What’s the Best AP Review Book for AP Physics 2?
Complete Guide for Students

Last Updated On: May 5, 2021

AP Physics 2, an algebra-based class equivalent to an intermediate-level college course, covers thermodynamics, quantum physics, electricity, magnetism, and optics. At the end of the course, your knowledge will be tested through an exam.

Sounds tough? Maybe. But if armed with the right and reliable AP Physics 2 essentials, you'll find the class easy to manage. Plan and get the best AP Physics 2 review book for AP Physics 2 to get you started. My team and I came up with a list that you may find helpful.

5 Best AP Physics 2 Prep Books for 2021

1 - 5 Steps to a 5: AP Physics 2: Algebra-Based 2020 (Editor's Choice)

5 Steps to a 5 AP Physics 2

Most former test-takers we've talked to recommend the 5 Steps to a 5 AP Physics 2 review book as a practical exam study guide as it introduces an easy to follow study approach for AP Physics 2 exam preparations.

The book includes 2 full-length tests with detailed answer explanations, making it one of the best AP Physics 2 review books around.

It also provides several test-taking tips and information on how the exam scores, how to attack a question to score a 5, and how not to feel pressured during exam day.

We like the interactive and customizable AP planner app that allows you to manage your time wisely. You can also test your exam preparedness with the book's analytics and practice problems on the AP Physics 2 essentials.

  • Includes online resources
  • Lots of practice questions
  • Includes test-taking strategies
  • Organized structure
  • Provides comprehensive review
  • Not for late-minute studying

2 - AP Physics 2 Prep Book - An APlus Physics Guide

AP Physics 2 Books - An APlusPhysics Guide

The AP Physics 2 exam book is another review book that even kids can enjoy reading. Thanks to its eye-catching illustrations and charts.

This AP Physics 2 book is easy to read and covers the major topics that may be asked in the AP Physics 2 exam.

The major AP Physics 2 essentials include fluids, magnetism, optics, electrostatics, circuits, and thermal physics. Like the Princeton review, this study guide also covers these topics.

You'll also find 450 practice tests with answer explanations.

We like how the book is integrated with the APlusPhysics.com website, which you can't find in most AP Physics 2 books. You can access study questions, video, and forums to master the AP Physics 2 course anytime.

Additionally, the book contains 60 AP style-questions to help gauge your understanding of the key concepts.

  • Clear and concise explanation
  • Comprehensive discussion of the concepts
  • Includes 450 practice tests
  • Includes 60 AP-style questions
  • Formulas can be confusing

3 - Cracking the AP Physics 2 Exam, 2020 Edition

Cracking the AP Physics 2 Exam

Cracking the AP Physics 2 Exam is a holistic prep book produced by the Princeton Review team.

Based on our research, students find the Princeton team's AP review materials as well-structured and easy to follow, making it one of the best AP Physics 2 review books.

This book contains a comprehensive content review updated based on the College Board outline. It uses illustrations and charts for a more enjoyable visual approach to learning.

We like how each chapter ends with practice exams and activities to monitor your progress.

It includes two full-length practice tests aimed to get you ready for the pressure of the actual test so you can get used to its difficulty. We find this AP Physics 2 review book more affordable than most prep books on the market.

  • Comprehensive content review
  • Includes 2 full-length tests
  • Holistic approach to learning
  • Includes illustrations and charts
  • Not for last-minute studying

4 - Barron's AP Physics 2: With Bonus Online Tests

Barron's AP Physics 2

Barron's AP Physics 2 is a comprehensive AP Physics 2 review guide that uses a holistic approach to help students get a good score.

As per our review, the first section of the book covers practical test-taking tips and strategies that students can use during the entire review process and even on exam day.

You can start your review by taking the diagnostic test so you can determine your weak spots and focus on improving those areas.

We like how each chapter ends with practice exams and answer explanations to develop mastery of the topics.  It contains two practice exams that you can also use to gauge your progress along the way.

  • Complete review book
  • Comes with a diagnostic test
  • Includes full-length practice tests
  • Provides tips and pointers
  • Not a standalone prep book
  • Not for last-minute studying

5 - Sterling Test Prep AP Physics 2 Practice Questions

terling Test Prep AP Physics 2

The Sterling Test Prep AP Physics 2 Practice Questions is made to supplement your prep books and review materials as it is entirely dedicated to practice problems only.

It contains 700+ practice questions that mimic the format of the actual AP Physics 2 exam. Most students find these questions challenging enough to apply the key principles of the subject.

