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Advanced Placement (AP)
It's extremely important to have reliable books for learning and studying the material covered in AP classes. This is particularly true for AP Biology, considering the complexity and breadth of the content of the course. The format of the AP Biology exam was modified in 2013 and again in 2020; as a result, some books have kept up with these changes better than others.
In this article, we'll tell you which books are your best bet for acing AP Biology and which ones you should use only at your own risk!
What's in This Guide to the Best AP Bio Books?
This is our take on the best books to help you do well in AP Biology (the class and the exam). In the first two sections, we've included the best textbook as well as a few high-quality review books.
In the third section, we've included a couple of review books from popular test-prep companies that we rate a bit lower. We wanted to give you more specific details about the issues with these prep books so you can supplement them appropriately if you've already bought them (or choose to buy them because you're used to the format).
Our assessments of these AP Biology books are derived from Amazon reviews by students and educators as well as our personal impressions after perusing them. We provide pros and cons for each book along with an overall summary of what it offers and whether I recommend it. I've also rated each book on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest score.
Let's get started!
The Best AP Biology Textbook: Campbell Biology, 12th Edition
Price: Between $54-74.99 to rent and $84-150 to buy on Amazon.
This text is one of the most universally accepted college-level biology books. It's written at a high level, but, according to student feedback, it appears that most people have found it relatively easy to understand and generous in its use of diagrams and examples. We recommend this book as a reliable AP Biology textbook if you're self-studying or having a lot of trouble understanding your in-class textbook.
- Easy-to-follow organizational structure
- Great examples that help you understand biological concepts quickly
- Helpful illustrations and diagrams throughout
- Clear writing style
- Used in real college classes, not just AP classes, so it could be useful to you in the future, too!
- Students sometimes complain that the book is overly dense and wordy
- It's pricey—even the eText and used versions are currently pretty expensive
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The Best AP Biology Review Books
This is a list of the review books we think will be most helpful to students studying for the AP Biology exam. The highest-rated books include comprehensive coverage of the course material, excellent practice questions, and helpful test-taking and study-planning tips for students.
Pearson Education Test Prep Series for AP Biology, 2020 Edition
Price: About $40 on Amazon
Even though this review book technically goes with a specific textbook, you can easily use it on its own . From all that I've read, this book is a solid, well-organized representation of the content and format of the AP Biology exam.
- Includes high-quality free-response and multiple-choice questions at the end of each chapter
- Effectively highlights the most important things you need to know about each topic area
- Encourages readers to make connections between topics, which is critical on the exam
- Because this book was published early in 2020, its content doesn't quite align exactly with the current format of the AP Bio test.
Sterling Test Prep AP Biology Practice Questions, 2022 Edition
Price: About $35 on Amazon
If you're in an AP Biology class and already have access to a textbook, I'd definitely recommend this book as a study aid for the exam . You might buy this book along with another book on this list that has more information about test-taking strategies and the exam format.
If you use this book as a resource for practice questions, you can also use Sterling’s self-teaching guidebook to get a concise overview of the material on the exam to supplement your studying. While their book of questions is not a stand-alone AP Biology book, it's definitely an awesome tool to have in your arsenal!
- Includes a diverse array of more than 1,500 high-quality practice questions
- Material and difficulty level aligns well with the format of the exam (lots of molecular and cell biology questions)
- Has detailed answer explanations for all practice questions
- Is accompanied by online resources that give you even more practice testing opportunities
- Questions are divided by subject area , so if you're having trouble with a particular portion of the curriculum, you can focus on that material specifically
- It's a less guided studying experience than what some other books offer—you have to be able to plan your time responsibly to get the most out of the questions and explanations
- The book is pretty much just questions and doesn't provide an overview of what's tested on the exam
- If you're self-studying for the test, you’ll probably need to rent or buy their additional guide as you'll want to have some background knowledge before diving into practice questions (though the answer explanations will help you)
CliffsNotes AP Biology, 2021 Edition
Price: About $19 on Amazon
This prep book is helpful if you want to clarify some of the concepts you'll learn in your AP Biology class and see a more concise summary of the information . We wouldn't recommend relying on it completely as your only source of review material, since many students felt that it didn't give them all the tools they needed to do well on the exam.
If you get this prep book, be sure to do lots of supplemental practice questions . Still, it's a good baseline resource for content!
- Includes sections with information on test-taking strategies and how to answer different types of questions
- Has two full practice exams with answers and explanations
- Includes a detailed overview of all the labs and major content areas (with review sections) at the end of each chapter to help you retain the background information you'll need
- It's relatively dense , and the amount of text might be overwhelming for some students
- Many reviewers of previous editions commented that the book was informative but didn't necessarily prepare them well for the actual AP Biology test.
Barron's AP Biology, 7th Edition
Price: About $15 on Amazon
This is a mediocre review book overall. You can probably use it to review the content you need to know for the test or to help you understand concepts in your AP class, but we wouldn't rely solely on the practice test materials and testing strategies in this book. Though Barron's is usually pretty dependable, it seems as though this book might be a bit tedious.
- Covers all the basic information you'll need to know for the exam
- Practice questions help you memorize key facts and concepts
- Diagrams are plentiful and easy to understand
- The overall layout is pleasing to the eye and might be easier to read than other less well-designed review books
- Students complain that there's too much superfluous content and that the book is sparse on important test-taking tips
- Practice questions are mostly fact- and memorization-based and do not fully prepare you for the analytical format of the AP Biology test
- There seems to be consensus that the free-response questions here are particularly bad and are not at all comparable to the free-response questions on the AP Bio exam
AP Bio Review Books to Avoid or Use Only as Supplements
This section is for AP Biology books that aren't the greatest but that you might already have or plan to buy because you're most familiar with the prep companies that make them.
These books can still be somewhat useful, but we'd advise that you supplement them with other review books we've rated higher (see above) . We'll go through the pros and cons of each of them so you can get a better idea of where and why they fall short.
5 Steps to a 5: AP Biology 2022
Price: About $14 on Amazon
This book does a good job of outlining a study plan for the test, so it might help you in structuring your prep time. Its coverage of AP Biology concepts is thorough, but it's not the easiest to study. If you get this book, you should use other sources for additional practice questions to ensure you're getting the most out of your studying (the Sterling book in the first section could be a good place to start).
- Guides you through the creation of a study plan that fits your needs
- Covers the four "Big Ideas" in the AP curriculum and has plenty of information about the facts you'll need to know for the test
- Content review is pretty dense and difficult to get through
The Princeton Review's Cracking the AP Biology Exam, 2022 Edition
Price: About $16 on Amazon
We tend to like Princeton Review books because they're very student-friendly and not as dry as some other review books.
The main positive aspect of this prep book is that it gives you a strong foundation for planning out your studying and approach to the test . We'd recommend supplementing this book's content and practice questions with another more comprehensive AP Biology book on this list.
- Starts with a high-level overview of how to plan out your studying and how to use the book effectively, so it's easy to follow
- Walks you through the process of designing a study plan for your individual needs
- Has an extensive section on test-taking tips, including mnemonic devices that will come in handy during the exam
- Text in the content review section is broken up so it's easy to read and not overwhelming— diagrams are plentiful , too
- Key terms and practice questions are provided at the end of each content chapter
- Includes 6 practice tests
- Information isn't as in depth as it chould be
- Main complaints were that this book is too shallow and simple for a really good review of the AP Biology curriculum
- Practice questions might be less difficult compared to those on the real test
Kaplan's AP Biology Prep Plus 2020 & 2021
Price: About $25 on Amazon
This book is okay as far as content goes, but it's not that easy to use as a review tool overall. It won't help you much with the actual ins and outs of the AP Bio exam. You should supplement it with another book that gives you access to better practice questions and more concise content summaries.
- Is structured around the four "Big Ideas" on the AP Bio test, making it easy to follow and keep track of what topics you're struggling with, if any
- Has a very detailed review of concepts with helpful diagrams
- Some students might not like the fact that the review questions are divided by the four "Big Ideas" in AP Biology and not by smaller chapter sections—this makes it more difficult to use the book as a focused review tool
- The book is a bit long-winded , so it's not as easy to quickly go over concepts
- Tries too hard to relate to students and writes some test-taking tips in an oblique way (e.g., one of the tips for free-response questions is "Writing Smart Stuff Gets You Points"—it's simplified to the point where it doesn't even mean anything without reading the rest of the wordy explanation)
Which AP Biology Books Should You Get? Should You Avoid?
We don't think there are any AP Biology review books that are horrible enough for you to avoid at all costs, but there are quite a few that won't do much for you by themselves .
The point of a book is to specifically and effectively prepare you for the AP Biology test. Accurate and comprehensive biology content isn't enough— it's much more important to have access to practice questions that are a faithful reflection of what will be on the test . You don't want to be in a position in which you know a lot about biology but are unable to apply the facts you know to scenarios you haven't seen before when you take the test.
When choosing from this list of AP Bio books, you should consider your individual needs as well as the nature of the test . If you think you'll need more guidance in structuring your test prep, you might buy one of the books that gives more instruction on how to devise a study plan (even if it's in the lower-rated section, such as 5 Steps to a 5 ). You could then supplement that book with another one from the higher-rated section that has great practice questions.
Make sure that your AP Biology review books and textbooks cover all the important bases. In other words, they should give you the tools you need to create a study plan, learn biology content, and do relevant practice questions . Reference real versions of the current AP Biology test to compare questions on the test with the practice questions you've been doing and confirm that you're on the right track!
Itching to get started with AP Bio prep right away? We cover cell theory , enzymes , cell structures ( endoplasmic reticulum and cell membrane ), homologous and analogous structures , and the photosynthesis equation with subject-specific guides.
If you're like most high-achieving students, you're probably wondering how many AP classes you need to take to get accepted to an elite college. Check out this article to learn how many AP classes you should take based on your goals.
Are you investigating different options for earning college credit while still in high school? Learn more about the pros and cons of AP classes versus community college classes and which option might fit better with your needs.
Thinking about being pre-med in college? Learn more about being pre-med , including how to prepare for pre-med in high school , schools with great pre-med programs , and helpful books to read as a pre-med student . If you're thinking about being pre-vet instead, you should definitely check out our guide on how to become a veterinarian .
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The 4 Best AP Biology Books For Exam Prep [2022-2023]
- Advanced Placement
- 1) AP Biology Overview
- 2) Best AP Biology Books
- 3) Best AP Biology Flashcards
- 4) Course Summary
- 5) Exam Summary
- 6) Wrapping Up
AP Biology Overview
AP Biology is roughly equivalent to an entry level College Biology class, and the exams cover a breadth of topics including genetics, ecology, evolution, cellular processes, information transfer, and more. 25% of the time is spent in the lab study environment where students conduct hands-on investigations and apply scientific practices. Prerequisites for AP Biology include high-school level chemistry and biology courses.
We’ll cover the curriculum, exams, and our picks for the best AP Biology books, Flashcards, Study and Review Guides for test year 2023 below, but if you just can’t wait, here’s our short list:
Best AP Biology Books
It’s a great choice to add a decent review book to your study leading up to the test date. AP Biology has several strong contenders for the best textbooks, prep, and review books which we’ve ranked above. Continue on for detailed information on each review book!
Pros: Comprehensive coverage of all test topics. Cons: Relatively pricey. Best For: Supplementing other textbooks. Our Rating: 5 / 5
Campbell Biology AP Edition is among the highest recommended AP Biology textbooks recommended by teachers (and this site’s staff alike). The book has a wealth of information spanning all of the course and exam key areas of focus, and can help jump start your test preparations. This is a full textbook and not a review book, but the materials inside are critical to the success of students on the AP Biology exam. Key features:
- Over 1400 pages covering the breadth and depth of exam topics.
- Review questions for the material covered.
