Best AP Comparative Government Books- May 2021 Exam

The primary goal of AP Comparative Government is to offer students an insightful look into the government and political processes of countries and its impact on their social climates.

It comes off as an inordinate objective, no doubt. But according to the updated 2019-2020 course description, the overall focus of the introductory college-level course is on six specific countries; The UK, Mexico, Iran, Nigeria, China and Russia. 

If you find yourself feeling a smidge overwhelmed at the thought of choosing a suitable AP Comparative Government book for the exam, you are not alone. The right book must not only collapse centuries of political history into a portable hardcover text, it must also feature analytical examinations of various political structures from a comparative perspective. Which is a lot more than you can say for most books.

Luckily, you are in great hands. We pounded the pavement in search of books that with some due diligence guarantee a 5, and found quite a few gems.

The Ultimate AP Comparative Government Prep List

In choosing a suitable study aid to walk you down the path to a perfect 5, there is nothing more fail-proof than understanding the curriculum through the eyes of the examiner.

The framework detailed by the AP examination board reflects the need for students to understand and define relevant political concepts and analytically compare and contrast political institutions and processes across the stated countries.

So, a great textbook would be one that provides extensive coverage of the political behavior of the countries and:

  • Provides bite-sized summaries of each topic for easier assimilation
  • Has a simple interactive design
  • Contains practice questions as well as comprehensive answers for each
  • Is written in a simple, concise tone.

Based on the above criteria, we recommend the following books:

This AP comparative government text by Test Prep books is everything that an ideal study buddy should be. Extensive yet concise, insightful and yet uncomplicated and not at all banal.

It is hailed as one of the most thorough resources on the subject with a characteristic tone that appeals to both students and leisure readers. For examines looking to tackle slightly more complex practice questions than the actual test, it doesn't get much better than this book. And this is exactly where the books wins hearts -- most of its content is dedicated to demonstrating what the examiners expectations are, so each chapter ends with an evaluation of how well the student has grasped the preceding topic.

We especially love how the book runs through some of the key topics of the AP comparative government syllabus. It features chapters on sovereignty, authority and power, political institutions, public policy, political and economic change, citizens, society and state as well as a bonus chapter on test-taking strategies. 


  • Extensive questions and answer coverage
  • Up to date information that aligns well with the curriculum
  • Affordable pricing


  • Some of the syllabus topics might lack a bit of information needed for the exam

A cult favorite of top-scoring students, the 5 Steps To A 5 Test Prep Series features a variety of AP exam guides on various subjects structured to build skills and test-taking confidence. The newest addition to the series, AP comparative government, is no different from its predecessors. 

The winning feature of this book is perhaps its comprehensive overview of everything on the exam. It doesn't merely tackle each topic on the syllabus but does so in the style and depth recommended by the AP exam board.

It is a great option for students looking to gain knowledge while examining their progress based on the AP grading system. All 3 full length practice exams featured in this book provide an authentic experience of the actual exam. 

This, of course, is the consequence of the fact that one of its authors, Suzanne Bailey, previously served as an AP Comparative Government College Board Adviser -- but that is just an added bonus. 


  • A well thought-out coverage of all exam content
  • Rigorously explains associated exams topics
  • Easily understandable


  • May include some outdated content.

The fact that the publishers of this book offer a refund to users with low scores says a lot about their confidence: but it even says more about the book. The text runs the gamut of comparative government concepts from political institutions and public policy to political dynamism and economic change. 

It was specifically developed by political science experts to provide students with an extensive knowledge of facts, theories and concepts surrounding comparative political principles in a manner that is adherent to the curriculum.

Ultimately, this comprehensively provides students the approach needed to tackle any question they may be faced with, and does so in a comprehensible and straightforward manner. And as far as requesting your money back goes, this book has a track record of being praise-worthy -- so, it is highly unlikely. 


  • Rave reviews all round
  • Easy to understand
  • Comprehensive


  • Expensive compared to some other options

After the release of its 8th edition one would expect that the 7th edition would become somewhat obsolete.

And yet, contrary to expectations, this book has essentially stood the test of time. 

Not only is its perspective on various political concepts still relevant, it adopts a systemic approach to tackling the AP comparative government syllabus that is interactive and promotes adequate self-pacing both in studying and in approaching exam questions. 

