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Best AP Statistics Textbooks and Prep Books

6 min readoctober 28, 2020

harrison-burnside

Harrison Burnside


The Main Event - The AP Exam 📝

The whole reason that anyone comes to Fiveable and is reading this guide is to prepare for the big AP Exam. The beast that is the AP Exam is what everyone wants to make “Fiveable”. Tackling the beast requires first looking at what the exam actually is.
The format for the AP Stats Exam is as follows:
Section 1: Multiple Choice (Referred to as MCQ from now on!) 🧐
40 Questions | 1 Hour 30 Minutes | 50% of Exam Score
  • Individual questions and sets of questions based on a shared prompt
Section 2: Free-Response (Referred to as FRQ from now on!) ✏️
6 Questions | 1 Hour 30 Minutes | 50% of Exam Score
Part A:
  • 1 multipart question with a primary focus on collecting data
  • 1 multipart question with a primary focus on exploring data
  • 1 multipart question with a primary focus on probability and sampling distributions
  • 1 question with a primary focus on inference
  • 1 question that combines 2 or more skill categories
Part B:
  • 1 investigative task that assesses multiple skill categories and content areas, focusing on the application of skills and content in new contexts or in non-routine ways

Reviewing AP Stats Prep Books 📒

1) 5 Steps to a 5️⃣ Elite Edition

https://firebasestorage.googleapis.com/v0/b/fiveable-92889.appspot.com/o/images%2F-mT9XgR6Hjc2G.png?alt=media&token=7972306b-7190-47ca-9ab2-2c5ff5174f12

Image Courtesy of Amazon

Pros

  • This book is great for students who want to review the content for the exam in-depth and have a very structured review plan well before or very close to the exam.
  • This book is also great to use on the go because it has a Cross-Platform Program where you can access calculator tips, special lessons, and practice questions on an app/website that works with the information in the book!
  • With the elite edition, which is <$5 more than the regular edition on Amazon, you get the 5 Minutes to a 5 Section.
    • This section helps to reinforce the concepts of the course with 180 extra practice questions and activities that can be used in conjunction with the day-by-day structured lesson plans that this book is awesome for!

Cons

  • At times, the book is not easy to read.
    • The writing style is often wordy and almost as dry as reading through a textbook.
  • 3 of the 6 practice tests are online and not on paper, while, in general, most AP exams are not taken digitally
    • The 3 practice exams in the book do, however, have good questions
  • Book is on the more expensive side at about $18 currently on Amazon

2) Barron's AP Statistic Prep Book ✏️

https://firebasestorage.googleapis.com/v0/b/fiveable-92889.appspot.com/o/images%2F-1KXCQmQ7AqIk.png?alt=media&token=d09b2ed9-234c-40d2-b4d9-d36b00d83086

Image Courtesy of Amazon

Pros

  • This book is great for all of its practice problems and its mini-quizzes at the end of every chapter.
    • Barron’s practice tests contain harder questions than, in general, the difficulty of questions that are on the AP Exam.
    • This book also has the most practice tests of any prep book.
  • The content review in this book is very thorough and is very good for people to review for the AP Exam who have a month or two to review all of the concepts.
  • It is currently about $16.50 on Amazon for the 10th Edition.
  • Good for people aiming for a high score or with lots of time to prepare

Cons

  • This book does have some upper level statistics concepts and should not be used if you do not have a good base in AP Statistics.
    • If you are self-studying, we highly recommend not solely using this book

3) Princeton Review for AP Statistics📔

https://firebasestorage.googleapis.com/v0/b/fiveable-92889.appspot.com/o/images%2F-M6tHFqJS3Coz.png?alt=media&token=23df9da8-d0af-440e-9404-a5f0c63ddfb4

Image Courtesy of Amazon

Pros

  • This book is great for its well written and easy to read content review.
    • Also a nice guide for using the calculator on the exam
  • Princeton Review’s content review has tons of graphs and diagrams which is great for visual learners and self studiers who have never been exposed to the material before.
  • At the end of any chapter (not just content review), the are Mini-Quizzes to test your understanding of the concepts that you just learned and really reinforce the things that you are learning.

Cons

  • This book does not have many practice tests (only two), so we recommend also using this book along with another that has a greater number of practice tests.
    • Also, the practice questions in the exam also tend to be a lot easier with fewer stimuli based questions than on the actual exam.
  • This book is moderately priced along with the rest in this review at $14.00 on Amazon currently.