- Diagrams and illustrations help communicate key concepts and ideas.
If you’re looking for last minute study materials, this book is probably not the right choice. However, for students planning well ahead, this book is perhaps the most comprehensive resource available. It’s a full fledged college level textbook, which can be used to supplement the one used in your class. Overall, a great resource, though the price tag may be too high for some.
Cracking the AP Biology Exam
Pros: Full length practice tests and end-of-chapter drills. Cons: Some small errors in practice test explanations. Best For: Students looking to supplement other materials throughout the year and leading up to the exam. Our Rating: 5 / 5
Princeton Review produces very high quality review and prep materials for the tests they cover, and Cracking the AP Biology Exam is no exception. This book is a valuable resource for any student preparing themselves for the AP Biology Exam. Key features include:
- 2 full length practice tests.
- Up to date information on current year tests.
- Practice drills at the end of each chapter.
- Lists of key terms to help you focus studies.
With its low price tag and useful content, Cracking the AP Biology Exam is ranked as our best overall value study book on this list. It has a high level overview of the material covered at the beginning and walks the reader through creation of a study plan tailored to their individual needs. It includes plenty of charts and images, which helps make the review book easy to consume.
Barron’s AP Biology
Pros: Tons of useful practice tests, multiple choice and free response sample questions. Cons: Some content is not directly applicable to the AP Biology exam. Best For: Practice problems and review after a solid grasp of the material has been attained. Our Rating: 4.5 / 5
As with most of their prep guides, Barron’s AP Biology is a hugely useful book, and our pick for “Best Budget Book”. The review guide comes bundled with access to 2 full length online practice tests (complete with answers and detailed explanations for each question), and is currently on it’s 6th edition. The book also includes hundreds of practice questions for free response and multiple choice sections of the exam. The full list of features include:
- Two full length practice exams (with answers and explanations).
- Hundreds of multiple choice and free response practice questions.
- Optional CD ROM version containing additional test materials.
Barron’s AP Biology is widely praised by teachers and students as being one of the best resource for students. Given it’s wide range of bonus materials, detailed coverage of the class work, and very modest price-tag, you can’t go wrong here.
AP Biology Crash Course
Pros: Narrow focus on exam questions and topics. Cons: Doesn't cover material as thoroughly as other resources. Best For: Last minute prep leading up to the exam. Our Rating: 4 / 5
AP Biology Crash Course aims to cut out the fluff, and cover only prep materials required for the actual exam. Perfect for the student who is short on study time, or otherwise looking for a quick and relevant review book prior to taking the AP Biology test. Features included in the book:
- Detailed test-taking strategies for both multiple choice and essay sections of the AP Biology exam.
- Glossary of key terms you will be expected to know.
- A full length practice test with automatic scoring and relevant questions
The Ap Biology Crash Course book is regularly recommended by teachers, and is a fantastic last-minute review prior to the exam. Overall, it’s best used as a supplement to another more comprehensive resource, but it definitely has a strong place in the list of Best AP Biology books.
Best AP Biology Flashcards
In addition to the excellent books mentioned above, AP Bio students will see significant benefits in prepping for the exam using flashcards. Our top picks for Best AP Biology Flashcards are outlined below.
Barron’s AP Biology Flash Cards
Pros: Comprehensive coverage of major exam concepts and topics. Cons: Lack of digital format option. Our Rating: 5 / 5
Barron’s AP Biology Flash Cards are physical flashcards covering 20 general biology categories. As one might expect, these flashcards pair well with the Barron’s AP Biology book mentioned above. Key features include:
- Over 450 cards covering 20 topics.
- Introductory cards describing the AP Biology exam in detail.
AP Bio covers far more information and concepts than can be expressed in flashcard form, but these serve as a fantastic prep aid leading up to the exam. The flashcards help make the chore of repetitive memorization more tolerable, and they complement any of the above review guides or your textbook very well.
5 Steps to a 5 (Biology)
Pros: Comprehensive coverage of major exam concepts and topics, with physical and digital format available. Cons: No recent edition, some material no longer applicable. Our Rating: 4 / 5
5 Steps to a 5 (Biology) is a set of AP Biology flashcards available in physical or kindle formats. The set includes over 600 study cards spanning the whole subject area covered in the exam. Key Features include:
- 600 terms covered.
- One term per card with bulleted key information on each.
- Multiple formats (kindle and physical) available.
The prep flashcard set serves as a fantastic supplement to the above listed review guides or your textbook. Its multiple formats (kindle, physical) ensure you have a access to the materials in a way that suits your particular needs.
A full Course Description for AP Biology is available from collegeboard.org.
AP Bio is comprised of material covering 4 main concepts you’ll find on the exams covered in most review books:
- The process of evolution explains the diversity and unity of life.
- Biological systems use energy to grow, reproduce, and maintain homeostasis.
- Living systems store, transmit, receive and respond to information.
- Biological systems interact, and these systems and interactions have complex properties.
When investigating the main concepts outlined above, the scientific method is used to define and test hypothesis which explain the natural phenomena around us. This requires students to:
- Use models and representations to communicate and solve problems.
- Evaluate evidence and analyze data, using mathematics where appropriate.
- Plan and execute data collection strategies.
- Pose theories and work with scientific explanations of observable phenomena.
Through the use of inquiry-based study, students are provided with the opportunity to learn through asking questions, making observations and predictions, designing experiments and collecting data, and finally constructing arguments with answers to the questions posed. These techniques are directly applicable to the practice of scientific inquiry outside the classroom setting.
Students taking the AP Biology Exam are responsible for demonstrating knowledge of each of the above mentioned learning objectives and scientific investigation techniques. It assess a student’s ability to:
- Answer questions using mathematics (including symbolically).
- Design experiments, describe the designs, analyze data and potential sources of error.
- Explain answers in a way that clearly illustrates deeper understanding of the overarching concepts.
- Build and describe conceptual models.
Since the exam includes a non-trivial amount of mathematics based assessment, students are allowed to use a basic 4 function calculator (see the collegeboard calculator policy ), and are given a list of common formulas.
The AP Bio test is comprised of 2 sections (multiple choice and free form response), each of which make up 50% of the overall score.
The Multiple Choice section:
- 1 hour and 30 minutes long and consists of 69 multiple choice biology questions.
- It accounts for 50% of the overall exam score.
- 63 multiple choice questions either discrete or in sets.
- 6 discrete multiple choice questions integrating mathematics and biology.
The Free Response section:
- 1 hour and 30 minutes long (including 10 minute reading period) and contains 8 questions.
- 2 Long free response questions based on lab data.
- 6 Short free response questions (1 paragraph in length).
For exam dates, refer to The College Board AP Calendar .
AP Biology is one of the most popular Advanced Placement tests, and strongly recommended study for students on a pre-med track. There’s a ton of content in the course and exam, so supplementing your study materials with review guides, flashcards, and other resources is a fantastic idea.
We’ve rounded up a short list of the best AP Bio books and flashcards to help any student succeed. Which one is right for you depends on your individual circumstances. To recap our recommendations for top prep books:
For Students who’ve planned far ahead and are looking for material to supplement their assigned textbooks, we recommend Campbell Biology or Cracking the AP Biology Exam. Campbell Biology is a full blown textbook (with a big price-tag), while Cracking the AP Biology Exam is a more modestly priced review book focused on the AP Biology exam.
Students in more of a time crunch will be better off with AP Biology Crash Course, which cuts out a lot of the fluff and keeps a narrow focus on the exam contents. Likewise, Students looking for flashcard systems are recommended to pick up Barron’s AP Biology Flash Cards.
Whatever your circumstance, supplemental study and review materials are a key part of ensuring success on the exam. We’ve listed some of the best AP Biology books available. Good luck, and study hard!
Sources and Further Reading
- AP Biology Curriculum Framework
- 2018 AP Biology Scoring Distribution
- CollegeBoard.Org AP Biology Home
- The 5 Best AP Calculus BC Review Books [2022-2023]
- The 4 Best AP Art History Books [2022-2023]
The Best AP Biology Review Books of 2023
- Post by: Professor Conquer
- Last updated on: August 31, 2023
Spread the love
Not sure what the best AP Biology review book to buy is? In this comprehensive article, we break down our top picks for what our favorite AP Biology study guides are for this year.
You can never go wrong with a good and reliable review book for your AP Biology classes or for the exam itself. This is because Biology itself covers a wide range of topics that can easily overwhelm you if you don’t know where to start and what to focus on. This explains why only 61.5% of those who took the most recent exam got a score of 3 or higher. In that case, you really need a good study aid that can guide your entire review for the Advanced Placement Biology exam.
Nevertheless, choosing the right review book for your exam can also be quite a daunting and difficult task. Since the exam was modified several years back, not a lot of review books have adjusted to reflect those updates. Because of that, we have put together a list of the best AP Biology review books that not only follow the modified outline but also promise to give you the highest score possible in the upcoming exam.
If you prefer a video, check out the summary section to watch our overview of what we cover here. If you prefer just getting to studying, get our top pick for AP Biology here .
Last update: 2023-09-14
Our Favorites (the best AP Biology review books)
Campbell Biology by Lisa Urry, Michael Cain, Steven Wasserman, Peter Minorsky, Jane Reece
This isn’t really a review book but your basic knowledge of biology should start somewhere. There is no better way for you to build your foundation in any subject than to use a full-length textbook. After all, a review book is simply a review book that should only be used to help you recall things you have studied in the past. That is why you should start your review for the AP Biology exam with one of the best biology textbooks.
Campbell Biology is one of the most successful biology textbooks on the market and is widely used by high school and college students alike because of how comprehensive it is. It aims to help you understand biology in a deeper sense while also challenging you to apply what you have learned using engaging activities and exercises that really work the brain.
Though it is a long read even for textbook standards, this material is still great in its own right because of how easy it is to follow and understand. The contents are organized well and it has an understandable writing style that isn’t too heavy for students. The book also uses diagrams, illustrations, and examples that make it easier for you to comprehend what you are reading. Overall, it’s just a fantastic textbook that should be the foundational rock for your AP Biology classes and review.
Satisfied customers on Amazon love how comprehensive and versatile the book is. Even doctors praise the book for how useful it is for college and AP Biology courses. To top it all off, it is even called the best biology book on the market by most of the positive reviews online. It does carry a hefty price tag but it is a book you can never do without if you want to master biology.
What makes it unique:
- It is the most complete and comprehensive AP or college-level textbook on the market.
- The latest edition of the book comes with media resources that can improve the way you learn the subject.
Why choose this book:
- Your foundation of biology should start somewhere, and this book more than covers everything you need to master the basics of the subject.
- Despite being a long read, it isn’t too heavy of a text because of how it makes you understand the concepts of biology in an interesting and easy-to-comprehend manner.
- Hardcover Book
- Urry (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
Preparing for the Biology AP* Exam by Jane Reece, Lisa Urry, Michael Cain, Steven Wasserman, Peter Minorsky, Robert Jackson, Fred Holtzclaw, Theresa Knapp Holtzclaw
This is the partner book to Campbell Biology and was made specifically for the AP Biology exam. In that sense, it summarizes the contents of its mother book to fit the outline and the demands of the College Board. It goes hand in hand with Campbell but can also stand on its own as a review book that supplements what you have already learned in your past biology courses.
Like its mother textbook, this review book specializes in making biology engaging and interesting to read in an understandable way. However, since it was made specifically for the AP Biology exam, it takes out the most important topics from Campbell and summarizes them in a comprehensive and in-depth manner without having to stray away from what made its mother book a favorite among students and teachers alike.
Because it was tailor-made for the AP Biology exam, this review book contains different types of questions such as multiple-choice and free response at the end of every section or chapter to train the way you answer questions and exams. The book also helps you connect certain topics with one another to get you acclimated to what the updated version of the exam demands.
