Best AP Physics 1 Books – May 2023 Exam

While Physics 1 doesn't require knowing calculus, getting a high score in the AP Physics 1 exam might seem next to impossible. With the overwhelming number of chapters and concepts, it isn’t the easiest course to sink your teeth into. 

Luckily, you can fare well in this test with a bit of strategy and preparation. Over the next few sections, we will take a look at the best test-taking strategies that'll help pull up your score, which in combination with the right review books, should make it easier to get a 5.

The Ultimate AP Physics 1 Prep List

As you look at our recommendations below, keep in mind what you need the book for.

If you're self-studying AP Physics 1 and need to learn the core concepts from scratch, then a prep book with only a few practice questions probably isn't enough. Look for review books that come with online tools, in-depth review materials, diagnostic tests, scoring guidelines, and more. These will help you gain confidence and ace the actual exam when it comes down to it.

AP Physics 1 Essentials is a comprehensive and easy-to-read guide that is tailored for both beginners and advanced readers. This makes it perfect for those looking to get into introductory college-level physics.

The best thing about this AP Physics 1 book is that it comes with 600 practice problems, full solutions and complete explanations. The in-depth explanations come with appropriate examples, to help students understand the material better. This will give you a clear vision about approaching the question and formulating the answers. 

The book covers all the major topics you'll find in the AP Physics 1 course, including (but not limited to), dynamics, impulse motion, momentum, gravity, ration, power, energy, mechanical waves, sound, and more.

Each of the chapters offers detailed insight into these important topics. And the best part? Every chapter comes with a set of questions that will give you a good understanding of your strengths and weaknesses.

In addition to the detailed analysis of the chapters, we're also impressed by their online portal, available to you at no extra cost. It lists important questions, with a set of supplemental example problems and interactive videos. Since the portal also features a dedicated answer forum, you can clarify your doubts as and when you need to. You won't get that with other Physics 1 review books. 

This prep book, with its interactive insights and information, will help prepare for the AP exam both as a guide and as review material. It introduces you to the essential concepts that'll help you ace the upcoming AP Physics 1 exam.

Since this book's format is straightforward and easy-to-use, it'll only take you a few days to understand all the key concepts.

Going by its rave reviews and the quality of the content, this AP Physics 1 book certainly seems to be worth your time and money. 

Pros

  • Follows an extremely straightforward approach
  • Comes with questions, answers, and subsequent explanations
  • Helps prepare for your exam as a guide and a review book
  • Backed by an online portal that includes questions, answers, and interactive videos
  • Familiarizes you with the essential concepts tested in your AP Physics 1 Exam

Cons

  • The number of full-length AP Physics 1 tests are limited
barrons ap physics 1

If you’re looking for a detailed review of the AP Physics 1 test, Barron’s AP Physics 1 is one of your best bets! 

This premium edition offers a comprehensive subject review covering every important concept, like kinematics, circuits, harmonic and circular motion, sound, and more. The concepts aren’t just detailed but are also thoroughly explained with a set of realistic and practical examples. 

As with other AP review books from the same published, Barron's Physics 1 book comes with four full-length practice tests. While two of the four practice tests can be accessed through the book, the other two you can access online. Each of the practice questions is backed by answers, explanations, and thorough assessments.

In addition to these full-length practice tests, Barron's AP Physics 1 also comes with a diagnostic test. This helps students to target the areas that require maximum attention. So, while the review and practice tests cover the important areas, this diagnostic test will add an extra edge to your preparation. 

The concluding chapters of this review book also come with some helpful tips and advice for approaching complex problems in your AP Physics 1 exam. You’re also introduced to the test-taking strategies that save your time by helping you to complete the exam within (and even before) the allocated time.

Overall, Barron's AP Physics 1 is an excellent study material for your upcoming AP Physics 1 test, and given its positive reviews, we certainly recommend it. Study with this book and you'll be fully prepared for test day. 

Pros

  • Offers a comprehensive review of important concepts like motion, sound, waves, circuits, and more
  • Includes four full-length AP Physics 1 practice tests
  • Comes with both online and offline tests
  • The bonus diagnostic test helps address your weak areas
  • Premium edition - backed by a set of vital test-taking strategies

Cons

  • Some of the concepts included in the book may not be as relevant for your AP Physics 1 exam
the princeton review physics 1 premium

The Princeton Review AP Physics 1 lives up to its reputation by offering some of the most relevant insights about your upcoming AP exam. The book is tailored for those taking the latest exam, and the AP course material is aligned with the 2023 syllabus.

As with other Princeton Review AP books, this one leaves out the unnecessary details that may not be as important. This way, you only study the concepts you need for the AP Physics 1 exam.

What we love the most about this book is the fact that the suggestions work. The techniques incorporated in the course have been tried and assessed by previous test-takers. So, when you follow these methods and align your preparation with them, you'll end up working smarter to improve your score. Princeton Review will help you create a solid pace and implement good study habits. By the time exam day comes around, you’ll know every important strategy to fare a full five.

The topics covered include kinetics, Newton’s law, rotation, motion, circuits, waves, and everything else between. Since it includes plenty of charts and figures, grasping the concepts becomes easier.

In a bid to help you with proper practice, this Princeton Review study guide features five full length practice tests with proper answers and explanations. You'll also find another bonus online practice test with answers, examples, and substantial reasoning.

Other excellent additions include practice drills at the concluding section of every content review section, and detailed walk-throughs, along with a set of AP Physics 1 sample questions.

Finally, it's also backed by a set of useful study plans, a complete list of formulas, and updated information for the latest course. In fact, you can also check the changes in the course with the handy ‘Student Tools’ tab that you can access via the online portal.