4) REA Crash Course AP Statistics Prep📖

https://firebasestorage.googleapis.com/v0/b/fiveable-92889.appspot.com/o/images%2F-R8cGTIMqatAh.png?alt=media&token=7db3f00b-c384-4870-8bd6-12d40d1b3d85

Image Courtesy of Amazon

Pros

  • This book is pretty small but is very mighty for its size! It gives a very precise and mighty review of content and ways to answer different types of questions.
  • This book is best for people who need a cram review that helps with laying a foundation for getting a great score on the exam.
  • This book is currently the cheapest on the list at less than $10.00 currently on Amazon.

Cons

  • Since this review is brief, it has no pencil and paper practice tests.
    • When studying, we recommend supplementing this book with a Barron’s or 5 Steps to a 5 book to practice with AP Style questions for the exam.
  • This book does connect to an online portal, but it is not as extensive as the one that comes with the 5 Steps to a 5.

Prep Book AWARDS TIME!! 🎊🎊

BEST FOR PEOPLE WHO WANT TO SCORE A 5 - 5 Steps to a 5 + Crash Course
BEST FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED ON THE GO REVIEW - 5 Steps to a 5
BEST OVERALL BOOK - 5 Steps to a 5
BEST FOR VISUAL LEARNERS - Princeton Review
BEST CALCULATOR USAGE GUIDE - Princeton Review
BEST PRACTICE TESTS - Barron’s
BEST FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED STRUCTURE - 5 Steps to a 5
BEST FOR SELF STUDIERS - Princeton Review + 5 Steps to a 5

Reviewing AP Stats Textbooks 📖

1) The Practice of Statistics 🎯

https://firebasestorage.googleapis.com/v0/b/fiveable-92889.appspot.com/o/images%2F-MsyuZ1Dy37YT.png?alt=media&token=e2799666-69bf-4194-9331-9ac631160f7a

Image Courtesy of Amazon

The Practice of Statistics is one of the most widely used AP Stats textbooks 📖 on the market, and it comes recommended by the College Board 👍

Pros

  • The book links to an online "applet" 📲 where you can play with models and labs ⚗️ to demonstrate the concepts!
  • The book also has great explanations and descriptions of content
    • This is great for self studiers 🤳 who have no previous stats exposure
  • Has a great reference sheet 📋 and strategy section for Inference problem FRQs on the exam
    • The Book teaches to the actual content 📚 that you need for the exam

Cons

  • More expensive 🤑 than a prep book or free online textbook
  • Doesn't follow the College Board's Unit Structure for the Inference Units (6-9)
  • Not all practice questions 🧐 have answers in the book

2) Intro to Statistics and Data Analysis 🔖

https://firebasestorage.googleapis.com/v0/b/fiveable-92889.appspot.com/o/images%2F-UIYPqcAY9FGT.png?alt=media&token=5e818968-16a4-4bcf-9f83-e313951286d6

Image Courtesy of Amazon

Pros

  • In-depth explanation of all the topics 📓 you need to know for AP Statistics
  • Includes a lot of practice problems with step-by-step ↕️ explanations

Cons

  • Expensive 💰 (However it is less expensive than The Practice of Statistics)
  • Somewhat dense and dry writing style ✍️
  • Some reviewers found the organization of the book 😕 confusing

Textbook AWARDS TIME!! 🎊🎊

BEST FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED ON THE GO REVIEW - The Practice of Statistics
BEST OVERALL BOOK - Intro to Statistics and Data Analysis
BEST FOR VISUAL LEARNERS - Intro to Statistics and Data Analysis
CHEAPEAST - Intro to Statistics and Data Analysis
BEST PRACTICE TESTS - The Practice of Statistics
BEST FOR SELF STUDIERS - The Practice of Statistics

Final Thoughts 🤔

AP Stats is a popular, but difficult class! Finding a prep book and/or textbook 📖 that works for you and your learning style 💭 is very important. Make sure to check the awards 🎊 sections for the prep books and textbooks and find what matters most to you before making a decision to 💸 purchase anything!

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Unit 1: Exploring One-Variable Data
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Unit 3: Collecting Data
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Unit 4: Probability, Random Variables, and Probability Distributions
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Unit 5: Sampling Distributions
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Unit 6: Inference for Categorical Data: Proportions
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Unit 7: Inference for Qualitative Data: Means
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Unit 8: Inference for Categorical Data: Chi-Square
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Unit 9: Inference for Quantitative Data: Slopes
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