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Best AP Physics C Review Books in 2021: Tried and Tested

The AP Physics course is divided into three branches. And that’s the AP Physics 1, 2, and the AP Physics C.

Most students confess that the C section is the most strenuous and therefore requires rigorous review.

It could probably be because it features a mix of magnetism and electrical topics, which can be a bit complex and very detailed.

But that shouldn’t be enough reason to scare you. With the right amount of review resources, you can manage a score of 3-5, and if you push your capabilities further, a clean 5 wouldn’t be difficult to attain.

In fact, you should count yourself lucky as we have compiled a list of the best 5 AP Physics C review books you should incorporate in your studies for the best results.

Here we go;

The Best AP Physics C Review Books

Company

Princeton Cracking the AP Physics Barron’s AP Physics The AP Physics C Companion 5 Steps to a 5: AP Physics C

Notes on AP Physics C

Price $7.40 $11.33 $11.84 $12.49 $10.82
No. of Full-Length Practice Tests 2 2 Not indicated 3 Not indicated
No. of Problem Questions Numerous, number not indicated Multiple, number not indicated 350+ 100+ Not indicated
No. of Pages 656 656 250 352 38
Format Paperback, Online access Paperback, online access Paperback, eTextbook Paperback, online access Paperback
Difficulty? TICK 1 TICK 1 CROSS 1 TICK 1 CROSS 1
Kindle? TICK 1 CROSS 1 CROSS 1 TICK 1 CROSS 1
Video CROSS 1 CROSS 1 TICK 1 CROSS 1 CROSS 1
1. Princeton Review Cracking the AP Physics C Exam

This 2020 edition of the Princeton Review AP Physics C review book, is an upgrade of the 2018 edition.

It offers students online access to premium extras through the online student tools page.

The additional resources include study plans, a comprehensive list of equations and formulas, useful pre-college information, and much more.

You will also benefit from the 2 full-length practice exams that come with the book.

The answers to these questions are detailed and well-explained to reveal your strengths and weaknesses.

But, I feel Princeton failed students’ expectations here. They could do better with more full-length tests.

Students will find the comprehensive coverage of essential AP P physics C concepts helpful in mastering everything they require to score highly in the actual exam.

Plus, you will benefit from the numerous practice drills at the end of each chapter to sharpen you for the full-length practice tests and the actual test.

And if you’ve been struggling with proper question-answering strategies, the Princeton experts provide you with insider exam-taking tips and tricks.

Another thing you should look forward to benefiting from this book is the step by step guide through the various sample exam questions, which will, in a good way, give you the real picture of the AP exam.

The 656 pages book is currently priced at $7.40 (Paperback), which is cheap even for budget students. The Kindle offer stands at $10.

Pros
  • Numerous drill practice questions
  • Cheap
  • Test-taking tips and strategies
  • Online access to premium extras
Cons
  • Only 2 full-length practice tests

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2. Barron’s AP Physics C 4th Edition

For a student sourcing out for an AP Physics C review book that will provide them with comprehensive coverage of all the curriculum-based topics, Barron’s AP Physics C 4th Edition is for you.

This 656 pages book comes with 2 full-length practice tests, whose difficulty level mimics that of the actual exam.

There’s also one diagnostic test, which students should take at the beginning of their review window for a clear understanding of which topics require more attention than others.

Also, with this package, you get to learn the best test-taking tips and useful studying advice from the experts, with several years of experience.

Plus, the book contains an appendix of fundamental Physics C equations you should know so that it would be easy to interpret concepts.

The authors, however, seem to pay less attention to some guidelines in their explanations, but they do offer substantial details in various relevant topics. So, this won’t hold you back from scoring highly.

To get a copy, you will have to part with $11.33. And before you ask, no, there isn’t any Kindle option.

Pros
  • Comes with an Appendix of essential Physics C equations
  • A diagnostic test
  • Very comparable to the actual exam
  • Excellent multi-choice
  • Reasonably priced
  • Uses diagrams and example problems
Cons
  • Some reports on minor errors
  • Not sufficiently long free-response section

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3. The AP Physics C Companion: Mechanics 1st Edition

The pressure that comes with studying an enormous amount of text can be overwhelming, especially when the concepts involved are complicated.

