Best AP European History Books- May 2020 Exam

AP European History is one of the most underestimated AP courses. Students assume since history is "factual" they can quickly learn the subject by themselves with only a month left before the exam, and many end up getting 3s or worse!

You have to know the facts, but also understand the reasoning behind important historical decisions and actions. That's where the books below come in!

The Ultimate AP European History Prep List

When looking through the list below keep in mind what you need the book for. Is it for some extra practice in addition to what you've learned in class, or do you need the book to teach you everything you need to know for the exam?

If you are looking for a review book that’ll offer a comprehensive insight into AP European History, this book is just the right resource for you. 

Barron has rolled out some exceptional material when it comes to the AP curriculum, and this book is yet another excellent addition to their list. Unlike other materials, this book has been updated for reflecting the latest structure and scoring format of the AP exam and it includes detailed information about every concept that you’d want to know about.

As you flip through the chapters, you will find essential details about the European Italian Renaissance that periodically progresses to twenty-first-century Europe. The details are informative and backed by relevant examples. The graphs and illustrations further make the content extremely interesting.

As with every other AP coursebook from Barron, this one comes with two full-length AP European History mock-tests. Additionally, you will also find plenty of multiple-choice, short-answer type, and essay-type questions that are duly substantiated with the right answers and examples. These questions can be found at the end of every chapter. We were also impressed by the online tests that can be accessed through Barron's online portal. As of now, you can access three full-length online tests from your smartphones, tablets, computers or any other digital device.


  • The concepts are informative, well-researched and substantiated with examples and statistics.
  • The concluding section of every chapter comes with a set of important questions.
  • The book includes five full-length AP European History Mock tests.
  • The online tests can be conveniently accessed through Barron’s online portal.


  • Contains some irrelevant details.

The AP European History Crash Course is an excellent resource for students who are looking for focused, and to-the-point information about important European History Concepts. 

The book is structured around five main themes underlining the major events in European History. Additionally, it also touches upon almost 19 essential concepts across various chronological periods. As you start studying this resource, you will find the most updated historical events ranging from the early 1450s to the current times. 

As with other crash courses from Rea, this one follows an in-depth approach in explaining the key concepts. Additionally, it is also supplemented by the important questions that are usually asked in the AP European History Exam. 

Another major highlight is the book’s tried-and-tested exam strategies. Thanks to these strategies and guides, you can now approach the questions better and formulate your answers with more proficiency. We really loved the balanced approach followed both in the strategies, and the concepts. 

The book has received numerous positive reviews from students and educators far and wide. Everyone has lauded the author for the quality of information and the relevance of the test-taking strategies. Overall, the book is an excellent exam-focused resource and you should certainly get it for your extra reviews. 


  • Includes the key concepts and themes that are usually tested in your exam.
  • It comes with both online and offline mock-tests for your AP European History Exam.
  • The book follows a balanced approach while explaining the nitty-gritty of important historical concepts.
  • It comes with a set of extremely useful exam-taking strategies that help you format your answers better. 


  • Since this book only deals with the key concepts, it misses out on some details that would help you understand a historical event better.

If you are looking to crack your AP European history exam with a full score, this book is one of the best choices. Cracking the AP European History Exam offers detailed guidance about the vital historical concepts spanning across several hundred years. 

To make the content engaging, the authors have included games, and exam-taking strategies, and plenty of useful flashcards. Additionally, you also get to access the online study plans that discuss important historical themes.

This book further stands out with its quality of questions. Yes, it comes with multiple-choice, source-based, essay-type, and short-answer questions. Each of the questions has proper answers and relevant explanations. Since the book also includes four full-length offline tests and one full-length online test, you are thoroughly prepared for your impending examination. The questions and the information are updated and aligned with the 2020 curriculum of the AP European History Exam. So, overall, this is an excellent resource in terms of offering in-depth analysis and explanations.


  • The book includes a comprehensive review of important European History concepts.
  • It comes with engaging games, flashcards, and online study plans that help you structure the preparation.
  • It is backed by every type of question and four full-length AP European history mock-tests.
  • It includes guidelines that help you make logical guesses during the exam. 


  • Some of the details included in this book are extraneous and not as relevant for your AP European History Exam.

AP European History Exam Format

Since you’re now familiar with the best review books for your AP European History Exam, let’s take a closer focus on the exam structure you’re required to follow.

Section 1A

Type: Multiple Choice

Number of Questions: 55

Time: 55 Minutes

Score: 40% of your total score

Note: The questions are likely to appear in short sets of three and four. While approaching these questions, you'll need to substantiate them with appropriate evidence, images, graphs, and maps.