It’s just a really solid book that has gotten a lot of positive feedback on Amazon. Reviews all rave about how helpful of a material it is at providing you the concepts needed in the test while also preparing you with questions that perfectly represent what would come out in the AP Biology exam. And, for the price, it is the perfect companion to your Campbell textbook or any other biology book for that matter.
- It was tailor-made as an AP Biology companion to Campbell Biology .
- The book covers the important topics using the same style used by its mother textbook.
- If you own or have already read Campbell , then no other review book can be as useful as a supplementary material as this one.
- The practice questions perfectly mirror the updated style of the AP Biology exam. This gives it a clear reason to belong in our list of the best AP Biology review books.
- Reece, Jane B. (Author)
- 464 Pages - 04/16/2014 (Publication Date) - Benjamin Cummings (Publisher)
Princeton Review AP Biology Premium Prep, 2023 by The Princeton Review
Known for the quality of its review books, The Princeton Review has produced a pretty solid material to be used for the AP Biology exam . This review book delivers you everything you need to know to get a perfect score of 5 in the upcoming exam.
The book contains a comprehensive review of the topics that are in the College Board’s outline. This part of the book is easy to understand and read because of how it is broken up into sections. The chapters also end with a review of the important terms and words and with questions that will test what you have learned.
There is a section that gives you an overview of what you should expect in the exam and how you would be able to maximize the book to get the most out of your review time. It also guides you in creating your own study plan that caters to your goals, needs, and remaining study plan.
The best parts of the book are the test-taking tips and strategies you can use to get the highest score possible as well as the practice tests that come with it. The Princeton Review’s practice tests are usually considered challenging enough to help you adjust to what you will be encountering in the actual AP Biology exam. Because of such, it’s a solid study aid that’s cheaper than others on the market.
- The book is easy to read and contains diagrams that help make the entire review process interesting and bearable.
- You are guided through the process of making your personalized study plan to make sure that it fits all your needs and goals.
- The premium edition contains up to five practice exams. Meanwhile, the regular edition has three practice tests.
Why buy this book:
- It is a well-rounded review book that delivers content, tips, strategies, and practice questions and exams.
- This book tends to be student-friendly and caters to the needs of teenagers. In that sense, it isn’t too overwhelming and dry.
- The Princeton Review (Author)
- 448 Pages - 08/02/2022 (Publication Date) - Princeton Review (Publisher)
The Runners-Up for Best AP Biology Review Books (still good but a little lacking)
Barron's AP Biology by Deborah Goldberg
Barron’s basically covers everything you need to get a good score in the exam as far as content and topics are concerned. It is considered to be one of the most popular books in that regard because of how extensive and comprehensive the subject review part of the book tends to be. The way the review is handed out to you also mirrors the College Board’s outline.
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When it comes to layout and format, Barron's AP Biology also stands out. The layout is simply pleasing and easy on the eyes and will not tire or bore you quickly compared to other books that tend to be dry. Its use of diagrams and illustrations also helps you learn in a more visual sense to break the monotony of endless reading. You can really see that the author and publisher of this book put in the necessary effort in its design.
The book also contains dozens of practice questions to hone your skills at answering multiple-choice and free-response questions. And, to top it all off, it has two practice exams that each have answers thoroughly explained to make you understand how and where you went wrong.
However, what makes this book a runner-up on the list is that it does not have test-taking tips and strategies. Some customers also complain that it tends to get too wordy. And, finally, it has not been updated to fully reflect the latest format of the AP Biology exam. But it is still a solid book that deserves your consideration.
- It has one of the most comprehensive of the top AP Biology content reviews on the market.
- The layout and design are pleasing enough to get the student engaged for longer periods of time.
- It has plenty of practice questions that are similar to what you will be encountering in the exam.
- If you prefer a light read that doesn’t feel too boring or bland, then this review book should be at your corner.
- Goldberg M.S., Deborah T. (Author)
- 560 Pages - 02/01/2017 (Publication Date) - Barrons Educational Series (Publisher)
AP Biology Prep Plus by Kaplan Test Prep
An updated book that perfectly follows the restructured style of the AP Biology exam, Kaplan Test Prep's review book is can be a must-have material if you prioritize getting the most up-to-date study aid on the market. Because of this, Kaplan promises its review book to help build your confidence and test-taking skills in time for the exam.
As mentioned, this review book is well-aligned to the updated format and structure of the exam. To that end, the chapters deliver a comprehensive overview of the topics and are aligned to the four main ideas that the new structure of the exam focuses on. There are also quizzes after each chapter to help develop your retention and the way you approach and answer questions in the actual exam.
AP Biology Prep Plus comes with a study plan that you can easily customize according to your goals and remaining prep time. In that sense, the study plans are tailored to adjust to you instead of the other way around. This gives you the freedom to pace yourself during the entire review process and to maximize whatever time you have left before the exam.
A good feature of this book is that the tips and strategies it gives are tailored specifically not just for any exam but for the AP Biology exam. This means that your training will be focused solely on answering the actual exam. In line with that, the book also comes with two full-length practice tests to help you gauge how prepared you already are.
If there was a knock to this exam, it is that it gets too wordy in the sense that it is not an easy read for students though it tries hard enough to relate to them. It isn’t as light as its competitors are and can get a bit too bland for some students. However, it is still worth your time and money for an affordable price.
- This one of our best AP Biology review book picks perfectly aligns itself with the new format of the AP Biology exam.
- The tips and strategies are specifically made for the AP Biology exam and not just for any other exam.
- Go for this top AP Biology review book if you want a review material that completely follows the new restructured format of the exam.
- It delivers a comprehensive review that does not skimp on the details.
- Kaplan Test Prep (Author)
- 648 Pages - 03/03/2020 (Publication Date) - Kaplan Test Prep (Publisher)
The Best Value for Your Money for Best AP Biology Review Books (good and affordable):
CliffsNotes AP Biology by Phillip Pack
This revised version of Cliffs Notes' review book for AP Biology has been updated to reflect the restructured format of the AP Biology exam. Nevertheless, it retains all of the great qualities that have made it a favorite among students and teachers alike. The best part is that it has become more affordable lately.
Despite how affordable the book is, it does not sacrifice content. It has all the information you need to get to know the exam as well as the strategies you might want to use to stand out and separate yourself from the rest of the pack. It also trains you to answer the different types of questions you will be encountering in the exam.
The book, of course, includes a review of all of the relevant topics that will come out in the exam. The content is detailed well enough for you to get a deeper understanding of the concepts. And, at the end of every chapter, there is an overview or summary that serves to improve your retention of the most important information.
What makes it a great value for your money is that it also comes complete with practice materials. The two full-length practice tests are modeled after the AP Biology exam. They also come with their own answers and explanations to help you understand how to get to the right answer.
- It knows how to summarize the topics after each chapter really well.
- The book reflects the changes in the reformatted AP Biology exam and is up-to-date when it comes to information.
- This is a solid book that is worth the affordable price tag because of how effective it is at improving your knowledge.
- It doesn’t have a lot of weak points as a book although it might need to improve on its practice materials.
- Pack Ph.D., Phillip E. (Author)
- 432 Pages - 12/20/2016 (Publication Date) - CliffsNotes (Publisher)
Last update: 2023-09-15
Summary of the Best AP Biology AB Review Books
To put all together, here is a table of the best AP Biology review books we went over today, with their page counts for reference.
Because of how the College Board has reformatted the AP Biology exam, you are better off using the most updated materials on the market. However, keep in mind that review materials are only for review purposes. To that end, you might want to start things off with a comprehensive textbook that helps you understand all of the basics of biology .
Once you already got that covered, feel free to choose one or more of the books we have listed for you. There are plenty of other quality books on the market but we believe you can’t go wrong with our choices.
Is AP Biology worth it? Make sure to check this out .
Did you find this guide on the best AP Biology review books helpful? If so, share it with a friend!
Looking for more reviews of AP study guides? Check out our archives for other AP Sciences , AP Math & Computer Science , AP History & Social Sciences , or our general Advanced Placement section .
Or, if you’re taking the SAT Subject Test in Biology, read our article on that here .
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10 Best AP Biology Prep Books (2022)
Standardized testing is a critical element of college prep and college admission. AP classes and exams prepare high school students for the rigors of college academia and provide an opportunity to earn credit. Many schools require students to demonstrate mastery to receive college credit, which means performing well on the AP exams.
Are you planning to take the 2022 AP Bio exam? If so, knowing what to expect and understanding how to apply the material learned throughout the year are crucial, and finding the right study guide is important. There are dozens of choices available, so we compiled a list of the top review guides available to help you find the best book to fit your needs.
Table of Contents
1. 5 Steps to a 5 AP Biology
2. mometrix test preparation ap biology, 3. barron’s ap biology premium, 2022-2023, 4. princeton review ap biology premium prep, 2022, 5. cliffsnotes ap biology 2021 exam, 6. kaplan ap biology prep plus, 7. ap biology test prep book 2019 & 2020, 8. sterling test prep ap biology review, 9. pearson education test prep series for ap biology, 10. crash course ap biology, why do i need a review book, what should i look for in an ap biology review book, how should i use a review book, how important are practice tests, do i really need online resources and flashcards, how much time do i need to spend studying, is it better to study alone or in a group, final thoughts on ap biology review guides, top 10 best ap biology exam prep books.
Publisher: McGraw-Hill Education
Number of pages: 352
Our Final Grade: A++
For students seeking more than a basic content review, this guide includes specific strategies to prepare you for the AP Bio exam .
- Includes hundreds of practice questions plus six full-length exams with explanations.
- Provides strategies to help you plan for the exam.
- Contains a code for online access to additional practice exams, study plans, interactive tests, and more.
- It’s hard to find fault with this book, but if you prefer studying with flashcards, it may not work well because they only provide them online.
Publisher: Mometrix Media LLC
Number of pages: 143
Our Final Grade : A+
Mometrix created a newer reviewer guide for the 2020 and 2021 AP Bio tests with additional videos and strategies .
- Contains practice questions and a complete review of all test sections.
- Created with the updated AP Biology standards in mind.
- Includes access to online content, like tutorial videos , at no extra cost.
- It’s short, which could be a no-go for students who prefer a physical book for practice.
Publisher: Barron’s Educational Series
Number of pages: 456
Barron’s covers a wide range of topics in detail with thorough explanations and comprehensive vocabulary lists.
- Comprehensive coverage with hundreds of practice questions plus two full-length samples tests with answers and explanations.
- You can purchase an additional CD-ROM or flashcards for more study options.
- Contains relevant references like measurements and additional resources.
- The CD-ROM and flashcards cost extra, unlike other guides on the list.
- Some of the question formattings are outdated because they changed the AP Biology standards.
Publisher: Princeton Review
Number of pages: 448
Our Final Grade : A-
The Princeton Review Guide is one of the only books on the list to address the recent changes to the AP Bio exam format.
- This book addresses the changes to the AP Bio exam format.
- It includes strategie s for taking the exam, including tips for pacing and tackling free-response questions.
- Contains four full-length practice tests in the book and an additional online test with answers and explanations.
- One of the more expensive options on the list, though you do have access to additional online materials.
Number of pages: 336
Our Final Grade : B+
Cliffs Notes provides a highly organized approach to AP exam review with explanations of formatting, grading, and how to use the book.
- Includes review questions and answers after each topic plus two full-length practice exams .
- Provides strategies and thorough explanations of what to expect on the exam.
- Written by a University Biology professor with past experience as a high school AP Biology teacher.
- The organizational format may be confusing for some students.
Publisher: Kaplan Test Prep
Number of pages: 648
Our Final Grade : B
Kaplan provides a physical guide accompanied by online resources for a comprehensive review.
- The guidebook includes two full-length practice exams with answers and explanations.