It also provides detailed answer explanations and step-by-step procedures to easily point out your mistakes and improve on them.

  • Comes with 700+ practice questions
  • Mimics the actual question format
  • Dedicated to practice
  • Does not contain comprehensive content
  • Not for beginners

Exam Information

The College Board Advanced Placement exam is 3 hours long and has two sections: (Algebra-Based) Multiple choice questions and free-response section. You can use a scientific or graphing calculator and also tables of physics equations and formulas.

  • Section 1: Multiple choice sections with 50 questions. A time frame of 1 hour 30 minutes is given to complete the exam.
  • Section 2: Free response section with 4 questions. A time frame of 1 hour and 30 minutes is given to solve each question.

What Content Will Be On The AP Physics 2 Exam?

There are 7 core concepts tested on the College Board AP Physics 2 exam. This AP exam is an algebra-based test, which means that you’ll have to use algebraic equations to solve Advanced Placement problems.


This concept will test your ability to create and use representations and scientific models to convey scientific findings. It will test your use of models to refine natural or man-made phenomena. This concept will also test your understanding of model recreation to help solve problems qualitatively or quantitatively.

Mathematical Routines

This core concept uses the most math and can be difficult for some students. You will be tested on choosing a mathematical equation or function to solve a problem. This section will also test your ability to apply mathematical routines to phenomena, whether man-made or natural.

Scientific Questioning

It is important to not only understand the physics concepts within this exam, but you should also understand the line of scientific questioning. You should be able to form scientific questions after looking at data or models. The test will also require you to refine and analyze scientific statements, answers, and questions.

Experimental Models

A large part of science is conducting experiments and understanding how to relay the data. You should know how to collect data and justify the type of data you collected to answer a scientific question. This section will also test your ability to design experimental models when given a scientific problem. Beyond that, you will have to represent the data you chose to collect for a given experiment. The test-makers will also expect you to evaluate your sources for accuracy and trustworthiness.

Data Analysis

This exam will test your understanding of analyzing data once you collect it. You should be able to identify patterns and relationships within your data set. You should also understand how to refine and retest your data to determine a scientific model's overall accuracy. Every piece of evidence you collect to support your scientific experiment should be explained thoroughly and easily understood by others.


This section is all about making your scientific argument after you have collected and analyzed your data. You should be able to construct sound arguments based on scientific observations. Your arguments should be able to be written down or spoken to other scientists in a way that can be understood and refined. Part of understanding physics is that you can explain natural or man-made phenomena using sound scientific arguments.

Making Connections

Every student should know how to connect scientific problems and solutions across multiple platforms. This includes connecting evidence across both spatial and temporal scales. You should also know how to connect and extrapolate data across different scientific paradigms and theories.


How hard is the AP physics 2 exam?

Yes, this AP exam is harder than the others. According to AP College Board data, 61.3% of students passed the AP Physics 2 exam on the first try. Only about 9.5% of students scored the highest score of 5.

What is the difference between AP physics 1 and 2?

AP Physics 1 is an algebra-based exam that covers Newtonian, mechanical waves, and circuitry. The College Board AP Physics 2, which is also algebra-based, covers electricity, magnetism, fluids, thermodynamics, and optics.

Should I take a prep course for the AP physics exam?

It depends on how well you understand the course material. You can self-study using one of the best AP Physics 2 prep books we recommended and free online materials. If you feel like you need the extra guidance and discipline of a prep course, then you should take one based on your AP teacher’s advice.

Final Words: AP Physics 2 Book

While taking the AP Physics 2 course may be challenging in itself, it's not impossible to pass the test. Along with dedication, the right prep books can help you prepare better.

If you are looking for the best AP Physics 2 book that offers you online resources with comprehensive review and easy to read structure, we recommend 5 Steps to a 5 - AP Physics 2 Book. Aside from the book's full-length mock tests, we also find the test-taking strategies and tips very helpful.

AP Physics 2 Essentials - An APlusPhysics Guide is also another useful book that's just within your budget. It contains several practice questions that you can use to gauge your progress during your review.

5 Steps to a 5 AP Physics 2

Our #1 Recommendation

5 Steps to a 5: AP Physics 2: Algebra-Based 2020

  • Includes online resources
  • Lots of practice questions
  • Includes test-taking strategies
  • Organized structure
  • Provides comprehensive review
  • Get the BEST PRICE until the end of May
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About the author

William Cohen

William Cohen

William is an electrical engineer whose great passion is helping promising students achieve their goals and dreams. He enjoys sharing his knowledge and expertise with aspiring learners from all over the world.

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