How Can I Be Prepared for the AP Computer Science Principles Multiple Choice?

5 min read•december 10, 2021

Harrison Burnside

Harrison Burnside

AP Computer Science Principles ⌨️

80 resources
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If I had one piece of advice for ANY AP test 📝, it is to know the exam like the back of your hand. This is especially true in APCSP since the exam has multiple parts including the MCQ ✍️ (Multiple Choice Questions) and the Create PT 💾 (Performance Task)! When you walk in on test day, the last thing you want to be thinking is “oh jeez, what will the questions look like?” or “How much time do we have for the multi-select section?”
If you know the exam, these fears will go away. If you consistently practice and know what to expect walking into the exam, it can relieve exam stress and help you with time management along with answering the questions.
Let's dive into the APCSP exam and take a look at how the exam is formatted and scored 💯

1️⃣ Section 1: The Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs)

For the MCQ section 🧐, you will be given:
  • 120 Minutes
    • AKA 2 hours
  • To Answer 70 MCQs
    • 57 "single-select" questions
    • 5 "single-select reading passage" questions
    • 8 "multi-select" questions
This section is weighted at 70% of your exam score so make sure to study well before the exam!

2️⃣ 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 💾 (Performance Task):
📝 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 🎉

👨‍💻 PseudoCode on the MCQs

In the MCQ section, about 30% of the questions will have pseudocode in the questions or answers! Pseudocode is a programming language that can't actually be used in an IDE (Integrated Development Environment) but is easily read 👓
The language is basically a combination of a block-based language (Scratch, Alice, etc.) and a basic typing language (Python, JS, etc.) You will get a reference sheet (linked below 🔗) on exam day, but we highly recommend trying to learn and practice with pseudocode before exam day so you don't have to waste time reading and translating then!
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 🤪 category!)

🏋️‍♂️ 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 📖 the most and least:
Big Idea MCQ Weighting

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 PracticeWeight
1️⃣ Practice 1: Computational Solution Design18-25%
2️⃣ Practice 2: Algorithms and Program Development20-28%
3️⃣ Practice 3: Abstraction in Program Development7-12%
4️⃣ Practice 4: Code Analysis12-19%
5️⃣ Practice 5: Computing Innovations28-33%

🏆 Practice Questions

All questions in this section are courtesy of the College Board's APCSP CED updated for 2021!
1. Which of the following best explains how data is typically assembled in packets for transmission over the Internet?
(A) Each packet contains data to be transmitted, along with metadata containing information used for routing the data.
(B) Each packet contains an encrypted version of the data to be transmitted, along with metadata containing the key needed to decrypt the data.
(C) Each packet contains only the metadata used to establish a direct connection so that the data can be transmitted.
(D) Each packet contains multiple data files bundled together, along with metadata describing how to categorize each data file.
2. Each student that enrolls at a school is assigned a unique ID number, which is stored as a binary number. The ID numbers increase sequentially by 1 with each newly enrolled student. If the ID number assigned to the last student who enrolled was the binary number 1001 0011, what binary number will be assigned to the next student who enrolls?
(A) 1001 0100
(B) 1001 0111
(C) 1101 0100
(D) 1101 0111
3. The following procedure is intended to return the number of times the value val appears in the list myList. The procedure does not work as intended.
Which of the following changes can be made so that the procedure will work as intended?
(A) Changing line 6 to IF(item = count)
(B) Changing line 6 to IF(myList[item] = val)
(C) Moving the statement in line 5 so that it appears between lines 2 and 3
(D) Moving the statement in line 11 so that it appears between lines 9 and 10

Answer Key

  1. A
  2. A
  3. C

Closing Thoughts 💭

The APCSP MCQ section is definitely not as hard as other AP exams. Make sure to practice and use the tips in this article and you should be all set for that Five 👍

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⚙️Unit 2 – Data
📱Unit 3 – Algorithms & Programming
🖥Unit 4 – Computer Systems & Networks
⌨️Unit 5 – Impact of Computing
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