Six Resources with the Best AP Textbook Prices

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Advanced Placement classes were once limited to select groups of students, but today, these classes dominate the high school experience. During the 2016-2017 school year, 111,000 students in American schools took the computer science course with a growth of more than 54,000 students from the previous year. We’ve put together a list of excellent resources for finding the best AP Biology textbook prices including some brand-new publishers that focus on cutting the costs of AP courses.

Biology and other sciences are also on the rise. A total of 2.7 million students took five million AP exams according to College Board, the test designer and proctor.

Unfortunately, growth in enrolment hasn’t meant a decline in costs. While some low income students see their test fees covered, recent cuts from the Every StudentSucceedsAct mean that some students need additional dollars.

Finding financially accessible textbooks has never been more critical as more students prepare for more AP tests. Fortunately, these textbooks don’t have to break the bank and with greater student enrolment comes more options for new books.

Six Places to Find the Best AP Textbook Prices

Searching for your AP biology book and think you might get a better price? Check out these resources before placing your order.

Amazon

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Buying AP biology test books from Amazon means you have access to almost every brand and publisher imaginable including off-the-beaten-path books. You’re not only offered the most up-to-date editions of each book, but they come in various formats. Both comprehensive reviews and Cliff’s Notes versions of each book are available online.

Why buy Amazon?

Amazon offers excellent back-to-school prices and a simple returns policy. If you’re a Prime member, you’ll also benefit from free, fast shipping.

Additionally, Amazon hosts customer reviews that give you insight into the book. If you’re looking for complete coverage in specific areas or a particular learning style, the reviews section provides excellent coverage of what it’s like to use the book.

Finally, some books come in both used and new varieties as well as Kindle editions, so there are plenty of ways to save extra cash or even get more books.

Google Books

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Buying the digital version of AP books is a great way to save money and make test prep more accessible wherever you are.

Google Books offers a range of AP test prep e-books including AP Biology. Google’s library hosts most of the major test prep brands including:

  • Kaplan
  • Barron’s
  • CliffsNotes
  • The Princeton Review
  • McGraw Hill

There are also plenty of unknown authors that offer a different or cheaper way to study.

You can access Google Books on any device as long as you log into your Google account. You can even use them on your computer if you prefer a bigger screen. Visit the desktop version of the Google Play store for access.

Google Books also offers refunds on unread books. If you find digital versions don’t work for you or you’re one chapter into a book unsuited to your learning style, it’s possible to return it. Visit the My Account section the Google Play store and click the item you want to return.

You may return any e-book up to seven days after buying it. E-book rentals are final sales. If the e-book malfunctions, you may receive a refund within 65 days of the purchase date.

Textbooks.com

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Looking for an AP Biology textbook rather than test prep?

Visit Textbooks.com to search through the vast marketplace of competitively priced books. You’ll find new, used, and e-book versions of most of the primary textbooks all from different sellers.

Type “AP biology” into the search bar to find precisely what you need. When we last looked, 274 results were available and included:

  • Biology (AP 11thEdition) (Mader)
  • Cliff’s AP: Biology (2ndEdition)
  • SparkNotes Guide to AP Biology
  • Barron’s AP Biology
  • Campbell Biology, AP Edition
  • Cracking the AP Biology Exam 2017

Textbooks.com offers the best prices we’ve seen with some books.

While the prices can’t be beaten, it’s good to be wary of buying used books. While used books are ideal, an older book might miss something covered on the test. New books tend to include the latest edition of the test more precisely as well, which helps give you an edge.

eBay

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If one internet giant comes to mind for textbook purchases, it’s Amazon. But eBay is also an excellent resource for AP biology books. Much of what you’ll find on eBay falls under the category of gently used, but our searches showed that you’re more likely to get the very latest version of the book on eBay compared to other sites.

eBay was partly eclipsed by Amazon because it relied so heavily on seller’s ability to ship things in good time. Shipping was also previously based on zip codes. It quickly made up the bulk of the price on cheaper items.

Today, free shipping is standard on eBay items including on AP history books.

Why choose eBay over Amazon or another used book marketplace?

eBay demands more of a description of the book before posting. Amazon and other sellers tend to note whether the book is in excellent, good, or poor condition. On eBay, sellers indicate the state of the book, but many also describe any damage to the book such as any writing included in the book or if the cover is frayed.

Buying a New Book and Worried About the Price?

If the price of a textbook seems to good to be true, it often isn’t. Bookstores tend to sell U.S. versions of textbooks featuring hardcovers and quality materials. The international version, which is what is usually found significantly cheaper on eBay, is a softcover with cheaper paper. In most cases, the international version is a carbon copy of the same book. Some anomalies arise, but you are likely to see those in the seller reviews.

Regardless of where you buy, double check the edition to make sure it’s not a reprint. Fortunately, most AP course books include the date or version on the cover, so it’s easy to spot in the photos.

OpenStax

OpenStax

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Have you already looked at Barron’s, the Princeton Review, Cliff Notes, and others without finding much success?

AP biology students now have a new option: OpenStax.

OpenStax is a non-profit textbook developer from Rice University. Their goal is to improve access to AP tests, college, and education generally by providing open-licensed college textbooks. Because these books are open-license and OpenStax isn’t out to make money, you’ll receive a high quality, current book for far less money than traditional textbooks.

OpenStax started out providing STEM subjects including biology. Today, they are available for many AP topics including:

  • Biology
  • Physics
  • Macroeconomics
  • SparkNotes Guide to AP Biology

These books aren’t just test prep books. They’re suitable for students taking AP or college courses to prepare for the tests.

The OpenStax Biology for AP® Courses book covers all the requirements of the standard two-semester AP course. It meets core concepts and foundational research and uses the evolutionary lens mandated by AP. The company designed its book not just to meet but exceed the requirements set by College Board, which makes it an essential learning book and an excellent companion to AP study books for those working independently.

HOW MUCH WILL YOU PAY FOR THESE HIGH-QUALITY BOOKS?

Students are expected to pay nothing. These books are free and licensed under Creative Commons, which means everyone has access to them.

Before you worry about quality, don’t. Each book is written by experts in their field. The content is sourced and vetted by peer reviewers, just like the traditional course books you’d otherwise buy.

In 2016 alone, 392,000 students used these books to save a good amount of money. So, head over to OpenStax, and give them a try.

Pearson

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Pearson is an industry-leading education company that publishes books known for their academic rigor. Their AP® Honors & Electives series is no different.

Each Pearson book comes with a both an AP Exam Preparation Guide and Test Prep Workbook written according to the College Board course outline. Inside the books, you’ll find:

  • Overview of the program
  • Test-taking tips
  • Strategies for achieving the best score
  • Practice tests

Pearson’s test prep series is competitively priced and maybe even cheaper if you find yourself a promo code.

Are You Ready for Your AP Exam?

AP classes aim to prepare you for the exam, but the help of test prep books and a good textbook are invaluable to the process. While exam prices continue to climb, test prep books remain competitive, and some quality materials are now free to all student.

What books would you recommend for scoring a 5 on an AP Biology exam? Share your favorite study materials and tricks in the comments below.

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