Best AP Environmental Science Books- May 2021 Exam

The AP Environmental Science Exam might seem difficult at the outset, especially if you're one of the students starting to self-study for it 1 month before the exam starts. 😉

However, with meticulous practice and the right resources, you can do very well on the exam, even with limited study time.  

To simplify things, we’ve listed the best AP Environmental science books that are not just thorough but follow an exam-centric approach. In the concluding section, you will also find details about your exam’s format and some important study tips. 

The Ultimate AP Environmental Science Prep List

There's a ton of books, but many of them waste your time on stuff you don't need to know for the exam. Below are the books that provide the biggest bang for your buck.

Barron’s AP Environmental Science cuts down on the overwhelming parts of your Environmental Science course only reviews the important concepts that are usually tested in the exams. The authors have further backed every concept with substantial scientific theories and examples. 

This book is updated according to the latest version of AP Environmental Science. That means the materials, definitions, concepts, and questions are well-aligned with the format of your upcoming exam.

This book offers a well-detailed review of every topic including the updates inferred upon after the latest developments and transitions in the Environmental law. It also incorporates the case studies reflecting on environmental events and a set of practice questions for every vital content area.

To make your preparation easier, the authors simplified the review materials with diagrams, illustrations, tables, and figures. Although the book comes with multiple perks, we were especially impressed with the practice tests. Unlike common practice tests, these mock exams are formulated according to AP’s format. Additionally, every question is answered and substantiated with ample examples. By buying the book, you can access the three online tests, that can be practiced any time from any device.

Overall, we were highly impressed by the review materials and would recommend this to every student who’s looking to grasp a proper and detailed insight into the AP Environmental Science theories. 


  • Specifically focuses on the key areas tested on the exam.
  • Includes updates and inferences from the newest developments in Environmental Law.
  • Comes with multiple examples and case studies on important concepts.
  • Incorporates three full-length online practice tests that are substantiated with the right answers and explanations.
  • Includes illustrations, figures, and graphs to simplify your preparation. 


  • Some of the concepts might appear complex to beginners.

When it comes to quality resources for the AP exam, Princeton Review tops the charts with their useful review guides. This book follows a similar approach in offering a comprehensive and thorough review of the AP Environmental Science concepts. 

The best part: it only includes the techniques that’ll help you fare better over your problem-areas. These strategies have been tried and tested by several test-takers for accuracy, and you can always rely on them for better preparation. One of the biggest highlights of these strategies is the fact that they help you pace and guess more logically. So, when you follow these guidelines, you work smart thereby focusing only on the areas that are evaluated in the examination.

As previously mentioned, this book is tailored to help you ace the AP Environmental Science exam. Thanks to its series of lab exercises, you will now get to pin-point the exercises that are commonly asked in the imminent AP exam. The book also includes plenty of useful lists for the important terms of the content review sections. Additionally, you get access to a set of intuitive activities that aid in the critical assessment of your progress. From online study guides, a simple list of key concepts, and detailed assessment of complex terms- this book offers everything you’d need during the AP environmental science exam.

Over the final chapters of Cracking the AP Environmental Science exam, you will also find detailed pre-college assessment guidelines and full-length AP practice tests. Currently, the book includes two full-length exams that are backed by explanations and examples. You will find targeted strategies for every type of question and useful extras that'll help work on better answers. 


  • Follows an extremely simple and approachable format. 
  • Includes two full-length practice AP tests, along with the answers, explanations, and scoresheets.
  • It comes with intuitive practice drills in the concluding section of the content review areas.
  • Includes a study glossary listing every important concept tested on the exam
  • Is backed by a set of strategies to help you pace and guess better. 
  • Comes with tried-and-tested exam-taking strategies from previous candidates.


  • The book includes some extraneous concepts that may not be tested in your AP Environmental Science Exam.

If the AP Environmental Science Exam is looming over your head and you haven’t taken adequate preparation for the same, this Crash Course book might just be the right study material for you. This book offers an excellent refresher on the key review areas of the exam.

It includes a set of useful strategies that help you make the most of your time while also assisting you in retaining more details. Once you practice with this book for a couple of days, you can easily memorize the concepts.

While the book offers well-analyzed reviews of important Environmental Science concepts, it also cuts down on the extraneous details that may not be as relevant for the exam. The outline and the format are adherence to the upcoming AP Environmental Exam Style, and as you practice with this book, it almost gives you an immediate feel of the exam you're about to take. Over the chapters, you will find useful details about the human population dynamics, the loss of biodiversity, the transitions in our global climate, the conservation of energy, the extinction of species, and more.

The authors also share question-level strategies and familiarize yourself with the best ways of answering them. This applies to both the multiple-choice and the free-response questions that you are going to encounter on the day of the test. The expert guidance will help you significantly improve your score.

