The Best AP Calculus AB Review Books of 2019

By December 2, 2018 September 11th, 2019 AP Book Reviews
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Calculus is a tough subject, but it can be made way easier with the right study aids. In this article, we detail the best AP Calculus AB review books to buy in 2019.

Math tends to be everyone’s weakness and calculus seems like a foreign or an alien language to most people. This is why the AP Calculus AB exam is one of the most difficult tests to study for. Any exam can be difficult as long as you don’t know where to start or what materials to use. In that regard, you need to equip yourself with the best tools for your AP Calculus AB exam review.

Also, studying for the AP Calculus AB exam or for any math test for that matter does not only require you to have the background knowledge but also the skills you can only hone through practice. That’s why only 57.5% of those who take the exam get a score of 3 or higher.

To hone yourself in all of those facets, you need only the best AP Calculus AB review books you can find on the market. Here is a list that could help you decide on the best AP Calculus material for your review.

If you prefer a video summary, check out the summary section of this guide. If you want to just get back to studying, get our top pick for AP Calculus here.

Our Favorites (the best AP Calculus AB review books)

Cracking the AP Calculus AB Exam by The Princeton Review

When it comes to review books for the AP Calculus AB exam, there aren’t a lot of materials that can contend with the quality that The Princeton Review offers. Cracking is a must-use review book promises to help you get a grade of 5 or at least a passing score in the AP Calculus AB exam by acting as a well-rounded study aid.

This book contains a comprehensive subject review of all of the topics in the outline of the College Board. It doesn’t skimp out on providing an in-depth and thorough review of the concepts you need to recall and master for the exam. The book also provides you with the latest information about the upcoming AP Calculus AB exam.

It also contains tips and strategies you can opt to use to improve the way you answer the exam. There are different approaches to solving calculus problems, and this book helps you out by giving you techniques that are tried and tested and are more efficient to use than what any other book can teach you.

And because math is all about repetition and practice, the book contains drills at the end of each chapter to help improve your retention. At the end of it all, you can even use the three full-length practice tests that are just as difficult as the actual AP Calculus AB exam. The practice tests each have their own answers and explanations to help you improve your performance in the future.

With a price tag of less than an Andrew Jackson, you can never go wrong with what this book offers you. That is why it’s a best-seller on Amazon and has gotten a lot of positive feedback and reviews from satisfied customers, who all believe that it has helped them pass or even ace their AP Calculus AB exam.

What makes it unique:

  • It contains a comprehensive subject review of the topics that will come out in the AP Calculus AB exam.
  • Each chapter has drills that can help improve your skills in calculus.
  • The practice tests are just as difficult as the actual exam itself.

Why choose this book:

  • If you want an AP Calculus AB review book that is great all around, then we suggest you use this book.
  • It has a lot of drills and three practice exams that can help improve your mastery over calculus.

AP Calculus AB Lecture Notes: Calculus Interactive Lectures Vol. 1 by Rita Korsunsky

Though mastering calculus primarily involves a lot of practice, you can never go wrong with focusing on digesting every concept and formula you need to get a high score in the AP Calculus AB exam. That is where AP Calculus AB Lecture Notes excels at.

Written by a well-renowned teacher, this book contains all of the lecture notes she uses in her AP Calculus AB classes. The author prides herself at how all her students pass the exam and at how more than 90% of those that took the course under her were able to get a grade of 5. Given that track record, it is no secret that there is something special about the lecture notes this book contains.

The lectures in this book are helpful for any kind of calculus student as every lesson and topic has corresponding examples that can help you develop your skills. The problems contained in this book also guide you through accurate and concise step-by-step procedures so that you will never get confused and lost whenever you try to solve other problems as well.

As simple as the book’s approach may seem like, it is a best-seller in Amazon and has a rating of 4.7. The reason is simply that it excels at the one thing it does best, which is to teach you the basic fundamentals of calculus in an effective and understandable manner. It is a highly recommended book among satisfied customers and has received some of the most positive feedback you can find on Amazon.

What makes it unique:

  • It teaches calculus using slideshow lectures instead of the conventional way that other review books use.
  • The book also contains a list of all the formulas you need to memorize and fully grasp.

Why choose this book:

  • The book does not act like your usual review material but it is more effective than any of its competitors when it comes to helping you master the things you need to get a five for the AP Calculus AB exam.
  • If you want a highly detailed and thorough review experience that focuses on the topics, then this should be your main material.

The Runners-Up for Best AP Calculus AB Review Books (still good but a little lacking)

320 AP Calculus AB Problems arranged by Topic and Difficulty Level by Steve Warner

The name of the review book tells you all the details. You get the benefit of 320 AP Calculus AB problems that are each arranged depending on the topic and how difficult those problems are. It is a book that focuses on improving your knowledge and skills in calculus by helping your solve problems and through practice.

