If AP Human Geography is one of your first AP classes, you might be looking for some guidance on what you should study and how you should plan out your time. Even if you're not new to APs, it can be difficult to pin down what's important in this cross-disciplinary course.
That's where review books come in handy. This guide will provide a list of the best AP Human Geography books for exam review, and advice on how to choose one that fits your needs.
2020 AP Test Changes Due to COVID-19
Due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, AP tests will now be held remotely, and information about how that will work is still evolving. Stay up to date with the latest information on test dates, AP online review, and what this means for you with our AP COVID-19 FAQ article.
What's in This Guide to AP Human Geography Review Books?
In this article, we will go through the most useful review books for the AP Human Geography exam.
Human Geography is a subject that can be a little difficult to grasp, and there are quite a few field-specific terms to memorize. This is also typically one of the first AP classes taken in high school. If that's your situation, these books will provide much-needed insight into what the test is really like and how you can use smart strategies to earn the most points possible.
Furthermore, with the new format changes to the 2020 Human Geography exam, it's even more important that you find a book that accurately reflects these updates. All books listed below are aligned with the current exam structure (unless otherwise noted), so you won't have to worry about changing anything in your prep.
I've categorized these books so that you can choose the one that works best for your personal learning style and time constraints. You'll also find pros, cons, and overall summaries for each of the AP Human Geography books. This way, you can look at their specific qualities and make a more informed decision about which way you want to throw your hard-earned cash!
Here's how we've grouped these best AP Human Geography review books:
- Best Overall Review Book
- Best Long-Term Review Book
- Best Short-Term Review Book
- Supplemental AP Human Geography Books
Best Overall Review Book
The Princeton Review's Cracking the AP Human Geography Exam, 2020 Edition
Price: About $12.50
- Two complete practice tests with answer explanations
- Practice questions accurately replicate the style and format of real exam questions
- Lists of key terms for each content chapter
- Great test-taking strategies
- Good explanations of geographic models
- Solid content review that covers everything you need to know for the test
- Not detailed enough to replicate your in-class textbook content, but way too in depth to get through in just a couple of nights
This is a reliable review book if you have a month or two to study and are looking for good test-taking strategies. I recommend it for most students because of its relatable tone and easy-to-grasp explanations. As always, though, make sure you continue to supplement with additional practice tests and questions from other resources!
Best Long-Term Review Book
Barron's AP Human Geography, Eighth Edition
Price: About $19
- Two full practice exams with answers and explanations in the book
- One additional practice test available online with answer explanations and automatic scoring
- Good survey of the different types of questions you will see on the exam and the best way to solve each of them
- Does a good job of sticking to the content you need to know for the test
- Dense with long paragraphs, making it a bit harder to get through than The Princeton Review book above
This book is brand new, having just been released on February 4, 2020, so not many people have bought it yet and written online reviews. Based on what we've seen with the older editions, though, Barron's books can often get a bit dry and monotonous, making them a challenge to read, so keep this in mind before you buy it. Still, it's got great coverage of the exam as a whole!
Best Short-Term Review Book
REA's AP Human Geography Crash Course, 2018 Edition and 2020 Edition
Price: About $12 for 2018 edition, $15 for 2020 edition (preorder; comes out July 2020)
- Nice overview of all the geographic models you have to know for the exam
- Short and sweet review of all topics written in an accessible manner
- Smart, succinct advice on test-taking strategies
- Only one practice exam, which isn't included in the book itself (you have to go to the online REA Study Center—you'll get an access code if you buy the book)
- Not enough information to use for self-study during the course itself
This is a great book for a quick review in the weeks before the test. It's the most directly exam-oriented book of all the options on this list, so it's a smart choice if you just want a straightforward, easy-to-digest guide to essential concepts.
Note that the 2020 edition will not be released until July 15, 2020 (strangely after the exam!), so if you use the 2018 edition, just know that it is not aligned with the current exam structure. We'll be updating this review for the 2020 edition once it comes out.
Supplemental AP Human Geography Books
Below, we give you a couple more books that aren't exactly essential review materials but are still useful for additional practice. These books are not quite as high quality as the first three. However, if you run out of practice tests or want to see the content presented in a slightly different way, you might consider adding one of them to your repertoire.
Price: $25 (preorder; comes out March 2020)
- Three full-length practice tests in the book and an online tool to convert your score to the 1-5 AP scale
- Short quizzes at the start and end of each chapter so you can test yourself by topic
- Additional online quizzes for more practice
- If this version is similar to previous iterations, its practice questions are likely less challenging than the real test questions
In the past, Kaplan's AP Human Geography books have been along the same lines as those by The Princeton Review and Barron's—but not quite as good. Generally, Kaplan questions are known for being too conceptually easy, which is why we normally recommend using this kind of book for some basic prep and practice questions. This edition will be released on March 3, 2020, so we'll update this review once we see how students are liking it.
McGraw-Hill's 5 Steps to a 5: AP Human Geography, 2020 Edition
Price: About $12
- Three study plans that you can choose from based on your schedule and learning style
- Four full practice exams, including one diagnostic test
- Sets of review questions at the end of each content chapter
- Answer explanations that also include explanations for why other choices are incorrect (lacking in a lot of other review books)
- Though the book says it's been updated for the new format, it's actually not—the tests included all follow the old exam structure and units
- Sparse on test-taking tips
- Content review is not as thorough as it could be
This book has some nice suggestions for planning out your Human Geography prep schedule; however, you should definitely supplement this source with another, more comprehensive review book to ensure that you're revisiting all the content that might show up on the test.
Also note that this book isn't actually updated for the new 2020 format despite being the 2020 edition! You will need to wait for the 2021 edition (comes out July 2020) if you want the most updated content.
Which AP Human Geography Book Should You Get?
When it comes down to it, which AP Human Geography review book should you buy?
The answer to this really depends on how much time you have before the test and what your style of learning is like. I generally recommend getting one of the first three books to start.
If you want a quick overview of the material to use as a little boost, or if you only have a couple of weeks before the test, then go for Crash Course. Or if you'd prefer an in-depth, mostly stand-alone resource for long-term self-study, then go for Barron's.
If you have a month or two before the Human Geography test and are just looking for a standard solid review book, stick with The Princeton Review. Then, if you need more practice materials or would like to see the content presented slightly differently, you can think about buying one of the supplemental books listed at the end!
Before you get to work earning points, you should know where they come from! Find out exactly how AP exams are scored.
What will you get out of a high score on the AP exam? Read this article to learn how AP credit works at colleges.
If you're still working on planning out the rest of your high school schedule, look at this article for some advice on which AP classes you should take in the upcoming years.
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Samantha is a blog content writer for PrepScholar. Her goal is to help students adopt a less stressful view of standardized testing and other academic challenges through her articles. Samantha is also passionate about art and graduated with honors from Dartmouth College as a Studio Art major in 2014. In high school, she earned a 2400 on the SAT, 5's on all seven of her AP tests, and was named a National Merit Scholar.