What Are the 5 Best Resources for AP Computer Science Principles?

4 min readnovember 23, 2021

Harrison Burnside

Harrison Burnside

AP Computer Science A 💻

130 resources
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Best AP Computer Science Principles Resources

Picking your battles is one significant thing, but preparing for the battle is in a whole other realm! The same applies for AP Computer Science Principles, where all the knowledge you've accumulated throughout the school year will pay off in one final assessment in May. Therefore, the resources you acquire information from is a major factor for you to get that lovely 5!

📖 Understanding the Exam

The AP Computer Science Principles exam is FIVEable when you have the right resources.
The exam includes three sections, with its Explore & Create Tasks and the End-Of-Course exam. The Tasks are worth 40% of the exam score combined while the test is two hours long and worth 60% of your score. The two performance tasks (Explore & Create) are due on Thursday, April 30, 2020, and the Exam is on the last day of AP Weeks on Friday, May 15 in the morning.
For the Explore and Create Tasks, you will be given 8 hours and 12 hours, respectively, in class. The Explore Performance Task is worth 16% of your exam score, and the Create Performance Task is 24% of your exam score. More details for the two performance tasks are further explained in this document from the College Board (AP® Computer Science Principles: Assessment Overview and Performance Task) and in another blog post.

Prep Books 📔

Source: Amazon

5️⃣ Steps to a 5: Here

I personally used this book to study for tests throughout the course and to review for the big AP Exam in May. Reading this book for the CONTENT REVIEW a few weeks before the exam was very helpful in learning what was necessary to know for the exam. There is a nice PSEUDOCODE GUIDE at the end of the book for the code that the College Board uses on the AP Exam. The practice questions at the end of units are very helpful in reviewing the content that you just learned! I would not recommend this book for help on the performance tasks though. The practice exams in this book are also NOT SIMILAR enough to the types of questions on the AP exam.
This prep book, irregardless, remains as my top recommendation as it is one of the only ones on the market. The book is pretty thin and not too word heavy in a NICE STYLE TO READ. The book is currently less than $7.99 on Amazon.

📚 REA Crash Course: Here

I recommend this prep book ONLY for its sections on the PERFORMANCE TASKS. The Explore & Create Task sections in this book are about 10x longer and more in-depth than the 5 Steps to a 5 Section. There is a NICE STRUCTURE to the task sections with checklists, examples, and “AP Tips” in every chapter with sections for each small written response in each Explore and Create Task Review. There is a nice practice test online on the REA portal where you can register your prep book. Its content review for the exam is lacking in substance and practice questions. The book also does not include all of the tested units on the AP Exam and it includes some extra information not in any of the units on the College Board’s Course and Exam Description.
The book is perfect for its CHECKLISTS and STRUCTURED REVIEW for the AP Computer Science Principles Performance Tasks. It is currently less than $12.00 on Amazon.

📜 Khan Academy AP CSP Review Questions and Articles: Here

Khan Academy has units take you can earn points on with quiz games to help prepare for the AP CSP Exam. There are ARTICLES TO READ with PRACTICE QUESTIONS that are similar to the style of questions on the real AP Exam. There are also online practices with coding samples in 4 DIFFERENT PROGRAMMING LANGUAGES which can be helpful in finding a platform to create your Create Performance Task Projects in. Khan Academy is free with an account created to be able to use their practice tests.

🏫 Harvard's CS50 Youtube Lectures Play: Here

A Harvard Professor Teaches a LECTURE called CS 50 which closely aligns with the AP CSP curriculum. The lectures about Algorithms, Data Structures, Computational Thinking, and Information help emphasize content in a video format for VISUAL LEARNERS. The lectures are very easy to watch and listen to and help prepare for the AP Exam. They are posted on YouTube.

💻 codeHS AP CSP Exam Review Playlist: Here

A teacher, Calvin Studebaker, created a playlist on a coding teaching website to help review for the AP Exam. These questions are VERY SIMILAR to those on the AP Exam, so this was one of my top resources preparing for the exam. I used ALL 30 ACTIVITIES including printing out the reference sheet to practice for some of the quizzes that needed it. These AP Style Quizzes are very good review as each quiz has 5 questions that can be SELF-PACED. You can do all of the quizzes in one day if that is the time you have left before the exam or you can do 5 quizzes per week if you have 6 weeks before the exam.

Browse Study Guides By Unit
Unit 1 – Primitive Types
📱Unit 2 – Using Objects
🖥Unit 3 – Boolean Expressions & if Statements
🕹Unit 4 – Iteration
⚙️Unit 5 – Writing Classes
⌚️Unit 6 – Array
💾Unit 7 – ArrayList
💻Unit 8 – 2D Array
🖲Unit 9 – Inheritance
🖱Unit 10 – Recursion
🙏Exam Reviews

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