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Best AP Lang Review Books in 2021 For Self-Study

If you have been thinking that AP language is only best taken by students aspiring to take humanities, then you have been wrong all this time.

Educational and career experts advise that it’s important for students to take the AP lang even if they don’t plan to pursue anything to do with humanities.

Why?

The score you get can, in a great way, influence your college career.

It’s this AP course that will enhance your essay writing skills, which are an essential part of your academic journey.

And to score highly, you should use some of the best AP Lang review books, such as the ones below;

The Best AP Lang Review Books

Company The Princeton Review Barron’s 5 Steps to a 5 Test Prep Books

Crash Course

Price $15.99-20.54 $11.99-$16.06 $12.80-13.29 $11.99-26.52 $12.19-13.32
Pages 304 376 275 105 336
Kindle TICK 1 CROSS 1 TICK 1 TICK 1 TICK 1
Full-Length Practice Tests 5 6 6 Number not indicated 1
Problem Questions TICK 1 TICK 1 TICK 1 TICK 1 TICK 1
Online Access TICK 1 TICK 1 TICK 1 TICK 1 TICK 1
Test-taking Strategies & Tips TICK 1 TICK 1 TICK 1 TICK 1 TICK 1
Flashcards CROSS 1 CROSS 1 TICK 1 CROSS 1 CROSS 1
1. Cracking the AP English Language & Composition Exam

When it comes to test prep materials, The Princeton Review is by no means a newbie.

Over the years, they’ve managed to release hundreds of resources, and their AP Language & Composition exam is a sure definition of quality.

The book is an excellent choice for students seeking precisely presented content.

So, if what you need is a list of comprehensive summaries of all the essential topics, then look no further.

You will also love the fact that you can customize your study sessions to suit your needs. And the best way to do this is by concentrating more on your weak areas as opposed to your strongholds.

Plus, the book offers amazing tips on composition improvements.

At the end of each chapter, you will find multiple problem questions to help you test your retention capabilities before moving to the next chapter.

This TPR book also comes with 3 full-length exams, complete with in-depth answer explanations.

You can also access additional two full-length practice tests online, that too, with detailed answer explanations.

It contains 304 pages and will cost you $15.99-20.54 (Paperback). There’s also a Kindle option.

Pros
  • Concise for better understanding
  • 5 full-length practice tests
  • Affordable
  • Challenging practice tests
  • Great for customized study sessions
Cons
  • Not sufficient for stand-alone self-study

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2. Barron’s AP English Language and Composition

When we mention TPR, know that Barron’s isn’t far away.

I mean, there must be a reason as to why they’ve managed to gain popularity among top-scoring students, right?

Their publications are always products of top-notch experts, and their AP lang& composition is proof enough, with the author being a highly qualified English teacher.

Need I explain further?

This 376 pages book comes with 4 full-length practice tests, which are tailor-made to give you a glimpse of the current changes in the AP lang &lang exam.

All this in terms of difficulty, types of problem questions, and of course, the length of the actual test.

You will also receive revised practice exercises to enhance your test-taking skills.

You will also love going through a sample of student essays, complete with professional commentary on their specific weaknesses and strengths.

There’s also an additional 2 full-length practice tests, with explanations to answers, plus an automated scoring.

It, however, might not make an ideal option for students seeking to improve their multiple-choice scores.

But it’s an excellent pick for essays.

You can get it from $11.99-$16.06, which I find pretty affordable.

Pros
  • Sufficient full-length practice tests
  • Sample essays with an expert critique
  • Great for essay improvements
  • Great difficulty level in comparison to the actual exam
Cons
  • Not great for multiple questions score improvement
  • A few reports on some complex explanations of concepts.

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3. 5 Steps to a 5: AP English Language 2020 1st Edition

The 5 steps to a 5 AP English language book is an ideal pick for students who are comfortable with both traditional and non-traditional forms of learning.

You will love the simple language they use, to give you an in-depth understanding of key concepts.

The 275 pages book also comes with a study plan, which will help you build your test-taking skills so that you can approach the exam with confidence.

