7 Best AP Biology Prep Book Reviews 2021

Acing AP Bio is something everyone in the class would love to do. Sure, it’s hard but it pays off really well, just like when taking any other Advanced Placement course. If you want to boost your chances of getting a 4 or 5 in the exam, finding the best AP Biology prep book would be of great help.

In this guide, we’ll help you find the best companions to your AP Bio textbook so you can be certain to get the results you want.

Buying Guide: How to Find the Top-rated AP Bio Review Book

All Advanced Placement courses prove to be very challenging. The fact that they’re college-level classes means that you’ll need to exert more effort in matching their demands and difficulty. However, AP Bio tends to be one of the harder courses of the bunch due to the complexity of the subject itself.

This course comes with large learning curriculum, complex topics, and tough exams. It’s actually considered as one of the hardest AP courses out there by lots of people. 

This is why it shouldn’t be surprising that most takers of this course require some help. The best AP books aren’t always enough, though. In most cases, students don’t get everything written in these textbooks. 

Companion materials like AP review books certainly come in handy as they can help explain certain parts and pointers better. They can contain information that will help you find a way to better understand the concepts introduced in the textbook. This makes them the perfect additional references for such challenging courses.

However, not all AP Biology review books have the same content, so choosing the right one will greatly affect your exam preparations. A good review book will complement your AP Biology study guide, for one. With the best review book, you’ll be able to boost your chances of getting better exam scores and understanding the coursework better.

This task can be a bit daunting but because it’s an essential part of the process, it’s important to put some effort into it. With the right information, however, this shouldn’t be too much of an undertaking. So to help you choose the best AP Bio review book, check out these tips that might be able to point you in the right direction:

Check out the contents of the books if you can.

If you have access to different review books and you can check their content before purchasing them, make sure to skim them nicely. Check out what kinds of information you can get and consider your learning methodologies and techniques. Different reviewers are crafted to suit various studying methods, so it might be beneficial to take note of such.

Read reviews.

Other people’s feedback on available review books can tell you a whole lot about what you can expect from the materials, so make sure to do your research and read a lot of reviews. Some will even share their experience and how useful they found the review books, so you can get more tips and tricks from such write-ups.

These can also tell you whether the review book you’re eyeing has already made the adjustments that meet the updates made with the current AP Biology curriculum. Not all study aids meet this criterion and it could play a crucial role in you getting high scores so it’s definitely worth looking into.

Check out your teacher’s recommendations.

Nearly all AP Bio teachers will recommend a few materials that they believe are helpful in teaching you what you need for the course. Give these recommendations a chance as they’re often more than enough to give you the information and practice you need for the upcoming exams.

These suggestions will always be a good place to start. They may even give you an idea what to look for in case you don’t think they’re enough for you to cover everything you need to be ready for your exam.

In addition to review books, you can also use other materials in your preparation for an AP course exam. You can also opt to get a good supplementary college biology textbook or use various exam practice materials available online.

So college textbooks may not necessarily be the cheapest items out there but if you think that additional reading material can help you boost your odds of getting great AP Bio exam results, then maybe you should go for it.

Product Reviews for the Best AP Review Books Today

The tips above, while helpful, might not be enough to help you narrow down your options, however. With so many choices available, you might still find it hard to find the best AP Biology prep book. So to help make your search a little bit easier, we’ve rounded up 7 highly-rated review books.

They’re all recommended by those who took the course and are sharing a few things on how to study for AP Biology. Not exactly expert opinion but they’re anecdotally proven to have worked for a lot of folks, so they might just be great options for you. too. Check them out below.

1. [Overall Best AP Biology Prep Book] Barron’s AP Biology Sixth Edition

Barrons AP Biology

The Barron’s AP Biology Sixth Edition by Deborah Goldberg is quite possibly the most popular study guide material in the market today. It’s certainly one of the most highly recommended titles by teachers, professors, and former AP Bio students alike. This explains why it’s a widely popular option when it comes to AP study guides.

If you’re wondering why this is one of the first titles almost everyone will mention as you search for the best AP review books, the answer is very simple. It’s a very detailed but also condensed study guide.

Some people describe it as the perfect material to read if you need some brushing up on the things you should have already learned in your AP Bio classes.

Others think that it’s a good material to go through if you want to do some advanced reading and get acquainted with the concepts that AP Bio classes will discuss. In any case, it is said to be able to cover all of the points that you need to know for the exams.