- You can create a customizable study guide to reach your goals.
- Online tests include a scoring tool that converts your raw score into the AP scaled scores to give you an idea of where you stand.
- A lot of the questions are too easy or oversimplified.
Publisher: Test Prep Books
Number of pages: 156
Our Final Grade : B-
Test Prep’s AP Biology book guarantees a higher score on the exam and provides a combination of review information, testing strategies, and practice questions.
- The book covers every topic a student could see on the test.
- Practice questions at the end of the book include detailed answers to help students understand any mistakes they make.
- This guide includes a section on testing strategies and tips for the AP Biology exam .
- There is no practice test included in the book for students to determine how prepared they are for the actual exam.
Publisher: Sterling Test Prep
Number of pages: 590
Our Final Grade : C+
Sterling Test Prep gives students a review of all topics they can expect to see on the AP Biology Exam.
- This review book covers every topic that students may encounter on the exam.
- Experienced biology teachers prepared all material in the book.
- Sterling Prep guarantees a higher score and offers your money back if they don’t deliver.
- There are no practice questions or tests in this book. You can purchase the Sterling Test Prep AP Biology Pract i ce Questions as a companion to this book.
Publisher: Benjamin Cummings
Number of pages: 464
Our Final Grade : C
A basic guide to AP Biology with clear, concise explanations, but it lacks the detail provided by other books.
- This book covers the topics clearly and concisely.
- It is well organized and easy to use.
- This guide works well as a companion to another textbook or prep guide .
- Pearson’s guide is of the more expensive choices, especially if you need to purchase other books to accompany it.
- It doesn’t include application questions or testing strategies.
Publisher: Research & Education Association
Number of pages: 256
Our Final Grade : D+
This review book is marketed as a quick review guide and delivers an efficient refresher course for last-minute prep.
- Includes a mini-test in the book and access to one full-length exam online .
- Written by AP Biology teachers and a neuroscience researcher.
- Contains some test-taking strategies .
- The brevity will not prepare students seeking more intensive practice or detailed explanations.
Frequently Asked Questions
You may not need a review book for all AP exams, but the AP Biology exam covers many complex concepts . There are hundreds of terms to know and apply correctly. You also have some free-response questions that require you to organize your thoughts and construct detailed, informative answers.
The AP Biology exam relies heavily on a student’s ability to apply concepts. Review guides help you see the bigger picture by breaking concepts down and providing detailed explanations. Many guides include additional online materials , and some provide tutorial videos to demonstrate lab concepts.
Living in a digital age, many classes rely on various materials instead of one textbook. If you don’t have a biology textbook for your class, a review guide is a great resource. It’s more convenient to have one book instead of several documents and links.
This question is complicated because it depends on the type of student. Assess your styles and needs before selecting a book because what works well for somebody else may not work for you. Try answering some of these questions about your approach to studying to narrow down your choices.
- How do you learn best? Do you prefer videos or flashcards?
- Did you struggle with any topics during the class? If so, you may want more detailed explanations or supplementary materials.
- How much time do you have between now and the test?
- Do you need help with planning and strategizing?
- Is a variety of resources important to you? If so, you may want a physical textbook that includes online resources.
- Do you need more practice tests or more practice questions?
Start by asking yourself how comfortable you are with the material you learned over the year. Next, consider what type of learner you are and any weaknesses you might have in terms of the AP Biology exam.
If you did well in class and feel confident about your knowledge of each topic, you may want a book that focuses more on strategies and pacing . On the other hand, if you feel more confident in your test-taking abilities, you might prefer a book that explains the concepts clearly .
For most students, practice tests allow them to apply strategies, address pacing concerns, and discover gaps in content knowledge. They are also useful for establishing a baseline to determine areas you need to focus on before your test date.
Remember, AP exams are different from other standardized tests. Practice tests that include answers with detailed explanations help you understand the exam’s layout and what scorers want to see, especially regarding free-response questions.
Again, the use of online resources and flash cards is a personal decision. If you don’t like using virtual tools or flashcards for studying , they probably won’t help you much. However, those resources can enhance your experience and provide variety in your study tools.
The amount of study time you require depends heavily on your mastery of the content and comfort with the testing style. Some students score high with limited review, while others need to devote more time.
It’s a good idea to start with a practice test to determine how much time you should devote to studying. Pretend the practice test is the real exam and follow the timing guidelines to find your baseline.
Check over your answers to see how you did. If you struggled to finish, you might need to devote time to strategies and pacing tips. Look for topics you struggled with and what types of questions challenged you the most. Create a list of gaps and build out your study time from there.
Only you can decide whether you should study alone or with a group of peers. Some students cannot handle the distractions or variations in study techniques. Others benefit from different perspectives and interactions with peers.
Studying alone prevents you from falling victim to distractions and needy peers. However, you have to hold yourself accountable for study time and reviewing the correct material.
If you decide to study with a group , make sure you trust your team’s competence. You don’t want to spend most of your study time bringing others up to speed on topics already mastered. Ideally, successful study groups work together to cover material quickly and efficiently.
You may find that a blend of solo and group study time gives you the best outcome. Feedback from peers creates discussion and the ability to practice the application of concepts. However, you won’t be testing with a group, so you need to be able to arrive at correct answers yourself.
For most AP Biology students, the best review guide includes test-taking strategies, content review, and practice tests with answers and explanations. The structure and content covered on the AP Biology exam differ from other exams in complexity, so test preparation is slightly different.
Hopefully, this guide helped you to determine the best review book to prepare you for the AP Biology exam. Good luck on your exam!
Contributor at ExamCave. Hannah is pursuing a degree in middle school English education at The Ohio State University. Hannah has worked as a writing and math tutor for elementary, middle school, and high school students.
Best AP Review Books
Thanks for checking out our page on the AP Biology exam. Here you’ll find some of the best information we could compile on sitting the exam for AP Biology. Resources include links to recommended publications and study guides, as well as links to helpful resources that may increase your likelihood of getting a better grade.
It should be noted that the AP Biology exam has changed over the years. The information that you may find for free on other sites may not accurately reflect the changes for this school year. For this reason, we have put together only the most up to date guides we could find, so you don’t waste time or energy going over outdated material.
AP Biology Exam Information
Like most exams in the AP field, AP Biology is split into two halves, each accounting for 50% of your final grade.
The first section of the AP Biology exam contains 69 questions, which should take you ninety minutes in total to answer. The first 63 questions are in multiple choice format , and there are 6 grid-in questions you need to answer.
The second part to the AP Biology exam is in free response. There are eight questions that take 90 minutes to answer. The free response questions are broken down as two long-form questions, as well as 6 short-form questions.
As stated previously, the AP Biology exam is known to change from year to year. The last time the exam was updated was back in 2012. You should ensure the material that you are studying will actually be used in this year’s edition of AP Biology. This can easily be achieved by following our guide, as we will detail the best review guides that are up to date with today’s standards.
Review Books for the AP Biology Exam
Preparing for the biology ap exam.
The best book now for students taking the AP Biology test is published by Pearson Education, and is named Preparing for the Biology AP Exam .
Pearson is a respected publisher in the field of AP preparation books, producing a variety of study guides to suit the full spectrum of subjects in AP. The quality of Pearson’s books is generally much higher than what you’ll find offered by other companies, and they offer plenty of sample tests for you to practice with.
As a convenience to their readers, Pearson Education includes a “must know” section in every book that they publish. Going over this section can be an ideal way to ensure you have memorized and understand all the important topics before heading into your exam.
Barron’s AP Biology
The alternative on the market to Pearson is Barron’s AP Biology guide . Barron is widely considered to be the best publisher on the market for AP-style books, which is accounted for by their numerous positive reviews on sites such as Amazon and other shopping networks.
The practice tests that are included in Barron’s AP Biology compliments those offered by Pearson. Two full-length practice tests are included, and you will also get a test that you can do online with all of the most common questions answered and explained.
Buying both books is the optimal strategy, as they are effective in complimenting their respective strengths and weaknesses. If you read through each well in advance of your exam, then you are practically guaranteed of getting a mark that is close to a 5.
Studying for the AP Biology test
The good thing about taking the AP Biology test is that the information required is quite linear and narrow in scope. Once you understand the fundamentals and questions you are expected to answer, getting the rest under your belt is quite straightforward.
You should spend at least two to three months studying for the AP Biology exam. Anything less than two months is cutting your chances slim of receiving a good grade.
Part of the exam also involves understanding how to read lab data. Pearson offers a dedicated section for lab data in their book, as well as practice tests that you study online with the aid of the manual. The practice questions may not be exactly the same as what you’ll be asked in the exam, but they still give you a clear indication of what your expected performance will be when you sit your exams.
Both books can be viewed on Amazon by following the links the above. Clicking the link will take you to the book’s respective product pages on Amazon, which is also where you can see up to date pricing and shipping information for your location.
Also Read: Our Picks For Calculus AB Books
The best ap® biology review guide for 2023.
- The Albert Team
- Last Updated On: March 17, 2023
Are you planning on taking the AP® Biology exam? If so, let’s get you prepared in this AP® Biology review by learning more about the exam and how to study so that you can feel confident and earn your best score and, potentially, college credit.
The AP® Biology exam is graded on a scale of 1-5, and you can earn college credits at many colleges for receiving a score as low as a 3, which is estimated to be approximately equivalent to earning a C, C+, or B- in a college-level biology course. However, there is quite a bit of variation between colleges in what test scores they will award credit for, if any, so be sure to check with the specific colleges you are interested in to see what score(s) they accept.
In this AP® Biology review post, we’ll go over key questions you may have about the exam, how to study for AP® Biology, and how to review and use AP® Biology exam practice resources, including AP® Biology practice tests, as you begin preparing for your exam.
Are you ready? Let’s get started.
What We Review
What’s the Format of the 2023 AP® Biology Exam?
The AP® Biology exam is composed of two sections: multiple choice and free response. There are 60 multiple-choice questions and 6 free-response questions (2 long-answer questions and 4 short-answer questions).
All AP® Biology exams will be taken with paper and pencil, not on computers.
How Long is the AP® Biology Exam?
The AP® Biology exam is a 3-hour exam. Students will have 90 minutes to complete 60 multiple-choice questions and another 90 minutes to complete 6 free-response questions.
How Many Questions Does AP® Biology Have?
The AP® Biology exam has 60 multiple-choice questions and 6 free-response questions. Of the 6 free-response questions, 4 are short-answer questions, while the other 2 are long-answer questions.
What Topics are Covered on AP® Biology?
There are two types of questions on the AP® Biology exam: multiple choice and free response.
Section I: Multiple-Choice
The AP® Biology exam multiple choice section assesses both content knowledge and science practices , with questions designed to do both. These multiple-choice questions may be either individual or in sets of four to five questions per set.
The content knowledge within the eight different course units is broken down into four big ideas , with learning objectives related to each:
- Evolution (EVO)
- Energetics (ENE)
- information Storage and Transmission (IST)
- Systems Interactions (SYI)
Questions within each content area, with the relevant learning objectives addressed, are weighted in the multiple choice section as shown; resources for study, AP® Biology review, and AP® Biology exam practice for each section are also provided. You can use this to make an AP® Biology study guide.
Source: College Board
Return to the Table of Contents
While no units are specifically devoted to prokaryotes and viruses, a basic understanding of prokaryotic and virus structure, evolution, ecology, and diversity will be helpful since prokaryotic and eukaryotic mechanisms are compared in various units. Thus, we recommend that you review this information as well.
The six different science practices are divided into skills and are also assessed in the multiple choice section and weighted as shown:
You can also get AP® Biology exam practice in both the science practice and content knowledge by completing the Albert practice questions associated with each of the 13 lab activities.
Section II: Free Response
The AP® Biology free response questions are also designed to assess both content knowledge and science practices and are organized around the science practices and the four big ideas for the course.