As with the other Crash Course study guides, you can access the online REA Study Center after completing the course. Here, you can test the areas you've just studied for a better insight into your strengths and weaknesses.

The practice exam tests don't just include detailed answers and explanations, but it also follows a timed testing approach. Once you complete the test, you can check your performance with the automatic scoring tool. As with the content review, the exam balances every relevant topic and question evaluated in your AP Environmental Science exam.

So, whether you’re up for some last-minute preparation or want an extra review in addition to your usual guide- this book meets all your unique requirements. 


  • The content is formatted in small sections for a better and easier understanding.
  • Includes questions that you are most likely to encounter on the test day. 
  • Comes with flashcards, questions, and other engaging study tools. 
  • The automatic scoring tool helps you evaluate your problem areas. 


  • Some of the concepts aren’t substantiated with enough examples and scientific inferences.

Specially designed for the AP course, this Environmental Science Review book addresses all of the important topics for the exam.

The defining aspect of this book is the fact that it comprehensively prepares you for the quantitative elements of AP Environmental science. So, by the time you finish the book, you don’t just have a basic, superficial idea of the concepts; instead, you can assess them, from a proper scientific standpoint. 

Unlike other AP Environmental Science textbooks, this book explores every topic with a balanced, scientific approach. Since these approaches are also substantiated with enough examples, you get a thorough understanding of every theory. The topics are well-researched, and the approach is student-friendly.

The author, Doctor Andrew Friedland, has extensively studied the key areas which he also currently teaches at Dartmouth College. That is why you can also rely on this study material for authenticity. 

This book is ideal for both thorough studying and quick reading. To improve your preparation, the author has also included small summaries at the end of every chapter. Additionally, you will also find a set of questions and answers that’ll help evaluate your performance. 

Overall, the book effectively familiarizes you with the foundational concepts, and given the rave reviews from students and educators, we would certainly recommend it. 


  • Every concept included in the book is substantiated with multiple real-life examples.
  • Follows a highly scientific approach to the theories and concepts of Environmental science.
  • Every chapter includes a summary that helps recapitulate the key areas.
  • Includes a set of questions and answers to help assess your performance.


  • The book doesn’t have any dedicated, full-length practice exams.

If you are looking to ace the AP Environmental Science Exam with a full score, this book is one of the top picks.

The book begins with a short introduction to familiarize you with the approach followed over the next few chapters.

As you proceed with it, you will find a detailed insight into the latest format of AP Environmental Science. Additionally, you will also come across relevant details about the scoring module. 

The most underlining feature of this book is probably the fact that it includes well-tested and proven strategies that'll help you match the right answers. Additionally, you will also find tips about problem-solving and answering multiple-choice questions. Unlike other books, Clifffnotes Environmental Science also offers guidelines about working on the cause and effect questions, making tables, illustrations, and graphs for your exam. The best part: you will find hints for both the free-response and the mathematical questions. 

As a part of the subject review, the authors have covered every important AP Environmental Science subject. It includes reviews on the living worlds, the resources of the earth, our global population, the use of land and water, consumption of energy resources, pollution, global environmental changes, and more.

Finally, you also get to access three full-length practice exams that are fully backed by the answers and the explanations. The test-taking strategies are focused on your exam topic and the overall approach is easy to grasp. 


  • Includes a subject review of every important concept of the exam. 
  • Comes with three full-length AP mock tests that are well-substantiated with answers and explanations. 
  • Offers valuable insight into handling your multiple-choice questions, cause and effect questions, and the free-response section.
  • Includes a set of useful hints and strategies for creating graphs, illustrations, and solving mathematical equations. 


  • While the book follows an AP-focused approach, it misses out on some important environmental science concepts.

AP Environmental Science Exam Format

The AP Environmental Science Exam can be classified into two broad sections. Here’s a quick sneak peek:

Section 1

Type: Multiple Choice

Number of Questions: 80

Time: 90 minutes

Score: 60% of the total exam score

In the multiple-choice section, every question will come with four options.

Section 2

Type: Free Response

Number of Questions: 3 (Includes a document-based question, one data set question, and one synthesis and evaluation question)

Time: 70 minutes

Score: 40% of the total exam score

Unlike the multiple-choice section that involves quick assessment, in the free-response section, you are tested on your analytical abilities and your ability in amalgamating information from various sources to a single, coherent essay.

AP Environmental Science Exam Study Tips

Incorporate the following study tips in your practice schedule to prepare better for the upcoming AP Environmental Science Exam.

  • Practice both your textbook and the review book.
  • Watch the news and online Ted Talks for updates about recent environmental developments.
  • Since 25% to 35% of the multiple-choice questions are on pollution, meticulously study the content about environmental pollution.
  • Watch online review videos.
  • Make flashcards and use them during your preparation.