In addition to its review points, it also contains practice questions that should help prepare you for answering the actual AP Bio exam questions. All of the answers to these questions are also provided and discussed, helping you better retain what you’ve learned in class. Unfortunately, their questions aren’t fully updated to match the adjustments made in the current exams. This might prompt some to use an additional AP Bio study guide to help them handle the actual test questions.

A lot of people also note that this study guide is quite well-written. This makes it a lot easier to use as you won’t struggle with its sentence structure and phrasing to get the concepts you’ve been trying to understand or refresh your knowledge of. There are a few grammatical errors, however, but that’s quite a common thing to Barron titles that some folks aren’t necessarily bothered about them.

The book’s layout is also noteworthy. It’s easy on the eyes so you don’t have to tire yourself out while poring through its pages. This might not seem like much but since you’re probably going to spend hundreds of hours going through this study guide, a good layout will prove to be beneficial for you in many ways.

However, some folks do not recommend that you rely on this material entirely to get great grades. It’s a very basic study guide and it will cover everything you need to know but it might not be enough if you want to crush your AP Bio class.

Things We LikedThings We Didn’t Like
– Covers all of the points you need to know in AP Bio
– Easy to understand
– Good layout
– Friendly price tag
– Practice questions need to be updated

2. [Best Value for Money] Cracking the AP Biology Exam, 2021 Edition

AP Biology Exam

Next to the Barron AP Bio study guide, The Princeton Review Cracking the AP Biology Exam, 2021 Edition is another very popular and highly recommended review book for the said course. True to the Princeton Review’s tradition of covering literally all bases to ensure that you get a 5 on the exam, it can certainly be the very study guide that you’ve been looking for.

What makes this title worth looking into is its very comprehensive coverage. It’s the very definition of a study guide because it even has a chapter on planning your study tactic for the course. It starts out with an overview that gives you tips and strategies on studying and using the book.

This can help you create an exhaustive and elaborate study plan for this class. With its help, you don’t just get to learn the concepts in the course. It will also help you develop a whole system and procedure of how to learn the said concepts based on your needs. This simplifies the process for many as they don’t have to come up with their own strategies and do a trial and error process to find what can work for them.

This AP Biology review book also contains a lot of information about the concepts that you need to learn for the exam and updated information about the exam itself. Its concept content is exhaustive and extensive that it can really come in handy if you need to refresh or even simplify certain concepts to help you understand them better.

However, its huge section on test-taking tips really helps it win the hearts of many students. A lot of people actually consider this title as one of the best study guides that can help you practice for AP Biology exams. It will give you an idea what to expect from the exam and even teach you some tricks like mnemonic devices that can really help you crush the exam.

The book itself is also nicely designed so it’s easy to read. It’s not overwhelming and even has diagrams and broken up sections so you don’t get bombarded with text while you try to digest every piece of information.

It also contains practice exams that can help you gear up for the real deal. The premium variety comes with five practice exams while the regular version comes with three.

Things We LikedThings We Didn’t Like
– Well-rounded and contains just about everything you need to prepare for the AP Bio exam
– Covers all the bases in an AP Bio exam review
– Will not overwhelm students with concepts and information
– Good price
– Information is said to be not as in-depth as some would like

3. [Best Comprehensive AP Biology Prep Book] Preparing for the Biology AP* Exam (Pearson Education Test Prep)

Prepping the Biology Exam

Made specifically for the AP Biology exams, the Preparing for the Biology AP* Exam (Pearson Education Test Prep) is touted as the best comprehensive AP Biology prep book in the market today. Why? It’s said to have superior content compared to all the other study guides available. You might even be hard pressed to find negative feedback about this book. So from these alone, there’s a very good chance that it’s well worth looking into.

The first thing that should be noted about this product, however, is that it’s a companion book to the Campbell Biology textbook which is also referred to as the Pearson Biology textbook.

So if you’re using the said textbook and the Campbell Biology practice test in class, this would be a handy supplementary material to have. It can further expound on the concepts mentioned in the textbook, helping you understand the topics discussed in class better. 

Aside from being a companion material, it’s also highly praised and recommended for making the subject a lot more engaging and easier to digest. Biology is a complex subject and it can be too technical and overwhelming for some, so this title’s approach can be a fresh breath of air for students.