Overall, it is structured to ensure that students do not get lost in unnecessary and numerous facts. 

It also provides both objective and theory questions for exams revisions and reviews.


  • Relatively cheap
  • Provides end-of-chapter exercises and detailed answers 


  • Late publication date

Given its title, it is clear that this book cannot be used in isolation. This fact notwithstanding, it is a very resourceful tool that still delivers results.

Think of it as an easy way to review the basics and necessities of AP comparative government, and a way to review the course work in bite-sized summaries.

Even though it is mostly briefs and reviews Just the Facts still manages to cover the necessary topics for the AP comparative government exam while helping students get comfortable with the expected format used in the exams.

It is also useful to know that the author of the book has a success rate of 80% and reliable and up to date content.

So, not only do users have an upper advantage of being in the trust-worthy care of expertly trained, seasoned professionals, they do not have to skim through bulky material to filter key points, or make key notes, it is all there in this text.


  • Easy to read
  • Provides relevant case studies
  • Lots of practice tests


  • May contain some outdated content.

AP Comparative Government Books To Avoid

R.F Gorman: AP U.S. & Comparative Government & Politics

While this book was the combined effort of three different authors, the extent of their expertise is brought into question with the presentation of this book. Not only is its content decried as over-generalized on some very important topics. users claim that there were also incomprehensible answers given to some questions featured in the practice section while some others were left unsolved and given incorrect answers, leaving readers very confused. 

Between its weak explanations on important concepts and the complete omission of others, the goal of examining six case study countries and their political systems is hardly accomplished in this book. 

If we consider the narrative writing style along with the mostly out-dated content of this book alone it is clear why it is a very disappointing read. However, in light of its price tag, we cannot say we are too surprised since it is a popular saying that you get what you pay for. 

Test Structure

During the AP comparative government and politics exam, students will be expected to tackle questions in two separate sections.

The first section will feature a total of 55 multiple choice questions which students will be required to answer within the time limit of 60 minutes. This section accounts for 50% of the total score.

The second section features 4 free response questions which should be answered in 90 minutes or less. This section is divided into 4, and the questions are derived from various portions of the AP comparative government syllable.

The first is typically based on conceptual analysis and accounts for 11% of the score, the second question, quantitative analysis with an exam weighting of 12.5% and while questions 3 and question four are a comparative analysis and argumentative essay respectively.

Last Time The AP Comparative Government Exam Was Changed

The AP comparative government exams are annually updated to fit the specification of that year’s exam.

Starting 2019-2020 more attention will be put on quantitative analysis and less attention will be given to the individual countries but more to the differences and similarities in concepts of the six case study countries.

All else remains the same.

Additional Tips & Resources For Studying

AP Comparative Government & Politics Exam Flashcard Study System

Flashcards are an all-time favorite of students who are looking to take the boredom out of studying. And this study system adopts the use of flash cards to make learning easy, fun and fast.

It is especially useful for the 2020 exams because of its extensive provision of useful information, and thorough but concise explanation of concepts. ​

Barron's AP Comparative Government & Politics By Jeff Davis

Barron is by now, a household name in test preparation materials, and each new subject in their series does not fail to impress, and this number is no different. It not only dispenses exhaustive research and analysis of the six countries considered in the AP comparative government syllables, it also provides breaks down all the relevant concepts from the curriculum in a direct and clear way.

Past Question Revision

One of the most important and effective additions to any reading schedule is the revision of past questions. This is particularly why text books that feature practice questions are a gem. It helps students familiarize themselves with the expectations of the examiner and eases possible confusion. Past question are also sometimes repeated.

Make Use Of Diagrams And Flowcharts

Using visual aids can help to improve recollection. It is also a very important tool for summarizing revision notes especially for broad courses such as AP Comparative Government.

Take Constant Notes

It is essential that students to not only read through their materials and textbooks but also jot down notes while studying. Research has shown that humans tends to store more information when we write it down with our hands.


It is important to note what exactly works for you and adapt specific study habits that will favor your specific method of assimilation.

The recommended books above are especially great help for anyone trying to get that much needed push to achieve a good score in the upcoming exams -- but beyond textbooks and resources, understanding what works specifically for you is the most vital and yet overlooked means to ensure success.

Good luck!