Best AP Physics C Books – May 2023 Exam

The AP Physics C is a branch of the AP Physics course that is considered the hardest of all three AP physics exams: AP Physics 1, 2, and C. This branch of the AP Physics features different electrical and magnetism based topics which includes magnetic fields, electromagnetism, electric circuits and more. It's mostly taken by students that intend to major in either engineering or physical sciences. 

While the general perception is that AP physics C is the most burdensome of the trio, studies have shown that it has the highest pass rate, with 32% of the examinees scoring a 5 and 68% of 27,000 candidates scoring a 3 and above. This is likely because students who take it understand that it's a hard course and are ready to work hard - which is why you're here, right?

The road to success, however, can get a tad topsy-turvy and, thanks to the numerous options available, choosing the right one might be a little nerve-racking.. Luckily for you, we have done most of the groundwork and found quite a few trustworthy resources that are guaranteed to land you that perfect score. 

The Ultimate AP Physics C Prep List

When picking out a study material or book for the AP Physics C exam, candidates might get lost in the materials and features on offer. From test taking tips to practice tests, the best AP Physics C book for you will include everything you need to pass the exam.

It's important to consider our checklist of all necessary features you need, including detailed coverage of all the D syllable topics.

A great AP Physics C textbook should be one that:

  • Explores all the five units of the course framework including electrostatics, conductors, electric circuits, magnetic fields and electromagnetism
  • Develops students' ability to analyze physical situations and quantitative data, determine scientific methods, questions and effects on a quantity, create visual representations or models and solve problems relating to physical situations
  • Features practice questions or practice drills with well detailed and explained answers
  • Develops students ability to explore scientific arguments
  • Contains well defined AP physics formulas and places each is applicable
  • Is both comprehensible and up-to-date

In choosing our recommended review books and texts, we were sure to make sure they checked all the above boxes, and more.

barrons ap physics c

If you are a student in search of the best AP Physics C book that explores all curriculum-based topics in extensive modules, then this one is perfect for you.

Barron's AP Physics C uses of diagrams for ease of use, provides an appendix for equations in AP physics, and features extensive tips on approaches to AP exam questions. This book also includes a self-assessment test to evaluate progress and ability, and a host of other remarkable features. Barron's AP Physics C also has numerous practice test questions with detailed answer explanations to each question. This included three full length practice tests in the book, and one online. Practice exams will help you know exactly where you went wrong (or right!), ready for the actual AP exam.

Although there are some overlooked steps in the explanation of a few electrical and magnetism topics, Barron's AP Physics C still explores all the relevant topics. These include one and two dimensional kinematics, and Newton's laws to inductors, capacitors and simple harmonic motion.

Ultimately, Barron's AP Physic C review book is designed to guarantee success. 

Pros

  • Detailed coverage of curriculum-based topics
  • Provides full-length practice tests
  • Appendix for equations in AP Physics

Cons

  • May contain irrelevant/out-dated themes
  • Limited explanation of some topics

By many standards, the AP Physics C Companion Mechanics is different. Not only is it one of the very few review materials solely dedicated to Mechanics, it explains concepts in an easy-to-understand manner. Clear language significantly eases the study process for students at various phases of learning. 

Authored by a Physics teacher, Dan Fullerton, the AP Physics C Companion Mechanics is essentially a paper-back buddy for intending examinees. It features bite-size modules that provide proper coverage of the syllabus, and breaks down complex theories and definitions without compromising on quality.

The AP Physics C Companion Mechanics features more than 350 problems and questions to sharpen high school students' practical skills and knowledge. These are accompanied by worked-out solutions to help your understanding of getting the proper answers.

Keep in mind that the author states this isn't a textbook or a test prep guide. You may want to combine the AP Physics C Companion Mechanics with one of the other review books on our list.

We especially love the interactive, playful layout of the AP Physics C Companion Mechanics. Nothing will keep you focused as easily as a book with an engaging layout. And as for its price? You would be certainly getting your money's worth. 

Pros

  • Compact in nature
  • Comprehensible read
  • Clear explanation to answers
  • Relatively cheap price

Cons

  • We wouldn't mind a few more practice questions
  • Can only be used as an accompanying text  
5 steps to a 5 ap physics c

Like editions in other topics, this AP Physics C book incorporates a 5 step study plan, which is aimed at strengthening students' understanding of the course. It also includes some test-taking strategies that squeeze out all the points out of the test. 

So, not only does this book provide comprehensive coverage of all syllabus related topics, it goes a little further to explain the examiners' expectations and exam scoring in detail. 

It addresses all the learning objectives of the course in the depth required for the AP exam and features full-length practice tests to ensure that students are properly familiarized with the exam format. We especially love that its focus is not on the curriculum exclusively, but on mental preparation. Along with practice questions, detailed answers are provided. You'll also get access to online study materials and practice tests.

The 5 Step study plan ensures that candidates are well versed in test-taking by providing effective remedies to problem-solving. This AP Physics C book also allows students access to a customizable study plan for proper scheduling and progress tracking.

If you struggle with self-study and need a motivating study plan, this is one of the best AP Physics C books for you.

