AP Environmental Science Textbooks
Having an AP Environmental Science textbook is required by most schools and instructors. You might also want to get an AP Environmental Science textbook to supplement your in-class instruction. According to the College Board website here: https://apcentral.collegeboard.org/courses/ap-environmental-science/course-audit, below is a list of examples of AP Environmental Science textbooks that fulfill the curricular requirements for AP Environmental Science. This list is not complete and should not be considered as an endorsement, authorization, recommendation, or approval by College Board. Not using a book from this list does not mean that your course cannot be approved. The AP Course Audit will evaluate all syllabi submitted, holistically. Textbooks and supplementary materials will be evaluated to ensure that the course provides the content required by the curricular requirements.
This annotated sample AP Environmental Science syllabus demonstrates how the curricular requirements for a syllabus can be shown and what level detail you will need:
This document can be used to help you create your syllabus:
Syllabus Design Guide: AP Environmental Science [.pdf/191.15 KB]
This resource contains the guidelines that reviewers use when evaluating syllabi, along with three examples of evidence for each requirement. This guide also outlines the requirements for course authorization.
The below AP Environmental Science textbooks are current and meet the AP Course Audit curricular standards. If supplemented by appropriate college-level instructional materials, earlier editions of these AP Environmental Science textbooks or others may be able to meet the AP Course Audit curricular requirements. Although every effort is made in keeping this list up-to-date, it may take several months for new titles or revised editions to be reviewed.
Discuss the use of these texts and other materials in the AP Environmental Science classroom by visiting the AP Environmental Science Teachers Community.
- Berg, Linda and Peter Raven. Environment. 10th Ed., New York, NY, John Wiley and Sons. 2018.
- Chiras, Daniel D. Environmental Science. 10th edition, Boston, MA: Jones and Bartlett 2016.
- Cunningham, William, and Mary Cunningham. Environmental Science: A Global Concern. 15th Ed., New York, NY McGraw-Hill Higher Education. 2021.
- Enger, Eldon, and Bradley Smith. Environmental Science: An Examination of Interrelationships. 16th Ed., New York, NY, McGraw-Hill Higher Education. 2022.
- Friedland, Andrew, and Rick Relyea. Environmental Science Course for the AP . (r) . New York, NY, Bedford, Freeman, and Worth, 2019.
- Hassenzahl. David, Mary Catherine Hager and Linda Berg Visualizing Environmental Science. 5th. New York, NY, John Wiley and Sons.
- McKinney Michael L., Robert M. Schoch Logan Yonavjak and Grant A. Mincy Environmental Science: Systems & Solutions. 6th edition, Burlington MA: Jones and Bartlett Learning.
- Miller, G. Tyler, and Scott Spoolman. Exploring Environmental Science in AP. 1st ed., Boston, MA: Cengage Learning, 2021.
- Miller, G. Tyler, and Scott Spoolman. Living in an Environment. 20th ed., Boston, MA: Cengage Learning, 2021.
- Jay H. Withgott and Matthew Laposata. Environment: The Science Behind the Stories AP Edition. 7th edition, San Francisco, CA, Pearson Education, 2021.
- Wright, Richard, and Dorothy Boorse. Environmental Science: Achieving a Sustainable Future. 13th Ed. San Francisco, CA: Pearson Education. 2017.
Although the above books have received authorization, the below 3 main textbooks are used by over 90% of AP, Environmental Science teachers. To identify the books, we use their last names when writing about them in this blog post:
- Miller/Spoolman book: Exploring Environmental Science in AP 1st Edition 2019
- Withgott/LaPosata Environmental: The Science Behind the Stores 7th Edition 2021
- Friedland/Relyea Environmental Science, 3rd Edition. 2019
About these 3 AP Environmental Science Textbooks
It is up to you to choose the book that best suits your needs as a teacher, and also consider the needs of your students.
- Withgott is the most robust online platform
- For math practice, Friedland or Miller are the best
- Miller is the best online platform to integrate with learning management system systems
- Withgott and Miller have the most comprehensive content (with the least amount of gaps).
- Students will find Friedland, Withgott, Miller the most readable (though all new editions of this book are excellent).
- Withgott: Best stories/case studies
- The book contains most AP exam practice questions: Friedland, Miller
- Friedland is closest to the Order of the Course and Exam Descriptions (CED), but it is not aligned.
- Withgott is the best for grouping content
Next, I will describe each book according to the order in which they were first published for APES.
Publisher: Cengage/National Geographic
This new text is by the same author who wrote Living in the Environment, a textbook that has been in use for decades. Exploring Environmental Science for AP is a major improvement. Teachers who adopted it last summer said they love it.
