5 Best AP World History Textbooks (2024 Full Update)

William Cohen
Published by William Cohen
Last Updated On: January 6, 2023

Did you know that only about 10% of the total test-takers got a 5 in this year's AP World History test? That's how taxing the AP exam could be. However, if you're able to plan and study early within the school year, you can be part of the upper 10%.

So, where do you start? With your AP World History review materials, of course.

After in-depth research, my team and I have finally compiled this list of the best AP World History books to help you pinpoint what could work best.

5 Best AP World History Textbooks in 2022:

1 - Traditions & Encounters: A Global Perspective on the Past UPDATED AP Edition (Editor's Choice)

Traditions and Encounters

The Traditions & Encounters review book is for students who want to have a good understanding of the AP World History modern concepts. Many find it as one of the best AP World History review books today.

Based on our AP World History modern books review, this study guide offers a fresh approach to learning and initiates a system of interaction while exploring the world from the earliest times to the 20th century.

Among the review books we've read, this world history review book represents history by focusing on links and interactions in various societies, including an alternative to Eurocentric history (Western centrism).

Founded by Bentley, the 6th edition of this AP world history book also provides a global perspective on the past updated AP edition.

  • Provides a fresh approach to learning
  • Includes a free CD
  • Motivating design and structure
  • Well-written content
  • Recommended by students
  • May be a bit expensive

2 - Barron's AP World History, 8th Edition: With Bonus Online Tests

Barron's AP World History, 8th Edition: With Bonus Online Tests

Barron’s AP World History book is another in-depth preparation guide for the AP world history exam. It includes revised strategies for answering different question types you'll encounter in any exam.

This AP World History prep review book has nine historical thinking skills and fundamental concepts at the beginning of each chapter to help you get familiar with the subject matter for discussion. Among the AP World History books we've reviewed, we like how this book covers the AP World History modern concepts. The shortcut charts for the new units also help organize a perfect study plan for your AP exam.

Based on our review, there are two full-length practice tests with answer explanations. It claims to give you a good foundation on the history of civilization circa 8000 B.C.E. to the world culture of the 21st century.

  • Good AP World History review book for a long-term self-study plan
  • Good for multiple choice-type questions
  • Several unnecessary concepts
  • Lacks structure

3 - Cracking the AP World History Exam 2020, Premium Edition

Cracking AP World History

Created by the Princeton Review team,  the Cracking the AP World History Exam book offers an online portal for extra practice with its five full-length practice tests with answer explanations. With these features, it's no wonder the book made it to our list of the best world history review books.

This advanced placement Princeton review book provides relevant key concepts, maps, and a helpful timeline of significant developments in history.

Multiple choice questions and practice exams are included at the end of each chapter to test your historical thinking skill and understanding of the topics. This Princeton Review book also offers additional engaging activities, so you can assess your progress while preparing for the AP exams.

  • Easy to read with helpful maps and images
  • Good study guide
  • Includes study tips
  • Not entirely updated as per 2018 changes
  • Lacks other necessary content

4 - Ways of the World with Sources for AP - Word History

Ways of the World with Sources for AP - Word History

The Ways of the World AP prep book is also among the best-selling AP world history books today. Many students find it an ideal book for the redesigned world history classroom.

The Ways of the World test prep is among the few prep books that focus on trends, themes, and development in world history. We like how the author of this crash course review material provides an insightful synthesis to help students understand world history and prepare for the AP exam.

  • Affordable
  • Easy to use and understand
  • Lacks other essential content

5 - 5 Steps to a 5: AP World History

AP World History: Modern

The 5 Steps to a 5 AP World History review is a prep book produced by McGraw-Hill Educations.

Like other prep books, it comes with an interactive AP planner app so you can develop proper time management as you review. It comes with four full-length practice tests. You'll find two in the book and the other two in its online format.

We like how the book uses charts and illustrations to summarize each chapter. We think this feature makes it easier to remember the concepts. Based on our review, former test-takers like how it teaches a step-by-step procedure for acing the test through various strategies and tips.

One drawback that we particularly noticed is that it provides way too much discussion on topics that won't appear on the actual test.

For instance, there is an extensive information on ancient history when the current AP exam now has a modern take.

  • Includes 4 full-length practice tests
  • Comes with an interactive AP planner
  • Uses charts and illustrations
  • Not aligned with current AP structure
  • Provides unnecessary information
  • Not for last-minute studying

AP World History Exam Brief Overview

The College Board AP World History exam is 3 hours and 15 minutes long. It contains two sections - multiple-choice or short questions and free-response. As per the College Board, each chapter is divided into two parts:

Section 1

  • Part A - Fifty-five minutes are allowed to solve 55 multiple choice-type questions. This section accounts for 40% of the exam score.
  • Part B - There are three questions in this short-answer section. You are allowed 40 minutes. This section accounts for 20% of the exam score.

Section 2

  • Part A - This section has one document-based question. You have 60 minutes ( including 15 minutes of reading) to solve the problem. This part accounts for 25% of the exam score.
  • Part B - This section has one long essay with one question. You are given 40 minutes. The section accounts for 15% of your exam score.

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Study Tips

1. Set a daily study schedule

Studying every single day will not only keep you updated with the recommended daily readings. It will also make sure that you retain all the necessary information for the College Board AP exam. We recommend you focus your mind on one subject or topic each day to avoid confusion. As soon as you have fully understood one concept, you can move on to the next one.

2. Create outlines for each chapter

For a beginner, we recommend you use a comprehensive textbook as you study for the AP World History exam. Textbooks are usually lengthy. Hence, you won't have the extra time to go through the book anymore. Instead, create outlines as you read. These notes will come in handy if you need an extra boost on remembering key concepts later on. You may also check out online outlines and make them your study guide.

3. Don't forget to take breaks

Give yourself some time to relax after hours of studying. This will make sure that you won't get too pressured or stressed out as you prepare for the test.

4. Use diagnostic tests and practice questions

Before you start studying, take a diagnostic test first. This will gauge your level of knowledge and determine which areas you need improvement. As soon as you're able to pinpoint your strengths and weaknesses, you can focus more on your weaker areas. Most prep books also come with practice questions and short answer questions at the end of each unit. Use these questions to track your progress along the way.

5. Know how to analyze documents

AP World History includes analysis and assessment of historical documents. Learn how to decipher every information you receive so you can use that to support your document-based conclusion during the free-response section of the test.

What's the Best AP World History Textbook? We Recommend...

After hours of reading and reviewing test prep review books, we think that Traditions & Encounters - AP world history Edition is the best AP world history textbook if you're after an exciting and fresh approach to studying for your world history exam.

The content is clear and well-written, the reason why many students we've talked to recommend it. It also includes a CD which you can use anytime you need further study.

With its impressive features, this AP world history textbook may give you the most value for your money if you pick it as a study companion.

However, if the price point concerns you, you may also check out the Ways of the World with Sources AP prep book.

Traditions and Encounters

Our #1 Recommendation

Traditions & Encounters: A Global Perspective on the Past UPDATED AP Edition

  • Provides a fresh approach to learning
  • Includes a free CD
  • Motivating design and structure
  • Well-written content
  • Recommended by students
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