10.0 What Are the Best AP European History Textbooks and Prep Books?

5 min readoctober 20, 2021

Thomasina Lester

Thomasina Lester

AP European History 🇪🇺

335 resources
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Whether you're looking into resources for review or self-studying, textbooks and prep books are great options 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!
Fiveable provides tons of study guides, trivia, and typing practices! If you're looking for additional resources, check out the AP Euro hub!

⚖️ 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 questions
❌ 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 European History 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. 
👇 Here are a few of the most popular, high-quality textbooks:

A History of Europe in the Modern World: AP Edition

by: R. R. Palmer, Joel Colton, and Lloyd S. Kramer

Source: Amazon

Palmer's A History of Europe in the Modern World is a classic AP European History textbook, originally published a few decades ago and extended in recent years. Students praise this textbook for its historical presentation, making it an excellent resource. If you're a fan of depth and detail, look into this option!

A History of Western Society for the AP Course

by: John P. McKay, Bennett D. Hill, John Buckler, Clare Haru Crowston, Merry E. Wiesner-Hanks, and Joe Perry

Source: Amazon

McKay's A History of Western Society is one of the most common textbook selections for the course, used by many teachers and students. This textbook breaks the content into more approachable sections, adding focus questions, vocabulary, and suggested resources to enhance your learning experience.

Western Civilization

by: Jackson J. Spielvogel

Source: Amazon

Spielvogel's Western Civilization is another classic AP European History textbook to consider. If you're looking to purchase a textbook for personal use, this one is on the less expensive end of the market. This textbook is known for being straightforward and comprehensible without sacrificing the useful details.

📖 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 European History


Source: Amazon

If you're looking for structure, 5 Steps to a 5: AP European History is a great choice! This prep book walks through specific steps to maximize success and provides clear outlines of the course and exam. One unique feature of this prep book is its detailed study plans, which are especially useful if you're self-studying.

Achiever Exam Prep Guide for AP European History


Source: Amazon

The most appealing aspect of the Achiever Exam Prep Guide for AP European History stems from its author, Christopher Freiler, who is an experienced AP European History teacher and former exam reader. His expertise ensures that this review book has the most important information from the course and adequately prepares you for the AP exam.

AMSCO Advanced Placement European History


Source: Amazon

AMSCO Advanced Placement European History is the perfect combination of a textbook and a prep book. It is easy to read and condensed like a prep book, but goes into more depth like a textbook! AMSCO also includes practice questions that are catered to the AP exam format, so you're able to test your knowledge after reviewing the content. If you're searching for a happy medium, this one is the way to go.

Barron's AP European History


Source: Amazon

Barron's AP European History is known for being a dense prep book, but a good option if you have some time on your hands prior to the AP exam. It also provides practice tests that are similar to the real exam, so you can assess your knowledge of the content. If you're looking for a standard prep book that offers a little more depth in its content, look into this one!

The Princeton Review: Cracking the AP European History Exam


Source: Amazon

The Princeton Review: Cracking the AP European History Exam is a classic option for those who want the basic, comprehensive content review and supplementary practice tests. Whether you're beginning to review in the last 6 weeks or 6 days, this prep book will give you the essential information and strategies for success on exam day.

REA's Crash Course for AP European History


Source: Amazon

REA's Crash Course for AP European History provides you with everything that you'd expect. This prep book stays true to its name and gives you a crash course in AP European History, including exam-taking strategies and practice tests along the way.

✨ Final Words on Textbooks and Prep Books

Textbooks and prep books are excellent resources for AP course and exam review. 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.
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