The Best AP English Literature and Composition Review Books of 2019

By January 25, 2019 October 16th, 2019 AP Book Reviews
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Not sure what the best AP English Literature review books are? No worries. In this comprehensive guide, we breakdown our top picks for AP English Literature study aids.

Because of how wide the scope of the English language is and how there are many approaches that different colleges take in their English courses, the College Board split the subject matter into two exams. The second of the two is AP English Literature and Composition exam. It is one of the most difficult exams around given how only 47.4% of those who took the exam got a score of 3 or higher.

Given that English literature itself is as wide a subject as any other, it can be difficult to prepare yourself for the challenges of the AP English Literature and Composition especially if you do not have a guide that can help you get started (we have 52 AP English Literature tips and test taking strategies here). In that regard, review books are indispensable. These study aids allow you to follow a flow that usually follows the outline set by the College Board. You also gain access to useful tips, strategies, and practice questions and exams.

But because there are plenty of review books for AP English Literature and Composition, you might get confused as to which ones fit your preferences. If you want to just get back to studying, get our top choice for AP English Literature prep book here.

If you prefer looking over everything, we have put together a list of what we believe are the best AP English Literature review books for this exam:

Our Favorites (the best AP English Literature Review books)

CliffsNotes AP Literature and Composition by Allan Casson

A masterpiece by Cliffs Notes that is specifically made for the AP English Literature and Composition exam, this review book probably has everything you need to make your review worthwhile. It not only prepares your knowledge of the topics in the outline of the College Board but it also improves the way you understand the exam and the strategies needed to get the highest score possible.

The book first introduces you to the format of the AP English Literature and Composition exam and the different techniques and strategies you can opt to use to take on the multiple-choice and essay questions that will come out in the exam. It then helps you recall what you have learned in your high school and AP literature classes with a subject review that is quite comprehensive.

The best part about this top AP Lit review book are the practice exams. The material comes with six full-length practice exams to help get your mind and answering techniques in shape just in time for the AP English Literature and Composition exam. The practice exams each have their own answers and explanations to make sure you are well apprised of where you went wrong and where you need to improve.

For its price, CliffNotes AP Literature and Composition is an affordable book that is well-loved by satisfied customers on Amazon. The one thing that is most common in the reviews are the practice exams. Since the AP English Literature and Composition exam is quite a difficult test to study for, practice becomes more than a necessity. And because this review book has six practice tests, you will get all the practice you need to get the highest score possible in the exam.

What makes it unique:

  • It not only covers the necessary topics you need to study for in the exam but also the details and information you need to know to perform better.
  • The book has more practice tests than most other review materials on the market.

Why choose this book:

  • It is quite balanced without having to sacrifice the quality of the review experience it offers.
  • Choose this book if you want a review that does not merely focus on the topics but also on practice and strategies.


Barron’s AP English Literature and Composition by George Ehrenhaft

There isn’t a lot that Barron’s cannot do when it comes to making AP exam review materials. In this case, this book contains an in-depth, well-balanced, and comprehensive preparation that will surely get you ready to ace the AP English Literature and Composition exam. Because of that, it ranks as one of the better review materials on the market.

Barron’s blasts you with a comprehensive review of the test topics and of the things that you should know of such as understanding poetry, drama, and other forms of fiction and literature. It also has a section that covers the definition of the most important terms that will come out in the exam. In that sense, you will be more than prepared when it comes to substantive knowledge of the subject matter.

On top of its comprehensive review, this book also helps your answering techniques with sample questions that each all have their own answers and explanations. There are even sample student essays that have expert critiques. And because you need a lot of practice when it comes to performing well in the AP English Literature and Composition exam, this book comes with five full-length practice tests.

Positive reviews on Amazon all rave about how comprehensive and helpful this book is. It is almost an indispensable tool and study aid for anyone reviewing for the exam. And the one thing satisfied customers love about it is that the practice tests are indeed helpful when it comes to preparing them. It isn’t even that expensive as its price is on the lower to mid-end of resources we reviewed for best AP English Literature study guides.

