The Best AP Physics 1 Review Books of 2019

By December 6, 2018 March 14th, 2019 AP Book Reviews
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Looking for the best AP Physics 1 review books? In this comprehensive guide, we detail our top picks, runner ups, as well as best value picks for when you’re looking for what AP Physics 1 study guides to use this year.

Physics has always been the weakness of a lot of students. The same holds true when it comes to the Advanced Placement or AP Physics 1 exam. In the most recent exam, only over 31% got a score of 3 or higher. What is even more surprising is that only 5.7% of those who took the exam got a score of 5. Those are really low numbers compared to other AP exams.

But do not panic just yet. Just because others got low exam scores it does not mean that you are destined to get a score lower than 3. Preparation and review are still the most important aspects when it comes to getting high scores in any kind of exam. Of course, any kind of review will never be complete without the best AP Physics 1 review books on the market.

Check out our YouTube video in the summary section at the end to remember everything you read! If you want to just get back to studying, get our top choice for AP Physics 1 here.

Our Favorites (the best AP Physics 1 review books)

Cracking the AP Physics 1 Exam by The Princeton Review

Still one of the leading publishers of AP review books, The Princeton Review continues the trend of delivering top-quality materials with Cracking the AP Physics 1 Exam. It is one of the highest selling books on the market because of how it is effective at helping you get over your algebra weaknesses in Physics 1 using a holistic approach.

The content review part of the book covers everything on the College Board’s outline so that you will never miss out on any important detail that will surely come out in the exam. What makes this part of the book really stand out is that there are charts and figures that help you understand algebra-based physics in a visual way. It is also written and presented in a clear way to make it easier for you to digest everything on the book.

The material also contains end-of-the-chapter questions and exercises that are designed to help you retain everything you had just read in an engaging and interesting approach. In that sense, it isn’t as boring a material as most physics books tend to be. The sample questions also have their own step-by-step explanations to help you understand the entire process of solving a problem.

This book by The Princeton Review comes with practice tests that are designed to challenge you more than the AP Physics 1 exam will. That said, if you are able to score well in the practice tests, there is no reason to worry about how well you will perform in the actual exam. Of course, you can use the tests as a way to improve yourself because they all have their own corresponding answers and explanations.

The Premium Edition of this book costs around a little more than the standard one typically. They don’t have a lot of differences other than the additional practice tests in the Premium Edition. But, because the AP Physics 1 exam requires a lot of practice on your part, it might be better off for you to spend the extra money for a high-quality material. After all, the practice tests are what people on Amazon really rave about.

What makes it unique:

  • It is as comprehensive and as detailed an AP Physics 1 review book as you can find anywhere. In addition to that, it has a holistic approach that helps you understand and apply the concepts in preparation for the exam.
  • There are a lot of practice tests (four for the Premium Edition and two for the standard edition) that are all designed to be just as challenging or even more difficult than the actual AP Physics 1 exam.

Why choose this book:

  • It has a complete and well-rounded approach that helps you learn and practice what you have just read as it also delivers helpful tips and strategies you can use on the day of the exam.
  • We highly recommend this as one of the best AP Physics 1 review books because of how extensive a material it is.

Sterling Test Prep AP Physics 1 Practice Questions by Sterling Test Prep

This review material by Sterling Test Prep is a different breed of review books compared to the rest of the competition. This is because it focuses purely on practice questions. Sterling Test Prep knows that getting a high score in the AP Physics 1 exam is more about practice than it is about conventional knowledge of the theories and concepts of physics. Practice is the best way to master the application of what you have learned.

Containing a whopping 736 practice questions, you will never run out of problems that you can use to apply your knowledge and skills in physics. All those questions cover the topics that will be tested in the upcoming AP Physics 1 exam. The qualitative questions will show you the step-by-step procedure on how to get it right while the conceptual questions have detailed explanations. Both of which will help guide you through your mistakes.

The explanations in the book also serve as your content review for the exam because they guide you through getting the right answer in a thorough and intensive manner. In a sense, you probably won’t even have to read another book that contains a content review of the topics covered by the exam.