The questions and problems contained in this book each have their own answers and solutions that can help explain how to get to the right answers. It is an effective way for you to learn how to get from point A to point B. it might be a little expensive compared to other books outlined here but there aren’t many review books that focus on practice as much as this one does.

Unfortunately, you won’t get a in-depth topic review from this material because the book is all about giving you problems and questions. It may not be able to help you recall your fundamentals of calculus if you use it as your main resource during your review.

What makes it unique:

  • It covers all the topics you need to know in time for the exam.
  • This book is solely a practice book that focuses on helping you improve your knowledge and skills by giving you hundreds of problems.
  • The problems are arranged depending on topic and on difficulty level.

Why choose this book:

  • Since calculus is all about improving through practice and repetition, you may want to consider this book.
  • It can be a good companion book to several other AP Calculus AB review materials because of how it contains a lot more questions than your usual book.

5 Steps to a 5: AP Calculus AB Elite Student Edition by William Ma

Following the usual five-step plan that made McGraw-Hill’s line of AP review books so successful, this material is a useful study aid that can certainly help give you a 5 in your AP Calculus AB exam. To improve an already great standard edition, the Elite Student Edition includes bonus content that you can’t find anywhere else.

Included in the five-step plan is a comprehensive review of the topics covered by the AP Calculus AB exam. The review part of the book helps you understand how to solve problems by using a step-by-step explanation that’s designed to make you digest and master the process. Each chapter then summarizes the entire section while also providing practice problems you can use to retain what you just studied. It also includes a demonstration of how to use different types of calculators for the exam.

As a good all-around review book, this material contains an appendix of all the formulas you need to know by heart for the exam. There is also a section that shows you how to answer free-response questions as well as how the AP scores your answers.

And because practice always makes perfect for any mathematics subject, this edition comes with four practice tests as well as nearly 200 questions and activities that keep your mind engaged and working as you build the skills necessary to get that score of 5 in the upcoming exam. It certainly is worth the price tag.

What makes it unique:

  • The Elite Student Edition comes with 180 additional questions and activities that improve your chances to get a 5 in the exam.
  • This edition also comes with four practice tests that are designed to hone and train your mind for the exam.

Why choose this book:

  • It’s a great all-around book that not only covers the topics of the exam but also other details you might want to know to get the edge.
  • This book has a lot of material you can use to practice your skills on.

The Best Value for Your Money (good and affordable)

Barron’s AP Calculus by David Bock, Dennis Donovah, Shirley Hockett

Barron’s has long excelled at making AP exam review books, and this material isn’t any different. It still ranks as one of the best all-around materials you can find on the market and is an effective study aid at helping you get the best out of your review for the upcoming AP Calculus AB exam.

The book contains a thorough and detailed review of all the topics that will be covered by the exam. It also includes practice tests and questions for both the AP Calculus AB and BC exams. Each practice test has their own answers and explanations to help you know how to get the right answer next time.

One of the more overlooked parts of the AP Calculus AB exam is the importance of knowing how to use your graphing calculator. In that sense, this book stands out in its own right because of how it teaches you how to use your graphing calculators in the most efficient method possible so that you won’t have to waste a lot of time during the exam.

Nevertheless, this book is only a runner-up on our list because of how it isn’t as updated as most of its competitors are. The book also covers both the AB and the BC exams and kind of delivers a half-baked review compared to the other materials on the market. Even so, it is still a quality study aid you can rely on during your review.

What makes it unique:

  • It covers the outline of both the AP Calculus AB and the AP Calculus BC exams.
  • The book teaches you how to properly use your graphing calculator.

Why choose this book:

  • It is a well-balanced material that does not only help you review the topics but also teaches you other things that are indispensable for passing the exam.

If you want a book that already covers both AP Calculus exams, then this material should be at the top of your list.

Summary of the Best AP Calculus AB Review Books

In closing, here is a table of the best AP Calculus AB review books we went over today, with their list prices and page counts for reference.

ProductList PriceNumber Of Pages
Cracking the AP Calculus AB Exam 2019 $25.99 752
AP Calculus AB Lecture Notes $27.99 127
320 AP Calculus AB Problems $34.99 214
5 Steps to a 5: AP Calculus AB 2019 $28.00 688
Barron's AP Calculus $18.99 656

Practice always makes perfect when it comes to any kind of mathematics exam. The same cannot be any more true for AP Calculus AB because of how calculus tends to demand practice, repetition, and a lot of problem-solving for you to master the theorems and formulas. But with the help of the books we have listed for you, there is no reason why you won’t be able to master the topics needed for the AP Calculus AB exam.

Hope you found this comprehensive guide of the best AP Calculus AB review books helpful. If you did, share it with a friend!

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Check out our archives for other AP Math & Computer Science, AP Sciences, or our general Advanced Placement section.

Also, read our 75 AP Calculus tips and test taking strategies guide here.

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