What Are the Best AP Environmental Science Textbooks and Prep Books?

4 min readoctober 19, 2021

Thomasina Lester

Thomasina Lester

AP Environmental Science ♻️

252 resources
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Whether you're looking into resources for review or self-studying, textbooks and prep books are a great option for print study. You might find it difficult to choose the best one, as there are so many available options. However, there are a few tried-and-true textbooks and prep books that can help you get started!
You should consider both the pros and cons of using a textbook or prep book. From there, you can decide which format works best for your needs and start your search by reading through the recommendations!

⚖️ Textbook vs. Prep Book


  • ✅ structured and comprehensive
  • ✅ long-term use
  • ✅ provides supplemental activities (content questions, exam prompts, etc.
  • ❌ expensive, most likely $100+
  • ❌ difficult to read and understand, especially under a time crunch

Prep Book

  • ✅ affordable, $10-$25
  • ✅ basic language and covers the most important information
  • ✅ provides full-length, realistic practice exams and question
  • ❌ misses useful details and information
  • ❌ difficult to learn information for the first time

📚 Looking for the Best Textbook?

👉 The College Board's List of Approved Textbooks (under the Example Textbook List tab)
If you've decided that using a textbook is the best and most effective method of studying for the AP Environmental Science exam, you'll find that you have many options. To get started, you can look through the College Board's list of approved textbooks or ask a teacher for their recommendations.
Remember that purchasing a textbook is not required for your success, so don't feel the need to spend $100+ on a resource that you'll likely use for less than a year. Fiveable offers many free resources if you're looking for an alternative!
👇 Here are a few of the most popular, high-quality textbooks:

Environmental Science for the AP Course

by: Andrew Friedland and Rick Relyea

Source: Amazon

Environmental Science for the AP Course is an incredibly common and well-regarded textbook for APES. If you're looking for a textbook that thoroughly covers all necessary content and includes realistic, applicable exam practice, this one is a great option.

Living in the Environment

by: G. Tyler Miller and Scott Spoolman

Source: Amazon

Living in the Environment is another popular textbook for APES, although it isn't customized to the AP exam. However, this textbook explores everything that you need to know about environmental science to succeed on the exam! Keep in mind that it doesn't include targeted practice for the AP exam like Environmental Science for the AP Course, but you can find other resources to supplement this textbook.

📖 Looking for the Best Prep Book?

A prep book is a more affordable and accessible alternative to a textbook, making it an appealing option for students! There are a few prep books that are effective, but each one has its own style. Think about what you'd like to get out of the prep book that you select, focusing on the knowledge that you'd like to gain or review as well as the length of time before the AP exam.
👇 Here are a few of the most popular, high-quality prep books:

5 Steps to a 5: AP Environmental Science


Source: Amazon

5 Steps to a 5: AP Environmental Science is an excellent option if you're looking for more structure. This prep book includes clear steps to earn a 5 (no surprise if you read the title), review of the course content, and practice exams to test your knowledge. Keep in mind that if you'd like a heavily content-based prep book, this one might not be for you.

Barron's AP Environmental Science


Source: Amazon

Barron's AP Environmental Science is known for being dense in terms of content review, so this prep book would be great for self-studiers or homeschoolers. In addition to course content, you'll receive multiple practice exams in order to practice for the real exam. Overall, this prep book is ideal for those who would like more depth.

The Princeton Review: Cracking the AP Environmental Science Exam


Source: Amazon

The Princeton Review: Cracking the AP Environmental Science Exam is a classic option in terms of prep books, providing a balance between content and practice. It includes review of course content, multiple practice exams, and strategies to make the exam easier. If you're looking for a prep book that gives you what you need, check this one out!

REA's Crash Course for AP Environmental Science


Source: Amazon

REA's Crash Course for AP Environmental Science is pretty outdated, especially in the sections regarding exam structure, but a decent option if you'd like to focus on the course content. If you don't feel confident about your knowledge of the current course/exam and would like more guidance, beware of this one. However, this prep book is known for being an easy, straightforward, and effective read!

✨ Final Words on Textbooks and Prep Books

Textbooks and prep books are excellent resources for AP courses and exam reviews. Remember to supplement your studying with other forms of review, such as practice questions, trivia, or vocabulary. If you feel like you aren't benefiting from a textbook or prep book, try something new! Personalize your study sessions. Take breaks and remind yourself that you are capable. Good luck!
💲 All prices are current as of writing and are subject to change.
Browse Study Guides By Unit
🏜Unit 1 – The Living World: Ecosystems
🐠Unit 2 – The Living World: Biodiversity
👪Unit 3 – Populations
🌏Unit 4 – Earth Systems & Resources
🏖Unit 5 – Land & Water Use
⚡️Unit 6 – Energy Resources & Consumption
💨Unit 7 – Atmospheric Pollution
♻️Unit 8 – Aquatic & Terrestrial Pollution
🔥Unit 9 – Global Change
🧐Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs)
✍️Free Response Questions (FRQs)
📆Big Reviews: Finals & Exam Prep

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