The free-response questions are designed as follows, with each of the short-answer questions also assessing one of the four big ideas:
You will be provided an AP® Biology Equations and Formulas Sheet that you may use on either section of the exam. You are also permitted to use a four-function, scientific, or graphing calculator throughout the exam.
What Do AP® Biology Questions Look Like?
Because taking an exam is a skill, completing AP® Biology exam practice questions, then reviewing the answers carefully, is a great way to prepare for the AP® Biology exam so that you are not caught off guard by any content or question formats. The AP® Biology Course and Exam Description (CED) for AP® Biology from the College Board provides 15 multiple-choice practice questions and correct answers that address content knowledge from all eight units as well as skills from all six science practices.
The CED for AP® Biology also provides two practice free-response questions (one long-answer question and one short-answer question) with detailed grading rubrics. The College Board has also released the free-response questions with scoring guidelines from the last 20+ years’ worth of exams. The College Board has also released a complete practice exam with answers based upon the 2013 exam . Albert also provides a wide variety of both AP® Biology exam practice multiple-choice and free-response questions and answers, as well as unit assessments and complete AP® Biology practice tests .
Here are some examples of the types of multiple-choice questions you may see, as well as the correct answer, unit(s), and science practice(s) that each question (or question set) assesses.
AP® Biology Course and Exam Description (CED)
Correct Answer: C
This question challenges students on one core principle and one science practice.
For Unit 2 (Cell Structure and Function), you should flag the topic of tonicity and osmoregulation as important.
For Science Practice 2 (Visual Representations), you should flag the following as important:
- Explain relationships between different characteristics of biological concepts, processes, or models represented visually in applied contexts.
For Unit 1 (Chemistry of Life), you should flag the topic of properties of biological macromolecules as important.
For Science Practice 1 (Concept Explanation), you should flag the following as important:
- Explain biological concepts and/or processes.
AP® Biology Practice Test from the 2013 Administration – MC Examples #10-13
Correct Answer #10: C
Correct Answer #11: B
Correct Answer #12: D
Correct Answer #13: B
These questions challenge students on one core principle and two science practices.
For Unit 8 (Ecology), you should flag the topic of population ecology as important.
For Science Practice 6 (Argumentation), you should flag the following as important:
- Support a claim with evidence from biological principles, concepts, processes, and/or data.
- Provide reasoning to justify a claim by connecting evidence to biological theories.
- Predict the causes or effects of a change in, or disruption to, one or more components in a biological system based on data.
Note that the specific focus of each free-response question is more targeted than in years past.
When writing answers to free-response questions, be sure to write your answers in the designated space only and in complete paragraphs. Bulleted lists, outlines, and diagrams without explanation are not acceptable and will not be graded. Also be sure that you well understand the various task verbs used, as explained in the AP® Biology Course and Exam Description (CED) .
Here are two examples of the types of free response questions you may see, as well as the correct answer, scoring rubric, and commentary for each question. The unit(s), and science practice(s) that each question assesses is also provided. One long-answer question and one short-answer question are shown.
Example #1: AP® Biology Long-Answer Free-Response:
Carefully review the scoring rubric provided for this question.
This question challenges students on three core principles: Natural Selection (Unit 7), Gene Expression and Regulation (Unit 6), and the Chemistry of Life (Unit 1).
Here’s the content that you should flag as important from this question:
- Unit 7: Natural Selection, Population Genetics, and Hardy-Weinberg Equilibrium
- Unit 6: Mutations
- Unit 1: Structure and Function of Macromolecules
This question also covers 4 of the science practices: Concept Explanation (Science Practice 1), Questions and Methods (Science Practice 3), Representing and Describing Data (Science Practice 4), Statistical Tests and Data Analysis (Science Practice 5).
Here are the science practices that you should flag as important from this question:
Science Practice 1: Concept Explanation:
- Describe biological concepts and/or processes.
- Explain biological concepts, processes, and/or models in applied contexts.
Science Practice 3: Questions and Methods:
- Identify experimental procedures that are aligned to the question
Science Practice 4: Representing and Describing Data:
- Describe data from a table or graph.
- Science Practice 5: Statistical Tests and Data Analysis: Perform mathematical calculations.
- Science Practice 6: Argumentation: Support a claim with evidence from biological principles, concepts, processes, and/or data.
Example #2: AP® Biology Short-Answer Free-Response:
This question challenges students on one core principle, Heredity (Unit 5).
- Unit 5: Meiosis and Genetic Diversity, Mendelian Genetics
- Science Practice 1: Concept Explanation: Describe biological concepts and/or processes.
- Science Practice 2: Visual Representations: Explain relationships between different characteristics of biological concepts, processes, or models represented visually
What Can You Bring to the AP® Biology Exam?
Make sure you arrive at least 15 minutes early to your testing location.
The College Board is rather specific about what you can and cannot bring to the AP® Biology exam. You are at risk of having your score not count if you do not carefully follow instructions. We recommend that you carefully review these guidelines and pack your bag the night before so that you do not have any additional stress on the morning of the exam.
What You Should Bring to Your AP® Biology Exam :
You should bring:
- At least 2 sharpened No. 2 pencils for completing the multiple-choice section.
- At least 2 pens with black or blue ink only. These are used to complete certain areas of your exam booklet covers and to write your free-response questions. The College Board is very specific that pens should be in black or blue ink only, so please double-check!
- A four-function, scientific, or graphing calculator to use on both the multiple-choice and free-response sections of the exam. You may actually bring two calculators. Calculators cannot connect to the internet, make noise, or have a stylus or keyboard. For more information about acceptable versus unacceptable calculators, look here .
- If you do not attend the school where you are taking an exam, you must bring a government-issued or school-issued photo ID.
- If you receive any testing accommodations , be sure that you bring your College Board SSD Accommodations Letter.
What You Should NOT Bring to Your AP® Biology Exam:
You should not bring:
- smartwatches and other wearable technology (including watches that beep or have alarms)
- separate timers
- devices that access the internet or communicate in any way
- Mechanical pencils, colored pencils, or pens that do not have black/blue ink
- Your own scratch paper
- Reference guides (note that you will be provided with an AP® Biology Equations and Formulas Sheet )
- Food or drink, including bottled water, are not permitted in the test room, but are permitted in the break room
How to Study for AP® Biology: 5 Steps to Get a 5
1. Take an AP® Biology practice test. (3 hours)
Identify your areas of strength as well as focus areas for review by taking an Albert AP® Biology practice test . Be sure to have a four-function, scientific, or graphing calculator to use.
2. Make a schedule. (1 hour)
Determine your exam date and format. Then, start preparing early, giving yourself at least two months if possible. After taking an Albert AP® Biology practice test to identify areas for study, make a schedule, giving yourself at least a week for each content unit on your AP® Biology study guide.
- While you should prioritize material where you struggle, spending at least a week on each unit, also review those units you know better for at least 2-3 days each to stay sharp so that you can answer these questions quickly.
- If you are running short on study time, prioritize Units 3, 6, and 7 since these are the most heavily weighted on the exam, and spend less time reviewing Units 1 and 5 since these will be covered the least.
3. Review challenging concepts using your resources and build your AP® Biology study guide. (2-5 hours)
Use your high school textbook and notes and other accessible materials (like OpenStax Biology , Khan Academy , or CK-12 ) for AP® Biology review of the various content areas. As you review each chapter, build your AP® Biology study guide, the outline of which has already been provided above, to include important key words and concepts for each unit.
4. Use AP® Biology exam practice resources. (20-25 hours)
The best way to become effective at test-taking is by answering lots and lots of AP® Biology exam practice questions because practice makes perfect!
Use the AP® Biology exam practice questions provided by the College Board , the Albert AP® Biology exam practice questions for each unit, as well as unit assessments to support your study.
5. Get more AP® Biology exam practice. (3 hours)
After completing steps 1-4, take another Albert AP® Biology practice test to identify content areas that require more review.
AP® Biology Review: 15 Must-Know Study Tips
5 AP® Biology Study Tips to Do at Home:
1. be consistent..
Devote time to studying and preparing daily. Even if it is just a few minutes on some days when you are busy, be sure to study each and every day.
2. Use an app like Quizlet for studying key terms.
There are already a bunch flashcards and study guides preloaded into Quizlet (vocab lists from your textbook may already be available), or you can easily make your own. Then, you can be reviewing key terms and studying whenever you have a few free moments (like standing in line at the store, riding the bus, etc.). If this doesn’t work for you, you can still make flashcards the old-fashioned way using index cards.
3. Remove distractions.
It is easy to become distracted during studying by texting, SnapChats, e-mailing, listening to music, etc. Unfortunately, multitasking is ineffective; it takes about 25 minutes to return to a task after a distraction. Therefore, you can be much more time efficient and productive if you study distraction-free.
4. Study with a buddy.
It can be helpful to meet and study with a friend periodically. It can be helpful to talk out concepts from your AP® Biology study guide with each other because they might describe it differently and in a way that you more easily understand. Additionally, having regular appointments to do so can help to hold you accountable to get through your study plan at a regular pace and not slack off. However, while you can also schedule in time for fun and hanging out after your study appointments, make sure that your planned study time is focused on actual studying.
5. Learn how to use your calculator.
Remember that you cannot use your phone as a calculator on the AP® Biology exam. Therefore, make sure that you have a calculator that meets the requirements and that you know how to use it. Practice using it as you complete AP® Biology exam practice questions and AP® Biology practice tests. The first time you use it should NOT be during the AP® Biology exam.
5 AP® Biology Multiple Choice Study Tips:
1. pace yourself. .
You will have 90 minutes to complete 60 multiple choice questions on the AP® Biology exam. Thus, you should spend no more than 2 minutes on any one question during your first pass through the questions (this assumes that you will move more quickly through other questions). If you get stuck, mark the question, eliminating any answer choices you can, and move on. Then, come back later after you have completed all other questions. Make sure you fill in an answer for each question.
2. Imagine the correct answer.
After carefully reading a question, come up with a mental image of an answer before examining the answer choices. Choose an answer that matches your mental image and then justify your choice. Then, justify why you eliminated each of the other choices. If you cannot choose an answer, eliminate as many as possible, then make your best choice. When using the Albert AP® Biology Practice questions , carefully read the explanations of both the correct and incorrect choices, even if you got the answer correct.
3. Carefully examine any visual materials provided.
Make sure you examine any labels, titles, axes, and legends on tables, graphs, figures, or any other types of images so that you have a clear understanding of how to interpret the visual materials provided in order to answer the questions associated with these materials.
4. Be ready to handle questions that are grouped as sets.
While many of the multiple choice questions are individual, you should expect a few sets of 2-4 questions. Make sure you know which questions are included as a question set. Questions within a set are all typically associated with one or more figures or tables. While these questions are related, don’t give up if you don’t know the answer to the first question. Each question can typically be answered independently of the others within the set.
5. Check your work.
If possible, plan to use at least 10-15 minutes of the exam time to check your work. First, return to any questions that you found difficult to compete on the first pass, being sure to select an answer. Then, review your answers to all of the questions, ensuring that you have answered each and every question.
5 AP® Biology Free Response Study Tips:
1. keep track of time..
You will have 90 minutes to complete the 6 free response questions on the AP® Biology exam. Because each of the two long-answer questions are more extensive and together are worth over half of the free response section (10 points each), you should plan to spend about 20 minutes on each. Then, spend no more than 10 minute on each of the four short-answer questions (worth 4 points each). Use any remaining time to review your answers, making sure they are complete.
