The 5 AP Calculus BC Review Books

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AP Calculus BC is an introductory college-level calculus course. Students cultivate their understanding of differential and integral calculus through engaging with real-world problems represented graphically, numerically, analytically, and verbally and using definitions and theorems to build arguments and justify conclusions as they explore concepts like change, limits, and the analysis of functions.

Scoring well on the AP exams is essential to earn placement credits and admission into a competitive college, which will position students for a successful professional future. Studying for the AP Calculus BC exam can be challenging and overwhelming, so we have curated a list of the top 5 AP Calculus BC Study Guides in.

The Top 5 AP Calculus BC Prep Books

1. Princeton Review AP Calculus BC Premium Prep

Studying for the AP Calculus BC exam can be overwhelming and it can be hard to know where to start. This study guide was created by The Princeton Review with the intention of being a one-stop-shop to scoring a 5 on the exam.

The Premium version of The Princeton Review’s comprehensive study guide includes 4 full-length Calculus BC practice tests with complete explanations, plus thorough content reviews, targeted test strategies, and a handy reference guide of key calculus formulas.


  • 4 full-length practice tests
  • Targeted test strategies that are proven to work
  • Quick refreshers of concepts with numerous practice questions


  • Users report units do not match the test
  • Numerous errors reported

2. AP Calculus BC Lecture Notes

AP Calculus BC Lecture Notes contains the slides printouts of all the Powerpoint presentations on topics covered by the entire Calculus BC curriculum and tested on the BC Exam. These Lecture Notes can be used for both review and learning, and are a perfect fit for every student no matter their current knowledge of Calculus. Every example and every lesson targets a specific skill or formula.

This book reflects the recent changes in the College Board requirements for the 2021 AP Calculus BC exam. Students can take notes on this book, study from it, and use it as test preparation material for chapter tests as well as for the AP test. At the end of this book, students can find a list of all the formulas and theorems needed for the AP test.


  • Covers exactly what is on the AP Calculus AB exam
  • Explains challenging concepts in a manner that is direct and easy to understand
  • Great for students who need a supplement to classroom material


  • Interactive portion of book has some bugs
  • Most expensive study guide on this list

3. Cracking the Calculus BC Exam by Princeton Review

Cracking the AP Calculus BC Exam by Princeton Review is one of the top-selling study guides on the market. With 7 total practice exams, accompanied by detailed answer explanations, as well as content review chapters full of practice drills, Cracking the AP Calculus BC Exam 2020 is the most highly recommended study guide on this list.

The experts at The Princeton Review have been helping students, parents, and educators achieve the best results on standardized tests since 1981. Like all study guides by The Princeton Review, Cracking the AP Calculus BC Exam 2020 includes proven techniques to help students avoid common pitfalls and increasing effective studying.


  • Study guide is organized in a logical manner
  • Includes 26 sets of practice problems, 18 end-of-chapter drills, and 5 practice exams
  • One of the highest-rated study guides on this list


  • No current edition for
  • Numerous reports of incorrect answers to review questions, as well as several typos

4. Barron’s AP Calculus Premium

Barron’s AP Calculus Premium Review Book provides an in-depth review for the AP Calculus BC exam, which corresponds to a first-year AP Calculus BC class. This study guide includes a diagnostic test that helps students identify and target areas where they need more study. Additionally, there are 2 practice tests that reflect the AP Calculus BC exam. Barron’s AP Calculus BC Review Book also provides practice questions and reviews that cover all test areas.

On top of concept review and practice questions, this study guide also offers tips and advice for dealing with updated problem styles on the exam. Students who purchase this book also gain access to two additional full-length online practice AP Calculus BC tests with all questions answered and explained. These online exams can be easily accessed by smartphone, tablet, or computer.


  • Offers 4 Calculus BC practice exams in the book and 2 online
  • Offers advice on how to use graphing calculators for calculus effectively
  • Barron’s has 80 years of experience helping students conquer standardized tests
  • Written in easy-to-read language for both the weak and strong Calculus students
  • Includes test-taking tips specific for the AP Calculus BC exam


  • Users have reported there are many topics included that are no longer on the test
  • Errors and technical issues reported with the online practice tests

5. 5 Steps to a 5: AP Calculus BC

5 Steps to a 5: AP Calculus BC is the most updated version of the immensely popular study guide. This study guide includes 3 full-length practice exams that reflect the 2021 exam, as well as up-to-date resources for COVID-19 Exam Disruption. Also, students have access to a robust online platform and hundreds of practice exercises with thorough answer explanations.

This study review guide also provides a self-guided study plan including flashcards, games, and online tools. The book is written in plain, easy-to-understand language, making it perfect for those students who are intimidated by the typical “calculus speak.” It is tailored to the new college board’s focus on conceptual understanding, rather than just formulation. It is recommended by AP Calculus BC teachers, as well as college advisors.


  • Highest reviewed study guide on this list
  • Recommended by high school AP Calculus BC teachers, college advisors, and university professors
  • Includes a self-guided study plan that contains flashcards, knowledge games, and online tools
  • Written in easy-to-understand language to reach students on all academic levels
  • Intended to act as a supplement to the AP classroom in this hybrid school year


  • This product has a “multi-platform” model, so not all of the information is in one place

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is taking AP Courses important?

Why take an Advanced Placement class? After all, high school is a pressure cooker. You already have to take the SAT, apply to college, and keep up with your extracurriculars. The last thing you may want to do is take a very demanding course, especially one that’s not mandatory. There are several reasons why you may way to consider it.

  • Prepare for college- AP courses can be as challenging as intro college courses
  • Stand out to college admissions officers- AP courses show colleges you can handle the workload
  • Strengthen your GPA- Getting a B in an AP course is often better for your GPA than getting an A in a regular one
  • Study what you love- Getting to choose what you study helps students commit to the workload more easily
  • Get a head start on college requirements- Getting high scores on AP exams equates to college credit at most institutions (save those tuition dollars)

AP classes can boost your GPA and strengthen your college application. But the number of advanced courses you choose to take should depend on your academic interests and your schedule. Talk to your guidance counselor before enrolling in your classes.

How is Calculus at work in my daily life?

Of course, you may not sit down and solve a tricky differential equation on a daily basis, but calculus is still all around you. Did you know that the ability to model and control systems, gives us extraordinary power over the material world?

Calculus is the language of engineers, scientists, and economists. The work of these professionals has a huge impact on our daily life – from your microwaves, cell phones, TV, and car to medicine, economy, and national defense.

Aside from applications in traditional science fields, there are additional facets of society where Calculus is at work. Credit card companies use calculus to set the minimum payments due on credit card statements at the exact time the statement is processed by considering multiple variables such as changing interest rates and a fluctuating available balance. Doctors and lawyers use calculus to help build the discipline necessary for solving complex problems, such as diagnosing patients or planning a prosecution case. The field of epidemiology — the study of the spread of infectious disease — relies heavily on calculus. It can be used to determine how far and fast a disease is spreading, where it may have originated from and how to best treat it.

Not Prep for AP Calculus BC? Read Reviews of Other College Entry Test Prep Books

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