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CliffsNotes AP Biology, Fourth Edition (Cliffs Ap Biology)
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27 of 30 people found the following review helpful
on June 19, 2013
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The book is great and covers everything well, but it's not the edition you want to use if your studying the DAT. I made the mistake of buying this edition when I should have gotten the 3rd edition, which is why I feel it would be unfair to deduct more than one star.

Caveat emptor!
There are some major differences between the 3rd and 4th editions, because of a change in HS curriculums. That being said...
Here are some examples between the two editions:

Chapter 6 (Cell signaling pathways) in the 4th edition is not in the 3rd and not necessary for the DAT. The 4th edition is way too in depth for some materials and isn't necessary for the DAT (e.g. Chapter 9 Molecular Biology and a history of the experiments that lead to the discovery of DNA).

Most importantly, the 4th edition skips some of the subjects that were in the 3rd edition, subjects that will show up on the DAT.

TLDR: If you're preparing for the DAT, newer is not necessarily better. Stick to Cliff AP 3rd edition.
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36 of 42 people found the following review helpful
on May 13, 2013
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I purchased this book because I heard that reading Cliffs-notes is the best way to earn a 5. I loved it because I was able to comprehend and retain a large amount of information. It provides a detailed answer-key to all the questions it asks, so I gained a lot of knowledge from it. I thought I had a chance of getting an amazing score on my AP Exam, but I was so wrong!

The AP Biology exam doesn't ask you to define vocabulary or explain the processes your teacher emphasized on. It is the complete OPPOSITE of straight-forward. You have to observe diagrams, analyze complex situations, and find hypotheses to experiments you've never even heard of. You have to read long, boring paragraphs that contain a lot of "beating around the bush." It seemed as if this book only gave me background knowledge, because I wasn't able to answer more than 10 questions based off of what I learned from this book. It did, however, help me on the free response questions which was the easiest part of the exam.

In conclusion, this is an excellent book, but don't depend on it to earn a good grade on the exam, because it will not help you. Use it to understand topics you don't understand throughout the year. This book probably would've been a life-saver for people on the old exams, but now College Board has their "new & improved" crap, I hope I even pass the exam. Cliffsnotes needs to come up with a new edition if they REALLY want to prepare their customers for the newly designed test.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on September 11, 2013
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
Ok, so I took the new AP Biology exam in May. I used this book to study from, did all the questions at the end of the chapters including the free response, and I have to say that although this book was extremely informative and helpful for my classroom tests, it was very unlike the test itself. The test was very conceptual, containing a lot of diagrams which required analysis and paragraphs that had to be read to answer follow-up questions. In essence, the review book just gave me some background knowledge for the test's somewhat abstract questions, and I really wasn't expecting that. The book itself though is really good at providing the reader with information, but not as successful at preparing you for the test's format. It's understandable though, since this was the first year that they changed the test, so definitely keep that in mind. Otherwise, if you want something else to study for the AP exam, I would recommend this book as a class study guide since it was so good at explaining topics for tests you might have.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on May 12, 2014
Format: Paperback
First off, basically all the review books on the market for ap biology right now are in no way a representation of what is on the new exam. The review books on the market give you general knowledge in ap biology, but the actual exam is set up so that you'll apply that knowledge to real life situations. So in reality, I'd imagine almost all the review books offer much of the same information, but it's up to you to be able to apply the information. Because you'll get very similar information in all review books at this time, I'd definitely recommend getting the Princeton review, simply because it isn't bland, like CliffsNotes. Really, the exam is super easy, just study the review book and definitely check out the Bozemanscience series on YouTube titled, " AP Biology essentials." Doing so will adequately prepare you for the new ap biology curriculum and exam. Good luck!
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on May 9, 2013
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
This book IS indeed updated to reflect the 2013 test, but don't take this as too much of a good thing. The author is extremely talented and knowledgeable in this field, but without an actual released test to base this book, its contributions are essentially "best guesses" of how the exam will turn out (excluding format). It's still helpful, but what I think people should focus on when choosing a book is the content. The Cliffnotes 4th edition content is nearly exactly the SAME as the 3rd edition. I have both. You'll get the same information, which raises the question of whether or not this book adequately covers all the material.

Simple answer: Yes. It does. In fact, it probably has more content than all the other books. However, it is NOT reader-friendly. You'll go pages without any diagrams or pictures. No folks, I am NOT one of those people who learn best with pictures and note-cards and the such, but when you're talking about the endocrine system and the respiratory system, it's probably a good idea to have a diagram. Where there are diagrams, like for cellular respiration, it is so convoluted that you can't discern what it's trying to say. The pages are massive clutters of text - remember that 11 font Times New Roman with minimal margins paper that your teacher gave you that you were turned off by? This is it, except in hundreds of pages. The content is still great, don't get me wrong, but it is NOT presented in as clear a manner nor as visually appealing a manner as the Princeton Review's book, which I have also used and find its content to be not nearly as comprehensive. However, that book DOES successfully get you to understand every concept it covers no doubt. This book, you'll need the internet to supplement. So the question is, do you want to get massive chunks of text thrown at you that is useful albeit convulated, or do you want to opt for a book that offers less content but clear and easily understandable explanations. You choose.

A little more about me: an A-grade AP bio student with above a 4.0 overall GPA.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on April 24, 2014
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
This book provides a simple, well organized way of conveying information to high school students taking AP Biology. The word choice and the syntax are easy to understand. Also the sample tests and questions are a vital resource to helping you pass the exam and seeing if you truly understand the information.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on September 1, 2013
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I used this book to study about 2 weeks before the exam, and got a 5. I am not quite sure if it is completely due to this book, but if you pay attention in class and use it as a REVIEW book, which is what it is, it's a great supplement to your studies. It is rather wordy, though, making it harder to find the most important points that you need to know, but is very comprehensive and covers most of the concepts in the course. If you get through the entire book, it'll definitely help you remember a lot of things from the beginning of the year and really reinforce them. It even has all the labs in detail (be aware that they may be somewhat different from what you do in class...I only reviewed a section of two labs, however, so I may be wrong).

One thing you should keep in mind is that the review questions are quite different from the exam. The new 2013 format requires more reading and thus analysis of those readings, so the questions you get will be more like paragraphs than single sentences. Of course, this is the first year the exam has been administered, so the creators have a weaker grasp of its format and content, but it still serves its purpose in helping you to review concepts that you may have forgotten or had trouble understanding.

I didn't do many of the FRQs supplied in this book, but from the few that I did do, I can probably say that the format is pretty similar. The FRQs on the test, however, aren't as vague(?) and do give you a little bit of direction.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on December 1, 2013
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
This is a very good but a very challenging resource. It isn't something you can pick up and use alone...You really need an instructor and some additional classes.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on October 26, 2013
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Organized, comprehensive, updated, decent practice questions. Could use some revision to align more closely with the new curriculum format and exam.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on July 13, 2013
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I took the AP test this year and is happy with my results. As someone who haven't studied more than 10 minutes each week on AP Bio and has never read a single page of my next book, I wasn't even sure if I was even going to pass this thing. I crammed only the night before, and received a 4 on the test just like a bunch of my friends who prepped intensely and studied their butts off for this course over the whole year. This book has a comprehensive review on everything that was tested. It is a useful tool in which students can figure out which topic the lack the knowledge of. Keep in mind this is the first year of this new format so all the publishers were just doing their best predictions on this test. There were a lot of detailed information that we did not know about, but overall it gave me the big picture.
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