*If you click a link on this page and make a purchase, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Learn more

Best AP Biology Prep Books in 2021: The Ultimate Guide

It’s every student’s dream to crack the AP Biology exam.

And yes, it might not be easy, but a good score will be enough to earn you college credit, just like any other AP course.

So, you should focus on scoring a 4 or 5. And to achieve this, you need to invest in the best AP Biology prep book(s).

And since most students/parents confess to finding the massive collection of test prep books in the current market confusing, it’s our pleasure to make things easy for you.

In this article, we give a comprehensive review of some of the best AP Biology review books, complete with a buying guide to help you purchase based on your needs.

The Best AP Biology Prep Books

Company Princeton Review Barron’s Pearson Test Prep Books

Kaplan

Price $20.88

 

$18.38 $15.70 $7 $20.46
Number of Full-Length Exams 5 5 Not indicated Not indicated 3
Pages 448 600

 

464 156 648
Practice Questions? TICK 1 TICK 1 TICK 1 TICK 1 TICK 1
Difficulty? TICK 1 CROSS 1 TICK 1 TICK 1 TICK 1
Format Paperback, Online access Paperback, Online access Paperback Paperback Paperback, Online access
Test-Taking Tips TICK 1 TICK 1 TICK 1 TICK 1 TICK 1
Kindle? TICK 1 TICK 1 CROSS 1 TICK 1 CROSS 1
1. The Princeton Review Cracking the AP Biology Exam 2021

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).

Pros
  • 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
Cons
  • Some material coverage isn’t adequately covered.

Check Current Price on Amazon

2. Barron’s AP Biology Premium

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 7th 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).

Pros
  • Contains vital measurements and definitions
  • East to read and understand
  • Excellent layout
  • Problem questions at the end of each chapter
Cons
  • Practice questions could do with a more analytical format

Check Current Price on Amazon

3. Pearson Education Test Prep

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.

Pros
  • Excellent collection of practice questions
  • Includes “You Must Know” boxes to refresh your memory
  • Comprehensively detailed
  • Excellent pricing
  • Well-organized into short sections
Cons
  • A little too much unnecessary material

Check Current Price on Amazon

4. Test Prep Books AP Biology Test Prep Book

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).

Pros
  • Expert test-taking strategies
  • Numerous Practice test questions mimicking the actual exam
  • Comprehensive coverage of exotic topics
  • Value for money
  • Easy to understand
Cons
  • Can only be used as a supplement for another AP Biology prep book.
  • Some few reports on wrong answers

Check Current Price on Amazon

5. Kaplan AP Biology Prep Plus

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).

Pros
  • 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
Cons
  • Only 3 full-length practice questions

Check Current Price on Amazon

6. Mometrix AP Biology

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.

Pros
  • Contains video links and Picture diagrams
  • Comes with numerous problem questions
  • Easy to read and understand
  • Amazing test-taking and exam anxiety strategies
  • Affordable
Cons
  • Can’t be used as a Stand-alone test prep book

Check Current Price on Amazon

7. AP® Biology Crash Course

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)

Pros
  • Lots of extras via online platform
  • Concise and well-structured
  • Excellent for last-minute review
  • Covers everything you need to know
Cons
  • You will have to look elsewhere for exhaustive coverage of topics.

Check Current Price on Amazon

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 2020 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?

  1. 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.

  1. Understand Concepts

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.

  1. Customize Flashcard-Diagrams

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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

Conclusion

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!

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.

Leave a Comment