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Best AP World History Review Books in 2021

As a student, when it comes to AP World History, it’s likely to be hard to identify the right studying materials.

This is mainly because the actual exam is broad, with a focus on covering enormous themes and world-historical trends.

So, you will realize that you’ve so much information to digest, such that if you don’t act smart, you can get lost in between.

That’s why it’s essential to surround yourself with the best review resources, such as the review books listed below;

Best AP World History Review Books

Company

Princeton Review ACCEPTED AP World History Barron’s AP World History 5 Steps to a 5

AP® World History

Price $10.98 $11 $14.29 $15.49 $10.91
Full-Length Practice Tests 5 4 5 1 1
Problem Questions Number not indicated, Numerous Number not indicated, Several Number not indicated, Numerous.  100+ 1
Pages 480 228 488 608 208
Kindle? TICK 1 CROSS 1 TICK 1 TICK 1 TICK 1
Format? Paperback, Online access Paperback Paperback, Online Access Paperback, Online Access Paperback, online access
Difficulty? TICK 1 TICK 1 TICK 1 CROSS 1 CROSS 1
Test-Taking Strategies TICK 1 TICK 1 TICK 1 TICK 1 TICK 1
Illustrations TICK 1 TICK 1 TICK 1 TICK 1 TICK 1
1. AMSCO Advanced Placement World History: Modern

The versatility that this book offers students is the main reason as to why it has made it to our top 7 best AP World History Review books list.

Students can use it as their primary textbook through the actual course, as a supplementary resource when taking their college world history course, or as a review material to ready themselves for the AP World History exam.

So you see, from all angles, this book is a significant investment.

You will love the simplified form in which the authors present ideas, making them easy to comprehend, no matter how extensive they might seem.

Also, this AP World history revision material is well-organized to allow students to move from one chapter to the next with ease.

If you want, you can skip some topics and dig right into others, without wasting much time.

And by using numerous examples to explain events, the authors ensure students get a clue on how to approach various questions on exam day.

You should, however, not use it as a solo textbook as some gaps need refilling. Well, not unless you’re already enrolled in an intense tutor-led course with an expert world history teacher.

I find the questions and answers of this textbook quite lacking, especially when it comes to weighing comprehension.

It, however, is an excellent short, easy-to-read book costing from $15(Paperback), which is pretty favorable considering the enormous features it offers.

Pros
  • East to read and understand concepts
  • Covers the College Board’s Course and exam description
  • Covers all the updated AP World History topics
  • Saves on time
  • Value for money
Cons
  • Can’t be used as a stand-alone textbook
  • The Questions and answers section pay less focus on comprehension of concepts

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2. Princeton Review Cracking the AP World History

Taking the AP exam means that you’re ready for a mental and whole body system testing.

You simply have to be fully ready for any question, because there’s no sure way of knowing which questions the examiners might decide to throw in.

Therefore, investing in this Princeton Review’s Cracking the AP World history book is a sure way of filling yourself in with all the necessary details you need to know.

The book is 480 pages long.

It presents students with comprehensive summaries of each chapter to help them remember all the information they have just read.

And like other Princeton AP review resources, this book comes with 5 full-length practice tests, 4 of which come with the book and 1 that can be accessed online.

That’s not all. You will also benefit from unlimited access to their online extras, which include study schedules, exam timer, and much more.

I also love the fact that the author of this book makes good use of charts, diagrams, and various illustrations to explain events.

Most people find it easy to remember what they see, so this is an excellent way of helping students’ master concepts.

You will also find drills at the end of each chapter to test your understanding of all the essential primary sources. But, the problem questions aren’t really sufficient, and I hope Princeton will do something about it in their future versions.

The fact that the questions lean more to the multi-choice section than the essay part might force self-studying students to source out for supplementary material.

That said, their targeted strategies for every part of the exam are useful, making its $10.98 pricing worth it.

Kindle lovers are also sorted, as you can also get a copy at $13.

Pros
  • Excellent exam-taking tips
  • Impressive list of online access extras
  • Concise and clear
  • Provides lots of visuals for better mastering of ideas
  • Affordable
Cons
  • Not much focus on essays
  • Few reports on repetition of questions

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3. ACCEPTED AP World History Study Guide

Sometimes a quick, comprehensive review of all the crucial details is what you need to pace your preparedness for the AP World History exam.

And the authors of the ACCEPTED AP World History Study Guide, seem to understand that pretty well.

This unofficial guide is unique because it comes entirely packages with a simple, clear, but extensive coverage of all the areas covered on the exam.

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They don’t stop there. To ensure you master concepts fast, which is essential, especially when “running” against time, the authors use real examples, information, and graphics.

When you receive this package, you also gain access to 4 full-length practice tests, complete with essay prompts, and thorough coverage of key terms.

Students also benefit from the useful test prep and test-taking tips and tricks from experienced tutors, which have been tried and test on other previous students with much success.

This 228 guide covers period 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6, and will cost you $11.