It comes with practice tests and excellent essay questions to sharpen your skills in readiness for the test.

The easy-response and in-depth answer explanations will help you identify your strengths and weaknesses, so you get to polish-up before exam day.

I also love the fact that this book doesn’t only concentrate on essay writing, but also multiple-choice questions, which will boost your final score.

And the best part is that you can easily access this AP lang guide either online through your mobile phone/tablet/computer or as a print.

You can also opt for all these methods. Whatever works for you should be good to go.

On top of the 6 full-length practice exams (3 online and 3 print), you will gain access to hundreds of practice exercises and powerful exam-taking strategies.

You will also access flashcards, games, and social media support to boost your retention capabilities.

The price ranges from $12.80-13.29 on Amazon, and there’s a Kindle option.

Pros
  • Numerous practice questions
  • 6-full length practice tests.
  • Excellent test-taking tips
  • Comprehensive review for multiple questions
  • Access to massive online content
Cons
  • Some sections could do better with adequate coverage.

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4. Test Prep Books AP English Language and Composition

This AP English Language and Composition book match up the publishing standards of its famous publishers.

You will love the extensive nature in which it covers the AP English curriculum, complete with all critical exam-taking strategies for both multiple-questions and essays.

Their analysis of various practice tests is also top-notch.

And if complexity isn’t an appealing point to you, then you will love the simple yet sophisticated manner in which it presents tests.

Their practice tests are up-to-date, and the authors ensure they come with well-explained answers to point out areas of weakness and strength.

This 105-page book is an ideal pick for on-budget students costing only 11.99-26.52(Paperback) and a Kindle option.

Pros
  • Offers an effective preparation for the AP test
  • East to read with amazing examples
  • Numerous practice problem questions
  • Presents relevant essay prompts
  • Broad subject matter
  • Up-to-date test-taking strategies
Cons
  • Not overwhelmingly detailed (can also be a pro, depending on how you look at it.)
  • Lacks Post-Chapter Summaries.

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5. AP® English Language & Composition Crash Course

If you find yourself short on AP review time for one reason or the other, then the Crash Course will be a perfect pick.

The same case applies to students who wouldn’t mind a refresher course on the English language.

With this book, you can confidently and quickly go through all the critical topics, which you need to master before the actual exam.

And while at it, you get awesome strategies to enhance your essay writing skills as well as answering the multiple-choice questions.

This quick crash course book also ensures you’re well-equipped with expert tips and advice that will come handy during the AP exam. And the best part is that all of them are tried and tested.

So, if they worked on others, then they can also work for you.

You will also love the difficulty level of the practice questions in this 336 pages book, which will prepare you for the online practice tests and, eventually, the actual exam.

This is a summary book, so if you need an in-depth coverage of the various topics, then you might need course textbooks such as number one and two in this list, and much more.

The book will cost you around $12.19-13.32, which I find favorable for budget students. You can also opt for Kindle, which is much cheaper.

Pros
  • Focused and targeted subject review
  • Contains an applicable review and test-taking strategies and tips.
  • Triggers your memory to recall background subject matters
  • A quick review book for students working in a tight time-frame.
  • Large number of problem questions
  • Online Full-length practice tests
Cons
  • Doesn’t provide comprehensive coverage of the subject matter

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6. The Critical Reader

This Critical reader AP English language and composition book provide a no-nonsense review for the test.

It comes with a sole purpose, and that’s to offer you adequate preparation.

That’s why the authors have dedicated a complete chapter of this book to give you a glimpse of each question type.

And since you will be working against time in the exam room, they have included excellent strategies on how to improve your speed and beat the deadlines.

The strategies also apply to the best ways to improve your subject comprehension, which is vital in mastering AP lang concepts.

As you already know, practice makes perfect. So, you should always aim at taking practice questions after each chapter to measure your retention level.

And for that, this book provides dozens of exercises that will boost self-practice.

As if that’s not enough, the authors have also included a good number of sample essays, complete with detailed scoring analysis, to help you master all the necessary components for the production of a high score.

The analysis is similar to that of the College Board.

