If you're preparing for the AP Statistics exam, a prep book can be your best tool to help you reach the score you're aiming for.
However, not all prep books are created equal. In this guide, we go over the top five AP Statistics review books out there and give advice on whom each of them is best for. We also explain what you should look for in an AP Statistics book and how to make the most of your prep book during your studying.
2021 AP Test Changes Due to COVID-19
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, AP tests will now be held over three different sessions between May and June. Your test dates, and whether or not your tests will be online or on paper, will depend on your school. To learn more about how all of this is going to work and get the latest information on test dates, AP online review, and what these changes means for you, be sure to check out our 2021 AP COVID-19 FAQ article.
What to Look for in an AP Statistics Book
Before we dive into the prep book reviews, let's first look at what makes a particular AP Statistics prep book better than the rest. In general, there are four qualities that all the best prep books share.
#1: Tips and Strategies for the Exam
A good AP Statistics review book will give explanations and advice for how to attack each question type you'll see on the AP Stats test. These can make studying more productive and faster than it would be without a prep book because you'll learn the best way to answer questions without having to do trial-and-error on your own.
#2: High-Quality Practice Problems
Practice problems are a key part of AP Stats prep because they give you a chance to see how well you can apply your stats knowledge to actual questions. Even if you're acing your school stats tests, AP questions are often worded in different ways and cover different topics than questions you see in class.
High-quality prep books will contain dozens of practice questions covering each section and question type of the exam. They'll help you get used to the types of questions you'll see on the AP Stats exam.
#3: Complete Practice Tests
In addition to practice problems, the best AP Stats prep books contain full-length practice tests to help you become more familiar with the exam and track your progress. By taking practice tests, you'll get an idea of how well you'll score on the AP Statistics exam and be prepared to the format and length of the test.
#4: In-Depth Answer Explanations
Even if a book has top-quality practice questions, you won't get as much out of them as you could if they don't also have good answer explanations. A top AP Statistics review book will explain why a particular answer is correct for all or most of its practice problems. This way, you can learn from your mistakes and understand why the correct answer is what it is.
The Best AP Statistics Review Books
In this section are the five best AP Statistics prep books to help you study for the exam. For each book we include the price, a brief summary, pros, cons, and who the book will be most useful for.
Barron's AP Statistics
Price: About $17
Barron's prep books are well known for being slightly more difficult than the actual tests they prepare you for, and their AP statistics review book is no exception. It goes over challenging stats concepts and prepares you for the most difficult questions you'll see on the exam. Additionally, this book contains a diagnostic test for you to figure out how well you're scoring, five practice tests with answer explanations, and access to an online test.
The bulk of Barron's book is devoted to explaining how to answer different types of stats questions. This part of the book is divided into 15 chapters based on different stats topics, such as confidence intervals and sampling distributions. The end of each chapter includes a mini quiz on the topic.
- Good value for money if you're looking for lots of practice tests (you get eight full-length tests with the book).
- Book is well organized which makes it easy to study a specific topic.
- Practice problems are high-quality and similar to official AP Statistics questions.
- Covers tough questions and topics many review books skip over.
- Assumes you already have a solid basic knowledge of statistics.
- Doesn't give much advice on how to develop a study plan.
Who It's Best For
Barron's book is best for students who already feel pretty solid with their statistics skills and are aiming for a high score on the AP exam. It skips over a lot of basic stats knowledge to focus more on tougher concepts. It also has challenging practice questions to ensure you're well prepared for the AP exam. Barron's practice tests are slightly more difficult than the actual AP exam, so if you can score well on these practice tests, you're in great shape for test day.
Cracking the AP Statistics Exam (Princeton Review)
Price: About $15
Princeton Review's book includes two complete practice tests, but the bulk of the book is devoted to reviewing the content you'll be tested on during the AP Statistics test. Princeton Review aims to write prep books that are easy to understand and more interesting than a standard textbook, and many people like the encouraging and down to earth style of their books.
