Getting your Best Score: Comparing Popular AP Review Guides

More by Katrina Vassell - 11/12


Studying for an AP exam can be a daunting task. When faced with binders of in-class notes and hundreds of textbook pages, it’s easy to feel discouraged. Luckily, it’s only the beginning of the year, and students have more than three quarters remaining before the big exam. If you’re in an AP class, using a review book is a great way to prepare for the test and achieve your optimum score.

Although AP review books are not essential, they are a beneficial way for students to gain an overview of course themes and supplement textbook readings. “I think they are a good way to focus on topics and get down to the most important material. The problem is that they are cursory,” Biology teacher Ms. Susan Ruegger said.  While review books can help summarize important information, students should remember that they are not a replacement for the actual textbooks.

Also, it is important to note that review books are more useful for some courses than others. Students tend to agree that these books are more helpful for subjects that require the memorization of dates and events than those based upon the understanding and use of equations. “For math classes you don’t need them, but for classes like AP Law and Gov. they’re helpful to review,” senior Matt Santa said.

Students who do decide to buy a book often ask, “Does it matter which one I buy?”

The Sparknotes brand stands out on the bookshelf because it is not only a review book, but also a review system. The Sparknotes AP Power Pack ($14) features a five-step program designed to target the test taker’s weaknesses and supplement gaps in knowledge. Offering distinct tools to strengthen the student's grasp of core concepts, the power pack is an ideal system for a variety of learners:

Overall, the Power Pack is a practical way to prepare for the test providing a variety of study tools at a low cost. After thoroughly reviewing the competition, Neirad has concluded that the following guides are rated equally a second best: Barron’s, The Princeton Review, McGraw Hill, and REA.  Determining which text to buy among those listed is a personal preference. In conclusion, Neriad recommends purchasing the Sparknotes AP Power Pack and one of the other AP review books listed for students who want to guarantee their best score.

Worried about junior year? Don’t fear! Chris Janson’s “Reflections of a Super-Junior” is here:

Make sure to read Kat McKay's sequal: