*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 Physics 1 Review Books in 2020

Most students confess that Physics isn’t one of their favorite subjects. And the same case applies to the AP Physics 1 exam.

Although you don’t have to be good in calculus to crack this exam, it doesn’t come easy, and at first, it might seem impossible to score above average.

But that shouldn’t discourage you. You can still successfully go through the overwhelming chapters and numerous concepts to be among the few who manage a 5 or 3 and above.

How? By preparing adequately using the right review resources.

We compiled a list of the best 5 AP Physics 1 Review books to help you make the correct choice;

Best AP Physics 1 Review Books

Company

Princeton Review Cracking the AP Physics 1 Barron’s AP Physics 1 AP Physics 1 Essentials Sterling Test Prep AP Physics 1

Princeton Review AP Physics 1, 2021

Price $12.83 $11 $12.49 $19.95 $26
No. of Full-Length Practice Tests 5 4 Number not indicated Number not indicated 5
No. of Problem Questions Numerous, number not indicated Multiple, number not indicated 90+ 679+ Numerous, number not indicated
No. of Pages 496 320 406 372 496
Format Paperback, Online access Paperback, Online access Paperback, online access Paperback, online access Paperback, Online access
Exam Difficulty? TICK 1 CROSS 1 TICK 1 CROSS 1 TICK 1
Kindle? TICK 1 CROSS 1 TICK 1 CROSS 1 CROSS 1
Video CROSS 1 CROSS 1 TICK 1 CROSS 1 CROSS 1
Test-Taking Strategies TICK 1 TICK 1 TICK 1 TICK 1 TICK 1
1. The Princeton Review Cracking the AP Physics 1 Exam

The Princeton Review’s Cracking the AP Physics 1 book doesn’t disappoint.

It comes well equipped to offer students with crucial insights in readiness for the upcoming ap EXAM.

The best news is that this review material has been professionally aligned to the 2020 examination requirements.

Every single part of it is written with the exam-takers’ interests at heart.

It’s well organized and straight to the point, which saves you time from going through unnecessary details.

The authors of this 496 pages book were thoughtful enough to include suggestions of content that will work for you on exam day, so you get to concentrate on the right concepts right from the start.

Also, with the package comes 5 full-length practice tests, 4 of which come with the book and 1 of which you will have to access online.

And according to students’ reviews, these practice tests reveal the difficultness, which is similar to the actual AP Physics 1 exam.

I love the fact that the book gives thorough coverage of relevant subject matters, complete with useful test-taking strategies, straight from the experts’ point of view.

There are also numerous practice drills at the end of each chapter and a step-by-step guide through the sample questions.

You will have to part with $12.83 to get this book. Or you can opt for the Kindle option which goes for $13.

Pros
  • Thorough coverage of vital concepts
  • 5 full-length practice tests
  • End of chapter drills
  • Comes with a customized study plan
  • Step-by-step guide on sample questions
  • Proven test-taking strategies
Cons
  • The free-response questions aren’t well aligned with the actual exam.

Check Current Price on Amazon

2. AP Physics 1 with Online Tests (Barron's)

AP Physics 1 is a detailed course.

And as such you need a comprehensive review to prepare you for the exam adequately.

And that’s where Barron’s AP Physics 1 comes in. The book is one of the most trusted in this sector.

It will help you go through all the necessary concepts such as sound, harmonic, circuits and much more.

You will love how the authors have not availed unnecessary in-depth details.

Also, they explain concepts using realistic examples, which make mastering easy.

And to ready you for the 4 full-full length practice tests and the actual exam, this provides students with a diagnostic test.

It’s through the results of this test that you can pinpoint which areas you need to focus most of your time on, and which ones you can peruse through with ease.

There are also several problem questions, complete with a detailed review covering all test areas.

And to ensure you’re confident enough on exam day, Barron’s experts give students some of their best and proven test-taking tips and advice on how to handle new problems.

Plus, the fact that this 320 pages review book is compatible with smartphones, tablets, Macs and PCs, makes it an ideal pick for non-traditional students.

As for the pricing, you will only need $11 (Paperback), which I find pretty affordable even for on-budget students.

Pros
  • Compatible with smartphones for on-go review
  • Contains both online and offline full-length practice tests
  • Offers thorough and well-explained coverage of all essential areas
  • Includes a diagnostic test to identify strengths and weaknesses
  • Useful test-taking strategies from experts’ point of view
Cons
  • Contains some irrelevant information
  • Few reports on text mistakes

Check Current Price on Amazon

3. AP Physics 1 Essentials: An APlusPhysics Guide 2nd Edition

If a simple, easy-to-read guide with comprehensive coverage of chapters is what you need, then look no further, AP Physics 1 Essentials got you covered!

Some of the crucial topics covered in this book include impulse motion, gravity, sound, dynamics, and momentum, among others.

And that is not all.

The author ensures to offer in-depth insight into these topics in each chapter.

Plus, you get to test your retention capability by taking numerous questions at the end of each chapter.

This will help you identify the areas that require further polishing before moving on to the next chapter.

You will also love the online portal of this publisher as it offers students with a detailed list of crucial questions, complete with answers and illustrative videos for memorization.

The answer forum on the online platform will help you understand why some answers are wrong, no matter how correct they might seem, and why others are right.

And of course, the best part of this 406 pages book is that comes with 90+ problem questions to sharpen your skills (others accessible online)

The number of full-length practice tests is, however, not mentioned.

The Paperback will cost you $12.49, and the Kindle option sells at $10.

Pros
  • Numerous practice questions
  • Subsequent explanations on answers to problem questions
  • Access to online portal with tons of review content
  • Excellent way to familiarize yourself with the AP Physics 1 actual exam pattern.
Cons
  • Limited full-length practice tests
  • Some reports on imprecise tests.

Check Current Price on Amazon

4. Sterling Test Prep AP Physics 1 Practice Questions

The sterling Test Prep AP Physics 1 stands out in this best review books list.

Why?

Because the authors primarily focus on providing students with practice questions.

And because of this, it makes a perfect supplementary material to use with other review books in this list, such as the AP Physics 1 Essentials, Barron’s physics 1 and many others.

The book comes with over 679 practice questions, which spread over the entire Physics 1 exam topics.

And that’s not all, you will also find 3 diagnostic practice tests in the book and 3 additional ones online, totaling to six.

The importance of taking these exams is to help students understand their weak areas and come up with an improvement plan, before exam day.

I also like how well-organized this book is. It contains 8 sections of topical practice questions, which makes it easy for you to select what you want to study and master.

And of course, the second part contains answer keys and detailed explanations for problem questions, for both the diagnostic test and topical practice queries.

To ensure the questions are up-to-standard, the authors are physics tutors, who have worked with hundreds of AP Physics 1 students. So, you can trust them to know that they’re doing.

The 372 pages book will also take you through critical formulas and equations, as well as equip you with excellent test-taking strategies.

All this at $19.95 for the paperback.

Yes, this might be a little expensive for budget students, but if you can afford it, it’s definitely worth every penny.

Pros
  • Numerous topical practice questions
  • 6 diagnostic tests
  • Offers detailed explanations to answers
  • It makes an excellent supplementary review book
  • Contains vital formulas and equations
Cons
  • A bit expensive for on-budget students

Check Current Price on Amazon

5. Princeton Review AP Physics 1 Premium Prep, 2021

If you’re planning on taking the AP Physics 1 exam in 2021, then this Princeton Review AP Physics 1 Premium Prep is the best investment you can make.

And although you can only pre-order currently, (the title will be released on August 4, 2020), we all know that the Princeton brand fails when it comes to test prep resource.

The book will come with 5 full-length practice tests (4 with the book and 1 online), which are tough enough to ready your nerves for the actual exam.

Although sometimes the real exam might be a little gentler, it’s always good developing a thick skin as this will help you gain confidence in the exam room.

Also, since the Princeton experts have worked with hundreds of students, they offer you proven techniques for success in this book.

Including useful exam-taking tips and strategies on approaching various questions.

You will also appreciate the practice drills that will appear at the end of each chapter. They allow you to pinpoint the topics that require more review and create time to polish up.

The best part is that the authors provide students with a step-by-step guide through various sample questions, to give them a clue on how to approach exam questions correctly.

You will also find tons of figure illustrations and, access to study plans, list of formulas, and much more through the online student tools.

The book contains 496 pages and will cost you $26.  A bit expensive, but worth it.

Pros
  • 5 full-length practice tests
  • Comprehensive coverage of essential topics
  • Access to numerous premium extras via the online student tools
  • Practice drills at the end of each chapter
  • Exam-taking tips and strategies from an expert point of view
Cons
  • Expensive for budget students

Check Current Price on Amazon

AP Physics Exam Format

You can’t say to have prepared adequately for the Physics 1 exam if you don’t even know the exam format.

You’ve to know what you’re studying for in and out so that you can schedule your study time appropriately.

One thing that remains consistent in the AP Physics 1 exam over the years is the type of questions involved, the weighing of student capabilities, and the scoring guidelines.

The exam has two sections.

Section 1 contains 50 multiple-choice questions, which should be taken within 90 minutes, and it contributes to 50% of the exam score.