That’s why every student needs an AP Physics C review book such as the AP Physics C Companion: Mechanics 1st Edition.

The 250 pages book is presented in a simple, concise manner, which makes learning fun from chapter to chapter.

And that’s not all.

The resource is especially dedicated to mechanics, making it stand-out among its competitors.

The guide book features 350 worked-out problem questions, complete with solutions to pinpoint the correct way to approach issues.

All the critical topics of the AP Physics C mechanics course are covered here. From Kinematics, rotation, energy to oscillations, and many others

When you receive this package, you also become eligible to access extra review materials on the APlusPhysics.com website.

Some of the resources include; an online answer and questions forum, animations, videos, study guides, and much more.

But, remember this guide should be used as a supplement to a textbook for maximum results.

As for the pricing, it will cost you $11.84 (Paperback) or $10 eTextbook, which I find worth it considering the interactive and playful layout it presents.

I mean, nothing beats the convenience that comes with a well-organized review material.

Pros
  • Value for money
  • Compact for review on-the-go
  • Crispy clear explanation of answers to various questions
  • Sufficiently detailed
Cons
  • Only great as a supplementary review resource

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4. 5 Steps to a 5: AP Physics C 2020 1st Edition

As its name suggests, the 5 steps to a 5 AP Physics review book contains 5 step study plan for students.

The focus of the study plan is to help you study comprehensively while strengthening your understanding of the course.

It also features 3 full-length practice exams, so that you can familiarize yourself with the AP exam conditions.

To ensure you’re adequately prepared for the expectations of the test, this 352 pages guide thoroughly covers all the essential learning objectives according to the course outline.

It doesn’t stop there. The book goes further to give students a mental preparation by providing them with exam-taking tips and strategies that have worked for others before them.

I also love the fact that this guide comes with detailed answers and explanations that help students pinpoint their weaknesses and strengths, fostering necessary improvements.

When you receive this package, you gain access to additional online study materials, which include extra practice tests, a customizable study table, among others.

You will also get to test your abilities with the diagnostic test before commencing your serious study sessions. These tests are a great way of measuring your knowledge so that you know which topics need more review than others.

The book will cost you $12.49. And the Kindle option $10.

Pros
  • AP-style diagnostic test
  • Online access to additional review resources
  • Access to useful problem-solving applications
  • Hundreds or problem questions with detailed answer explanations
Cons
  • Content presentation isn’t very concise.

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5. Notes on AP Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism

This Notes on AP Physics C provides students with concise and explicit content for faster understanding.

The focus of the book is to equip you with essential math and real-life skills on all topics surrounding AP Physics C.

Some of the topics include Ampere’s law, Gauss’s law of electricity, Lenz’s law and much more.

You, however, should be ready to supplement this booklet with other review materials for a comprehensive.

You will definitely love the sample problem questions with answers

The author is an experienced electronic and telecommunication teaching expert, who knows exactly what AP Physics C students need to score a 5.

The booklet costs $14.81, which is on the higher side, having only 38 pages, especially for on-budget students.

Pros
  • Crispy clear and accurate
  • Compact for study on-the-go
  • Covers essential electricity and magnetism topics
  • Includes sample questions and answers
Cons
  • Can ‘only be used as a supplementary resource.
  • Quite Expensive for a 38 pages booklet

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The AP Physics C Exam Format

In 2020, the AP Physics C exam will contain two sections.

Section One contains 35 multiple choice questions, which should be taken within 45 minutes, and it caters to 50% of the exam score.

In this section, the questions are either in sets or discrete.

The Second Section contains 3 free-response questions, to be taken within 45 minutes, and they cater to the remaining 50% of the exam score.

Out of the three free-response questions, one will include an experimental or lab-based content.

The other questions will weigh students on all 7 science practices. From math, theoretical relationships, question, and method, among others.

The topics coverage per percentage is as follows;

Oscillations and Gravitation 18%

  • Kinematics 18%
  • Work, energy, and Power 14%
  • Circular Motion and Rotation 18%
  • Systems or Particles, Linear Momentum 12%
  • Newton’s law of motion 20%

How Do I Prepare for AP Physics C?

