The Best AP Chemistry Review Books of 2019

By January 15, 2019 October 16th, 2019 AP Book Reviews
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Not sure what the best AP Chemistry review books are? In this article, we detail some of our favorites, the runner-ups, and the best value available for the top AP Chem study guides for AP students.

The Advanced Placement or AP Chemistry exam assesses how well you know your chemistry fundamentals and how skilled are you at analyzing quantitative and qualitative data and at coming up with logical and analytical answers based on observational data. In that sense, the exam is divided into multiple-choice questions to test your fundamentals and free-response questions for skill assessment.

Because you require both knowledge and skill, you need review materials that know how to develop and hone both aspects. That said, there are a lot of review books you can purchase but only the best can help you get that 5 you are aiming for in the upcoming AP Chemistry exam. Here are the best AP Chemistry study aids for helping you prepare for the big test this year.

If you want to just get back to studying, get our top choice for AP Chemistry prep book here.

Our Favorites (the best AP Chemistry review books)

Cracking the AP Chemistry Exam by The Princeton Review

You should never be surprised to see Cracking in any list of great AP review books because The Princeton Review has always been one of the best at delivering high-quality materials that have helped students get that elusive 5 in any AP exam. In that case, Cracking the AP Chemistry Exam is an excellent well-rounded material you should have by your side.

Priding itself for delivering “everything you need to know to get a high score”, this book gives you quite a comprehensive and balanced approach that does not focus on one single detail but gives you the entire package instead. Everything in the book is updated to fit the changes in the upcoming exam. It also contains activities that will keep you engaged and maybe even entertained as you progress through the book.

The content review in this book is pretty comprehensive and understandable in a sense that it also teaches you what to do in the lab and how to use laboratory equipment the right way because you will be needing that information for the free-response portion of the exam. It also gives you helpful tips and strategies that have worked in previous exams.

Popular for the challenging practice tests, Cracking has a total of four sample exams you can use to test out and hone your knowledge and practical skills. Because they are just as difficult or maybe even more challenging than the actual exam itself, the practice tests will help boost your confidence as the AP Chemistry exam draws closer and closer.

Priced at pretty much an Andrew Jackson, it pretty much pays for itself because of how excellent of a book it is. Parents and satisfied customers rave about how it has helped students get a 5 in the AP Chemistry exam or even a grade of A in their high school chemistry classes. In that sense, it can be useful for the exam itself or for even for general learning.

What makes it unique:

  • It has a holistic approach in the sense that it gives you a comprehensive content review while also aiding you by giving useful strategies as well as practice tests you can use to assess yourself.
  • The book teaches you different laboratory processes and how to use lab equipment.

Why choose this book:

  • The Princeton Review is an excellent source of high-quality materials. You will never go wrong by choosing this top pick as one of the best AP Chemistry review books.
  • It has four full-length practice tests that are more than enough to prepare you for the exam.


Sterling Test Prep AP Chemistry Review by Sterling Test Prep

No book delivers a complete content review much like this study aid. Sterling Test Prep AP Chemistry Review focuses primarily and only on giving you a detailed and thorough content review that does not skimp out on important details while also making sure it does not waste your time on fluff and irrelevant information.

While some materials may have a more holistic approach in the sense that they give you more than just a content review, this book is not a jack of all trades. It has mastered its trade and makes sure that you master all of the fundamental aspects of chemistry so that you will take the test fully equipped with knowledge and information.

The great part about this material is that it delivers you the content review in an organized and well-presented manner. It does not look too boring and uninteresting but it actually helps keep the student engaged throughout the entire duration of the review. It is also written in a way that is easy to understand and comprehend for any kind of student.

With its typical price, it might seem a little bit expensive compared to the other books but it is a price you should be willing to pay if you want a complete and excellent content review that is difficult for any other material to match. That is why it has garnered a five-star rating on Amazon as customers were more than willing to pay for the price because of how useful and great of a study aid it is.

What makes it unique:

  • It focuses only on a complete and comprehensive content review.
  • The content is written and presented in an organized way that is easy on the eyes.

Why choose this book:

  • Go for this book if you want a targeted review that focuses on all of the concepts and details you need to get a 5 in the exam.
  • It works well as a complementary book to other materials that have practice tests and sample questions.


Sterling Test Prep AP Chemistry Practice Questions by Sterling Test Prep

This is a companion book that was meant to be partnered with the content review book but it still works well on its own as long as you have studied the fundamentals of the topics covered by the AP Chemistry exam. With that said, you need a book that helps you apply your knowledge and skills with practice questions that mirror the ones that will come out in the exam.

Focusing purely on practice questions, this material contains 900 chemistry questions that all test out how well you have studied and prepared for the upcoming AP Chemistry exam. In that sense, you will never feel like you did not practice enough because 900 questions are more than enough to boost your confidence and help you gauge how well you have studied for the exam.

The practice questions all have corresponding answers and explanations. And the best part about it is that the explanations already make it seem like you are reading a content review because they clearly explain them in a step-by-step manner. The explanations also help you in the sense that you will know where you went wrong and how you can improve in the future in case you encounter similar questions in the exam.

This book comes with a price in the middle end of resources outlined here. It might seem a little pricey but it gets the job done when it comes to helping you practice your knowledge and skills. Because of that, Amazon customers have given it a high rating as the 900 questions have helped them do well in the AP Chemistry exam.

What makes it unique:

  • It focuses only on practice questions.
  • The answers to the questions are explained well enough to serve as a content review.

Why choose this book:

  • Practice is necessary to get a high score in the AP Chemistry exam since half of it is composed of free-response questions.
  • It works well as a companion to a book with a thorough content review section.


