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The AP Test: Choosing The Best Cram Book
Why do I need one?
At the end of any AP course it is strongly suggested that you take an Advanced Placement test. After an entire year of work many of the things that you may have learned at the beginning of the year need to be revisited, and this is where AP crunch books come in. They are not replacements for a textbook, or year long course, but rather a last minute refresher of what you have learned. And don't be mistaken they make a HUGE difference in how well you do on the tests. I have taken three tests myself, and have known many people who have used prep books, and many people who have not. On the 1-5 AP grading scale, a thoroughly studied prep book usually has a 1-2 point boost to ones score. This is a substantial difference, especially when college credit is on the line. Bottom line, they are very inexpensive, reliable, and if you want to do well you will want to pick one up.
How much will it cost?
AP tests cost around $100 dollars, but the same credits at a major college would be almost ten times that. I recommend buying your AP prep book on Amazon. There they usually run between 5-20 dollars which is totally worth the price when you consider how much money you could be saving in the long run. There has recently been a growing trend of high paid tutoring for AP tests that usually runs for hundreds of dollars and is about as beneficial as a good AP prep book. If you are very strapped for cash there are some great AP sites out there that can be a great help as well. For around $10 you can get a great book that will really help you out on a test, it is absolutely worth the price.
Favorite AP Publisher
Which AP test book do you prefer?
Which one should I Chose?
On amazon there are many different brands: 5 steps to a 5, Barron's, Kaplan, REA, Princeton Review etc. When choosing a book the year 2010 edition, 2011 edition, etc has been relatively meaningless in my experience. The books are usually comprised of two sections, a summary of the information covered in the course, and a large practice test section. Personally I find the practice tests in most of the books to be subpar, I recommend finding a better and more interactive practice test online, the course review however is very, very useful and for me the longer and more detailed the better. I try to find the book that has the longest summary section, and in my personal experience that is the Princeton Review. Overall I recommend them because I have enjoyed their book layout and information. At the end of the day the most important thing is having a book, and brand isn't too important.
Know your college's accepted scores
Different schools have different thresholds to get credit. Most public universities accept 4,5 and most 3 scores but if you already know where you are going to attend school it is not a bad idea to find out what they accept. Certain highly prestigious schools only accept a score of a 5, and other private schools don't accept AP tests as credit at all. Taking AP tests is a great way to get ahead before you head off to college, but doing a little research to see if the investment is worth it is a great idea. College guides can even give you ideas of how much money a passing score on an AP test can save you. Figuring out the actual financial benefit of a good score can provide an additional incentive to take the test seriously. Princeton review does a great college guide that can be found on amazon.