Princeton Review books are always helpful, and this one is no exception. It's one of the best AP Physics 1 review books to stay up-to-date for the exam.

Pros

  • Offers a comprehensive content review of every vital concept
  • Includes a set of practice drills at the end of every chapter
  • Comes with study plans and detailed walkthroughs for approaching the AP Physics 1 questions
  • Features four full length offline practice tests and one full length online practice test 

Cons

  • The number of practice questions might seem limited to advanced learners

This newest edition of 5 Steps to a 5 is perfectly aligned with the 2023 AP Physics 1 Curriculum. It offers useful study plans that assist you in building the required skills, expertise and knowledge for getting a high score in the AP test.

It's one of the best AP Physics 1 review books that offers a step by step procedure. 

The book features three full-length practice tests (two offline and one online), along with detailed answers, study strategies, and other vital details about the scoring pattern. So, when you prepare for your exam with this book, you aren’t just introduced to the basic AP Physics 1 concepts, but you also get to be familiar with the answer patterns and approaches. 

Since this AP Physics 1 review guide is available in both digital and print formats, you can use it online via your smartphone, laptop, or directly from the book. It also includes a 'Five Minutes to a Five" section that is dedicated to helping you with AP curriculum activities. Using this will help reinforce and recapitulate vital AP Physics 1 concepts. And, since the activities are short, completing them won’t take much time either. 

The book also comes with practice problems, an AP planner, and an extremely useful analytics tool. The practice exercises are duly backed with answers and explanations, the AP planner can be personalized according to your study schedule, and the analytics tool is extremely handy in helping you assess your readiness for the test. 

Other vital additions include games, flashcards and interactive sessions that keep you hooked throughout the course.

If you're looking for fun ways to study, 5 Steps to a 5 may be one of the best AP Physics 1 books for you.

Pros

  • The course guidelines are relayed in a simple and easy-to-grasp format
  • Comes with two offline and one online exam
  • Features an excellent analytics tool that helps with the preparation
  • Comes with a set of games, and interactive flashcards
  • Includes an AP planner that can be tweaked according to your schedule

Cons

  • Certain sections include unnecessary information that may not be as appropriate for your AP Physics 1 exam

AP Physics 1 Exam Format

Like with all AP exams, the AP Physics 1 exam has two sections: the multiple choice and the free-response section. Here's what you need to know about them.

Section 1

Type: Multiple Choice

Time: 90 minutes

Number of Questions: 50

Score: 50% of the total score

Section 2

Type: Free Response

Time: 90 Minutes

Number of Questions: 5

Score: 50% of the total score

AP Physics 1 Exam Strategies

Different AP Physics 1 review books will feature different materials. Some will help you tackle the free response questions, whereas others will help you with multiple choice.

If you’re looking to ace the AP Physics 1 exam and impress the College Board, check out these useful strategies. They won’t just pull up your score - they'll also help you prepare better.

Brush Up on the Basics

Unless you brush up on the basic principles on the AP Physics 1 test, you're likely to get stuck while tackling more complex questions. This is precisely why you should study key concepts thoroughly. 

If you're unsure of a certain topic, use your AP Physics 1 review book or check online. You can also use illustrative diagrams for a better understanding. This will help you fare better.

Once you understand the basics, you can move onto more in depth coverage.

Understand the Equations

You'll never get a good score in your AP Physics 1 exam unless you completely understand the equations you'll need to use.

Once you have a clear idea, make an effort to memorize them. Some commonly asked equations include the equation of velocity, acceleration, power, angular velocity, kinetic energy, angular acceleration, centripetal acceleration, momentum, and impulse-momentum.

You should also memorize the equation for Newton's Second Law, since it's commonly asked in the tests. Look for study materials with practice tests (or even just practice questions) that focus on completing equations.

Focus on The Concept of Scalar and Vector Quantities

Very often, students struggle with the concepts of scalar and vector quantity. Since this is frequently asked in the AP Physics exam, it's important to understand them in detail.

The easiest way to do this is by understanding the differences between scalar and vector quantities. While scalar quantity only has magnitude, a vector quantity has both magnitude and direction. Once you get this idea clear, approaching the toughest of questions will be simpler.

Read the College Board’s Description

If you are running short of time and are only looking to focus on the important bits, use the College Board’s description for AP Physics 1. You can easily access this document from the College Board's website. It contains several vital concepts that aren’t just necessary for the exam, but are imperative in enhancing your problem-solving abilities. Using this document will also offer a better understanding of physics.

Create Diagrams for Certain Questions

Certain questions in AP Physics are probably best handled when you draw a supporting diagram to go with it. This is even more relevant when the question involves calculating the total force in a specific direction.

For questions like these, make a coordinate axis along with vectors and component vectors in the image. Next, mark the vectors with symbols that clearly define the subscript. This way, the examiner will get the impression that you have a clear idea about the question asked.

Use the AP Assessment Tests

Almost every leading AP Physics 1 review book comes with a set of full-length AP exams. It's important to complete these exams once you’re done with the course. This won’t just help you manage time, but will also help identify your strong and weak areas. The best AP Physics 1 prep books come with detailed explanations to help you get the correct answer when it comes to the actual exam.

Some resources also feature online tests and practice questions in addition to the practice exams found in the book.

When you have a clear idea about the areas requiring your attention, devote your time to addressing the faults and clarifying your doubts. You'll ace exam day with flying colors.

Conclusion

Remember, everyone has different strengths and weaknesses. A prep book that's perfect for one person may not suit other students. For example, some study guides will help students master how to answer the free response questions, whereas others may focus on scientific theories and concepts. Some AP Physics 1 review books may have more practice exams than others.

But, if you're looking for a checklist, the best AP prep books will have good practice tests, in-depth explanations, and easy-to-understand concepts.

Good luck!