Best AP Human Geography Books – May 2023 Exam

There are many AP Human Geography books that claim to be the best resource or study tool for intending examinees. And yet, less than 60% of the students who take the AP Human Geography exam score a 3 or higher. That’s not to say that simply purchasing a great AP Human Geography book is an automatic guarantee of success, but it certainly makes a great jump-off point.

Like most AP courses, the introductory college-level human geography course comes off as slightly intimidating — and may seem impossible, especially if you’re reading this page a month before the AP Human Geography exam.

That’s why we scoured the market in search of the best AP Human Geography study materials to help ease the pressure and get you a step closer to that 5.

The Ultimate AP Human Geography Prep List

The common denominator among great AP text books is that they encompass the curriculum of the course. They’re a reflection of the examiner’s expectations – which, in this case, is the College Board. 

According to the college board’s curriculum, AP Human Geography is intended to stimulate every student’s understanding of Human Geography. Through geographical analyses, examine human activity on the environment, societal change, patterns, and spatial organization and processes.

The best AP Human Geography book will:

  • Cover all seven units of study that make up the AP Human Geography exam framework. These units include geographical thinking and population/migration, cultural, political, agricultural/rural, city/urban, industrial/economic patterns, and their processes
  • Feature in-depth explorations of the principles and theories of the course
  • Help students develop skills relating to concepts and processes, spatial relationships and data, and source and scale analysis
  • Is interactive and engages the thought process of students
  • Evaluates the learning process of students

All our top picks reflect the above-mentioned elements.

barrons human geography

Living up to their sterling reputation as one of the best names in AP test preparation, Barron's AP Human Geography is everything you need in a Human Geography review book. It features a diagnostic test to evaluate your current abilities on all seven units of the AP Human Geography framework. Not to mention, it includes full-length practice tests – lots and lots of them too!

We especially love how the book sticks to need-to-know information without skimping on any of the relevant concepts. It’s also worth mentioning that all six practice tests (three in the book and three more online) come with answers and answer explanations. The online tests even feature automatic scoring for a taste of the full AP grading experience.

The updated version of this review book comes with test-taking strategies, tips, and study advice to help you ace the AP exam.

Even more, each chapter is fitted with a glossary of terms, so you can stay in the loop without digging for definitions. In all ramifications, this is as good as it gets. That’s why it’s one of the best AP Human Geography books on the market.


  • Diagnostic and online practice tests with automatic scoring
  • Post-chapter glossary of terms
  • Concise information for easy test prep


  • Practice questions might be a tad too difficult
crash course ap geography

For students looking to get the most information in the least possible time, this Crash Course AP Human Geography book is the perfect pick.

This AP Human Geography Crash Course offers a complete but brief analysis of the AP Human Geography course, discussing the framework units in a concise, easy-to-read manner.

This book’s targeted focused-review format helps for seamless memorization (or just a quick refresher on the subject!)

Looking for practice questions? You get a mini practice exam in the review book and a free practice exam that can be accessed online. The AP Human Geography Crash Course also features detailed answers and an automatic scoring analysis, which offers students a quick evaluation of their abilities while pointing to specific concern areas that need improvement. It’ll help you answer questions in the actual exam.

You also get expert test-taking strategies and advice to help you achieve that high score.

It’s not ideal for in-depth studying, but as a quick review of the key concepts, this detailed content review book is indispensable. You may need to pair it with another one of our AP Human Geography review books for full studying.

Crash Course is the best AP Human Geography book if you’re looking to save time.


  • Targeted, focused-review presentation
  • Great for memorizing important concepts
  • Relatively affordable review book
  • Online practice exam


  • May need to be paired with a different material
the cultural landscape

This review book is specifically for students looking for an experiential angle on AP Human Geography.

Through discovery-based learning, users can grasp the geographical concepts and their relevance to human challenges using this book. 

So, rather than just focussing on Human Geography exam preparation material, this book is for everyone looking to get a keen understanding of the subject.

The author goes from addressing the unique inter-relationship between diversity and global development to engaging users in using geographical tools and techniques.

Keep in mind that you won’t find extensive practice questions or full-length practice tests in this book. So, if you’re looking to complete practice tests to prepare for the AP exam, we’d suggest pairing this material with another AP Human Geography book (or even an AP course!)

This is no ordinary AP Human Geography book. And naturally, it’s reflected in its price tag. But even though this review book costs a pretty penny, it certainly provides its money’s worth. 


  • In-depth, unique analysis of Human Geography concepts
  • Engaging presentation
  • Great for non-examinees


  • Quite expensive
the princeton review cracking the ap human geography exam

The Princeton Review Cracking the AP Human Geography Exam offers a comprehensive insight into the AP Human Geography course framework, boasting everything students need to score a perfect 5. And from what we’ve seen, it’s not too far from the truth.

This Princeton Review book is a balanced presentation of tried-and-true test-taking techniques, content reviews, and engaging activities to help users grasp geographical concepts easier. It also features detailed illustrations, maps, and trends for visual learning.

Even more, it features two full-length practice exams plus post-chapter drills to evaluate your progress better.

To top things off, the Princeton Review AP Human Geography Exam comes with access to an online portal that houses relevant exam and pre-college updates. This will be especially useful for high school students.


  • Includes test-taking tips and tricks
  • Comprehensive content review
  • Access to online update portal


  • Digital version does not include images

This comprehensive review book is a broader alternative to the AP Human Geography Crash Course and is compiled by the same publisher – REA. 

The book provides a detailed account of the AP Human Geography course framework and features a course review that you can use as reference material or a primer.

Its practice exams mirror the format of the most recent AP Human Geography exam. You get mini-tests, quizzes, and a full-length practice exam. The questions are accompanied by detailed answers with explanations aimed at clarifying and strengthening the user’s understanding of the topic.

