Want to know what study guides will actually help you score a 5 on the APUSH? A good guide is concise, honest, easy to navigate, and provides a valuable exclusive perspective. After all, there’s no point in paying if you can get the same thing for free online. I’ve dug through almost every book on the market so that you don’t have to. Here are the Top 10 APUSH Study Guides.
Research & Education Association’s (REA) All Access book looks great at first glance. You get 576 pages, automated quizzes, a full practice exam and 100 free e-flashcards. Although the information contained in those 576 pages is of reasonable quality, much of that bulk is unnecessary. At that length you’re almost better off skimming through your AP textbook.
The automated quizzes are buried in a clunky online interface. They’re also quite simple. Explanations for your answers are not provided alongside the quiz. Analysis of your performance doesn’t extend past telling you what the correct answer was.
The free flashcards are probably going to hurt you more than they help. Very short phrases (“James Monroe”) serve as question prompts. Wordy 5 sentence affairs (“a summary of James Monroe’s presidency”) comprise your answers. These are structured almost perfectly so that you’ll forget the details. Getting more cards (if for some strange reason you want that) comes at a price of between $4.99-$9.95 . You can check all of this out for yourself for free by creating an account at REA’s website. However, I encourage you to avoid the thing altogether.
REA’s AP United States History: 8th Edition is a thick volume at 864 pages. The amount of review covered is unnecessary. The main selling feature of this book is its 6 full length practice tests. If those were good tests then it would be an amazing deal. Unfortunately, the questions asked are extremely simplistic. It’s not a good representation of the test. Crazed history buffs (have you checked the beaver pelt in your top hat for mercury?) may enjoy practicing in REA’s book for fun. Everyone can move along.
#8 5 Steps to a 5 AP US History, 2012-2013 Edition (5 Steps to a 5 on the Advanced Placement Examinations Series)
McGraw-Hill’s 5 Steps to a 5 is probably walking in the wrong direction. The first 3 of these touted steps are what would normally just be called an intro in another book. The practice test suffers from simplicity. It’s better than REA’s book only because it’s more concise.
Kaplan’s AP US History book achieves mediocrity. It’s lightweight at 480 pages compared to REA. Its review is somewhat focused. You won’t waste a lot of time on unnecessary topics. There are two decent full practice tests with explanations for you to check yourself out on. If this is the only thing at your local bookstore then get it. Otherwise, buy a different book.
McGraw-Hill’s 500 AP US History Questions to Know by Test Day succeeds where its bigger brother fails. It is not a full study guide. It is a useful supplement for review that could be used with your textbook or any of the other books on this list. It covers a fair amount of ground. Casually go through this book to explore where you might be weak. The questions still suffer from being below APUSH standards. If you like making your own flashcards the upside to the simplicity in these questions is that they translate easily into Q & A’s.
It’s good study material. It’s not good APUSH exam training.
Princeton Review’s 432 page book is one of the best APUSH exam guides on the market. It has a comprehensive review that doesn’t needlessly branch out. The 2 full practice tests have questions that accurately reflect the actual APUSH exam. The explanations for answers are insightful. The only area it falls short in is formatting. Cracking the AP US History Exam isn’t that fun to read. It loses points for having blocks and blocks of unbroken paragraphs. If you’re standing in Barnes and Noble reading this review on your smartphone then you can confidently buy this book if none of the top 4 are available.
Barron’s AP United States History has everything that Princeton Review’s has plus better formatting. The paragraphs are broken up by more headers. This makes it easier to pinpoint things to read. There are tips in the margins. The practice tests and answer explanations are about as good. They’re almost tied. Barron’s wins with a better reader experience.
The authors of this book proclaim that, “This is the most concise and to the point review for AP U.S. History and the SAT Subject Test available” and it’s true. No Bull shortens everything while barely missing a beat. The writing is memorable and only as politically correct as is required to accurately convey APUSH (the authors’ other books include an entire series of Toiletrivia). Even the test taking strategies are shorter and clearer than any other book on the market. This is probably the easiest last minute book to consume out there. If you don’t have the time or energy for the top 2 books on this list, get No Bull Review. It’s also dirt cheap ($8.99 paper/$5.99 digital). You may just want to get it anyway.
Blam. You just got a sketch of the last five centuries. REA’s Crash Course might bring you up a full point even if you haven’t been paying much attention in class. Part II is a chronological review of US history outlining every event the APUSH exam covers. Part III outlines milestones and key terms. These are actual outlines:
A. Major Event
-1. Supporting information.
-2. More information (but only if it’s strictly required).
B. Another Major Event
Z. The end of History
You get 1 sentence descriptions unless more words must be there.
There’s some redundancy in the advice given in the final part of the book. Some of the advice is also not stellar. You’re advised to buy practice exams from the College Board when there are both free official and unofficial alternatives. I don’t like to buy any more things than I have to. Still, minor quips. This book is awesome.
The Insider’s Complete Guide to AP US History was written by the same author as REA’s Crash Course, Larry Krieger. It’s less concise, but, otherwise… it’s hard for this nerd not to gush. This book delivers essential background, context and facts wrapped in
bacon practical advice about the APUSH exam. You’re not only told what to focus on, but why. You’re alerted anytime a topic you’re studying has been used in a past exam’s free response section. Historical APUSH exam multiple choice question trends are highlighted. The differences between the SAT and AP exam questions are explained for every topic. There are top 10 lists for the most important facts. The book includes 100 multiple choice questions. You can go online to download targeted podcasts from the author. This book may mean the difference between a 3 and a 5.
Hey, where’s your guide on this list? My guide is its own separate beast. I want you to choose the best thing for you. If this post helped you out then I’d really appreciate it if you’d help me out by:
- Telling your friends and classmates to visit USHistoryTest.com
- Linking to USHistoryTest.com on Facebook, Forums, or anywhere