AP Computer Science

AP Computer Science : Complete Study Guide

What is AP or Advanced Placement?

The Advanced Placement (AP) program, established by the College Board, offers a unique opportunity for high school students to take specialized courses that allow them to earn college credit and gain access to more advanced coursework when they start college.

The program encompasses over 30 courses. Each AP course is designed to be more rigorous and challenging than a typical high school course, providing students with a college-level curriculum that requires critical thinking, analytical skills, and independent learning.

AP Courses Available For Computer Science

College Board offers 2 courses for computer science

1. AP Computer Science A

2. AP Computer Science Principles

AP Computer Science A is an advanced course that teaches you how to program using the Java programming language. This course covers object-oriented programming, data structures, algorithms and software design. It prepares students for the AP Computer Science A exam, which tests their understanding of Java programming and problem-solving skills.

On the other hand, AP Computer Science Principles course aims to teach the principles of computing and technology. Students use these skills in real-world situations, such as developing computational thinking skills and applying them to real-world problems. The AP Computer Science Principles exam tests students’ understanding of these concepts and their ability to analyze and solve problems using technology.

AP Computer Science A Curriculum

  • 1: Primitive Types
  • 2: Using Objects
  • 3: Boolean Expressions and if Statements
  • 4: Iteration
  • 5: Writing Classes
  • 6: Array
  • 7: ArrayList
  • 8: 2D Array
  • 9: Inheritance
  • 10: Recursion

AP Computer Science Principles Curriculum

  • 1: Creative Development
  • 2: Data
  • 3: Algorithms and Programming
  • 4: Computer Systems and Networks
  • 5: Impact of Computing

AP Computer Science Principles vs AP Computer Science A

Course Overview

AP Computer Science A covers advanced programming and software development, with topics such as object-oriented programming, algorithms, data structures, and abstraction.

AP Computer Science Principles focuses on introducing students to the fundamental concepts of computer science and coding.

Which course is more difficult?

AP Computer Science A is far more difficult than AP Computer Science Principles. The AP Computer Science Principles Course is a more theoretical introduction to computer science, while the AP Computer Science A course is a deep dive into Java programming.

Which course requires prior experience?

Having some prior programming experience for AP Computer Science A is advisable. On the other hand, The AP Computer Science Principles exam requires no prior experience with programming.

Exam Format

AP Computer Science A includes a multiple-choice section, a free-response section and a programming task. In order to solve the programming task, the student must have deep knowledge of java and must practice enough programming questions before the exam.

AP Computer Science Principles also includes a multiple-choice section and a free-response section. However, it does not have a programming task.

Scoring and Passing Criteria

Both AP exams are scored using a scoring system ranging from 1 (lowest) to 5 (highest). Scores of 3 and higher are generally considered passing and can help students earn college credit or advanced placement. This enables them to skip the equivalent course when they reach college.

The scoring system for AP tests ranges from 1 to 5 and is structured as follows:

5 – Demonstrates an extremely high level of proficiency

4 – Demonstrates a high level of proficiency

3 – Demonstrates proficiency at an acceptable level

2 – Demonstrates proficiency at a marginally acceptable level

1 – Does not demonstrate proficiency and therefore does not receive a recommendation.

College Credit and Placement Opportunities

In both courses, scores of 3 and higher are generally considered passing and can help students earn college credit or advanced placement. This enables them to skip the equivalent course when they reach college, saving money on tuition costs of upto $20,000.

Benefits of Taking AP Computer Science Exam

These benefits are valid for both AP Computer Science A and AP Computer Science Principles.

Earn college credit

These courses are equivalent to introductory-level college courses, so by scoring well on the final AP exam, students can earn college credit and save money on tuition costs of up to $20,000. This can also give students the opportunity to take more advanced courses or graduate early.

Stand out in college applications

AP Computer science courses show that a student is academically motivated and ready for college-level coursework. Additionally, colleges often look for students who have taken AP courses as it is an excellent way to showcase a student’s academic abilities.

Improve standardized test scores

Students who take AP classes show increased scores on standardized tests, including the SAT and ACT. This is likely due to the rigorous practice and focus on critical thinking and analysis in AP courses.

Explore academic interests

AP courses allow students to explore their academic interests in greater depth, taking classes not typically offered at the high school level. This can help students decide on a college major or career path.

How to Sign Up for AP Computer Science Tests

To sign up for Advanced Placement (AP) classes and tests, you need to talk to your school counsellor, register for AP courses, attend classes, register for exams, pay the exam fee, and take the exam. This process will allow you to earn college credit and improve your college application. It will also help develop important skills for college and beyond!

How to Prepare for AP Computer Science Exams?

There are many ways to prepare for AP Computer Science exams, including self-study, practice exams and review courses. However, the best way to do well on exams is to get private tutoring lessons from a teacher or a tutor.

And in this case, you’re in luck! I provide private 1-on-1 classes on AP Computer Science A and AP Computer Science Principles. Get started with a free lesson today!

Aniket Malik

Aniket Malik

AP Computer Science Tutor | Trainer

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Aniket Malik

Aniket Malik


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