2. Make sure you understand the scoring rubrics.
The College Board has provided a clear scoring rubric for each of the six free response questions (provided above, from the AP® Biology Course and Exam Description (CED) ). Be sure that you are writing your answers with these rubrics in mind, fully addressing each part. Additionally, within the AP® Biology Course and Exam Description (CED) ), the College Board has also provided detailed scoring guidelines (also provided above) for both a long-answer question and short-answer question. Review these carefully, making sure you understand what is required to earn each and every point. While the College Board has also provided the scoring guidelines for the many free response questions from past exams that they have made available for practice, as well as Chief Reader Reports from past exams that summarize both how students performed on a particular question and what the readers were looking for, remember that the focus of the free response questions on the 2021 AP® Biology exam is different than in years past, so these examples will be slightly different than what you will see when you take the exam.
3. Focus on the verbs.
For each question, focus on its verbs and other clarifying words. Underline or circle each bolded word as well as other key words. Make sure you understand what each task verb is asking you to do. Review the list of AP® task verbs provided above.
4. Write in complete sentences and paragraphs.
The directions for the free response section clearly state that “outlines, bulleted lists, or diagrams alone are not acceptable and will not be scored”. Thus, make sure to write your answers in complete sentences and organize your thoughts into paragraphs, using the space provided for each question.
5. Ensure that you follow these 5 must-dos to answer each question completely:
- It is common for students to restate the question as they answer a free response question, but this is not necessary and is a waste of precious time. Instead, focus on directly answering what the question is asking. Past Chief Reader Reports from the College Board recommend careful reading and addressing of the prompt.
- The free-response questions are commonly broken into parts. Make sure that you answer each part. Additionally, make sure that you are actually answering what each question is asking.
- If a calculation is required, be sure to clearly mark your final answer, and show your work as to how you reached that answer.
- If asked to make a table or graph (at least one of the long-answer questions will require this), be sure to follow standard conventions: include a title, label columns or axes (including units), plot points. Draw a line or curve only through the data provided and do not extrapolate unless asked to do so.
- Be succinct but complete in your answers, completing each thought (“closing the loop”). You will not earn points simply for quantity, but rather, for quality. The AP® graders will not know what you were thinking or what you meant; they only know what you wrote. DO NOT PROVIDE ONLY A SINGLE SENTENCE ANSWER to any question.
- When making an argument, use the structure of “claim-evidence-reasoning”, making sure that you include each of these three components in your answer.
AP® Biology: 5 Test Day Tips to Remember
1. get a good night’s sleep the night before..
Complete your intense studying by the afternoon the day before the exam, then have a good dinner and get a good night’s sleep (6-8 hours, if possible). Set your alarm, giving yourself plenty of time for breakfast and for driving to the exam site.
2. Pack your bag the night before:
Review the items that you are and are not allowed to bring to the AP® Biology exam and pack accordingly. Use Albert’s convenient checklist for packing. Include a snack and some water for the break room, but remember that these are not allowed in the testing room.
3. Replace the batteries in your calculator.
Because you don’t want your calculator running out of juice during the exam, be sure to change the batteries in your calculator with a fresh set within a day or so before the exam.
4. Eat a healthy breakfast.
Be sure to eat a healthy breakfast on the morning of the exam. Make sure that it includes both protein and carbs and is not all sugary foods. Also, try to avoid over-caffeinating–you don’t want to be jittery.
5. Make sure you are free of electronic gadgets.
In this day and age, we have become so accustomed to having or wearing technology. Be sure that you are technology-free when walking into the exam room: no phones, earbuds, smart watches, bluetooth, etc.
AP® Biology Review Notes and Practice Test Resources
Here are our recommendations for resources to review for and prepare for the AP® Biology exam: Your High School Biology Textbook, Notes, Homework Assignments, Exams, Laboratory Activities, and Other Resources Provided by Your Teacher.
If you are taking an AP® Biology course, your teacher has carefully designed the course to prepare you for the AP® Biology exam. Use the many resources that your teacher has provided for AP® Biology review, carefully reviewing your notes, exams, homework assignments, etc.
AP® Biology Practice Materials Provided by the College Board:
The College Board has provided quite a lot in the way of practice materials for the AP® Biology exam. Throughout this document, we have mentioned the AP® Biology Course and Exam Description (CED) multiple times. You should review this document carefully. Note that there are 15 multiple choice practice questions and correct answers that address content knowledge from all eight units as well as skills from all six science practices. This document also provides two practice free response questions (one long-answer question and one short-answer question) with detailed grading rubrics.
The College Board has also released the free-response questions with scoring guidelines from the 20 years’ worth of exams through 2019. The College Board has also released a complete AP® Biology practice test with answers based upon the 2013 exam . Note, however, that the format of the free-response section is changing slightly for the 2021 AP® Biology exam; while there used to be 8 questions (2 long-answer questions and 6 short-answer questions), the 2021 AP® Biology exam will have only 4 short-answer questions. Additionally, each question is more focused on specific skills than in years past, as indicated by the detailed scoring rubrics.
OpenStax AP® Biology Textbook and Resources :
This is a great freely available textbook with associated resources designed specifically for preparing for the AP® Biology exam. There are additional resources available for students, including a student solutions manual (requires you to set up a free account) that includes solutions to many of the questions within the text. There is also a reading and notetaking guide that provides strategies for how to read the textbook and take notes as well as study.
- Use this site if: you are looking for a high-quality textbook specifically designed for preparing for the AP® Biology exam, including content knowledge and science practice questions at the end of each chapter.
- Do not use this site if: you are looking for a variety of high-quality videos to display and show the material.
Khan Academy AP/College Biology Resources :
The Khan Academy provides high quality, freely available, specific resources in support of preparing for the AP® Biology exam. Each section includes short readings and videos about the various topics, as well as practice questions, quizzes, and unit tests. While you can access these materials without signing up or logging in, by setting up an account, you can save your progress through the materials.
- Use this site if: you are a visual learner. There are lots of great videos available.
- Do not use this site if: you primarily learn by reading only or if you find it bothersome switching back and forth between methods of content presentation.
CK-12 Biology for High School Resources :
This is another great freely available set of resources including the CK-12 Biology Advanced Concepts FlexBook . Each section has practice questions associated with it.
- Use this site if: you learn well from completing worksheets (from the CK-12 Biology Workbook FlexBook ) and lots of sample quizzes and tests (from the CK-12 Biology Quizzes and Tests FlexBook ).
- Do not use this site if: you are looking for a resource that is organized in the same way as the AP® Biology exam.
Albert AP® Biology Practice Questions, Unit Assessments, and Practice Exams :
Albert has developed a series of high-quality resources to support you in your preparation for the AP® Biology exam. There are AP® Biology exam practice questions (both multiple choice and free response ) for each of the 8 content units, organized by the unit and topics found on the AP® Biology exam. For each question, clear descriptions of the correct answer as well as explanations for eliminating the incorrect answers are provided. There are also unit assessments for each of the 8 content units, as well as 4 complete AP® Biology Practice Exams . Albert also provides questions to allow for the data analysis from 13 different laboratory activities , allowing students to further practice the Science Practices also found on the AP® Biology exam.
Summary: The Best AP® Biology Review Guide
We have covered a lot in this AP® Bio review guide, so let’s regroup and summarize:
Exam Structure: The exam will take 3 hours to complete and is composed of two 90-minute sections:
Main Topics Covered: The exam will cover 8 content units and 6 science practices, as shown below, with each question typically covering one or more of each:
8 Content Units:
- Unit 1: Chemistry of Life
- Unit 2: Cell Structure and Function
- Unit 3: Cellular Energetics
- Unit 4: Cell Communication and Cell Cycle
- Unit 5: Heredity
- Unit 6: Gene Expression and Regulation
- Unit 7: Natural Selection
- Unit 8: Ecology
6 Science Practices:
- Science Practice 1: Concept Explanation
- Science Practice 2: Visual Representations
- Science Practice 3: Questions and Methods
- Science Practice 4: Representing and Describing Data
- Science Practice 5: Statistical Tests and Data Analysis
- Science Practice 6: Argumentation
How to Study for the AP® Biology Exam:
- Take an AP® Biology practice test
- Make a schedule
- Review challenging concepts using your resources and build your AP® Biology study guide
- Use AP® Biology exam practice resources
- Get more AP® Biology exam practice
We hope you have found this AP® Biology review guide useful. If you worked hard throughout the year in your class, have built out a good AP® Biology study guide using the advice and resources provided here, and have practiced extensively (using lots of AP® Biology practice questions and AP® Biology practice tests), you should feel positive and confident that you have what it takes to earn a strong score. Good luck!
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7 thoughts on “the best ap® biology review guide for 2023”.
Do you have one for AP® Environmental???
We will be working to release one by 4/17!
Hey Eric — in case you missed it — here is the APES review guide: https://www.albert.io/blog/ap-environmental-science-review/
I’ve heard that if you pay for the subscription, do all of the practice questions, and don’t get a four or five on the AP® exam you get a refund. Is this true?
Hi Carissa — that is a very old guarantee from our Learnerator days. We no longer offer that at this time. Thanks for asking!
will there be a score calculator for this year’s test?
Yes — our score calculator for AP® Bio is here: https://www.albert.io/blog/ap-biology-score-calculator/
Comments are closed.
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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.
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
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.
2. [Best Value for Money] Cracking the AP Biology Exam, 2021 Edition
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.
3. [Best Comprehensive AP Biology Prep Book] Preparing for the Biology AP* Exam (Pearson Education Test Prep)
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.
4. AP Biology Prep Plus 2020 & 2021: 3 Practice Tests + Study Plans + Review + Online (Kaplan Test Prep)
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.
5. CliffsNotes Ap Biology, 5th Edition
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.
6. 5 Steps to a 5: AP Biology 2021
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.
7. Barron’s AP Biology Flash Cards
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.
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Best AP Biology Prep Books in 2023: The Ultimate Guide
Alright, so you’re looking for the best way to prepare for the AP Biology exam.
You came to the right place.
We review below the best AP biology prep books that will certainly help you achieve the dream score of 5 in the final AP Biology exam.
But before we get into that, I want to talk to you about a different preparation method. We know that using hardcopy books might not be a convenient way for some students.
So, we partnered with Princeton Review that will offer you live online tutoring in all AP subjects (including AP Biology) with a guarantee that if you do not get a score of 5 in the exam, they will refund you your money. It does not get better than that.
Use the coupon code 5SCORE in checkout to save $200
Now, let’s dive into our article where we give a comprehensive review of the best AP Biology review books in order to help pick the right review resource for you.
If you are in a hurry, here is the summary:
- Best Overall AP Biology review book : Princeton Review
- Runner-up AP Biology review book: Kaplan
- Best Online AP Biology Course: Princeton Cram Course
- Best Live Online Tutoring Classes: Princeton Review with 5 score guarantee
Table of Contents
The Best AP Biology Prep Books
The Princeton Review AP Biology book is a popular and widely recommended material for the Biology course.
It lives up-to-the standards of Princeton by providing students with thorough coverage of all essential subject matters to help them score a 5.
And if you ever doubted this, then it’s time to reconsider as this study guide comes complete with a chapter on study strategies and tactics for the course, in-line with the current AP Biology exam expectations.
With the package, you will gain access to 5 full-length practice exams, 4 of them coming with the print copy of the book, and 1 accessible online.
There are also lots of online extras for students, which include a list of essential key terms, concepts, pre-college information, and study plans.
At the end of each chapter, you will come across several practice questions to help you test your mastering capability.
You will also love the various test-taking tips and tricks like the use of mnemonic devices, which will help you pass the exam.
I also love the design of this 448 pages book. Simple, easy-to-read, making it a perfect resource for self-study.
The use of diagrams to explain concepts is thoughtful, and the chapters are broken into sections to avoid overwhelming students.
Currently, the book costs $20.88 (Paperback) $12.99 (Kindle).
