AP Microeconomics Overview
AP Microeconomics serves as an introduction to economic principles which apply to individual producers and consumers. Microeconomics emphasises the way product markets function, factor markets, and the role of governments. It’s goal is to provide students with instruction equivalent to an introductory college microeconomics class.
We’ll cover the course, exams, and our picks for the best AP Microeconomics books, Flashcards, and Review Guides for test year 2020 below, but if you just can’t wait, here’s the short list:
AP Microeconomics students will get a leg up on their college requirements with high marks on the AP test. In addition to students who are majoring in economics, most programs accept econ courses for general education credit. Whatever your motivation for studying AP Microeconomics, we’re here to help you succeed!
A full Course Description for AP Microeconomics is available from collegeboard.org.
Individual decision makers and their interactions come together to form expansive and complex marketplaces of goods and services. It’s important to understand motivations on the small scale, to help illuminate the way economies work at a macro level.
There are 4 major topics and themes covered by an AP Microeconomics course:
Basic Economic Concepts:
Students are introduced to foundational economics concepts like opportunity cost, scarcity, supply and demand, and free markets. It emphasizes property rights, incentives, and marginal analysis.
The Nature and Function of Product Markets:
This topic covers the 4 key areas of supply and demand models, consumer choice, production and costs, and theory of the firm. All areas are studied across near and long term time frames, and in a number of scenarios.
This topic teaches students about supply and demand to markets of factors like capital, labor, and land. Study of market factors help students understand the distribution of income and sources of inequality.
Market Failure and the Role of Government:
There are many arguments for and against the interference of Government in otherwise free markets. This section of the course teaches students about effectiveness of various policies such as taxes, subsidies, and quality controls.
Students taking the AP Microeconomics Exam are responsible for demonstrating knowledge of the above mentioned concepts and themes. The student’s knowledge is assessed through a 2 hour and 10 minute exam containing questions in both multiple choice and free response format. The exam is broken up into 2 parts, with the multiple choice section accounting for 66% and free response accounting for 33% of a final score between 1 and 5.
Section 1: Multiple Choice
- 1 hour and 10 minutes long and covers multiple themes and topics
- Two thirds of the overall exam score
Points are awarded for each correct answer, and no points are subtracted for incorrect or unanswered questions. Therefore, when unsure of a particular answer, you should eliminate as many options as possible and then choose from the remaining.
Section 2: Free Response
- 1 hour long and contains open ended questions
- One third of the overall exam score
In the free response section, different verbs give an indication of how the question should be answered:
Show: means use a diagram with correctly labeled elements to illustrate your answer.
Explain: means use a combination of written sentences and graphs to convey a concept to the audience.
Identify: means to provide a specific answer without need for written explanation.
Calculate: means to arrive at a specific numerical response, showing your work on how you got there.
For exam dates, refer to The College Board AP Calendar.
Best AP Microeconomics Books
AP Microeconomics has several strong contenders for the best textbooks and review guides which we’ve ranked for you above. Continue on for detailed information on each one!
5 Steps to a 5: AP Microeconomics
Pros: Excellent in depth online material.
Cons: Some students find the wording confusing in places.
Best For: Supplemental study aid for the duration of the course and leading up to the exam.
Our Rating: 5 / 5
The 2020 version of 5 Steps to a 5: AP Microeconomics is our top pick overall for best AP Microeconomics review guide. It has a great deal of online material, and the printed info is absolute top notch. All features:
- 4 full length practice exams (2 in book and 2 online).
- Advanced test taking strategies for both the free response and multiple choice sections.
- Powerful online prep-materials including study plans, interactive games, tests and more.
- Diagnostic exams to help you assess your status and plan your study time.
As one of the few books on this list which is dedicated solely to the microeconomics exam (as opposed to a combination of micro and macro), students taking only the AP Microeconomics exam should look no further.
AP Microeconomics Crash Course
Pros: Covers critical material in a logical format.
Cons: Limited number of full length practice tests.