The content review for this book is organized into four main chapters, and each chapter ends with a mini quiz. The book also includes tips on how to approach different types of questions you'll see on the exam, how to create a study plan, and how to best use your calculator.
- Written in an easy-to-understand, engaging style.
- The content review chapters are organized into very specific topics that makes it easy to find exactly what info you want to review.
- Breaks down statistics problems step-by-step to make them easier to understand.
- Only has two practice tests, which is less than most other prep books.
- Their practice questions tend to be somewhat easier than actual AP Stats questions.
Who It's Best For
Princeton Review's books are known for their engaging and accessible style which can appeal to students who are bored or intimidated by traditional prep books. This book also spends a lot of time breaking down and explaining key stats concepts that you may have been struggling with. Therefore, it's best for students who have just started their prep and/or those who want to build up their stats knowledge more.
Because the book's practice problems tend to be somewhat easier than actual AP problems, it's not ideal for people who are looking for a top AP score. If you do want a top score, plan on supplementing it with another prep book like Barron's.
5 Steps to a 5: AP Statistics 2020
Price: About $13
The 5 Steps to a 5 book is organized to walk you through your AP Statistics plan from start to finish. It begins by explaining how to set up your study plan, then gives tips for succeeding on the test, reviews the content you'll need to know, and finishes with practice tests.
The book includes three paper practice tests and three online tests, as well as additional online resources like online lessons, practice problems, and ways to track your progress.
- Has extensive online resources with which you can develop a personalized study plan, study online flashcards, and answer practice problems. These are also accessible on your phone.
- Gives in-depth info on how to develop a study plan and attack different types of stats questions.
- Has a well-organized and in-depth content review section.
- Writing style is often dry and wordy.
- Three of the six practice tests are online, so they don't give you as realistic practice as the paper tests do.
Who It's Best For
The 5 Steps to a 5 prep book is a good middle-of-the-road choice for people who feel they are past the level of the Princeton Review book but perhaps aren't quite ready for Barron's AP Stats book. A standout feature of this book is its online prep resources. With your access code, you can create your own complete study plan and track your progress in different skill areas. If you want more guidance in your AP studying and planning, these resources can be a big help for you.
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Ultimate AP Statistics Practice Book
Price: About $15
This AP Statistics review book is somewhat different than the others. Rather than giving a comprehensive review of AP Stats content and including full-length practice tests, the Ultimate AP Statistics Practice Book contains 100 practice questions that are explained in the book. Additionally, your book comes with a code you can scan that gives you access to YouTube videos that give in-depth explanations of each of the 100 questions.
- The 100 questions give a solid overview of the different topics and types of questions you'll see on the exam.
- Answer explanations are very thorough and include both written and video explanations.
- Practice questions are similar to official practice tests.
- The book has a very specific focus--100 practice questions and explanations--and doesn't include other features most other prep books include like full practice tests or a comprehensive content review.
- It hasn't been updated since 2017. This isn't a huge issue since the exam has only undergone minor changes since then, but some material may be slightly outdated.
Who It's Best For
If you're struggling to understand how to solve stats problems and standard book explanations aren't helping, this book may be exactly what you need. Since it includes video explanations for the problems, it can be very helpful for people who want practice problems explained in more detail or people who learn better with videos rather than written explanations.
However, since this book doesn't contain any full-length practice tests, it shouldn't be your only prep book. Be sure to supplement it with another AP Statistics book that contains practice tests, like the Barron's or 5 Steps to a 5.
Introduction to Statistics and Data Analysis
Price: About $143 new, $115 used, $26 to rent
This is an AP Statistics textbook, not a prep book, but if you are self-studying for the AP Stats exam, feel the textbook your class is using isn't helpful, or need an in-depth review of statistics content, this is one of the best stats textbooks out there. It's approved by the College Board and is often used in college statistics classes. Reviewers have given it high marks for its high-quality practice problems and clear explanations of difficult concepts.