Pros
  • Well-written
  • Provides useful historical thinking skills
  • Exam-like practice questions
  • Comes with sample essays
  • Use of graphics for easy understanding of concepts
  • Affordable
Cons
  • Few reports on unreadable text

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4. Barron's AP World History: Modern Premium

Anyone who has taken AP or any similar exam will tell you that Barron’s resources are the go-to for sufficient preparation.

The same case applies to their AP World History review book.

The 488 pages book is fully revised to align with the current College Board changes.

So you can be sure that you’re feeding your mind only with useful information.

Plus, this edition comes with 5 revised practice tests to enhance your preparedness for the new test.

You will find 2 practice tests in the book, and you get to access the remaining three online.

The practice questions come with revised free-response questions, which most students find very helpful.

When you log online, you will access the updated multi-choice questions, which reflect time period changes. This is to ensure nothing gets you off-guard on examination day.

You will also appreciate the authors for the comprehensive manner they cover content, which is in-line with the 4 time periods covered on the exam.

There’s also an extensive usage of charts and other illustrations to explain events. The key concepts that appear at the beginning of each chapter will help you organize your study plan.

The book will cost you $14.29, and there’s a Kindle option.

Pros
  • Provides a comprehensive discussion of details
  • Has essay questions for the development of analysis skills
  • Difficulty resembles that of the actual exam
  • Useful exam-taking strategies
Cons
  • Very plain layout for a guide
  • Can be too detailed for a beginner

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5. 5 Steps to a 5: AP World History

If a fulfilling study session for you involves answering of problem questions, then the 5 Steps to a 5: AP World History makes a perfect pick.

The book will help you learn faster from experience by providing you with 100+ shorter questions and 4 full-length exams.

The best part is that you get to take each test seriously and alone as you would in the real exam, before reviewing each one of them to measure your retention capacity.

Doing this will help you identify mistakes early enough and have sufficient time to correct them before moving on to the next topic/chapter.

Also, this 608 pages study guide is accessible not only in print but also online.

And for the online version, you can access it via smartphone, which allows you to study anywhere, anytime.

Speaking of online access, you benefit from a customizable AP planner, flashcards, games, and much more.

And to ensure you master all the useful AP concepts, this book provides an excellent balance of essay questions and multi-choice questions.

So, you can comfortably review all information from all angles.

And at the end of the week, you will find valuable test-taking tips and strategies, which equips you with the confidence you need to take standardized exams.

You will have to part with around $15.49 to purchase this guide (Paperback), with the Kindle option going for $14.72.

Pros
  • Maximizes on the use of visuals
  • Equips you with enormous tips and strategies for standardized exams such as A
  • An excellent choice for Crash Course lovers
  • Concise details
Cons
  • Not detailed
  • Some information is from the previous time period.

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6. AP World History Flash Cards (Barron's Test Prep)

Typical textbooks are not the only resources that you should use to prepare for the AP World History exam.

It’s advisable to supplement them with other materials such as the flashcards.

One such test prep company that understands this well is Barron’s.

Its AP World History Flash Cards have been used by numerous students in the past, and if the overwhelmingly positive reviews are anything to go by, then they’re helpful.

The 3rd Edition flashcards come fully revised and updated to match the most recent changes in the AP world history curriculum.

So, you can comfortably go through the terms knowing they will contribute to your final exam score.

The package comes with 400 flashcards, which are divided into six primary historical eras, with each topic getting one of the six categories. This way, you can easily arrange the cards according to your needs.

And to ensure the flashcards stay in place even as you review on-the-go, they come with an enclosed metal ring.

Do you love studying in groups? If the answer is yes, then you will appreciate the activity cards that come with the package. They will teach you how to use them in your study group.

You, however, should use these Flashcards to supplement another study material, such as the ones already listed in this article.

But apart from that, this 420 pages cards are priced at $15.50 and are excellent for concept mastering.

Pros
  • Good for last-minute studying
  • Study-on-the go
  • Separated by time period
  • Great supplement
Cons
  • Not a comprehensive coverage of all crucial information
  • Small text

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7. AP® World History: Modern Crash Course

Crash Course is famously known for delivering excellent crash courses for standardized exams.

Their AP® World History: Modern Crash Course lives up to standards by helping students gain access to a quick review of essential details concerning the exam.

This is done at an affordable rate too, costing just $10.91 for the Paperback, and $ 10.79 for the Kindle version.

Because of this, the book is a perfect choice for students working on a tight time frame.

This 208 pages 3rd edition is fully revised in alignment with the 2020 AP World History Exam, and it only covers the information likely to be tested in the exam.

The author, a seasoned AP world history teacher, offers students various tips and topics that will matter on exam day, which can significantly boost your score in every section of the test.

You will also come across a focused mini-test in the book, before heading online to access a full-length exam.

Because of its concise nature, this book makes a valuable cramming resource, which won’t blow-up your mind.

Pros
  • Easy-to-read and understand
  • Comes with strategies
  • Has a mini-practice question and 1 full-length practice exam
  • Excellent resource for last-minute cramming
Cons
  • Need to supplement with other materials

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AP World History Exam Format

The AP World History exam comprises of two sections.

Section 1A has 55 multiple choice questions, accounting for 40% of the exam score.

Questions in this section appear in sets of 3-4 and focus on weighing the students’ capability of analyzing events, evidence, and interpretations.

Students will have 55 minutes to answer all the questions.

Section 1B is a short answer section comprising of 3 questions, which account for 20% of the exam score.

Here, students need to exhibit their ability to analyze events and use general knowledge. And they have only 40 minutes for question answering.

Section 2A is a document-based question section with only 1 question, which accounts for 25% of the exam score. Students have only 15 minutes to answer the question.

Section 2B this is a 1 long essay section, which accounts for 15% of the exam score.  Here students have 40 minutes to submit their answers, and they will be required to showcase their analyzing and argumentative skills.

How Do I Prepare for AP World History?

          1. Charts and Tables Assessment

The AP world history exam sometimes makes use of statistical charts and tables. So, you should familiarize yourself with such and know how to interpret the source of information.

You should also be comfortable with various data collection methods, the individuals responsible for the release of such historical data, and much more.

The most prep books, include the ones in this article, provide such details, complete with sample questions. Conduct a thorough review and have the knowledge on the tips of your fingers whenever faced with similar questions in the actual exam.

The same case applies to maps and other cultural pieces.

          2. Gain a Better Understanding On the term “Analyze”

Like it or not, you will be analyzing a lot in your AP World History exam. So you better get ready for it.

Most students confuse this with explaining. But that’s far from it.

Think of analyzing as a way of examining various represented parts and relating how they interact with each other.

Therefore, ensure to master the art of breaking such questions into component parts. And this includes providing all available evidence in support of your point of view, identifying the historical figures involved, and recognizing the structural organization.

Afterward, relate everything with the overall continual change in the world.

          3. Master Facts, Dates, People and Events

There is no guessing when it comes to these aspects of AP World History. Everything has to be truthful.

And since there is enormous information to go through, you should find simplified ways to make it fun and encourage quick mastering.

For instance, use Apps in your smartphone; various test prep companies offer this option in their online access. This way, you can review anywhere, anytime. eFlashcards and online quizzes fall in this category.

You can also use hand-written flashcards if you can’t afford some.  Timelines are also great.

Remember, repetition is critical. You have to memorize as much as you can.

          4. Start a Study Group

Studying ideas, themes, and historical contexts doesn’t come easy. And you can’t review them as quickly as you would with facts and dates.

You will have to master how to connect events. While this might be a bit easy for some individuals, it’s tough for others, at least in the beginning.

So, if you find yourself struggling, consider teaching them. Yes, you heard, right.

If you find a study buddy or a group of classmates, then you can teach each other, thus simplifying the otherwise complex ideas.

You can also request a friend, sibling, or parent to act-up as your student and act the teacher.

It might seem funny in the beginning, but you will both get used to it with time, and the benefits will be evident.

          5. Writing and Organization

The two essays in the AP World History exam might be a bit different, but you will have to know how to take facts and concepts and then write them down to represent your actual knowledge.

As you practice to write, don’t forget to time yourself and work on your time-management skills.

Remember, you’ll be working against the clock, so it will be useless if you can write well but not able to submit work on time.

Another crucial aspect of writing is the ability to assess your work. You need to develop a critical eye, and the best way to achieve this is through practice.

You can, for instance, let your teacher guide you in the beginning. Or, if you have a good friend, who is always scoring highly, then let them review your work and help you identify even the tiny mistakes.

With time, you should be able to exchange your practice essays for feedback purposes. And by the actual exam day, you should be ready to review yours, alone.

FAQs About Best AP World History Review Books

Is AP World History Easy?

According to numerous student reviews on various discussion forums, most of them feel like the AP World History exam possesses a good percentage of medium-difficulty.

So, it really isn’t super easy or hard.

That said, how difficult you find this exam mainly depends on your writing and analyzing skills. If you’re pretty good, then a good score won’t be challenging to attain.

But if you find yourself struggling to provide correct answers to thematic problems, then you might struggle with the class.

How To Get A 5 In AP World History

The easiest way to get a 5 in AP World history is by reading. You have to keep pushing yourself to review more and more resources.

Begin by investing in a top-notch updated AP test prep textbook. We have mentioned quite a number in this article, so that shouldn’t be a problem.

Ensure to practice a lot of free-response questions as well as the multi-choice sections. Most resources come with problem questions and full-length practice tests. Use them.

Also, have a target score in mind and keep pushing yourself towards it. If you’re aiming for a 5, then that should reflect in your full-length practice tests as well. And it won’t be difficult to hack it on test day.

Conclusion

Your score in the AP World History test will determine whether you receive college credit or not. So, you have every reason to work smart by preparing adequately.

Fortunately, there are plenty of resources you can use to achieve your goal. We have mentioned some of them here, and you can always supplement them with tons of free resources on the internet.

Remember to think critically and present all the big ideas concisely.

John Reed
My name is John Reed and I am the chief editor of TestPrepPal.com. I am alumni of university of of Pennsylvania and want to help future graduates with their tests.

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