Best For: Last minute cramming before the exam day.
Our Rating: 4.5 / 5
AP Microeconomics Crash Course is an abbreviated review of the most important concepts covered in the AP Microeconomics exam. As with the book above, it’s focused only on micro (as opposed to both econ courses), so it really cuts to the heart of the test requirements. A list of features included:
- Access to free full length practice exam.
- Targeted review of only material covered on the exam.
- Strategies for tackling both exam sections.
- List of key formulas and definitions.
For students crunched on time before the test, this is our top pick. Its narrow focus is a huge benefit for last minute studying. If you’re looking for a more complete review of the topics and themes covered in the Microeconomics course, one of the other choices on this list may suit you better.
Barron’s AP Microeconomics
Pros: Comprehensive review of all exam and course topics.
Cons: Limited number of practice tests.
Best For: Supplementing course materials.
Our Rating: 4.0 / 5
Barron’s AP Microeconomics is a very solid review guide covering topics from both micro and microeconomics. It doesn’t take the highest spot on this list because the focus is somewhat split between the two courses. If you’re planning to major in economics or take both courses / exams, this is a great pick! Features include:
- 2 full length printed tests and 2 online tests (2 micro and 2 microeconomics).
- Comprehensive coverage of all course topics.
- Full review of test structure, strategies, etc
If you have a strong interest in economics, or have enjoyed Barron’s review guides in other subjects, this book is a great pick. If you’re just taking Microeconomics, or are crunched for time, one of the other books on this list may be a better fit.
Cracking the AP Economics Macro & Micro Exams
Pros: Solid digital resources compliment printed materials.
Cons: Less detail and depth than some guides on this list.
Best For: Year long study aid to compliment course textbook.
Our Rating: 4.0 / 5
Cracking the AP Economics Macro & Micro Exams is a quality resource, which suffers on this list only due to its lack of focus on a single course and exam. If you’re planning on taking both the micro and macro exams, this is a fantastic book. Otherwise, you may be better suited with one of the more narrow focused on this list. Features include:
- 2 Full length practice tests (1 micro, 1 macro).
- Tips and tactics for each section of the exam.
- Practice drills at the end of each chapter.
- Sample questions with detailed walk-throughs.
Overall, Princeton Review has constructed another greap Advanced Placement review guide here. Once again, if you’re planning to take both econ exams, or just really enjoy the topic, don’t hesitate to pick this up!
Most High School Students are unlikely to have seen many of the topics covered in AP Microeconomics in other courses. Since the information is new, it can be extremely helpful to have more than the required course books at hand.
Our comprehensive list of top AP Microeconomics books are outlined above. Which one is right for you will depend heavily on your specific circumstances. To recap our list of recommendations:
|Top Overall Recommendation||5 Steps to a 5: AP Microeconomics|
|Top Pick For Course Supplement||5 Steps to a 5: AP Microeconomics|
|Top Pick For Last Minute Prep||AP Microeconomics Crash Course|
|Top Pick For Students Taking Macro||Barron’s AP Microeconomics|
Our top pick overall and our choice for best review guide for year long study is 5 Steps to a 5: AP Microeconomics. It comes packaged with a bunch of great online content, and the printed material is top notch. Some books split their focus on both micro and microeconomics which can be a hindrance if you’re only taking one. 5 Steps to a 5: AP Microeconomics just covers macro, so we recommend it unless you actually do plan to take both exams.
AP Microeconomics Crash Course is our top pick for students who are shorter on time before the AP exam date. As with 5 Steps to a 5: AP Microeconomics, it covers only the Microeconomics exam, and really cuts out the extra information which won’t show up on an actual exam.
For students who are also taking AP Macroeconomics, the Barron’s or Princeton Review books are a great choice. They combine information from both courses, and are a viable option for saving a little bit of money.
Whatever your circumstance, supplemental study and review materials are a key part of ensuring success on the exam. We’ve listed some of the best AP Microeconomics resources available. Good luck, and study hard!