At 251 pages, the book is well compressed to fit into your backpack or purse. And you will have to part with around $18.92-$23.49(Paperback).

Pros
  • Impressively separates questions per type for easy review
  • Provides passage-reading suggestions
  • Solid expert advice on the 3 critical types of AP lang essay
  • Up-to-date changes in reflection with the current AP standards
  • Includes real easy samples with explanations for better comprehension
Cons
  • Would do better with some illustrations for long section page breaks.

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7. APEX Test Prep AP English Language and Composition

Preparing for the AP English lang exam shouldn’t be too difficult.

That’s why you need to source out for review materials that would make learning fun and encourage you to spend hours going through the texts.

Does this sound like you?

If yes, then what better match can you find for these exact needs if not the APEX Test Prep AP English Language and Composition book?

The book comes complete with effective test-taking tips to equip you with a grand confident entrance to the examination room.

Also, most students confess to loving this book’s straightforward nature of offering instructions, which boosts their understanding levels.

Plus, there’s sufficient bonus information on the actual test time-limits, registration details, and much more.

When you receive this package, you will notice that there’s a list of everything you need to know at the back of the book.

This is a great refresher, especially when it comes to practice questions with detailed answer explanations, and much more.

Also, the level of difficulty of the practice tests are pretty similar to the actual exam, so that should ready you enough.

With only 107 pages, the book is compact for easy portability, and that’s in line with its cost, which ranges from $9.99-1753.

Pros
  • Best budget-friendly review book
  • Excellent combination of study tips and practice problems
  • Time-saving
  • Simple language for easy understanding
  • Uses graphics, tables, and examples for easy material retention
  • Subsections make it easy to locate what you want to study
Cons
  • No in-depth coverage on topics, due to its small nature.

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Things to Consider When Choosing an AP English Language Review Book

AP English or AP Comp is also referred to as AP language and composition. And it’s an entry-level course, which will usher you into an advanced English course when you join college.

So, you should hold the AP exams with the seriousness they deserve. And one such way is selecting the best test prep materials.

How?

By considering the following things;

          Students’ Reviews

Before you order the AP Lang materials of your choice, it’s advisable to do due diligence and find out from others who sat for the exam before you what they would recommend.

Don’t be afraid to ask the difficult questions as most of them would gladly answer. Inquire what review book they used, not forgetting digging deeper into the pros and cons.

The easily accessible individuals are your family and friends. But, if you can’t seem to get a satisfying answer from any of them, then feel free to head online for student reviews.

The presence of the internet has made things a lot easy, and every publisher at least has reviews on their products.

Check numerous online stores such as Amazon, test prep review websites, and, of course, social media.

Once you enter the keywords, you can easily access as much information as you want.

Avoid, however, visiting the test prep companies’ websites for reviews as some of them might have been standardized and not 100% genuine.

The information you gather should be useful enough to point you towards the best Lang review book according to your needs.

          How Much Content Do They Offer?

As you might have gathered from our best AP Lang review books’ list above, not all books are the same.

Some contain more pages, with extensive coverage of chapters, while others come with a few pages with summaries of important details that you need to know.

So, when selecting a book, ensure it perfectly suits your needs. For example, if you want a stand-alone book with comprehensive coverage of the subject matter, then your search should revolve around materials with numerous pages and detailed explanations of the content.

But if you’re searching for a summarized copy to pair with another study material, then the less the pages the book has, the better it will be for you as it will be an indication of compressed details.

But, be careful not to compromise too much on content. Because, if some useful details are locked out of the book, then you won’t be adequately prepared for the test.

          Problem Questions

One of the best ways to weigh your progress is by testing yourself.

And what better way to achieve this than through questions at the end of each topic or subsection.

So, if an AP Lang review book constantly poses questions, then it makes an ideal pick.

This way, you get to understand where you went wrong and rectify it as soon as possible.

          Number of Full-Length Practice Tests

The full-length practice tests are the backbone of any standardized exam such as AP.

They’re the only way you get a close feel of how the actual exam will be like. And that includes helping you work on your time management skills.