Pros

  • Includes an AP-style diagnostic test
  • Online resources are available
  • Effective problem-solving applications

Cons

  • It is a little less focused than other books
the princeton review ap physics c prep

The latest edition of the Princeton Review AP Physics C Exam features updates to their previous review books, including online access to study plans and other materials.

In this new edition of the AP Physics C Princeton Review, the use of charts has been adapted to convey important information more easily. You also get tips for answering and maximizing points earning.

The Princeton Review AP Physics C Exam comes with 2 full-length tests for practice, exercises after every chapter with well-explained answers provided for each question and strategies for beating the AP exam. It's one of the best AP Physics C review books written by a trusted brand. It's sure to prepare you for test day.

Pros

  • 2 full-length tests
  • Coverage of curriculum-based topics
  • Trusted brand - Princeton Review

Cons

  • Inadequate explanation and clarification on a few concepts
  • Features some irrelevant test questions

AP Physics C Books To Avoid

Kaplan: AP Physics B&C

While this might be considered obsolete, this AP Physics C book is still quite popular in the review market and was published by a household name in review book making -- Kaplan.

This particular publication has been decried by students as being a disappointment, despite stemming from the combined effort of 3 different authors.

The problem most associated with this AP Physics C prep book is its all-round lack of quality. Some students have found pages missing and replaced with those from other books. Rather baffling, isn't it?

Additional issues, such as incorrect answers given to questions on objective, theory, and solutions, didn’t help the fate of this AP Physics C review book. This is topped off by the fact that the blend of B and C materials are muddled up.

Our expert advice? Steer clear of this entry. Go for one of the AP Physics C review books we've already mentioned.

AP Test Structure

The AP Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism exam consists of two sections, the first being objective (multiple-choice) questions. This features a total of 35 questions which should be solved within a time frame of 45 minutes and carries an exam weighting of 50%.

The second section of the AP test is theory (free- response), featuring a total of 3 questions each. These carry 15 points for each question, and in total has an exam weighting of 50% and a time limit of 45 minutes.

The exam curriculum-based topic distribution for the objective section is as follows:

Electrostatics: 26% - 38%

Conductors, Capacitors and Dielectrics: 14% – 17%

Electric Circuits: 17% – 23%

Magnetic Fields: 17% – 23%

Electromagnetism: 14% – 20%.

Last Time The AP Physics C Exam Was Changed

While there hasn't been any notable changes to AP Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism
exam, a considerable amount of change has been made to the course with respect to featured
topics in magnetic fields, dielectrics, electrostatics, conductors, electric circuits, electromagnetism as well as a deeper look into science practices.

To make sure you're well prepared for the most recent AP Physics C Exam, ensure you're investing your time and money in the most up-to-date resources, like the review books found on our list above. 

Additional Tips & Resources For Studying

Begin With a Diagnostic Test:

There's nothing that helps to streamline your attention and highlight specific problem areas like a diagnostic test.

If these are not featured in your study material, consider taking the post-chapter quiz or any of the related practice tests. The results will offer a formative assessment of your skills, and will be especially useful for determining progress after studying the module.

Most AP Physics C review books will have at least one diagnostic test.

Choose the Right Book and Cover Curriculum-Based Topics

We cannot overemphasize how important it is to choose the right materials. Not sticking to the topics provided by the College Board can prove to be a huge time waster and will hinder, rather than help, when it comes to the AP test. 

That said, the perfect book will not magically provide you with your desired final score. Make sure to study the entire book and all it entails; this includes basic principles, exercises, example problems and practice tests.

Some books may even come with additional features, such as access to online videos or an AP class, to help you ace test day.

Practice Tests May Save You

From multiple choice mock questions to free-response questions, practice tests are designed to expose you to exam formats and evaluate your skills.

So, if you're confident that you have thoroughly studied the required material, you can easily test your knowledge by taking a practice exam. Don't forget to rate your performance based on the scoring charts and guidelines, if they're available. 

Subsequently, you can turn your attention to sharpening your weak areas based on the result. For example maybe you're struggling with theoretical relationships but exceeding in data analysis. Maybe you need multiple choice problems but find free response easy.

Remember, different books will have different practice tests. For example, Barron's AP Physics C gives you access to three book-based, full-length practice tests, and one online, whereas the AP Physics C Companion Mechanics offers up 350 problems and questions. Maybe sure to pick up a book with decent answer explanations.

Don’t Forget Your Class Notes

Students tend to neglect their school notes when preparing for exams that are not put together by their school body.

Resist the urge to ditch your school work and notes. While good review material might be an excellent tool for broadening your knowledge, textbooks may sometimes end up being too complicated without any reference to real-life teaching. So, if you have any notes you can refer back to, don't think twice about doing just that. 

Conclusion

It's important to know what works for you in order to choose the right textbook. Your learning pace should be a key determinant of your choice of textbook, as well as your study routine, style methods and so on. By knowing what works best for you, and sticking to our expertly recommended list of review materials, you can properly utilize every second of your time before the AP Physics C exam date. 

Good luck!

The Exam Genius Team.