Kindly note that questions in this section can be either discrete or sets.  And it includes 5 individual multi-choice questions, of which 2 options are correct.

Section 2 contains 5 free-response questions, which should be taken within 90 minutes, and it also accounts for 50% of the exam score.

The free-response questions cover types such as Experimental design, Qualitative/Quantitative Translation, Paragraph argument Short answer. All these sections contain 1 question each. There’s also a short answer type with 2 queries.

How Do I Prepare for AP Physics 1?

          1. Thoroughly Review Units 1-7

Your primary focus should be to comprehensively cover all the essential sections to ensure you don’t get caught off-guard on exam day.

So, instead of studying aimlessly, head to the AP College Board website and go through the AP Physics 1 exam description.

Here you will discover the various testing objectives and how the testing will be done.  This should be enough to give you a clue on how to create your study schedule.

Besides, there is also a free sample exam questions you can use for your practice.

          2. Practice Taking Photos of Your Work

We must all agree that 2020 is a unique year. And the fact that Covid-19 is still here means that you will be taking your exams and then uploading your written work.

So, take a few days to practice how you will present high-quality work. You can even try uploading it to your email and check out the outcome.

The last thing you want is get caught by surprise on exam day and then let panic get the best of you.

          3. Stop Memorizing Everything!

Yes, the exam might as open as they come, but you don’t have to fill your head even with unnecessary information.

That’s why I encourage you to go through the exam format and description for a clue on which topics deserve your utmost attention.

If you study to cram everything, then the chances are that you won’t be able to withstand the pressure for long. And this will negatively impact your concentration level.

          4. Get a Good Calculator

The 2020 AP Physics exam won’t necessarily require you to use a calculator.

But, you can never go wrong with a little “over preparation”. This is an especially useful tip if you are slow with hand calculations, and/ it tends to get worse during exam sessions.

          5. Take as Many Practice Tests as Possible

Most of the review books mentioned above come with sufficient full-length practice tests and problem questions.

Practice as much as possible. In fact, ensure to take a problem issue, after every study session. This will make mastering of concepts easy.

If you happen to be on budget and can’t access enough practice tests, create your own.

Yes, you hear it right. You can do using past AP tests. There are numerous free websites online, search them and get to business.

If you have a friend or relative who can help you out, then it will be great as well.

Come-up with thorough, well-paragraphed answers and then use the scoring sheets to weigh yourself.

          6. Be Part of a Study Group

Having a study partner is an excellent way of ensuring you’re accountable to another party, apart from yourself.

So, if you have a friend you can trust or a group of individuals with the same AP P physics objectives as you, then there’s nothing wrong with forming a discussion group.

To ensure your meetings don’t get in the way of your self-study time, discuss your schedules and agree on the perfect time for everyone.

A meeting once or twice a week should be enough.

Remember, some individuals understand specific topics better than others, so let them lead the discussions at such times and ask as many questions as you want.

You can even take practice tests and compare scores. This should give you the confidence to compete with others, given that hundreds of other students will be taking the same AP Physics 1 exam, as you on exam day.

FAQs About Best AP Physics 1 Review Books

Is AP Physics 1 Easy?

The AP Physics 1 course might not be too challenging, but the nature of testing isn’t very favorable either.

The exam contains ranks lowest in the overall pass rate.

But that shouldn’t discourage you. If you have a great passion for physics, it will be easy.

Well, not overly easy, but good enough to handle with ease.

Is Princeton Review Good for AP Physics 1?

We have reviewed two Princeton Review books in this article. And that should mean something, right?

Honestly, Princeton review is one of the best AP Physics 1 review books you can find out there.

It ranks well thanks to an excellent combination of excellent content coverage and useful practice problems.

What Do You Need to Get A 5 On AP Physics 1?

First, you need to believe in yourself and what you can achieve.

Then go through the exam format and description on the College Board website to familiarize yourself with the sections that need more focus.

Now that you’re sure about what you’re studying to invest in quality review resources such as the one mentioned in this article for your self-study sessions.

Don’t forget to take as many problem questions as possible. Practice time-management tips and possess enough confidence to approach the exam like a pro.

In other words, be an all-rounder, and a 5 won’t be hard to achieve.

Conclusion

This article is meant to help you choose the correct AP Physics 1 review book, according to your needs. We have reviewed the five best books, and we hope you’ve already made your choice.

Also, remember to go through the buying guide for useful tips on how to prepare for AP Physics 1.

If you do everything right, then you can hack that exam and get a 5. Yes, you can!

Best of luck and feel free to share your experience in the comment section!

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