Of course, this material contains diagnostic tests that are designed to test out where your key weak areas are. In a sense, you will be able to identify the areas where you still need to improve on so that you can focus on those topics during your review so as to minimize any mistakes you might incur during the exam.

It might be a little more expensive than other books. However, you must also factor in the possibility that there are probably no other books on the market that have even half of the questions that this review book has. Teachers that have reviewed this book love it because of how it builds a foundational practice in the student. After all, practice is necessary for getting a high score in the AP Physics 1 exam.

What makes it unique:

  • It focuses purely on practice questions that are designed to mirror that of the ones you will be encountering in the exam.
  • The answers to the questions are so well-detailed and explain that they can already serve as a content review.

Why choose this book:

  • If you are already confident in your knowledge but still believe you need a lot of practice, this should be on the top of your list for best AP Physics 1 review books.
  • As cliché as it may sound, practice makes perfect. In that case, no other book will give you as many practice questions like this one will.

5 Steps to a 5: AP Physics 1 Algebra-Based by Greg Jacobs

Bringing you the same five-step program that is proven to work and deliver a 5, this book might just be your ticket to that elusive 5 in the AP Physics 1 exam. Compared to other books, it has a more systematic and process-based approach that guides you through five steps that each have their own purpose.

5 Steps helps you create your own personalized study plan and also has a diagnostic test that can show you where your weak points are. It then has you go through strategies that are proven to work in the exam. The content review is the fourth step of this material. This part of the exam does not tend to waste a lot of time on unnecessary information and details yet it does not try to skimp out on the concepts that you really need to know in preparation for the exam.

To round up the five-step process, two full-length practice exams are there for you to test out your skills and knowledge of physics. There are also hundreds of other questions found in the book because the material makes sure that you have enough practice as you prepare yourself for the AP Physics 1 exam.

This book contains everything you need to know to be at your best when you are about to take the exam. That is why reviewers highly recommend this book. Teachers even believe it to be one of the best, if not the best, review materials you can find online and in any store.

What makes it unique:

  • It follows a proven five-step approach that has been proven to be effective in previous exams.
  • The book contains two challenging practice tests and includes one more online.

Why choose this book:

  • This is the best book you can get if you want a more systematic and process-based approach instead of a DIY one.
  • It has a lot of practice questions that can help you prepare for the exam because they mirror the same exact format used by the College Board.

The Runners-Up for Best AP Physics 1 Review Books (still good but a little lacking)

AP Physics 1 Essentials by Dan Fullerton

Not your usual review book because it was made to so fun and engaging that high school teenagers would actually want to read and use it, AP Physics 1 Essentials is a study guide that was not only designed for the AP Physics 1 exam but also for the course as well.

Written in a clear and concise way that is easy to read, this book does not seem like a heavy read as it always goes straight to the point without having to waste any time on things that do not really matter. Its main focus is to go right down to the concepts and information that are important for you to get a high score in the exam or perform well in the course.

The book contains about 600 practice questions that are more than enough for any student willing to learn through practice and application. After all, the AP Physics 1 exam is more about practice than just theoretical and conceptual knowledge. Each of those questions come with full solutions that can help you understand where you went wrong and how to improve yourself.

As good of a product as this book is, the knock on it is that it has not been updated for a while. Its most recent update was released back in 2014. So far, no new edition has been released or announced. But it still works as a great resource for anyone wanting to learn more about physics and practice what they have learned. 

What makes it unique:

  • This book was made for both the AP Physics 1 course and exam.
  • It has about 600 practice questions that are all meant to improve your practical knowledge of AP Physics 1.

Why choose this book:

  • It works well as a supplementary resource to all of your other prep tools.
  • If you want a book that has a lot of practice questions, this one takes the cake.

Barron’s AP Physics 1 by Kenneth Rideout, Jonathan Wolf

One of the leaders in the review book industry, Barron’s has always been an excellent material for the AP exams. This one follows that trend and delivers you a high-quality AP Physics 1 exam review book that fits your needs in a holistic manner.

This review book contains an in-depth and thorough content review of AP Physics 1 while also helping you in other areas by providing practice questions designed to make you apply your theoretical knowledge as well as by giving you expert tips and strategies that can give you the edge on the day of the exam.