- Contains everything you need to prepare for the exam adequately
- Uses diagrams for a better understanding
- Clear and straightforward to read
- Exam-taking tips and tricks
- Some material coverage isn’t adequately covered.
Like the Princeton AP Biology review book, Barron’s AP Biology Premium is a popular study guide in the current market.
The reason for this could be because this copy covers content in a detailed manner.
at the same time however, it comes across as a pretty condensed study guide.
Even with its 600 pages, some students consider it a must-go-to prep book whenever they need to polish up on their weak areas.
Or when they need to remind themselves of the concepts they have already covered in their course classroom.
This 7 th edition is revised to align with the 2021 AP Biology exam changes, so you can study comfortably knowing your efforts won’t go to waste.
When you receive the package, you will also gain access to 2 full-length practice that comes with the book, and 3 accessible online.
The tests come with well-detailed explanations to answers, to pinpoint your areas of weakness and show you why some of your answers turned out wrong, even when they’re seemingly correct.
The introduction of this book will take you through the new exam format, which includes the various exam sections, the type of questions, and the number of questions you should expect in each section.
And as you review the topics, you will come across useful test-taking strategies throughout the book.
You will also love the end-of-chapter practice questions that will weight your mastering skills on the concepts covered in each chapter.
Pricing stands at $18.38 (Paperback) and $18.55(Kindle).
- Contains vital measurements and definitions
- East to read and understand
- Excellent layout
- Problem questions at the end of each chapter
- Practice questions could do with a more analytical format
Having been written by many well-known authors such as Steven Wasserman, Jane Reece, Theresa Knapp, among others, this AP Biology book is a continuation series to the Campbell Biology.
So, it actually summarizes the contents of the Campbell Biology book, with a focus on meeting the current demands of the AP College Board.
When you order it, you can opt to use it as a stand-alone, or get it together with its mother book.
I like how this book simplifies the seemingly tricky concepts for students in an exciting and easy-to-read way.
And if you have had the opportunity to go through the Campbell Biology book, you will notice that this AP Biology review material, only takes out some of the crucial topics from it.
It then goes ahead to summarize them in an extensive and in-depth manner to ensure you get everything you need to get a 5.
The 464 pages book comes with several problem questions in both the multi-choice and free-response sections, to weigh your skills at the end of every chapter.
Also, as you peruse through the book, you will benefit from the seamless way in which the authors connect specific topics concerning the actual exam pattern.
I also find the price favorable at $15.70 in Amazon.
- Excellent collection of practice questions
- Includes “You Must Know” boxes to refresh your memory
- Comprehensively detailed
- Excellent pricing
- Well-organized into short sections
- A little too much unnecessary material
This test prep AP Biology book provides students with a comprehensive review of subjects and comes complete with practice questions to test one’s capabilities.
When you receive the package, you will first come across a quick overview of what the book is all about and all the sections that it’s going to cover.
This should prepare you psychologically extensive study sessions ahead.
Also, the author takes time to share some useful test-taking strategies.
These will come handy as you review the concepts, go through the problem questions, and finally give you the confidence you need to crack the actual exam.
There are also numerous practice questions, which align with the current AP Biology testing standards, so you get to identify areas of strength and weakness as you progress.
The answers to these questions come with detailed explanations, which accurately pinpoint both the simple and complex problem answering mistakes that separate both the wrong and right answers.
You will also love the straightforward manner in which this 156 pages book presents concepts. And although they might be a bit condensed, you will find all the information you need to pass the exam.
And because of this, it’s advisable to use this book as a supplementary.
But, even so, I find this book a worthy investment since it will only cost you $7 (Paperback) and $10 (Kindle).
- Expert test-taking strategies
- Numerous Practice test questions mimicking the actual exam
- Comprehensive coverage of exotic topics
- Value for money
- Easy to understand
- Can only be used as a supplement for another AP Biology prep book.
- Some few reports on wrong answers
Kaplan is a famous test prep company, whose books have ranked as students’ favorites for years.
Therefore, it isn’t surprising that their AP Biology Prep Plus isn’t any different.
The 648 pages book comes thoroughly revised and aligned with the 2021 exam changes, so you can rest easy knowing everything you learn reflect the actual exam.
And that’s not all.
When you receive the book, you will notice the presence of pre-chapter assessments, which will in a great way to help you to review efficiently.
There are also several practice questions in this review book. These end-of-chapter problem questions are an excellent way of testing your concept mastering skills before moving to the next chapter.
Plus, to give you a glimpse of how the real exam feels like, you will find 3 full-length practice tests in the book.
The answers to the test are comprehensively explained, and you get to access an online test scoring tool to convert your raw score into a 1-5 scaled score.
I, however, find the number of full-length practice tests insufficient, considering how famous the Kaplan brand is. They surely could do better.
But, I have no complaints about the end-chapter practice problems as they’re sufficient.
Students also get to access the Kaplan online platform, where they can use a customizable study plan and additional practice quizzes for practice.
The book will cost you around $20.46 (Paperback).
- Actual test-like full-length practice tests
- Expert test-taking tips and strategies
- Tailored study plans
- Extensive explanations for every question answer
- Pre-chapter assessments
- High-score Guarantee
- Only 3 full-length practice questions
Like Kaplan, Mometrix test prep books are well-known among students.
So, their 2020 and 2021 updated AP Biology review book is authorized to match the high expectations.
The book might be condensed at only 143 pages, but it sure does cover all the compelling content you need to pass the Biology exam.
This is done in a quick, easy-to-read manner.
Therefore, when you receive this practice questions package, you will automatically gain access to problem questions.
And they’re drafted with the primary focus of sharpening your skills for the real exam.
Each question comes with detailed explanations for answers, which is a plus in assessing your mastering capability and test-taking skills.
Remember, you have it’s essential to know how to approach tricky questions such as the ones presented in the AP exams.
But, no need to worry if you seem to struggle with that as the review material offers expert exam-taking tips and strategies to boost your performance.
Most students confess to loving the logical and organized manner in which this review resource has been presented, making their work easier.
The author also included various online review links on multiple concepts for a tutor-like experience.
The paperback will cost you around $11.
- Contains video links and Picture diagrams
- Comes with numerous problem questions
- Easy to read and understand
- Amazing test-taking and exam anxiety strategies
- Can’t be used as a Stand-alone test prep book
A Crash Course is an ultimate savior, especially when it comes to last-minute exam review.
So, if for one reason or the other you find yourself pacing against time a few days before your AP Biology exam, then this AP® Biology Crash Course is an ideal purchase.
The 256 pages book is already updated to align with the new AP exam requirements.
It focuses on providing students with comprehensive coverage of everything they need to feel exam-ready.
It comes with numerous AP Biology sample questions to sharpen your skills and give you the confidence you require to face the actual exam and crack it for a 5.
The author of this guide is a renowned AP Biology teacher and has worked with various students I the past.
He uses his experience to offer you test-taking strategies and advice from an expert point of view, which has worked for others.
When you receive the package, you will get a mini-test of practice questions, and you can also use your details to log into the REA online platform to take the available full-length exam.
You will also appreciate the easy manner in which ideas are presented, which makes cramming for last-minute review quick.
It’s a budget-friendly review guide, costing around $11(Paperback) and $10 9 Kindle)
- Lots of extras via online platform
- Concise and well-structured
- Excellent for last-minute review
- Covers everything you need to know
- You will have to look elsewhere for exhaustive coverage of topics.
AP Biology Exam Format
According to the official AP College Board website , the 2019-2020 school year marks the beginning of stable and consistent AP Biology exam question types and point values through the years.
The 2023 exam will have two sections. The multi-choice and the free-response parts.
Section 1 is the multi-choice exam section, and it contains 60 questions, to be taken within 90 minutes, and they account for 50% of the exam score.
Some of the questions you should expect in this part include question sets, Grid-in questions, and discrete questions.
Section 2 is the free-response section, containing 6 questions to be taken within 90 minutes, and they also account for 50% of the exam score.
Students will come across 2 long questions focusing on the interpretation and evaluation of experimental results.
There are also 4 short-answer questions testing on analysis, investigation, and conceptual skills.
How Do I Prepare for AP Biology?
Understand the exam format.
Studying for the exam, you don’t know how it will look like, is preparing blindly. You first have to go through the exam overview and get a glimpse of all the examined areas.
We have already covered this in the above section, so we aren’t going into details here.
But, you can visit the AP Biology section on the official College Board section if interested in more details.
Also, as you focus on what’s included in the exam, remember to also go through what isn’t included in the test.
The last thing you want is to go through tons of content only for a few to appear in the exam.
Now that you have an idea about the actual exam structure, you should know by now that vocabulary and concepts are essential in the AP Biology Exam.
And this doesn’t mean you go around cramming random vital terms. You should focus on extensively understanding the art of connecting various concepts.
But for this, you must also know some commonly used Biological vocabularies. If not, how then will you understand concepts? I hope you now clearly understand my point.
For this, make good use of flashcards. You can hand-write some for on your own, head online for printed copies, or invest in the eFlashcards.
The good thing about this is that you can review the cards wherever you’re and at whichever time since they’re easily portable.
You cannot separate AP Biology from the use of diagrams. Like it or not, you will come across many of them in the actual exam, and accurate interpretation will significantly boost your score.
For this reason, you should focus on mastering as many diagrams as possible during your review. And which better way to ensure this than through customized flashcards?
Here, the secret is to let loose your creative side. Get multiple colors and use them. Ensure to accurately label all the crucial parts, complete with a list of vital steps.
Anything that will help you master the information is welcome. So, there’s really no limit to how much creativity you can use.
Focus on the Bigger Picture
Sometimes studying for an exam can be overwhelming. And most students find themselves procrastinating, especially when dealing with detailed information such as in AP Biology.
Don’t fall prey to this. Yes, there are a lot of dates, functions, facts, and names you need to memorize, but you shouldn’t try to force them all on yourself at ago.
Set a goal for each chapter. Know why you’re reading it and what you want to master and how that will help you accomplish your bigger goal.
Don’t forget to figure out how the concepts of each chapter connect. If you can accomplish this, then you should comfortably tackle the exam.
Actively Read to Understand
Anyone who has taken more than two AP courses can comfortably tell you that AP Biology is one of the most extensive classes you will ever come across.
And because of this, you will have to cover numerous chapters per day to ensure you get everything covered before exam day.
That’s why it’s crucial if you read every day and not just for the sake of it. But engage actively to understand concepts.
The best way to do this is by going through each chapter summary, highlighting all the vital details, and making essential notes in your small notebook.
If you ever find yourself struggling with various concepts, try explaining them to a friend or family member. And if no one is around, then go ahead and explain it to yourself, loudly.
Invest in A Quality Review Prep Book
I can’t insist enough on the importance of purchasing a review book for your studies. Even if you’re enrolled in a class, the teacher can’t cover everything you need.
Remember, everyone is pacing against time. So, you need extra practice.
The good thing about these books is that they come with numerous problem questions, full-length practice exams, and detailed explanations to answers.
Some even offer online access to customizable study schedules.
I have reviewed some of the best copies in today’s market in this article, so selecting one or two shouldn’t be difficult.
Watch Numerous Videos
Now that the internet is here to stay and YouTube contains all types of videos, it shouldn’t be difficult to source out for crash course series videos.
Videos make concepts stick a little bit faster than textbooks, so they make great supplementary, especially if you’re one of those individuals who quickly get bored after reading hundreds of text.
Attend Those 12 Lab Classes
Yes, you need to participate in laboratory classes to ensure you’re adequately prepared for the exam. The best you can do for yourself is to ensure you attend all 12 of them, popularly referred to as the “Dirty Dozen.”
Well, not unless you want to research everything for yourself.
FAQs About Best AP Biology Prep Books
Is ap biology easy.
AP Biology isn’t a typical easy exam.
It even recently got complicated due to its updated challenging curriculum.
