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Best AP Physics 2 Textbooks and Prep Books

4 min readโ€ขnovember 5, 2020

Jed Quiaoit


Each AP Physics 2 class across the nation often defaults to using 1 or 2 of the common textbooks. Objectively, some are better than others in terms of thoroughness, clarity, and content.

On the other hand, prep books are abridged versions of the textbooks and are viewed to be helpful because they hugely base their framework on the College Board's curriculum. As a student of one of the AP classes with the lowest pass rates, it's crucial for you to maximize your resources while saving money and time in order to secure that 5! Keep reading to find a list of the best AP Physics textbooks, prep books, and a few additional resources that will get you well on your way to a 5!

Rating Scale:

๐Ÿฅ‡ Best value

๐Ÿค“ Easiest to read

๐Ÿ’ธ Cheapest

๐Ÿ–Š Most thorough

Textbooks ๐Ÿ“š

A textbook provides detailed information through examples, highlighted sections, and summaries. The College Board has provided a list of recommended textbooks, which you can find here. In no particular order, below are Amazon links to the six best-reviewed textbooks from the College Board's list.

๐Ÿšจ Note: These textbooks vary in price. If your school has already provided you with a textbook, we do not recommend purchasing an additional textbook. You'll also notice that most textbooks cover content from both Physics 1 and 2. If you've taken Physics 1 before, then you'll most likely see almost the same textbooks recommended then here.

  1. Physics, 10th Edition

    https://firebasestorage.googleapis.com/v0/b/fiveable-92889.appspot.com/o/images%2F-6PBuH6wipKQV.jpg?alt=media&token=b86eddf9-76bd-4038-a388-5b0ca1ad48a4

    • Helps introduce physics concepts

    • Equation summaries and concept explanations at the end of each chapter

    • Multiple book versions (paperback, e-book, hardcover, etc.)

  2. OpenStax College Physics for AP Courseยฎ 2 ๐Ÿ’ธ๐Ÿฅ‡๐Ÿค“

    https://firebasestorage.googleapis.com/v0/b/fiveable-92889.appspot.com/o/images%2F-BICCzVKLLY2y.jpg?alt=media&token=92fc84fe-aa6a-45ee-b8d6-d5ac343a7812

    • Free in Kindle

    • Easy to read; student-friendly

    • Detailed examples with illustrations

    • Follows AP curriculum

  3. College Physics: A Strategic Approach, 4th Edition ๐Ÿ–Š

    https://firebasestorage.googleapis.com/v0/b/fiveable-92889.appspot.com/o/images%2F-QeNiIfQ64pQ9.jpg?alt=media&token=99f0175b-d931-48c7-b9d6-fb3dc367868e

    • More detailed explanations of physics concepts

    • Shows a variety of problem strategies

    • Has overview of mathematical relationships

  4. College Physics (AP Edition), 10th Edition

    https://firebasestorage.googleapis.com/v0/b/fiveable-92889.appspot.com/o/images%2F-6O48D2TibPzR.jpg?alt=media&token=42fcdcf8-0134-42c1-b06d-4e408a26a6bf

    • Multiple buying options on Amazon (rent, buy new/used)

    • Not as up-to-date as other textbooks

Prep Books ๐Ÿ“”

Here's a list of the best AP Physics 2 prep books, along with background information to help you find the prep book that best suits you!

  1. Barron's AP Physics 2 ๐Ÿฅ‡

    https://firebasestorage.googleapis.com/v0/b/fiveable-92889.appspot.com/o/images%2F-dUoTpWeOPYzo.jpg?alt=media&token=4f6897a4-9245-4060-8389-686d4e27f1cd

    • Four practice tests (2 online + 2 inside book)

    • In-depth concept explanation and examples for each unit

  2. The Princeton Review's Cracking the AP Physics 2 Exam ๐Ÿ–Š

    https://firebasestorage.googleapis.com/v0/b/fiveable-92889.appspot.com/o/images%2F-X6FoXggb6BP4.png?alt=media&token=017354fb-b07c-4a77-b38c-ad156cdcc78a

    • Comes in two versions - normal and premium

    • Two practice tests (four for premium edition)

    • Unit overviews are very comprehensive; great for big picture ideas

  3. 5 Steps to a 5: AP Physics 2

    https://firebasestorage.googleapis.com/v0/b/fiveable-92889.appspot.com/o/images%2F-tvhZJhexlXh1.png?alt=media&token=d652a197-37fc-45dd-9fca-cf71ff5a11f4

    • Extensive practice drills for concept mastery

    • Good introductory-level concept descriptions

  4. AP Physics 2 Essentials ๐Ÿค“๐Ÿ’ธ

    https://firebasestorage.googleapis.com/v0/b/fiveable-92889.appspot.com/o/images%2F-Z7SLmXkQmQUP.png?alt=media&token=039a63f6-3067-4fdb-92a2-4d735fd1f8a3

    • Interactive questions spread throughout the book which boost conceptual understanding

    • Simplified version of physics textbooks; excellent companion book for practice

Additional Resources โœ”

Want more AP Physics 2 Resources if textbooks and prep books aren't your style. Check these out.

  1. Fiveable

    Fiveable is offering a Fiveable Course on top of live streams, study guides, trivia games, videos, and slide decks for AP Physics 2 students. Beyond the content, Fiveable also offers a community platform where students can ask questions and receive feedback from actual teachers and stellar students.

  2. Past Essay Prompts

    The College Board has published all past essay prompts along with their scoring guidelines and reader commentary. You'll not only be able to practice your writing skills, but also compare your work with the released student samples to see how it compares to those who earned a perfect score.

  3. Learn AP Physics

    Learn AP Physics is a website offering free, daily practice problems in preparation for the test in May. A list of resources (some of them already mentioned here) can also be found on the website for those looking for more. The website beautifully organizes topics and curated videos with about 20+ practice questions per unit.

  4. Khan Academy

    With practice sets and video lectures on specific topics, Khan Academy offers a very organized review of AP Physics 2. I highly recommend using the popular learning platform whenever you begin a new lesson or just want a quick refresher.

Resources:

Summing It Up ๐Ÿ’ฏ

Half the battle of passing the AP Physics 2 test with flying colors is finding the right resources to stick to for the most part. Textbooks and prep books serve as supplemental learning resources adding on to what you are currently learning at school. Take advantage of the features of these resources and keep practicing! You got this โ€” happy studying! ๐Ÿคฉ

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