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How Can I Get a 5 in AP Computer Science Principles?

4 min readβ€’october 11, 2021

Harrison Burnside

Harrison Burnside


AP Computer Science Principles ⌨️

80Β resources
See Units

Introducing APCSP πŸ—£οΈ

APCSP is a relatively small class πŸ‘¨β€πŸ« with a few resources online, but there are some amazing ones like Fiveable that are here to help! If you can practice for the exam and use these tips, then you should be all set to do awesome 🀩 on your Create PT and ace your MCQ exam.

4 Tips for a Five

#1: Know the Exam 1️⃣

The APCSP πŸ’» exam is formatted as follows:
Section 1: The Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs)
For the MCQ section, you will be given:
  • 120 Minutes (2 Hours)
  • To Answer 70 MCQs
This section is weighted at 70% of your exam score so make sure to study before the AP Exam Start Time!
Another important thing to know about the MCQ 🧐 section of your exam is that there are different big ideas and computational practices weighted on your exam! We've broken them down for you:

πŸ‹οΈβ€β™‚οΈ APCSP MCQ Unit Weighting

There are five Big Ideas in AP Computer Science Principles that are tested on the AP Exam. You can reference this table to see which units you should study πŸ“– the most and least:
Big Idea MCQ Weighting
There are also five Computational Thinking Practices in the APCSP exam. If you don't recognize these names, don't worry too much, these are mostly for teachers to spiral these themes through the Big Ideas! Check these out with the practice questions ✍️ later:
Computational Thinking Practice MCQ Weighting
Computational Thinking PracticeWeighting
Practice 1: Computational Solution Design18-25%
Practice 2: Algorithms and Program Development20-28%
Practice 3: Abstraction in Program Development 7-12%
Practice 4: Code Analysis12-19%
Practice 5: Computing Innovations28-33%

Section 2: The Create Performance Task (PT)

The other 30% of your exam score will come from Section two, so make sure to check out all of our information about the Create PT πŸ’Ύ (Performance Task):
πŸ“ Read: AP Computer Science Principles - Create PT Help
This section will not 🚫 be tested during your AP Exam, but you will instead be given 12 hours of class-time to work on your coding masterpiece πŸŽ‰

#2: Don't Procrastinate the Performance Task 2️⃣

You have a whole year to create and write about a program of your choosing! Don't put it off until April or May πŸ“… because all of your work (including studying for other AP exams) will stack up πŸ“š

#3: Practice with Pseudocode 3️⃣

On the Multiple Choice section, about 30% of the problems will have pseudocode in the questions or answers! It is a programming language πŸ“’ that can't actually be used in any coding tool but is easily read and understood.
The pseudocode language is basically a combination of a block-based 🧱 language (Scratch, Alice, etc.) and a basic typing language (Python, JS, etc.). While you will get a reference sheet on exam day, we highly recommend trying to learn and practice with pseudocode before exam day so you don't have to waste time reading and tracing while you translate πŸ’Ή then! Check out this great reference sheet πŸ“ from the College Board to get a glimpse into the language!
On the Reference Sheet for Pseudocode, there are eight code categories! These are super useful 🧠 to know so you don't waste valuable time ⏲️ on exam day trying to find the exact line of code in these six pages. Here are the categories to know:
  1. Assignment, Display, and Input
  2. Arithmetic Operators and Numeric Procedures
  3. Rational and Boolean Operators
  4. Selection
  5. Iteration
  6. List Operations (largest category)
  7. Procedures and Calls
  8. Robot (the most fun πŸ€ͺ category!)

#4: Make Flashcards to Review Key Vocab and Concepts

APCSP πŸ–₯️ is not too content-heavy, but the class focuses more on learning the big picture and narrowing πŸ” in on personal solutions and perspectives! A really important part of the MCQ section, however, is learning and applying fundamental vocab in the context of problems.
A big tip of mine would be to make personal flashcards or maybe just use some awesome Quizlets 🎊 Don't know where to start looking? Check out:
πŸ“ Read: AP Computer Science Principles - Best Quizlet Decks by Unit
Here are a few important key vocab words πŸ”Š to get you started:
  • Algorithm
  • Abstraction
  • Compression (Lossy vs. Lossless)
  • Computer System
  • Digital Divide
  • Internet Protocol
  • Packets
  • Router

Closing Thoughts πŸ’­

Make sure to use all of our tips to be able to get that Five on your APCSP Exam πŸ™Œ When you study with us, your exam is easily Fiveable!
Browse Study Guides By Unit
πŸ•ΉUnit 1 – Creative Development
βš™οΈUnit 2 – Data
πŸ“±Unit 3 – Algorithms & Programming
πŸ–₯Unit 4 – Computer Systems & Networks
⌨️Unit 5 – Impact of Computing
✏️Frequently Asked Questions
πŸ“Exam Prep

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