Everyone’s learning style is different, and REA appreciates that. This is one of the best AP Human Geography resources if you’re someone who would benefit from an online tool – this book features online flashcards to help you take in more useful information and reach that high score.

The best part about this AP Human Geography book is the test answering skills and strategies. It includes suggestions for taking the test and study plans which is especially useful for better planning and properly pacing study sessions. When it comes to the actual exam, you’ll be confident and prepared.


  • Detailed course content representation
  • Includes a study planner
  • Provides thorough explanations to practice test questions


  • Should be used as a supplementary textbook

AP Human Geography Books To Avoid

Amsco Advanced Placement Human Geography

While a few review books have some problem areas due to human errors, students insist that the Amsco Advanced Placement Human Geography is altogether unreliable. It has been decried as unrefined and rushed, with many complaints regarding typographical errors and misprints.

Even worse, it features practice quizzes that don’t have answers, and as per publisher arrangements, only teachers and schools may request or access the answer key. There are a few forgivable things in this book, but needing to hunt down answers that will help further your study progress is certainly not one of them.

5 Steps to a 5: AP Human Geography

Unfortunately, users didn’t have much praise for this book either. This is rather surprising, considering 5 Steps to a 5 has a rock-solid reputation for top-tier AP study materials. The book is riddled with errors and incorrect definitions. It also doesn’t feature a scoring chart to accompany the included practice tests.

While we cannot hide our disappointment, this does not discredit the accuracy of other editions by this publisher.

The AP Human Geography Exam

The AP Human Geography exam is invaluable to the college admissions process, building college-level skills in a high school setting. Taking this exam shows colleges that you’re serious about studying, especially if you plan to take similar subjects in the future.

You can take the AP Human Geography exam as often as you’d like to pass or improve your score. However, you will have to pay an exam fee every time.

Test Structure

The AP Human Geography exam will test students’ knowledge of the concepts outlined in the course overview. This AP exam will require participants to answer a total of 63 questions split into two sections (multiple choice and free response) within a time period of 2 hours and 15 minutes.

Section 1 of the test is multiple choice. This section features 60 questions that account for half of the total score and should be answered in an hour or less. The multiple choice section will test students’ quantitative and qualitative analysis in problem-solving.

Section 2 is free response. It accounts for the other half of the total exam score and features three questions that should be answered in an hour and 15 minutes. The free response section will test the ability of students to describe, explain and apply geographic scenarios, data, or situations.

Last Time The AP Human Geo Exam Was Changed

The most recent change to the AP Human Geography exam was made after the May 2019 exams. However, the college board always intends to keep the point system and questions the same so that students know what to expect in subsequent AP exams.

The changes made to the exam include:

  • Increasing the emphasis on quantitative and qualitative analysis
  • Narrowing down the task and stimulus types 

Additional Tips & Resources For Studying

Not everyone learns in the same way or struggles with the same concepts. You may need to find review books that help you memorize key terms or review books with writing skills activities to help you with the free response questions. You may have high critical reading skills but not know how to apply them to the exam.

Barron's AP Human Geography Flash Cards

barrons human geography flashcards

Looking for alternative test prep to review books? Flash cards are a fun, fail-proof way to study and memorize key concepts and key terms. These flashcards are the perfect complement to Barron’s AP Human Geography textbook; together, they’ll give you everything you need to know to pass the exam.

The box contains over 400 hand-sized cards that feature explanations of various concepts and can be arranged according to relevance to customize the study process.

These cards act as an in-depth AP Human Geography review, helping you test topics in a new and interesting way. If you’re sick of review books and want test prep that will engage you, this is one of the best AP Human Geography resources for you.

Figure Out the AP Human Geography Curriculum and Learning Objectives

It goes without saying – studying without knowing the course overview will have fatal consequences. By figuring out the course syllabus, you’ll not only have a specific set of goals that will align with the learning objectives of the examiner, but you’ll also be able to evaluate your strengths and weaknesses and adequately tackle them before the exam. Check out the College Board’s outline, either online or in one of our Human Geography review books, and make sure you’re up to date.

Master the Test Format

Knowing the exam structure is often one of the most invaluable tools for success. It can help you pace yourself, answer questions, and also offer insight into what questions should be given attention, based on the grade point system of the examiner.

As we mentioned earlier, the AP exam is in two parts. Familiarizing yourself with each part will help you prepare. It will also help you find the study materials that are right for you. For example, there’s no point buying the best Human Geography review books on multiple choice when your main area of struggle is free response.

Being familiar with the test format also includes understanding certain relevant terms and terminologies frequently used by the examiner. When that exam date comes around, you’ll be prepared.

Practice, Practice, Practice

There is no such thing as being over-experienced where AP exams are concerned. Luckily, the internet is littered with useful resources. You’ll be able to find all the practice tests and diagnostic tests you need. Practicing not only helps to sharpen your skills, but it also helps to evaluate your progress and discern areas of concern.

Don't forget to Use College Board Resources.

What better way to ensure a perfect score than to use materials provided by the examiners themselves? The AP Human Geography Student Page is fitted with everything from instructional materials to practice resources, all of which are designed to provide insight for the exam and throughout the school year. Think of it as a sneak peek into the true expectations of the examiners.


Of all the seasoned experts and authors claiming to have the cheat sheet on learning, retention, and reproduction, nobody knows what works best for you better than you.

That’s right – the process of learning is a lot of things, but it’s certainly not one-size-fits-all. So, if you must make that perfect score, it will require a lot of self-evaluation and even more self-discovery. And when you find what study system works best for you, you can pair it with any of our highly recommended resource materials and be ready to take AP Human Geography by storm.

Good luck!