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What’s the Best AP Psychology Review Book?
Full Expert Guide

Last Updated On: May 5, 2021

While there are several AP Psychology review books that claim to be the best, most of these materials might do you more harm than good. When it comes to looking for an ideal study companion, you can't just pick up the first book you get your eyes on.

After 47 hours of research, my team and I came up with a list of the best AP Psychology books today. Check out our list and see what AP Psychology textbook might work for you.

5 Best AP Psychology Review Books in 2021

1 - Myers' Psychology for the AP Psychology Course Third Edition (Editor's Choice)

Myers Psychology For the AP Course

David Myers, the author of Myers' Psychology for the AP Psychology Course Third Edition, is an expert in the field of psychological science.

Myers, who earned a PhD in psychology from the University of Iowa, is the author of 17 books, including the best AP psychology review textbooks. At Hope College in Holland, Mich., where he is a professor of psychology, students voted him as "Outstanding Professor."

As per our review and interview with previous test-takers, this review book is well-written and easy to comprehend. This could be why both new and experienced AP Psychology majors choose Myers Psychology for AP as the best AP Psychology review book for AP exam preparation.

You may find this test prep book a bit expensive, but most claim that it's worth the money.

Pros
  • Licensed book format
  • Includes full-length practice tests
  • With multiple-choice questions
  • Good for AP course self-study
  • Content is well-written
  • Authored by a psychology expert
Cons
  • Not for last-minute studying

2 - 5 Steps to a 5: AP Psychology 2020

5 Steps to a 5: AP Psychology 2020

McGraw-Hill is the publisher of the 5 Steps to a 5 AP Psychology book. After talking to several students, we've learned that this 5 Steps to a 5 AP Psychology test review book is a favorite contender among the best AP Psychology books because it is easy to understand and offers multiple platforms to study.

The 9th edition of the 5 steps to a 5 AP psychology textbook introduces an easy-to-follow study guide for exam preparation. This AP Psych provides five full-length courses, multiple-choice problems, five full-length practice tests, flashcards, test-taking strategies, and games. It also offers useful analytics for checking your readiness for the exam.

We find the 5 Steps to a 5 AP Psych planner app interactive and customizable. It is very accessible as you can download the textbook and read it anywhere using your mobile device.

One other advantage is that this newly designed 5 Steps to a 5 review book offers the latest syllabus for the most recent exam.

Pros
  • Good AP Psychology prep book
  • Full-length practice tests and online app support
  • With multiple-choice questions
  • Easy to understand
  • Well-organized practice questions
Cons
  • Not for last-minute study

3 - Barron's AP Psychology, 8th Edition: with Bonus Online Tests

Barrons AP Psychology

The 8th edition of Barron’s AP Psychology textbook contains a prep guide, one diagnostic test, and two full-length practice tests with comprehensive explanations. These features make it stand out among our list of the best AP Psychology review books.

An additional two full-length practice tests are also available on CD-ROM when you buy Barron's AP Psychology package.

Barron's AP Psychology textbook covers all AP Psychology topics, including research methods, treatment of disorders, and biological behavior.

Barron's AP Psychology review book also has an additional chapter on abnormal psychology to give you a better understanding of the latest DSM-5 changes for the AP exam.

Based on our review, Barron's AP Psychology review book has additional multiple-choice questions for each unit, complete with briefly explained answers.

Aside from Barron's AP Psychology book, Barron's also has a prep book for GRE.

Pros
  • Comes with a summary and essential notes for the AP course
  • Affordable price
  • Good practice book
  • Includes practice exams
Cons
  • No answer key for the chapter tests

4 - Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders

Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders

The authors of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders AP psychology book are members of the American Psychiatric Association, making it one of the best AP Psychology books of all time.

This psychology book is 10 years old and was created with international experts' dedication and hard work in mental disorders.

It was released to improve the diagnosis, treatment, and research of mental illness. This 5th edition AP Psychology exam review material is the first hardcover test prep guide.

As per our research, many clinicians and researchers use this AP Psych in their practice.

The manual's informative content also benefits physicians and many health professionals like nurses, psychologists, counselors, occupational and rehabilitation therapists, and foreign and legal specialists, and social workers.

Pros
  • Value for money
  • Good material for social work, psychology, and counseling
  • Helpful DSM-5 technology
Cons
  • Format not as good as the previous version

5 - Cracking the AP Psychology Exam, 2020 Edition: Practice Tests & Proven Techniques to Help You Score a 5

Cracking the AP Psychology

The Princeton Review team offers this Cracking the AP Psychology textbook.