Section 1B

Type: Short Answer

Number of Questions: 3

Time: 40 Minutes

Score: 20% of your total score

Note: While the first and second questions are compulsory, students will have the option to choose between questions three and four.

Section 2A

Type: Document-Based

Number of Questions: 1

Time: 60 Minutes (including a reading a period of 15 minutes)

Score: 25% of your total score

Note: Students will need to evaluate graphical and visual cues while answering these questions. The topics will usually range from 1600 to 2001.

Section 2B

Type: Long Essay

Number of Questions: 1

Time: 40 Minutes)

Score: 15% of your total score

Note: In this section, students will need to assess the vital issues in European History. The answers should be substantiated with arguments, evidence, and examples. Unlike the other sections, here students get to choose one question from three different questions underlining different periods.   

AP European History Study Guidelines

While using the right resources is imperative for faring better in your AP European history exam, you often need to back it up with the right study tips. So, over the following sections, we will discuss some important strategies that'll help you fare better in your upcoming AP European History Exam.

Check the Time

This is one of the biggest factors that you need to ensure. If you spend unnecessary time on one specific question, you'll not be left with enough time for answering them all. So, while starting with your free-response section, focus on the questions that you're familiar with. Once you're done, review the completed answers and check if you can answer any of the unanswered questions. While framing answers, avoid mentioning the question in the first line. This will help save plenty of time.

Frame your Answer Before Writing

The key to getting a full score in your AP European History exam is proper planning. In simpler terms, you should frame your answer before proceeding to answer it. This will ensure your answer is coherent, relevant, and factual. Unless you plan ahead, your answer can often appear poorly planned and disconnected.

For proper framing, start evaluating the question the moment you recieve it. Think between the lines and try to assess the various perspectives of the historical sources and scholars. Next, find the elements that should be addressed in your answer. For instance, certain questions require you to find the similarities and differences between different events or people. Alternatively, you will also find other questions that require you to structure an argument and substantiate it with facts. Regardless of the question type, try to formulate it the right way by answering only what has been asked. 

Substantiate Your Response With Evidence

Once you’ve figured out how exactly you should be tackling the question, focus on substantiating it with the right evidence. Try to substantiate it with the historical evidence you studied during that given year. However, as you do it, make sure it is relevant to the question and syncs with the overall analysis.

Be Decisive In Thesis Statements

Start writing only after backing up your thoughts with substantial evidence. Once you do this, you will be able to give an analytical answer to the question. According to most examiners, this is significantly better than an incoherent narrative.

To make more impact with your answers, properly frame the supporting evidence so that it clearly answers the question. Be clear with the points and make sure they are well-connected to the bigger thesis. Avoid making any general remarks.


When it comes to framing the evidence, don't just give a summary or a paraphrase of what you have read in the book. Instead, be distinct about your intent and back it up with added details and analysis for elaborating why exactly your evidence stands corrected. Whether evidence confirms or refutes a fact, it is important to clearly evaluate why it does that. A single glance at your answer should indicate that you are familiar with the nuances of the question.

Give Mock-Exams

You will never fare well in your AP European History exam if you haven't practiced with a mock exam. So, in addition to studying the review materials and the textbooks, take some time out in giving mock-exams. You can try the free-response questions supplemented in your AP review books or use the questions of previous years for the practice. Either way, you will get to compare your responses to the ones that have been already evaluated. This way, it'll be easier to understand how exactly you're faring.

Concentrate on The Task Verbs

This is yet another useful guideline that you need to consider. When it comes to answering free-response questions, you should direct your entire attention to the task verbs. This alone will help you answer the questions better. Following is a list of verbs and their intended meaning. Go through this list for a better insight into the topic.

Comparison: For this, you will need to add a description or detailed explanation of the similarities or differences between two related or unrelated events.

Description: These types of questions need to be answered with a list of important characteristics of a specific topic.

Evaluation: As evident from the name, you will need to analyze the relevance of the details as stated in the questions. Alternatively, you might have to evaluate the veracity of a claim.

Explanation: You’ll need to target these questions with a ‘how’ or ‘why’ perspective.

Identification: Substantiate your answer with the vital details on the given topic. Do not go overboard with the explanation.

Supporting Arguments: Substantiate a claim or a fact with appropriate exams.

Guidelines for Short-Response Questions

  • Write your responses on the page that has been specifically dedicated to the question. Every question comes with a lined page for the answer.
  • Avoid writing long responses. Keep your answers short and succinct.
  • Provide sufficient space after every response.