Because the publishers didn’t have enough time for the transition to the new CED in early 2019, the order follows the old AP(r), Environmental Science outline.
Miller content has been excellent in terms of content consistency and is easily readable by students.
The book includes AP(r),-style review questions at each chapter’s end and a complete AP exam at its end. The questions remain the old style with choices a–e instead of a–d. Also, the exam now has 100 MCQ rather than 80 MCQ (the updated exam). The new exam’s practice exam now has 4 FRQS, while the old exam had 3 FRQS. However, students will still be able to practice with older questions.
Each chapter has math, which is useful for our course where many students struggle with basic algebraic word problem-solving. This is a feature that was copied from the Friedland book.
Each chapter is also given a case study.
This text is based on a VitalSource eText. It has many interesting features, including emojis and instant highlights.
MindTap Click to Preview Video
MindTap impressed me (based only on the video and not my personal experience). It appears to be the easiest way to learn distance or hybrid. It is possible to have great control over the activities and visions of your students.
You can create an account for students to keep track of their scores, assign pages in the book and see articles that have appeared on their logins. It also works with certain LMS systems.
For 15 years, Withgott has been the AP Environmental Science textbook I used to teach this course. I began with the 2nd, then moved on to the 4th, and finally the 5th.
Withgott is a great teacher and writer. He uses case studies to illustrate each chapter. This is what the new Miller book is trying to emulate.
Withgott provides good content coverage, with few gaps that need to be filled. It does not have much graphing practice. But that’s okay because I have all of the math practice my students require.
The book’s order doesn’t match the CED. Although it is the book that follows the CED the most, it is also the one that makes the most sense for teachers and students. Each chapter provides information about the topic, its workings, the problems and the solutions. This approach is popular with teachers. Chapter 17 discusses the weather and atmosphere, followed by air pollution and solutions to it. These topics are divided up by the CED however.
Mastering Platform: Masteringenvironmentalscience.com has been the superior platform among AP Environmental Science textbooks for many years. Learn how to use Mastering.
- There are already reading questions for each chapter. I prefer to create my own reading questions using the built-in question bank, so I can quiz smaller sections of the chapters.
- There are pre-made assignments and quizzes, but you can choose from a variety of questions.
- Quizzes and tests can be programmed to open for each period, or they can be timed and randomized.
- The exam bank allows you to take online exams. It allows you to select 75 questions and then randomly assign 25 questions to students. The questions will be different for students and their friends. This is a powerful deterrent against cheating. You can also use the exam bank to create paper exams.
- It includes “coaching” questions and assignments. Questions may include “drag-and-drop this process in order”, “vocabulary sorting”, or “virtual field trips”. These questions help students develop higher-level skills and are used by me to review for exams and the AP exam.
- It contains “process of science” questions that drill students in experimental design. These questions are very difficult and I do not grade them lightly. They are difficult and will cause brain damage, so I remind them that they will be learning a lot by doing them.
- Mastering’s latest update allows teachers and students to assign etext reading assignments.
The book’s electronic text is a standard etext that allows you to search for items and virtual sticky-notes.
This book was specifically written and designed for AP(r), whereas many other AP(r). books are college texts. The Miller book now has its own AP(r-specific text).
Both students and teachers can benefit from the extensive scaffolding provided by this book. The content is broken down into smaller pieces of information called modules.
The teacher edition was inspired by the teacher editions for regular K-12 schools. It has a wrap-around feature that helps guide new APES teachers through the curriculum. This feature is not available in other books.
This book is easy to read for struggling AP(r). Each chapter has practice math and it is easy to read. Each module includes practice AP(r), questions for students, and AP(r exam tips.
Although the order of the book is closest to the CED’s, it is not aligned with the CED. Before the book was published, the publisher made a few cosmetic changes. The practice questions were changed from a to a and the total number of questions was reduced to 80 MCQs and 3 FRQs. The practice exam was not modeled on the new guidelines for the % content of each unit or the science practices. (See page 225)
The book is still good and you should still match it with the CED. There are a few gaps in the content and it needs more supplementation.
SaplingPlus is an online platform that offers AP(r), but it has been improving in recent years. It is used primarily for formative assessment and practice. It does not offer the summative assessment features that include randomization like other platforms. SaplingPlus does have some coaching-type questions that can be accessed via drag and drop, but not as much as the Withgott book. SaplingPlus offers math tutorials and adaptive quizzing. This is something I haven’t seen on other platforms.
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