The book (all 896 pages of it) includes 16 chapters, each of which dives into a different stats topic to give you a thorough understanding of the course.
- In-depth explanation of all the topics you need to know for AP Statistics.
- Includes a lot of practice problems with step-by-step explanations.
- Expensive. (Although you can get an older edition of the book for less)
- Somewhat dense and dry writing style.
- Some readers found the organization of the book confusing.
Who It's Best For
Most people preparing for the AP Statistics exam won't need to look for their own textbook since the one that they use in class will likely be enough. However, if you don't like the textbook your class uses, feel like you really need to review certain stats topics, or you're self-studying for the exam, this AP Statistics textbook can really help you out.
How to Use Books in Your AP Stats Prep
Now you have all the information you need to choose the best book for you, but how do you get the most out of your book? Check out the three tips below to learn the best way to use prep books in your AP Statistics studying.
Create a Study Plan to Organize Your Studying
No matter how long you have to study and how much you want to improve, a study plan will help you maximize your efficiency and get closer to your goal score.
We have an in-depth guide to the five steps to making an AP study plan that you should definitely check out, but the quick version is to schedule regular times to study (like Tuesdays from 6-8pm and Saturdays from 12-4pm) and set yourself regular goals (like learning a new topic or increasing your raw score by 5 points). Remember to schedule time to take practice tests as well. Creating a schedule helps you hold yourself accountable, makes it more likely you'll get your studying done, and helps you track your progress.
Supplement Your AP Statistics Prep Book With Official Practice Tests
Official practice tests are the best to use because you can be sure they follow the same format and content as the actual AP exam. Unfortunately, the College Board doesn't make many official practice resources available for AP Statistics.
There are two complete official AP Stats practice tests available, from 1997 and 2012. Definitely make use of these during your studying even if your prep book has a lot of practice tests. We recommend taking the 1997 official practice test at the beginning of your studying so you can see what official questions look like and make sure your prep book's questions are similar, and take the 2012 official test towards the end of your studying to get an accurate idea of how well you'll score on the actual AP exam.
Attack Your Weaknesses
Prep books aren't novels, and you don't need to read every word of your prep book in order for it to be useful. Focus on the content you're struggling with, especially if your AP exam is coming up soon and you don't have time to read through every chapter of your prep book.
This is why taking a diagnostic test early on in your studying can be very useful. Take the diagnostic test, see which areas you struggled in, then go back and read those chapters and answer practice problems until you feel solid with that content. Take another practice test, see where you still need to improve, and repeat as needed.
Conclusion: The Best AP Statistics Review Book
Having an AP Statistics book can be extremely useful for helping you strengthen your statistics knowledge and become more familiar with the exam. AP Statistics books can vary based on their purpose, but, in general, the best prep books include tips and strategies for doing well on the test, lots of practice questions, complete practice tests, and in-depth answer explanations.
Whether you're looking for lots of practice tests, content review, a better way to understand and attack questions, or an AP Statistics textbook, there's a book out there to meet your needs. Do a bit of research before buying to ensure you get the best AP Statistics review book for you.
When using your AP Statistics book, to get the most out of it you should create a study plan, supplement your book with official practice tests, and use the book to focus specifically on your content weaknesses.
Want more info on what to expect from the AP Statistics exam? Check out our complete guide to the AP Stats exam and learn exactly what type of questions you'll see and how your exam will be graded.
If you want a high score on the AP Stats test, you'll need to take practice tests. We've compiled a list of every AP Statistics exam available, both free and official.
How difficult is AP Stats compared to other AP classes? Get the answer by reading our guide to the hardest AP exams and classes.
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Christine graduated from Michigan State University with degrees in Environmental Biology and Geography and received her Master's from Duke University. In high school she scored in the 99th percentile on the SAT and was named a National Merit Finalist. She has taught English and biology in several countries.