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Alexey Yelenevych
Co-Founder at CodeGym

Where to Learn and How to Pass the AP Computer Science A Exam

Published in the Random group

What is Advanced Placement Computer Science?

Advanced Placement Computer Science is a suite of Advanced Placement courses and examinations mostly taught in the United States and Canada. AP Computer Science course covers multiple areas of computer science and is offered to high school students by the College Board, non-profit organization as a way to earn college credit for college-level courses. Today, Advanced Placement Computer Science course consists of two classes: AP Computer Science Principles and AP Computer Science A.Where to Learn and How to Pass the AP Computer Science A Exam - 1AP Computer Science A covers mainly the basics of object-oriented programming methodology, such as problem solving and algorithm development, as well as general introduction to data structures and abstraction. This class stands on the same footing with the first-semester course in CS and, for the time being, AP computer science A practice exam tests the students’ knowledge of Java language. AP Computer Science Principles is an introductory class covering the main basic subjects of computer science, such as computational thinking, algorithms, creativity, programming, and so on. AP Computer Science Principles was designed to be an equivalent of a first-semester course in computing.

Training program for AP Computer Science principles exam

Here’s what you will learn, on a rather basic level, after taking the AP Computer Science A course:
  • Designing programs and developing algorithms to solve problems;
  • Using logic to determine the output, value, or result of given program code given initial values;
  • Writing and implementing program code;
  • Running, testing, and debugging programming code including analyzing program code for correctness, equivalence, and errors;
  • Documenting code to describe the behavior and conditions that produce the specified results in a program;
  • Understanding the ethical and social implications of computer use.

Training program for AP Computer Science A exam

And here are the main topics of the AP Computer Science Principles course:
  • Making connections between concepts in computing;
  • Applying abstractions in computation and modeling;
  • Communicating ideas about technology and computation;
  • Designing a program to solve a problem or complete a task;
  • Analyzing computational work;
  • Working collaboratively to solve problems.

How to prepare for the AP Computer Science practice test

AP Computer Science is not such a difficult course, and with some preparation, you should be able to deal with it fairly easily. To prove that you have mastered the material and earn credit for college you need to get a passing score of 3 or more. According to the data from CollegeVine guidance service, in 2019 the average passing rate for both AP Computer Science courses was 69-72%. Here are some tips on how to prepare for the AP Computer Science exam.

Learn the course framework and the exam structure

To understand the framework of AP Computer Science course and structure of the practice exam in detail, it is recommended to study the official AP Computer Science Principles Course and Exam Description that is available for download on the College Board’s website. Here’s a brief description of how both AP CS exam’s structure looks like. The AP Computer Science A exam is 3 hours long and consists of two sections — multiple-choice and free-response — one hour and thirty minutes each. In the multiple-choice section, you need to answer 40 questions. In the free-response section there are only 4 questions, which require a broad answer. Both sections are weighted equally when it comes to the exam results evaluation. The AP Computer Science Principles exam also has two sections: multiple-choice and a performance task. The performance task has to be completed over the course of the year. The multiple-choice section has 70 questions, which you have to answer in 2 hours. The performance task will require a student to write a specific computer program solving some kind of a problem. As an addition, you would need to submit a digital portfolio of your work, which would include samples of the actual code, written responses, and a video.

Get familiar with learning topics of the both AP Computer Science courses

Here is the list of topics covered in AP Computer Science A:
  • Types and Objects;
  • Boolean Expressions;
  • Writing Classes;
  • Arrays;
  • Inheritance;
  • Recursion.
And here is what you should learn to pass the AP Computer Science Principles exam:
  • Creative Development;
  • Data;
  • Algorithms and Programming;
  • Computing Systems and Networks;
  • Impact of Computing.

Use CodeGym to prepare for the exam in a fun and entertaining way

CodeGym’s course can provide you with pretty much all the knowledge that you need to pass the AP Computer Science exam, as it focuses on the object-oriented programming methodology. With CodeGym, instead of reading (or listening to) boring lectures you can learn everything in a fun and entertaining gamified way, going through the exciting plot. Though it’s a gamified online course, the training program leads learners straight to the comprehension of object-oriented programming. The primary levels of the course include the following topics:
  1. Primitive data types and using objects;
  2. Boolean Expressions, if Statements, and Iteration;
  3. Writing classes and using constructors;
  4. Introduction to objects: writing objects, their lifetime, etc;
  5. Arrays, ArrayList;
  6. Basics of OOP.
Another major advantage of using CodeGym to prepare for the AP Computer Science exam is the fact that you will get to solve a lot of practical tasks to make sure you really understood all the information and won’t forget it on the exam.

Watch AP Computer Science videos on YouTube

As a nice addition, you can try watching AP Computer Science tutorial videos on YouTube. Here are a few decent examples that we can recommend:
  1. Advanced Placement channel:
  2. The College Board channel.
  3. CS50 lectures.