Princeton Review offers classroom courses, online and school-based courses, tutoring, and online servicing in admission counseling and academic homework.

The Princeton Review’s guide offers target strategies for each question, content review, and a supportive AP online portal that provides two full-length practice tests with a complete answer explanation.

Cracking the AP Psychology review book also includes a few of the most tested test-taking techniques as you prepare for the exam. The features we've mentioned are the reasons why we included it on our list of  5 AP Psychology textbooks.

Pros
  • Efficient and useful
  • Easy to understand
  • Good study and review guide
  • Includes practice exams
Cons
  • Lacks a straight free-response section

What Is the AP Psychology Test?

AP (Advanced Placement) Psychology is a college-level introductory course offered at many high schools.

The course is offered in the college’s advance placement program that allows high school students to earn extra credits. One-hundred multiple choice questions and 2 free-response questions are provided in AP Psychology tests.

What Type of Content Is Covered in the AP Psychology Test?

The content and subjects cover the college-level introductory psychology courses that are taught in college.

Scientific Foundations of Psychology

This section covers approximately 10 to 14% of the AP Psychology exam. For this section, you will be tested on the key terms and research methods used to solve and interpret psychology theories and phenomena. You should know how to select research methods, design an experiment, and conduct statistical analysis. This core concept will also cover the ethical guidelines that every psychology researcher should follow, including patient confidentiality, ethical research design, and experimentation.

Biological Bases of Psychology

This section covers 8 to 10% of the exam. This core concept will test your skills in understanding the biological functions of studying psychology. It will cover essential topics and key terms, such as heredity and the influence of the environment or the classic nature vs nurture argument. You will also be tested on the endocrine and nervous systems. You should understand neural pathways and firing and how certain drugs affect their behavior. This topic will also cover sleep and dreaming.

Sensation and Perception

This part of the exam makes up about 6 to 8%. You should understand the basic principles of sensation and perception.

This will cover visual perception and anatomy. It will also discuss auditory perception and sensation. This unit will also test chemical and body senses.

Learning

This topic will comprise about 7 to 9% of the AP Psychology exam. You will be tested on operant and conditional learning and research methods.

You should have a thorough understanding of classical conditioning. You will be expected to understand the cognitive and social factors that influence learning.

Recommended Article: How to Self-Study for AP Psychology?

Cognitive Psychology

This section is one of the more dense ones, and it will cover about 13 to 17% of the exam. You will learn about memory and how it is encoded, stored, and retrieved.

You will learn about forgetting and distortion in memory. You should also understand the biological bases of memory to prepare for the exam.

In this section, you will be tested on thinking and problem-solving. You should know the common errors and biases in thinking and psychological research. You will be introduced to intelligence and how psychologists test intelligence.

Language acquisition will also be covered in this section. You will study how humans understand and acquire a new language.

Developmental Psychology

This section will be tested on the exam at approximately 7 to 9%. You will be expected to understand the development and lifespan of early childhood. Every aspect of childhood development will be covered, including psychological, physical, cognitive, and social.

This section will also cover adolescent development, adulthood, and aging. You should study the moral development of humans throughout these life phases. Gender and sexual orientation will be covered in this section.

Motivation, Emotion, and Personality

This section will cover about 11 to 15% of the AP Psychology exam, so we recommend studying it in detail. You should have an understanding of motivation and what drives people to do certain things. Theories of emotion will be covered in this skill set. Stress will be covered and how people manage stressors in their lives.

Another core concept in this section is personality. You should understand psychoanalytic, behaviorism, social, and cognitive theories of personality to do well on your exam. Humanistic and trait theories will be covered, but in less detail. You should understand how to use appropriate psychological research methods to measure personality.

Clinical Psychology

This is another big core concept that will be tested approximately 12 to 16% on the AP Psychology exam, so you should study it thoroughly. For this section, you should have an understanding of psychological disorders. Many different disorders will be covered in this section, including the schizophrenic spectrum, bipolar, depressive, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive, stressor-related, and substance abuse disorders.

You will also be expected to understand the concept of treating psychological disorders and how psychologists might differ in their treatment methods. This section will also test your knowledge of empirical strengths and weaknesses for different treatment methods.

Social Psychology

This section of the exam will represent about 8 to 10% of the overall content. You will be expected to have a basic understanding of attribution theory and personal perception. You will be tested on attitude formation and change based on social dynamics.

You will also explore compliance, obedience, and conformity in a group setting. You need to know about bias, discrimination, and prejudice. Altruism and aggression in social situations will also be tested.