          Invest in Decent Resources

First, you need a couple of resources to help you understand all the crucial concepts you need to attain a high score in the exam.

For example, you can pair any of the best books stated in this article with an online resource such as Khan Academy.

Your focus should be to gain proper math understanding, even if physics derives equations from earlier equations.

So, a textbook with comprehensive coverage of calculus will be a perfect pick.

This, together with a good percentage of the physical equation, will help you interpret various mathematical errors.

          Practice, Practice, Practice

Ever heard the common phrase that practice makes perfect? Well, now is the time to use it.

Remember, the secret of performing well in the multi-choice section is having a basic knowledge of all the topics in the exam.

And since you will have to answer 35 questions in 45 minutes, you will have to be quick and smart.

There’s no better way to get ready for this other than practicing using full-length practice tests and various problem questions.

The prep books you get normally come with both print and online tests, exhaust them. Some even come with AP exam questions from the previous years.

You can also search online for free practice questions and then time yourself to see if your time-management skills are on point.

Continue practicing until you can comfortably answer all the questions within 45 minutes or less.

          Use Flashcards

Flashcards are valuable resources, especially when it comes to mastering formulas.  This way, you can customize them to suit your needs and keep reviewing even on-the-go.

The free;-response section will also do with some flashcards to help you master vocabularies. But in this case, you will have to understand how to apply them within the context of the exam.

So, here, general knowledge is important and not just cramming everything.

If you can’t manage to purchase flashcards, you can always use a small notebook to jot down your brief notes.

Some online sites offer eFlashcards that you can access via smartphone/tablet or laptop. Maximize on them.

          Be Part of a Study Group

Sometimes you need the company of like-minded individuals to encourage each other in studies.

So, if you happen to know any students who have successfully handled the AP Physics C exam, you can request them to help you out with your studies.

You can also form a study group with current students and meet once or twice a week to discuss various topics.

You should, however, ensure the study group sessions don’t interfere with your individual study plan. Remember, they should always be supplementary.

          Use a Private Tutor

If things become too thick and you find yourself going through the easy stuff over and over again, while sidelining the difficult topics, then you should consider getting a private tutor to help you out.

A tutor will help you pace yourself. And knowing you’re accountable to someone else apart from yourself will push you into working smart.

And no, private tutors don’t have to be expensive, there are always some ex-students looking out for some extra cash, so take advantage of that if you are operating on a tight budget.

FAQs About Best AP Physics C Review Books

Is AP Physics C Mechanics Hard?

Given that most of the AP Physics C mechanics multiple-questions section doesn’t require calculus knowledge, it should be easy if you’re good in math.

But then, we must agree that hardness is a subjective term, and that means there will always be students who will find physics and calculus easy, while others will find it difficult.

What you should focus on is reviewing as much content as possible, taking practice questions, and equipping yourself with test-taking tips. If you do it correctly, you will gain the confidence to face the exam and end-up scoring high.

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

The first thing you need is yourself. You should present your best version and make-up your mind that you really want to score a 5.

Once you do that, invest in quality prep materials, including one or two AP Physics review books we have listed in this article. You can supplement them with flashcards and online videos, and you will be good to go.

Next, have a realistic study schedule in place and keep adjusting it to suit your weekly needs.

Set time aside to study and be consistent. It’s better to study for 1 hour every day for 6 days a week than 4 hours a single day each week.

This is because consistency breeds familiarity and that’s what you need to master even the hardest concepts.

You can also have a study partner.

If you do everything right and with patience and persistence, a 5 won’t be difficult to attain.

Does Physics C Require Calculus?

Yes. The two AP Physics C courses are calculus-based.

So, you should have taken calculus before joining the course or at least be enrolled in one even as you attend the AP Physics C course.

It’s a requirement, so no other way around it.

Conclusion

Whenever you’re preparing for a standardized exam such as AP Physics C, you should always invest in the correct review resources.

And while at it, remember that what works for others might not necessarily work for you.

So, take the time to evaluate yourself and identify your needs. Once you do, you can proceed to pick a perfect resource.

And for this, consider your learning pace. Some materials are too detailed to cover over a short period exhaustively.

Don’t forget to follow our buying guide advice and utilize every second you have for extensive preparedness.

Good 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.

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