The ideal number of full-length practice tests are 5-7, with 3 being the least.

          Organization of Details

A Lang review book that’s well organized makes it easy for you to locate whatever content you want to read.

But that’s not all; the information should be presented simply to allow you to enjoy studying.

Complexity is a turn-off, especially when you have other subjects to think of. I mean, you can’t be worrying about the exam and get frustrated grasping information.

The easier the book authors make it for you, the better.

How to Self-Study for AP English Language

If you’ve been thinking of self-studying for the English Language, then I would like to assure you that it’s doable if you put your mind to it.

And to help you get the best out of it, check out these essential tips;

          1. Cross-Check If Self-Studying Is What You Need

Yes, you might want to self-study, but that doesn’t mean you have enough valid reasons to settle for it.

What are your reasons? Is it your tight schedule? Are you currently undertaking the non-AP version of a course?

And most importantly, are you self-motivated enough?

If most of your answers are yes, then you can now proceed with confidence.

          2. Create A Study Schedule

A study schedule is an important part of your studies. This will help you know which topic you will be covering at which time and on which day.

Ensure you include all the resources that you will be using, with an excellent balance of multiple-questions and essays.

And this includes textbooks, online resources, Podcasts, and YouTube videos, among others.

Get a Study Buddy/Partner

It’s always good to feel that you’re accountable to someone else apart from yourself. And the best way to achieve that is by having a study buddy.

This is someone you will be self-studying together and can constantly meet to share ideas.

But, ensure you set aside time for that and not using your exclusive self-study time for that.

          3. Incorporate Rewards

It’s always good to self-motivate yourself.

So, if you feel there’s something you deny yourself due to your tight study schedule, then you can use it as your reward.

That way, you get to enjoy it every time you complete a specific number of topics, successfully go through the week without skipping a study session, and much more.

Think of it as a double win; you get to enjoy your favorite item and adhere to your study schedule!

If that won’t be motivation enough, I don’t know what would.

          4. Read and Write a Lot

Honestly speaking, you can’t expect to get better in English Lang without reading and writing. And since you’re reviewing for an exam, then the more serious you should be about this.

At the end of it, your goal should be to go through the synthesis essay, learn as many literary terms as possible to use in the analytical essay, and know-how to argue in the persuasive essay smartly.

For literary terms, Flashcards will help out a great deal. But you also need to practice the College Board essays. Visit their website for practicing essays.

FAQs About Best AP Lang Review Books

How Do You Get A 5 On AP Lang?

First,  focus on understanding the format of the AP exam, as this will help you study correctly. Check out the updated format of the exam on the official College Board website.

Now ensure that you’re attentive in class, as the Lang teachers possess years of experience, which is helpful in your preparation.

Next, plan on reading more materials beyond your classroom scope to sharpen your mind.

Last but not least, don’t forget to learn essential vocabulary as they will help you give correct answers in the multi-choice questions.

Lastly, ensure you practice using official and unofficial materials.

If you do this correctly, then nothing can stop you from getting a 5.

Is AP Lang Easy?

Not necessarily.

If we say that AP Lang is super easy, then we will be lying. The same case applies if we say it’s super difficult.

AP Language is a bit difficult (after all, that’s the essence of the exam, right?) But, you can attain a high score, if you prepare adequately and smartly by using the appropriate study materials and method.

Getting a 5 might not be easy, but it’s attainable.

Should I Take AP Lit If I Took AP Lang?

It all depends on your interests. If you want to take AP lit, then do so by all means.

But it doesn’t spike your interest, then no need to take it.

If you aren’t sure, then begin by taking the class. If you do well, then go ahead and do the exam. But if you don’t skip the exam and go on with life.

Conclusion

We hope this buying guide, complete with the best AP Lang books review, will help you go through the AP English Language and composition.

But remember, what works for others might not necessarily work for you.

So, ensure you understand your needs first before investing in any review resource.

Once you are sure about what will keep you focused with a high retention level, you can comfortably walk into the exam room, knowing you’re going to get away with a perfect 5.

The above top-notch AP test prep materials, make a great start-up point.

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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