AP Computer Science Principles: Exam Review

The Advanced Placement (AP) Computer Science Principles exam is a critical assessment for students interested in computer science and programming. This exam not only evaluates your understanding of fundamental computer science concepts but also assesses your ability to apply these principles to real-world problems. In this article, we will provide you with an exam review, covering the format, key topics, and tips to help you excel in the AP Computer Science Principles exam.

 AP Computer Science Principles Exam Format

The AP Computer Science Principles exam consists of two parts: the Create Performance Task and the Explore Performance Task. These two tasks make up your entire AP score.

1. Create Performance Task (CPT):

   - In the Create task, you will work on a programming project and create a computer program to solve a specific problem.

   - You will write and submit a program (code) as well as a written response that explains your code's purpose and functionality.

2. Explore Performance Task (EPT):

   - In the Explore task, you will examine a computing innovation or issue.

   - You will choose a computing innovation and write a report explaining the innovation's impact, potential benefits, and challenges.

The AP Computer Science Principles exam does not have multiple-choice questions or a traditional written exam. Your performance on the Create and Explore tasks, each scored out of 24 points, contributes to your overall AP score.

 Key Topics in AP Computer Science Principles

To excel in the AP Computer Science Principles exam, you need a strong grasp of various key topics. The course covers a wide range of areas, including:

1. Computational Thinking:

   - Understand the principles of computational thinking, such as algorithms, abstraction, and pattern recognition.

2. Programming:

   - Develop programming skills using a programming language like Python.

   - Write code to solve problems and create projects.

   - Understand programming concepts like variables, conditionals, loops, and functions.

3. Data:

   - Work with data and databases.

   - Analyze data and use data visualizations.

4. The Internet:

   - Explore how the internet functions.

   - Understand concepts like IP addresses, URLs, and routing.

5. Algorithms and Abstraction:

   - Learn about algorithms and their role in solving problems.

   - Explore data abstraction and how data can be represented and manipulated.

6. Impact of Computing:

   - Examine the societal, ethical, and cultural implications of computing.

   - Understand privacy, security, and digital footprints.

7. Emerging Trends:

   - Stay updated on emerging trends in computer science, including artificial intelligence, machine learning, and the internet of things (IoT).

 Exam Preparation Tips

Preparing for the AP Computer Science Principles exam requires a well-rounded approach. Here are some tips to help you succeed:

1. Understand the Course Framework:

   - Familiarize yourself with the course framework provided by the College Board. It outlines the topics, skills, and learning objectives you need to master.

2. Practice Programming:

   - Develop your programming skills by working on coding projects and exercises. Practice is crucial for the Create Performance Task.

3. Review Case Studies:

   - Review case studies and examples of computing innovations. These can provide valuable insights for the Explore Performance Task.

4. Study Resources:

   - Use textbooks, online resources, and study guides to reinforce your knowledge. The College Board's official website offers sample questions and resources.

5. Take Practice Exams:

   - Practice with past AP Computer Science Principles exams and sample Create and Explore tasks. Time yourself to get a feel for the exam's format.

6. Seek Help When Needed:

   - If you're struggling with specific concepts or programming tasks, don't hesitate to ask your teacher or a tutor for assistance.

7. Stay Updated:

   - Keep up with the latest developments in the world of computer science and technology. Being informed about emerging trends is beneficial for the exam.

8. Manage Your Time:

   - Time management is crucial during the exam. Allocate enough time for each task and pace yourself accordingly.

9. Practice Writing:

   - Develop strong written communication skills for the Explore Performance Task. Your report should be clear, well-structured, and concise.

10. Review and Revise:

    - Before the exam, review key concepts, go through your notes, and revise your projects. Ensure you understand the Create and Explore tasks thoroughly.


The AP Computer Science Principles exam assesses your knowledge of fundamental computer science principles and your ability to apply them in practical scenarios. By mastering key topics, practicing programming, and preparing effectively, you can maximize your chances of success on the exam. Keep in mind that success in this field often requires continuous learning and staying up-to-date with the latest technological advancements and innovations. Good luck with your AP Computer Science Principles exam!