Kaplan’s AP Biology Prep Plus textbook is entirely aligned and restructured according to the new AP exam and gives you well-written content to quickly build your confidence and skill.

Kaplan is also committed to giving you your money back if you do not get a higher score after using their study guide and online materials.

It provides a realistic and comprehensive explanation of two full-length Kaplan practice exams plus an online test scoring to convert your raw score into 1-5 scale.

While leafing through the book, we found pre-chapter and post-section quizzes to monitor your progress. Students find this helpful for assessment purposes.

  • Easy to use format
  • Latest practice tests and content format
  • Can only be used as supplemental study material for AP Bio books

Course Summary

As you may already know, the Advanced Placement (AP) program was designed to allow high school students the opportunity to receive college credit while they’re in high school. At the end of the term, students will be required to pass the AP Biology test to receive college credit towards their degree. This will allow them to enter into higher-level courses once they start their freshman year of college. This course is similar to an introductory college-level biology course.

The topics covered in the AP Biology course include the process of evolution, cellular processes, genetics, information transfer, ecology, and interactions. This AP Biology test prep course also contains a lab requirement of approximately 25% of the course. It covers math, scientific models, scientific questioning, data collection, data analysis, and scientific theories.

What Is Covered on the Exam?

The AP Biology exam is given at the end of the semester. The exam is 3 hours long and covers many of the topics that students are expected to learn throughout the year. The AP Biology exam will ensure that students understand the course's core concepts, including solving problems mathematically, designing experiments, analyzing critical data, and developing conceptual models.

The exam is broken up into 2 sections with three different question types, including multiple-choice, grid-in, and free-response. The test consists of 63 multiple choice questions and 6 grid-in questions in the first section, which you will have 1.5 hours to complete.

The second section has 2 long free-response and 6 short free-response questions. These require you to write an analytical essay-type answer.

This section should also be completed in 1.5 hours.

AP Biology Book Buying Guide

1. Content Review

We recommend checking the content of the AP Biology book before purchasing it. You can often find a few sample pages on the web by searching Amazon or Google Books. You should thoroughly review the table of contents to ensure that you are getting a book that will meet your needs.

You should look for additional items such as actual AP Bio practice questions, flashcards, study plans, study guides, and strategy tips.

2. Teacher Recommendations

The AP Biology curriculum is determined by a collaboration of AP teachers and college biology professors. They review every AP course syllabus, set score standards, and grade exams. Your AP Bio teacher will likely have recommendations as to what books are best for studying and taking practice tests. Since they are the ones that develop the curriculum, we recommend taking advantage of and following your teacher’s recommendations.

3. Reviews

What better way to understand AP Biology study books than by seeing what other students have to say? You should ask your peers and read online reviews to determine the best AP Bio books for you. We recommend reading in-depth reviews and learning the core concepts that are covered in each study book.

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How much do AP Biology prep books normally cost?

AP Biology prep books cost around $150. You can get AP Biology practice questions for around $20 to $80.

Do I really need an AP Biology study book?

It depends on how well you understand the material prior to studying for the exam. We recommend at least using practice questions to gauge your performance level. You can never be too prepared, so it might be wise to look into these books even if you think you are prepared.

Are there AP Biology prep courses?

Yes, there are AP Biology prep courses available online, live, and in-person. The most prominent one is offered by Kaplan. It features 8, 2-hour live sessions, companion prep review books, teacher summary notes, and recordings of the videos.

Are the prep courses worth it?

It depends on how much you need to study to raise your AP Bio score. The prep courses can run as much as $500, which may not be worth it for students who have already mastered most of the test material. We recommend starting with a prep review book and practice questions and gauging your performance before investing in an AP Biology prep course.

How much time should I spend studying for the AP Biology exam?

We recommend spending about 2 months preparing for the AP Bio exam. You should start by taking a practice test and drawing up a study plan. Dedicate more time to the areas in which you need the most improvement. You should have a thorough understanding of the 4 main topics covered on the exam. You should also study the Latin and Greek prefixes and suffixes to help you understand the vocabulary.

Is the AP Biology exam difficult?

The AP biology exam is considered to be one of the harder AP exams due to its dense subject matter and scientific nature. It should resemble the coursework of an intro-level biology course, which many students find difficult.

And The Best AP Biology Book Is...

Based on our extensive research and interview with previous test-takers, we recommend the Campbell AP biology book for your AP exam preparation as well as for future classes or college courses.

We are impressed with the way the content is presented. We like how the authors used innovative art through photos and visuals that can enhance both teaching and learning for any student's study plan.

The engaging practice questions are also helpful in challenging and monitoring your knowledge and skills throughout the review.

Campbell Biology (11th Edition)

Our #1 Recommendation

Campbell Biology (11th Edition)

  • Well-written AP test prep book
  • Easy to read and understand
  • Contains in-depth explanations and quizzes
  • Includes graphics and photos
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