And while most students find it challenging, you can still manage it if you keep focused and persistently work towards what you’re facing.
How To Get A 5 In AP Biology
First, familiarize yourself with the exam format for a clear idea of what you’re facing.
Afterward, take time reviewing all the necessary content using your test prep textbook and a video course series.
Don’t forget to use diagram flashcards and take as many problem questions as possible.
5-7 full-length practice exams will also come in handy to enhance your time management skills.
And if you can, form a study group with your classmates or close friends.
So, in other words, study hard and know what to expect.
Is AP Bio Harder Than AP Chem?
According to most students, AP Bio is harder than AP Chem mainly because it comprises of a lot of memorizing.
Some say that it all depends on the teacher.
But what I can say is that neither of the two is better than the other. It actually depends on whether you’re good at math or memorizing.
For example, a student who is good at math will find AP chem easier and vice versa.
We hope that you find this article helpful in selecting the best AP Biology prep book that suits your present needs.
Remember, a top-notch review book can help you score a 5, but not without a lot of dedication and resilience on your part.
This is especially so because AP Biology is extensive. So, ensure to read broadly, watch videos, and walk around with flashcards.
Wishing you best of luck!
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7 Best AP Biology Books
3.95 lakh students enrolled in AP in 2022 for the numerous benefits that it offers.
But one needs to be wise in choosing AP classes as there are hardest AP and easiest AP classes depending on some factors.
And AP bio is considered hard. Very few students study the subject and pass the exam. In 2022 only 15% of the enrolled students scored 5 while 68% of students passed the exam. But AP Bio can boost one’s GPA immensely.
Studying AP Biology becomes easy and effective if you have the proper resources. Here is a list of the 7 best AP biology books to help you prepare and score a perfect 5 in the AP Biology exam.
Top 7 AP Biology Books: 2023
1. Princeton Review AP Biology Premium Prep
- Publisher: Princeton Review
- Year of Publication: 2021
- Number of Pages: 448
- Rating: 4.6/5
Princeton Review AP Biology Premium Prep is one of the most recommended books for aspirants to prepare for the AP bio test. Like all other Princeton books, this book has also maintained the standard of providing in-depth insight into the subject.
This book helps to score a perfect 5 because it thoroughly covers all essential materials. It also comes with a chapter on the study strategies and tactics for the course.
What the Book Contains
- Five full-length practice exams, 4 of them with the book’s print copy and 1 available online
- Four full-length practice tests in the book with detailed answer explanations
- Two full-length practice tests online with detailed answer explanations
- End-of-chapter key term lists to help more in your studying
Pros and Cons
- The study guide is up to date to address the changed pattern of the recent AP Bio exam
- It contains vast numbers of practice questions with explanations
- The book includes 2 online practice tests
- It shares tips and strategies for tackling recent exam patterns
- On purchasing old books, some pages may appear to be missing
- This book is one of the most expensive books on the list
2. Barron’s AP Biology
- Publisher: Barron’s Educational Series
- Year of Revised Publication: 2022
- Number of Pages: 456
- Rating: 4.5/5
Barron’s publication has shouldered the fame of publishing books for concise and beneficial study for 80 long years. This AP Biology book is no exception. It includes an in-depth, topic-oriented substance.
- It has 5 full-length practice sets; 2 in the book and 3 more online.
- It covers all units of the AP Bio Exam.
- The book contains multiple-choice and short and long free-response practice questions in each chapter that helps reflect on the exam questions.
- Easy to understand explanations
- Includes tips for taking tests for the actual exam
- Additional CD-ROM or flashcards are also available as study material
- Additional CD-ROM comes with extra charges
- Some units are outdated as the exam standard has changed
Check out EnthuZiastic AP Courses to learn with the best teachers.
3. Sterling Test Prep AP Biology Review
- Publisher: Sterling Test Prep
- Year of Publication: 2018
- Number of Pages: 592
- Rating: 5/5
Written by the best authors, Sterling Test Prep AP Biology Review is an excellent aid for preparing for the AP bio test.
As AP Bio is considered hard , one must have the best resources to understand the subject and score high. Sterling Test Prep can be the choice for its to-the-point discussions covering all the units of the exam.
- The book thoroughly reviews each topic tested on the AP bio exam
- Sterling Prep covers foundational principles and theories to answer in the test
- It contains a scientific analysis of the topics to help the students build concepts on the subject matter
- Reading this book guarantees a high score on the exam
- It has an easy-to-read language
- The book contains a detailed review of the units
- The book contains no practice questions
- Not all sections are updated in the new format of the AP Bio exam
4. Kaplan AP Biology Prep Plus
- Publisher: Kaplan Test Prep
- Year of Publication: 2020
- Number of Pages: 648
- Rating: 4.4/5
Kaplan AP Biology Prep Plus is a comprehensive study guide for many students. It has been revised recently to match up with the newly changed AP Bio test. This new edition has many new additions. Let us know what those additional data are.
- The new edition features hundreds of practice questions in the book
- It includes complete explanations for every question, and a concise review of topics to boost your confidence
- In the book, test-like practice comes in 3 full-length exams with pre-chapter quizzes and post-chapter quizzes
- Customizable study plans help you make the most of your study time
- The Prep Plus includes test papers and questions with detailed explanations
- The online test has a scoring tool to convert the raw score into an AP scale
- The book has many oversimplified questions
Do you know what are the essentials you must carry to AP exam?
Go through What to Bring to AP Exam to find the answer.
5. Campbell Biology
- Publisher: Pearson
- Year of Publication: 2017
- Number of Pages: 1488
Campbell Biology is a great study aid for students to structure their learning and go forward. This well-designed, in detail, study-oriented book makes one exam-ready in no time.
- The Study Guide provides concept maps, chapter summaries, and a variety of interactive activities such as multiple-choice, short-answer essays, and graph-interpretation questions.
- This study guide can build a conceptual framework for the study of biology.
- Each book chapter has a sample paper and quiz section at the end
- The textbook is well structured and condensed to help out the students
- It is one of the most expensive books available for AP Biology
- The book includes a few explanations and problems
6. CliffsNotes AP Biology
- Publisher: Cliffnotes
- Year Publication: 2020
- Number of Pages: 336
- Rating: 4.8/5
Cliffnotes caters organised ideas of AP Biology. It provides a review with an explanation of formatting and enables students to approach the subject and exam with a clearer view. It gives you exactly what you require to score a perfect 5.
- Cliffnotes include concise chapter reviews on every AP Biology subject, in-depth laboratory investigations, and full-length model practice exams.
- Moreover, it features a guide focusing on what AP Biology test-takers need to score high on the exam.
- It has two full-length model practice sets for the AP Biology exam.
- Every chapter consists of review questions with answers for better understanding
- It contains all laboratory investigations with detailed explanations
- Some students find it difficult to understand the organisation of the book
7. AP Biology Crash Course
- Publisher: Research and Education Association
- Number of Pages: 256
The crash course is a prerequisite in the list of books while preparing for the AP exam.
- The book includes strategies to face one of the hardest AP.
- It also consists of mini-tests.
- The book is written by AP Biology experts
- The book needs to be better for intense preparation
Can I self-study AP Bio?
If you know how to prepare for AP and have all the study guides and practice tests with you, you can easily self-study AP Bio.
Is AP Biology the hardest?
Yes. AP Bio is hard . The subject of AP Biology is easy to study, but it becomes difficult to score in it due to tough questions. 68% of students pass the AP Bio exam in 2022, with 15% having a perfect 5.
Do colleges accept AP Bio?
The answer to the straightforward question is yes. Approximately 2068 colleges accept AP Bio scores. Among them, 192 colleges accept a score of perfect 5.
Which is the easiest AP?
The easiest AP depends on a few factors. According to the pass rate, the easiest AP is Physics C: Mechanics, and as per students, the easiest AP is AP Computer Science Principles
Is AP Biology worth it?
Of course, AP Bio is worthy of pursuing. Taking the subject can boost GPA helping in earning college credits. It makes admittance to colleges easier as it is accepted in a number of colleges.
Secure Your College Admission
Score 4 or above in your AP tests. Learn with the best teachers.
The first element required for preparing for any exam is a bunch of good books. In the case of AP Bio, it is not exceptional.
Learn all the best books you need to ace your AP Biology exam. You can boost your preparation more by enrolling in an online class . Get help from experts and keep studying.
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A former philosophy professor who takes a job teaching advanced placement biology uses his students to get back at the people in his life who have wronged him. A former philosophy professor who takes a job teaching advanced placement biology uses his students to get back at the people in his life who have wronged him. A former philosophy professor who takes a job teaching advanced placement biology uses his students to get back at the people in his life who have wronged him.
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Book Review: Millie Bobby Brown of ‘Stranger Things’ weaves a romance novel into a WWII disaster
This cover image released by William Morrow shows “Nineteen Steps” by Millie Bobby Brown. (William Morrow via AP)
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“Nineteen Steps” by Millie Bobby Brown (William Morrow)
The actor who plays Eleven on “Stranger Things” wrote a romance novel! That’ll be the headline for too much coverage of “Nineteen Steps,” so let’s set that aside and consider the debut book from Millie Bobby Brown on its own merits.
It’s a love story set in London, spanning the wartime years of 1942-1945. Nellie is the protagonist, an 18-year-old young woman who works as a secretary for the mayor of Bethnal Green, in the city’s East End. She lives with her mother, father, brother and little sister, and next door to her best friend Babs, whose brother, Billy, is besotted with Nellie after a childhood spent together.
In the wake of the Blitz, Germany continues to selectively bomb England, forcing Nellie and the rest of Bethnal Green’s citizens into an underground air raid shelter many nights. That’s where those foreboding titular steps come in: Every time they descend to the shelter, Nellie “counted them like usual. Nineteen, turn right and seven more.”
Spoiler fans can stop at this point and Google the “Bethnal Green steps,” but what’s the fun in that? Brown dedicates the book to her grandmother (“Nanny Ruth, who told me this story”), but the book is being marketed as fiction, with all the usual disclaimers about how any “references to real people, events, etc…. are intended only to provide a sense of authenticity, and are used fictitiously.”
The story starts to sing when Nellie meets Ray, a U.S. Air Force pilot stationed nearby. The prose describing their first kiss fits the moon-eyed mood as the young couple falls hopelessly in love. “If ever she had to pick a moment she’d want to last for eternity, she thought, this would be the one she’d choose,” writes Brown.
Honestly, most readers could predict the rest of the plot at this point. The love triangle involving Nellie, Billy and Ray, plays a central role, and, of course, what happens on those steps, but the book is really about making your way when consumed by grief. And in that aspect it succeeds, painting a brave portrait of Nellie and her family and friends as they struggle to survive and find happiness in a world gone mad.
Time will tell if Brown has more stories in her, but her late, beloved grandmother would assuredly be proud of this first effort.
- Teen & Young Adult
- Education & Reference
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AP Biology Premium,, 2022-2023, Comprehensive Review + 5 Practice Tests (2 in the Book and 3 Online) + an Online Timed Test Option with Automated Scoring Premium Edition
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There is a newer edition of this item:
- ISBN-10 1506280366
- ISBN-13 978-1506280363
- Edition Premium
- Publisher Barrons Educational Services
- Publication date February 1, 2022
- Language English
- Dimensions 8.38 x 1.3 x 10.88 inches
- Print length 456 pages
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- Publisher : Barrons Educational Services; Premium edition (February 1, 2022)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 456 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1506280366
- ISBN-13 : 978-1506280363
- Grade level : 9 - 12
- Item Weight : 1.68 pounds
- Dimensions : 8.38 x 1.3 x 10.88 inches
- #200 in AP Test Guides
- #810 in Study Guides (Books)
- #1,535 in Education Workbooks (Books)
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