Overall, this section will focus on interpersonal interactions and how they shape psychological behavior.

Buying Guide - Best AP Psychology Books

Organization

When choosing an AP Psychology book, you should ensure that it is well-organized and up to date with the most current AP Psychology exam topics that we covered above. The best AP Psychology textbooks you choose should have a cohesive and coherent format focusing on the correct topics.

For example, if you choose a book that spends more time on smaller exam sections, you might not be prepared for the bigger sections.

The best AP Psychology exam prep book that you choose should also break sections into small units with short recaps at the end of each section. This will help you monitor your learning progress and go back to study any areas where you might not understand a concept fully.

Strategies and Tips

The AP Psychology book you choose should do more than simply explain concepts. The best AP Psychology textbooks should guide you with strategies and test-taking tips that will help you succeed. An excellent exam prep book will have a guide for making a study plan, so you can stay motivated and keep on track to get a passing score on your AP Psychology exam.

Another feature of great AP Psychology prep books is general test-taking tips. Your prep book should help you by explaining how to use practice tests and when to take them. It is also helpful to have a strategy guide for multiple-choice and essay questions.

Most of the AP exams are also testing your ability to take standardized tests. Your prep book and study guide should include instructions on how to take the AP Psychology exam on the computer, including timing yourself and learning the platform.

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Practice Tests

One essential tool for studying for the AP Psychology exam is practice tests and real practice questions. Practice tests allow students to study using previous AP Psychology exam questions. The first full-length practice test you take should be a diagnostic test to see how well you know the material before making your study plan. A diagnostic test will help you determine what your strengths and weaknesses are.

You should also prepare by completing essay questions. These free-response sections are meant to test your knowledge of the AP Psychology core concepts and your writing abilities. You should understand the question, stay on topic, and make a valid argument within the given time frame.

FAQs

How hard is the AP Psychology exam?

The AP Psychology exam seems to be easier than other AP exams. Approximately, 71% of students pass the AP Psychology exam with a score of 3 or higher. Many students think this is one of the easiest AP exams compared to some of the other more intensive, algebra-based exams such as AP Physics.

Will every core concept be on the exam?

Yes. We recommend studying all of the core concepts and skillsets since they will likely show up on the exam. You can spend a little more time studying the core concepts that comprise a larger percentage of the exam.

What is AP Psychology equivalent to in college?

AP Psychology is equivalent to an introductory psychology course in college. You will receive college credit if you pass the AP Psychology exam. At most universities, this class will count as a social science credit as well.

What other resources should I use to study for the AP Psychology exam?

We recommend using all of the free resources at your disposal along with our top choice for AP Psychology prep books. You can use the review materials and resources on the College Board website, which include previous exam questions, core concept charts, and other useful tips. You can also use some of the free resources available at your high school. It is best to speak with your AP teacher to see if they can offer some insight or tutoring.

How long should I study for the AP Psychology exam?

It depends on how well you know the course material. Since it is one of the easier AP exams, you may not have to study for as long. We recommend studying for at least 1 week before the exam. You should review all of the core concepts, take a test prep practice test, and complete some practice free-response problems.

What will the free-response questions cover on the AP Psychology exam?

There are 2 free-response questions on the AP Psychology exam and they make up for 33.3% of your exam score. One question will ask students to explain psychological behavior and apply analytical theories from different domains within the field. This question might resemble a case study that students will have to analyze. The other practice questions will ask students to analyze a psychological study and interpret data.

What's the Best AP Psychology Textbook? We Recommend...

After hours of detailed research and numerous interviews, we can deduce that Myers' Psychology for the AP Course Third Edition is the best AP Psychology textbook if you're looking for a good test prep material. It is in a licensed book format and authored by Dr. Myers, an expert in Psychology. We are impressed with how the book is easy to read and comprehend.

For an easy-to-understand and detailed guide, Cracking the AP Psychology Exam offered by Princeton Review can be a good option.

Barron's AP Psychology, 8th Edition is also a good resource for social workers, psychologists, and other professionals. The price range is also affordable.

Additionally, the 5 Steps to a 5: AP Psychology is likewise among the most-purchased AP Psychology textbooks on the market.

Myers Psychology For the AP Course

Our #1 Recommendation

Myers' Psychology for the AP Psychology Course Third Edition

  • Licensed book format
  • Includes full-length practice tests
  • With multiple-choice questions
  • Good for AP course self-study
  • Content is well-written
  • Authored by a psychology expert
  • 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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