And, like any good and top-quality review book, Barron’s AP Physics 1 has two full-length practice tests that mimic the difficulty and questioning style of the actual AP Physics 1 exam. For an affordable price, this book has a reasonable price for the value it brings to any student reviewing for the upcoming AP Physics 1 exam.

However, the major drawback to this book and the reason why it did not make our list of favorites is that it does not perfectly reflect the updated test and outline followed by the College Board though it covers all of the necessary topics. But that does not take away the fact that it is still a book that can help you get the highest score possible.

What makes it unique:

  • It has a holistic approach that covers all of the areas you need to get a 5 in the exam.
  • The book provides you with advice corresponding to the new types of questions that will come out in the exam.

Why choose this book:

  • The book has a pretty thorough content review that rivals the best ones on the market.
  • It has four practice tests (two of which come with the book while the other two are online). In a sense, you’ll never run out of any exams to practice your skills on.

The Best Value for Your Money for Best AP Physics 1 Review Books (good and affordable)

A Simplified Guide to the AP Physics 1 Exam by Ross Gunderson

The name says it all. This review book is so quick and concise that it goes straight to the point without having to waste any time on things that you probably won’t need on the day of the exam. Down to its core, it is a book that was designed to help you review and not learn. Therefore, it is best used as an AP Physics 1 companion to other resources.

The book follows the topics covered by the College Board and discusses them in great detail though it tends to be direct and concise with it. Each topic also has corresponding practice questions that are designed to help you gauge how much you have understood after reading the chapters. Of course, the solutions are given so that you will be able to understand the entire process in case you got the answer wrong.

Typically very budget-friendly, this is the most affordable AP Physics 1 book on Amazon if you don’t count the outdated versions of all of the other books. It isn’t exactly the best choice when it comes to quality but it is still nonetheless a helpful material that is more than its cheap price tag.

What makes it unique:

  • It is a quick and easy read that goes straight to the point.
  • Despite its reputation as a concise book made for those short on time, it still has quite a number of practice questions since the author understands the importance of practice for the AP Physics 1 exam.

Why choose this book:

  • It is one of your best bets if you are short on time and on money.

AP Physics 1 Crash Course by Amy Johnson

Nothing comes close to the quality of this book when you factor in the price and the relative ease at which it helps you review for your AP Physics 1 exam in a short amount of time. Crash Course has always specialized in helping you get the most out of your review time for a relatively affordable price compared to other books.

How does it do it? Well, for starters, it only contains the things you need to know to get a good score in the exam. It does not waste time on fluff and would opt to give you all of the important details and concepts in a writing style that is light and easy to read.

AP Physics 1 Crash Course is a great book that was made for those short on time or for those looking for a more targeted way review a few days or hours before the upcoming AP Physics 1 exam. It brings value, quality, and affordability all in one package although it is not as complete a book as any of our other top picks.

What makes it unique:

  • It is certainly a crash course because of how it helps you review for your exam in a quick and targeted manner.
  • Contains expert test-taking strategies that can help you during the exam.

Why choose this book:

  • It was made for those short on time. It can also be a good book for those looking for quality and affordability.
  • The book works great as a companion to other materials in the sense that you can use it a few days before the exam when you are already cramming.

Summary of the Best AP Physics 1 Review Books

As we wrap things up here, here is an overview of the best AP Physics 1 review books we went over today, with list prices and page counts for reference.

ProductList PriceNumber Of Pages
Cracking the AP Physics 1 Exam $19.99 416
Sterling Test Prep AP Physics 1 $25.95 372
5 Steps to a 5: AP Physics 1 Algebra-Based 2019 $18.00 304
AP Physics 1 Essentials $16.99 406
Barron's AP Physics 1 $21.99 320
A Simplified Guide to the AP Physics 1 Exam $6.95 162
AP® Physics 1 Crash Course Book $14.95 240

While anyone can easily feel disheartened and afraid of taking the AP Physics 1 exam especially after they see the scores in the most recent one, the results will still depend on how well you prepared yourself. In this case, practice is necessary because of how the exam demands that you master your practical knowledge and application of physics. And, with the help of one of the books we recommended, your confidence will soar up as your knowledge and skills improve.

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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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