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Is AP Computer Science Principles Hard? Is AP Computer Science Principles Worth Taking?

4 min readβ€’october 12, 2021

Harrison Burnside

Harrison Burnside

AP Computer Science Principles ⌨️

80Β resources
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Hey πŸ‘‹ So, you're probably wondering if you should take AP Computer Science Principles πŸ’» Let's talk about it.

Overview of AP CSP πŸ€—

AP Computer Science Principles is the equivalent of a semester-long intro to computer science course. AP CSP encompasses five big ideas, one performance task, and an AP exam with zero pre-requisites πŸ₯³
As long as you review the required content and practice, you will do extremely well. Many students take AP CSP as one of their first APs and deem it as one of the "easier" AP subjects.

Format of the Exam πŸ“

Section 1: The Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs)

For the MCQ section, you will be given:
  • 120 Minutes
  • 70 MCQs
    • 57 "single-select" questions
      • Just like every other AP Test, you will have questions (some with stimulus, some without) where you just pick an answer and bubble it on your answer sheet 😁
    • 5 "single-select reading passage" questions
      • This is a special section that only appears on the AP CSP exam! You will get a reading passage about a computational innovation (see the previous years' Explore PT). Then, you will have to answer questions about how it has affected the world of computing and its global impact πŸ™Œ
    • 8 "multi-select" questions
      • This section appears on a few AP Exams, like Physics 2, where you get a question where 2 answers are correct πŸ™€ Both of them have to be correct to get credit.
This section is weighted at 70% of your exam score.
πŸ“Read: AP Computer Science Principles - Multiple Choice Tips

Section 2: The Create Performance Task (PT)

The other 30% of your exam score will come from Section 2, 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 Task Tips
The PT is not on your AP Exam; instead, you will have 12 hours of class time to work on your coding masterpiece πŸŽ‰

Well, how hard is AP CSP? πŸ’»

Data πŸ“Š

College Board's 2019 Score Data from APCSP:
5: 13.8%
4: 21%
3: 37.1%
2: 18.8%
1: 9.3%
There is no way to judge how hard the course is until you take it. It all truly depends on your teacher, your workload, and your commitment to this course alone.

Factors to ConsiderπŸ’­

  1. Motivation: Motivation plays a huge part in school, in general. A little bit of motivation can help you through the day, and complete everything on your to-do list βœ… If you are going to take AP CSP, set a goal for yourself, and celebrate doing the little things! The performance task takes lots of hard work to perfect the code and your written responses ✍️
    1. Whether or not you love computer science, or even studying in general, you can definitely find motivation by setting a goal πŸ†
2. Time Commitment: AP CSP is one of the more manageable APs and shouldn't take much time ⏲️ out of your day.

Is AP CSP Worth It? πŸ€”

Most are thrilled that they took AP CSP. Even though computer science is a foreign language πŸ—£οΈ to some, AP CSP does not require any past knowledge! These are the main takeaways from the course:
  1. Credit πŸŽ“: Many colleges accept credit for AP CSP if you score high enough. You may be able to skip an introductory course and go straight to a higher-level computer science course in a specific programming language!
  2. Future Experiences πŸ‘¨β€πŸŽ“: Many people will take this class as a stepping stone to a future college major or career. AP CSP is a prerequisite for higher-level programming classes. From a survey of many Fiveable AP CSP students πŸ—³οΈ, we gathered data on the rigor of the class and AP exam! Here's what they had to say:
  • On a scale from 1 star (extremely easy) to 5 stars (super-duper hard), the students πŸ‘¨β€πŸŽ“ rated:
    • The AP CSP Exam: 3.11 stars ⭐⭐⭐
    • The AP CSP Performance Tasks: 3.375 stars ⭐⭐⭐
    • The AP CSP Class: 2.33 stars ⭐⭐

Words of Wisdom from the Fiveable Community

Is APCSP Worth It?

"APCSP is not your average AP class. Team building and creativity are emphasized and encouraged in this course to a great extent. CSP is an extremely friendly course for people who aren't tech enthusiasts but want a taste of what computer science is."β€”Krish Gupta

Is APCSP Hard?

"A lot of people think this class is all about coding and programming, but it isn't. Honestly, even though coding may be frustrating or hard for some people, it can be a really fun and great skill."β€”Smera B.

Should I Take APCSP?

"Even if you have no idea what computer science is, take the class! AP CSP is more about the concept of computer science rather than coding itself. It's more of a logic and history class than a confusing coding class!"β€”Rachel Yuan
"Take AP CSP if you're even considering computer science! It's a great introductory course and in a tech-filled world, it's good knowledge to have!"β€”Natasha

Closing Thoughts πŸ’­

Weigh all of the factors in and try and make your decision on whether or not you want to take AP CSP. AP CSP isn't too hard and can absolutely be worth it to get an introductory knowledge of computer science. If you go for it, you'll never forget this class πŸ™ƒ No matter what you choose, good luck πŸ€ and remember to study with Fiveable to get that 5!!
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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