The Best AP Calculus AB Books

Exam Info And Course Content

The AP Calculus AB exam consists of 2 sections. The first one is multiple choice, has 45 questions, lasts 105 minutes, and counts for 50% of your overall exam score. For the first 30 questions you cannot use a calculator, and for the last 15 you are permitted to use a graphing calculator.

The second section is free response. It consists of 6 questions, lasts 90 minutes, and counts for 50% of your total exam score. The first part allows the use of a graphing calculator and has 2 problems, while the second one does not allow any graphing utilities and has 4 problems.

College Board provides free example test questions, so click here if you want to check them out.

Next Exam Date:

Tuesday, May 15th, 2018

Last Time The Exam Changed

There were some minor changes to the exam for the 2016-2017 school year.

The spread of multiple choice questions changed slightly (it went from 28 with calculator and 17 without to 30 with calculator and 17 without).

They also added L’Hopital’s rule to the test, but there’s no reason to a buy a newer edition book if you already have an older one as you can just learn it using online resources.

The Best AP Calculus AB Books for 2018

Book CoverDescriptionOur RatingPrice
The Best AP Calculus TextbookCalculus
Late Transcendental
11th Edition

Howard Anton

(Best Textbook)
5.0Our Price
AP Calculus BookBarron's AP Calculus
14th Edition

(Best Review Book)
4.6Our Price
Cracking the AP Calculus AB Exam Prep BookCracking The AP
Calculus AB Exam

The Princeton Review

(Best Prep Book)
4.5View Price

The Best AP Calculus TextbookThere are dozens of different textbooks available for teaching & learning Calculus, but most high school teachers across the United States will recommend Calculus Late Transcendental, 11th Edition by Howard Anton. This epic piece takes our top spot for the best AP Calculus AB Textbook.

If you are serious about getting a 5 on your AP Calculus AB exam, you need more than material to just teach you the test, you need to fundamentally understand Calculus.

This textbook is very eloquently balanced between comprehensively covering the core concepts of calculus and a broad array of practice test questions to ensure you understand the fundamental principles.  The textbook teaches the concepts of Calculus using algebraic, visual and verbal approaches.

Before you buy any preparation or review books, ensure you pick up the best AP Calculus textbook, written by Anton, Bivens and David.

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AP Calculus TextbookHands down, the best AP Calculus AB review book for studying for the AP Calculus AB or BC exams is Barron’s AP Calculus.

If you’re taking the AB exam, chances are you’re going to take the BC exam also, so instead of shelling money for two different review books for the two exams you can buy this one for the same price.

This book offers 4 practice tests for both the AB and the BC exams, and it’s ideal for studying even after the minor course changes because you can always check the BC section of the book for the missing material.

The book also offers advice on using your graphing calculators during the test, and it shows how they can often make your life easier.

You also get 2 extra practice tests for each exam on a CD-ROM, and you get a bonus online practice test! That is 11 tests total while most other books only give you 3 or 4.

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Cracking the AP Calculus AB Exam Prep BookIf for some reason 11 practice tests isn’t enough for you, you can buy The Princeton Review’s AP Calculus AB book in addition to Barron’s book, our pick for the best AP Calculus AB prep book.

Princeton’s book offers tips for pacing yourself and guessing tips not found in Barron’s book, and it has practice drills after every chapter, so if you know you’re lacking knowledge of Integrals you can specifically practice AP Calculus AB integral-related questions.

The book also has 3 full-length practice tests, and a reference guide of key calculus formulas.

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Self-Study Tips

It is possible to get a 5 on the AP Calculus AB exam if you start studying a month before the test, but it would take a lot of cramming, long nights, and frustration.

The easiest way to self study is to buy the two books above and start by systematically going through every section in the Princeton Review book and making sure you have a grasp on the key concept. Do all of the drills in each chapter, and then do the 3 practice exams in the book.

Once you’re done with the Princeton Review, you can quickly go through the Barron’s book and make sure you know everything in it and take the 4 Calc AB practice tests that the book offers.

If you have any problems figuring out the concepts in the book, you can watch the Differential Calculus and Integral Calculus videos on Khan Academy.

All in all you should spend around 50-80 hours studying and getting ready for the test, so you should start getting ready at least 2 months before the test.

Other Study Resources