It’s also crafted to highlight the most important things that you should know about each topic. This makes it easier to turn to and will let you cover more areas when reviewing concepts.

Things We LikedThings We Didn’t Like
– Made to be a companion material for the Cambell Biology textbook
– Highlights important points and topics
– Provides practice questions that are nicely aligned with the actual AP Bio exam
– Not detailed on its own because it’s meant to be used with the Campbell Biology textbook

4. AP Biology Prep Plus 2020 & 2021: 3 Practice Tests + Study Plans + Review + Online (Kaplan Test Prep)

Kaplan AP Biology Prep Plus

The AP Biology Prep Plus 2020 & 2021: 3 Practice Tests + Study Plans + Review + Online (Kaplan Test Prep) is a solid choice for many AP Bio students for its straightforwardness. It addresses the very issue you’ll find in the other titles listed above so it can also be a solid choice for a supplementary AP Biology book. 

By focusing on the four ‘big ideas’ that are highlighted in the new exam format, this title pretty much offers a nice alternative or supplementation to the other review books listed above.

Its contents are designed to help not only in making you understand and remember the essential concepts in the course. It can also help build your confidence and train the right test-taking skills as its contents are aligned with the updated structure of the AP Bio exam. 

Unfortunately, this AP Bio book is a bit overwhelming as it divides its chapters according to the ‘Big Ideas’ employed in the actual exam. It’s also said to be a bit bland so not every reader might find it enjoyable to pore through.

Things We LikedThings We Didn’t Like
– Aligned with the new format of the AP Bio exam
– Very detailed concepts
– Contains very specific tips and strategies in taking the AP Bio exam
– Can be quite dull and overwhelming

5. CliffsNotes Ap Biology, 5th Edition

Cliffnotes AP Biology

Another popular favorite among teachers and students is the CliffsNotes AP Biology, 5th Edition. As what you’d expect from a CliffsNotes title, it’s a comprehensive study guide that highlights all the important parts in the coursework.

It’s even further revised to become more aligned with the updated structure of the exam, so it can certainly be helpful in preparing you for the important test.

One of the best things about the Cliffs AP Biology is that it’s very affordable and contains everything you need to get ready for the exam.

It will not only cover all of the important points that can come up during the test but it will also teach you some tips and strategies to crush it. It even contains an extensive overview of labs and major content areas to help you better retain the information you’ve learned in every chapter.

It also comes with practice materials that will further help you get ready for the big exam. This gives you more value for your money.

Things We LikedThings We Didn’t Like
– Excellent price
– Contains everything you need to get ready for the AP Bio exam
– Well-aligned with the updated structure of the AP Bio exam
– Can be quite overwhelming for some students

6. 5 Steps to a 5: AP Biology 2021

5 Steps to a meeting 5 AP Biology

The 5 Steps to a 5: AP Biology 2021 is a solid choice if you need something that will give you a step-by-step guide in acing your AP Bio exam. As its title suggests, it will help you create a 5-step plan, starting with a solid and effective study plan that will meet your needs.

It should be noted, however, that this review book is more focused on the exam format and questions instead of simplifying the concepts for readers. While the concepts are thoroughly discussed, they’re not necessarily the easiest to grasp in this study guide.

However, if you need a book that will really practice your test-taking skills and give you confidence, this would be a great pick.

Things We LikedThings We Didn’t Like
– Help outline a solid study plan
– Contents are focused on the four ‘big ideas’ in the new AP Bio exam structure
– Heavily focused on preparing you for the exam
– Content can be hard to grasp

7. Barron’s AP Biology Flash Cards

Barrons AP Biology

Thinking of switching up your studying methods? The Barron’s AP Biology Flash Cards may come in handy in this case. 

Flashcards have always been excellent study tools so you might also find them helpful for such a complex subject as AP Biology.

Crafted to reflect the updates made on the AP Bio exam, it contains 450 cards that take on 20 categories. They’re meant to help you refresh the information you’ve studied, allowing you to check how much you already know and how much more you should cover.

Some users find it a lot handier than a review book, making it a nice additional study tool on top of your textbook and review books.

Things We LikedThings We Didn’t Like
– Help outline a solid study plan
– Contents are focused on the four ‘big ideas’ in the new AP Bio exam structure
– Heavily focused on preparing you for the exam
– Content can be hard to grasp

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