What makes it unique:

  • It not only dwells on specific topics that will come out in the exam but also focuses on improving your understanding of the exam format.
  • The book improves the way you tackle certain types of questions you will be encountering in the exam.

Why choose this book:

  • Go for this review material if you want to have a study aid that does well in just about any area whether it’s by equipping you with the proper knowledge of the topics covered or by helping you practice for the exam.


Cracking the AP English Literature & Composition Exam by The Princeton Review

If there is anything that’s true about The Princeton Review, it is that it does not skimp on the quality of its review materials. Cracking the AP English Literature & Composition Exam is a review book of the highest quality that surely aims to help you improve your knowledge and techniques so that you will get a perfect score of 5 in the exam.

Like most of the other books by The Princeton Review, this material contains a comprehensive review of the topics in the outline of the College Board while also giving you the latest information about the upcoming AP English Literature and Composition exam. The topics also come with activities and questions that will keep you engaged and interested in the review.

This review book also equips you with tried and tested strategies and techniques are proven to work. You will also be given tips on how to tackle different questions in the exam and how to pace yourself for what seems like a very long exam. These techniques are designed to help you work both harder and smarter during the entire review process.

Known for delivering challenging questions, The Princeton Review has included two full-length practice tests that each have their own answers and explanations. These practice tests are considered more difficult than the actual AP English Literature and Composition exam. There are also poetry drills and sample essays that can help develop your skills and techniques.

It is a pretty affordable book that has gotten a lot of positive reviews online. Satisfied customers say that every detail and strategy in this book has helped them get high grades in the exam. Meanwhile, there are those that love the book because of how it has helped them improve their analytical skills.

What makes it unique:

  • It gives out useful techniques and tips that improve the way you handle yourself during the exam.
  • The practice tests and questions are quite challenging in such a way that you are able to fully gauge and prepare yourself for the actual test.

Why choose this book:

  • As one of the best AP Lit review books, this one does not fall short in any of the areas you need to get a high score in the exam.
  • While it does not have a lot of practice tests, the ones in the book are a lot more challenging than what its competitors can offer. Choose this book if you want to challenge yourself.



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

AP English Literature and Composition Study Guide 2019: Exam Prep and Practice Test Questions for the AP English Literature and Composition Exam by Advanced Placement Prep Team Accepted

This review book was specifically designed by Accepted, Inc. as a study guide that will help you get the most out of your review time for the AP English Literature and Composition exam. In a sense, it delivers a quick review that does not dwell on a lot of unnecessary details while never compromising on the quality of the comprehensive topic overview it delivers.

As mentioned, the book contains a detailed review of the topics that will be covered by the exam according to the outline of the College Board. It also quickly goes through the basics of both the subject matter and of the exam to make sure you master the fundamental details and information needed for the more difficult concepts.

And like many other review books, Accepted, Inc.’s material comes with tips and strategies that can give you the edge in the upcoming exam. There are also practice tests that can develop your answering skills. These tests mirror exactly what will come out in the exam and will promise to shape your mind to perform at peak level in time for the actual thing.

If there was a knock on this review book, it is that the practice tests do not have explanations in the answer key. It never hurts to know how or why you got the wrong answer in the practice test because of how it improves the way you approach similar questions in the future. Other than that, it is quite a good book for the price.

What makes it unique:

  • It was specifically designed to mirror the topics in the outline of the College Board.
  • The book contains a detailed overview that seems to be easier and quicker to read than most materials.

Why choose this top AP English Literature review book:

  • At about 122 pages, it is a rather quick read that does not sacrifice quality and detail. If you are in a rush, it’s the perfect choice for you.


Master the AP English Literature and Composition Exam by Peterson’s

Not one of the more well-known review books for the AP English Literature and Composition exam, this material by Peterson’s is actually a good choice for you if you want a book that offers a detailed review of the topics you need to know to get a 5 in the exam.

