Shaun Ault

Best AP Calculus Textbooks

What is the best AP Calculus textbook? What about supplementary materials like a study guide for the exam? In this short article, I’ll review a few of the textbook and study guides currently out there.

best AP Calculus Textbooks options

Popular AP Calculus Textbook Choices

There is no single best AP calculus textbook. In fact the College Board maintains a list of recommended textbooks here: AP Calculus: Example Textbook List.

In fact, almost any college-level calculus textbook can help you to learn the material for both the AB and BC exam.

However, some calculus textbooks have a greater focus on AP material. Some of the most effective books I’ve come across include:

  • Finney et al, Calculus: Graphical, Numerical, Algebraic (AP Edition)
  • Larson and Edwards, Calculus: AP Edition
  • Rogawski. Calculus for AP

What Are the Required Topics?

If you have a choice as to which textbook to use (and let’s admit it, you probably don’t if you’re a student), then at least make sure that all of the topics on the AB and BC exam show up in the text.

Take a look at the table of contents and index. Hopefully your textbook covers all of the topics mentioned in the following guides.

Good Study Guides

Most likely, as a student you’re going to be more interested in (and have more say in) the study guide options.

A good study guide will review the material in a concise way, often with practice problems for each topic.

You’re not looking for flashy graphics or outrageous claims (like Read This and Score a 5, Guaranteed!). However some supplements may be useful, such as flashcards for memorizing formulas.

Homer Simpson studying -Magoosh

Study those formulas, theorems, and properties!

The most important thing that a study guide should have is plenty of practice exams. I recommend at least three exams. After all, the best way to prepare for an AP Calculus exam is to take AP Calculus exams, right?

If you run out of practice in one study guide, go ahead and pick up another one from a different publisher.

Some of the better guides out there include Barron’s AP Calculus and The Princeton Review’s Cracking the AP Calculus AB (or BC) Exam.

Building a Study Plan

Now that we’ve talked about textbooks and study guides, let’s discuss your study plan.

Get started early! Here is an effective 3-Month AP Calculus Exam Study Guide.

But if you’re short on time, check out this 1-Month AP Calculus Exam Study Guide.

About Shaun Ault

Shaun earned his Ph. D. in mathematics from The Ohio State University in 2008 (Go Bucks!!). He received his BA in Mathematics with a minor in computer science from Oberlin College in 2002. In addition, Shaun earned a B. Mus. from the Oberlin Conservatory in the same year, with a major in music composition. Shaun still loves music -- almost as much as math! -- and he (thinks he) can play piano, guitar, and bass. Shaun has taught and tutored students in mathematics for about a decade, and hopes his experience can help you to succeed!


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