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

CliffsNotes AP Chemistry by Angela Spangenberg

Not one of the more popular line of AP review books, CliffsNotes still ranks as one of the best in terms of delivering a high-quality review experience due to the fact that it has a well-rounded and holistic approach. This review book for the AP Chemistry exam follows the College Board’s outline to the letter and covers all of the six main topics that will come out in the exam.

This book has a more simple and basic approach compared to the other review materials but it is just as easy to understand and to digest as some of the best AP Chemistry study aids on the market. This is because the author has made it a point to explain each topic in an understandable way without sacrificing important details. She also introduced the topics very well without having to suddenly jump from one concept to another.

Each chapter of this book ends with review questions that have their own respective answers and explanations to help guide you as you progress from one section to another. Of course, the book also comes with two full-length practice tests that will aid in improving your test-answering skills and in boosting your confidence.

With an affordable price, it is a reasonably priced book that offers you an excellent review experience. It is a favorite among satisfied customers online because of how it has helped them get a 5 in the exam. Even teachers love it as a companion to their lectures. However, it is only a runner-up on our list because it is an outdated edition. But that does not take away the fact that it can still be a useful study aid.

What makes it unique:

  • It is written in an understandable and unique way that introduces each topic really well.

Why choose this book:

  • If you want a top AP Chemistry review book that does a little bit of everything without sacrificing quality, this should be on your list.
  • It is reasonably priced and is cheaper than some of the other books on this list.


Barron’s AP Chemistry by Neil Jespersen, Pamela Kerrigan

You can never go wrong with Barron’s. This review book for AP Chemistry is just as good as any other Barron’s book as it gives you a complete review experience that aims to give you a high score in the upcoming exam. In fact, it is so complete in terms of details that it contains a lot of other information such as the things you need to know about the test and the College Board. As good as the book is, that is primarily the reason why it is only a runner-up on our lit.

Nevertheless, this book ranks up there in terms of completeness in its approach because of how it has a holistic approach that covers every single detail in a comprehensive manner. The content review portion discusses the main topics well enough as the book also provides a section that is dedicated solely on giving you tips and strategies.

Of course, any good Barron’s book comes with practice tests to help you test your knowledge and skills out. All three of the practice tests have answers provided and are so well-explained to the point that you will surely know why you got the answer wrong. The explanations also help you know how to improve yourself in the future in case the same questions come out in the exam.

Barron’s AP Chemistry is priced reasonably. It is an affordable book that seems to be a lot cheaper than it is supposed to if you consider the fact that it is longer than most other review books.

What makes it unique:

  • It is so well-detailed that it also covers information that you probably won’t need in the exam but are still nice to know.

Why choose this book:

  • Considering that it is quite a long read, it should be reserved for those with a lot of time left on the clock.


The Best Value for Your Money for Best AP Chemistry Review Books (good and affordable)

AP Chemistry Crash Course by Adrian Dingle, Derrick Wood

AP Chemistry Crash Course delivers both time and money value all in one single package. In simple terms, it is a quick read that does not waste a lot of your time on unnecessary information while coming in as one of the more affordable review materials on the market. This makes it perfect students that do not have a lot of time and money to review for the exam.

Priding itself for giving you only the things you need to know to get a 5 in the exam, Crash Course really is a crash course as it will not waste time dwelling on irrelevant and trivial matters that probably would not come out in the exam. Instead, every word in the book is carefully placed to make sure that you will not waste even a single second reading content that will not help you get the highest score possible.

The book does not only have a targeted and focused content review but it also has a section on tips and strategies that are tried and tested to work well for the AP Chemistry exam. And while it is not in the book, the material gives you access to an online practice test that is time-tested so that you will feel the same kind of pressure as you would when taking the actual exam.

With its lower-end price, it fuses affordability and time value all in one single study aid. This is the exact reason why there are a lot of users that rave about how great of a book it is for its price. It remains one of the highest-selling AP Chemistry review books even though it is somewhat an outdated edition.

What makes it unique:

  • It provides you with a focused review that will not take up a lot of your time.
  • The book is a quicker read than most other materials on the market.

Why choose this book:

  • It is best for those crunched for time.
  • This material may also be used as a book of last resort if you are in the final stretches of your review.


Summary of the Best AP Chemistry Review Books

Here’s a table of the best AP Chemistry review books we evaluated:

ProductList PriceNumber Of Pages
Cracking the AP Chemistry Exam 2019, Premium Edition $25.99 480
Sterling Test Prep AP Chemistry Review $25.95 494
Sterling Test Prep AP Chemistry Practice Questions $25.95 494
CliffsNotes AP Chemistry $21.99 456
Barron's AP Chemistry with Online Tests $24.99 752
AP® Chemistry Crash Course, 2nd Ed. $14.95 272

The AP Chemistry exam is kind of an odd one because the score distribution in the most recent exam seems quite balanced. Over 31% got scores of 4 or 5 while the ones that scored 1, 2, or 3 are all respectively somewhere in the 20s. The most common score is 3 as about 25% of those who took the exam got that grade. But what do those scores mean?

They simply mean that the AP Chemistry exam is one of the more unpredictable ones because it is just as easy to get a 5 as it is to get a 1. But, if you prepared yourself well enough and used any of the best AP Chemistry review books we recommend, there probably is no reason for you to worry about getting a low score.

Looking for more reviews of AP study guides?
Check out our archives for other AP Sciences, AP Math & Computer Science, AP History & Social Sciences, or our general Advanced Placement section.


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