Helping you review, digest, and understand the most important concepts you need for the upcoming exam, the book contains strategies that you can make use of to get a better score. Also, the review part of the book is also well-designed enough for teenagers to easily understand.

The book contains hundreds of practice questions you can use to help you improve your critical and analytical thinking skills when it comes to literature. All of these questions have their own answers and explanations to guide you through your mistakes. It also contains three full-length practice exams that can fully test how well-prepared you already are for the actual exam.

For a book that contains a lot of questions and a thorough and comprehensive review of the AP English Literature and Composition exam, its middle of the mark price is a good one considering the quality of this book. Nevertheless, it still isn’t the most complete book on the market when you consider the overall review experience you can get out of it.

What makes it unique as an AP Lit review book:

  • It focuses a lot on helping you improve your answering skills by giving you hundreds of practice questions.
  • The three full-length practice tests are pretty challenging themselves.

Why choose this book:

  • If you prefer mastering the skills needed for the AP English Literature and Composition exam, we highly suggest this book because of the hundreds of problems and questions it contains.


The Best Value for Your Money (good and affordable)

AP English Literature & Composition Crash Course by Dawn Hogue

When it comes to affordable materials that get their job done in an efficient and high-quality manner, there probably aren’t any AP English Literature review books that can contend with Crash Course. Giving you a literal crash course, this book offers a quick review that does not waste a lot of time on things that the exam won’t even cover. It’s the perfect choice for students that don’t have the luxury of time.

The book contains a more targeted and focused type of review that does not tend to dwell on unnecessary information. In that sense, it goes straight to the point and will only contain the things you need to know for you to get a 5 in the exam. This means that it’s a book that values the time you have left before the exam.

Not focusing on the content review alone, the book also contains advice and strategies that can help give you the edge. There are expert tips that are tried and tested in previous exams and there are those that will surely improve the way you answer different types of questions you will be encountering in the AP English Literature and Composition exam.

And, to wrap everything up, you will also be given a chance to take a practice test online. The test is time-tested to make you feel like you are actually taking the real thing. After taking the practice test, you will be given the answers and explanations to each question so that you will be able to know where you went wrong and how to improve yourself.

At a price on the lower-end of the resources we reviewed, it is an affordable book that also promises to be a quick read. This is why it is a favorite among satisfied Amazon customers, who all rave about how it won’t waste your time in making you study things that won’t even make sense in the actual exam.

What makes it unique:

  • It summarizes the important concepts and information in a quick and precise manner.
  • The book does not tend to overwhelm you with hundreds of details, tips, and questions. Instead, it just goes straight to the point.

Why choose this book:

  • It is perfect for the time-crunched student.
  • You can also go for this book if you have already read all of the more detailed textbooks and review books. It can basically act as a supplementary material to be used a few days before the exam.



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Summary of the Best AP English Literature and Composition Review Books

Wrapping everything up, here are the AP English Literature and Composition review resources we went over today:

ProductList PriceNumber Of Pages
CliffsNotes AP English Language and Composition, 5th Edition $18.99 320
Barron's AP English Literature and Composition $22.99 336
Cracking the AP English Literature & Composition Exam, 2019 Edition $18.99 304
AP English Literature and Composition Study Guide 2019 $19.99 122
Master the AP English Literature & Composition Exam $18.95 348
AP® English Literature & Composition Crash Course Book $14.95 240

It takes time and experience to know which review books work best for you. However, since you don’t have the time and the money to try every review book on the market, it’s better for you to take note of the list we put up specifically to cater to your needs. You can never go wrong with any of those books especially if you also put in the necessary time and effort in your review.

Did you find this guide on the best AP English Literature review books helpful? If so, share it with a friend!

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

Or if you’re looking for AP English Literature tips and test taking strategies, check out our 52 AP English Lit tips here.

Finally, if you’re taking AP Lit, you may also benefit from the best SAT Subject Test in Literature prep books post here.


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