AP Computer Science A

Sign in to My AP to access free support in AP Classroom, including AP Daily videos.

About the Exam

Important Update

Updated April 8 You can now download the digital testing application and take digital practice to prepare for the testing experience. See below for more information on digital practice and taking the digital exam.

2021 AP Computer Science A Exams will be offered on paper in early May and as a digital exam in late May and early June.

The paper and the digital versions of the AP Computer Science A Exam will be full length, containing the typical multiple-choice and free-response sections and covering the full scope of course content, giving you the opportunity to qualify for college credit and placement.

There are differences between the paper and digital versions of some 2021 AP Exams, and those variations differ by course. The information below applies to AP Computer Science A only. View a summary of all 2021 AP Exam formats.

Learn more about 2021 testing.


As the exam approaches, take advantage of AP Daily: Live Review sessions April 19–29.

Exam Overview
The Computer Science A Exam will test your understanding of the programming concepts covered in the course units, as well as your ability to read and write code for computer programs.

Exam Duration
3hrs

Digital Practice and Testing Information

Updated April 8

Digital Practice Now Available

Starting April 8, you can try out the test-day experience, by answering example questions in the digital testing application. See the Digital Practice page for general information about practice options.

AP Computer Science A students will have two options to answer example questions in the digital testing application. Both provide approximately the same time limit per question as the full exam.

  • Digital Practice has a shortened multiple-choice section (10 questions, 25 minutes), a shortened break of 5 minutes, and a shortened free-response section (2 questions, 45 minutes). The time limits provide approximately the same time per question as the full exam.
  • The App Demo is an even shorter subset of the questions in Digital Practice–5 multiple-choice questions, a 2-minute break, and 1 free-response question.

We highly recommend you take the Digital Practice, and strongly advise that if you can’t take the Digital Practice, at least take the App Demo. Both can be taken multiple times, and can be accessed directly in the digital testing application. You can access your answers and solution materials (MCQ answer key, FRQ scoring guidelines) for the Digital Practice. Note: Taking the App Demo after completing Digital Practice may override your answers from Digital Practice.

Taking the Digital Exam

You should be aware of some aspects of testing digitally that they’ll encounter–in the Digital Practice and on exam day:

  • The digital testing app provides an annotation tool. You can use this tool to highlight important parts of the prompt, like parameters and the return value of the method to ensure that, if necessary, you are returning the correct type of value.
  • You will enter code for all FRQ responses. Hence, the interface will look different for CSA than it will for all other exams. You can use the Tab key to indent your code for readability.
  • Some free-response question prompts reference a specific question part. You can click on the » symbol shown in the prompt to automatically scroll to the referenced location.
  • The Java Quick Reference can be accessed with the Reference button in the upper right button bar of the application. The interface and layout are different in the digital testing application than in the paper exam booklet, so you should take a look when they take digital practice.
  • You’ll answer all multiple-choice questions and type all free-response answers directly in the digital exam application. Scratch paper is permitted for notes or planning, but you cannot handwrite or otherwise upload responses
  • You can’t go back to questions you’ve already answered, and cannot  skip ahead. 
  • However, free-response questions 1, 3, and 4 will each be presented in multiple parts, and you’ll answer each part on a separate screen. You may move among the parts of the question currently being answered, with the Back and Next buttons. Once you’ve entered your response to the last part of a question, you won’t be able to go back to any part of that question. Question 2 is answered entirely on 1 screen.
  • Exam directions and section-specific directions will not be read by a proctor–they’ll appear entirely in the application. You’ll see them at the beginning of each section, and can access them at any time during the exam. Please note that the exam timer starts when the directions appear. While you should read the directions, be aware that the timer will be running while you do so. You can view the full text of the exam and section directions in advance of the exam.

Exam Dates

  • Thu, May 6, 2021,
    12 PM Local

    Paper, In School

    AP Computer Science A Exam

    This is the Administration 1 date for the AP Computer Science A Exam.

  • Tue, May 18, 2021,
    4 PM EDT

    Digital, In School and At Home

    AP Computer Science A Exam

    This is the Administration 2 date for the AP Computer Science A Exam.

  • Tue, Jun 1, 2021,
    4 PM EDT

    Digital, In School and At Home

    AP Computer Science A Exam

    This is the Administration 3 date for the AP Computer Science A Exam.

Exam Components

Note on 2021 Exams

Both the paper and digital versions of the AP Computer Science A Exam will be full length, containing the typical multiple-choice and free-response sections and covering the full range of skills and knowledge specified in the course and exam description.

There are differences between the paper and digital versions of some 2021 AP Exams, and those variations differ by course. The information below applies to AP Computer Science A only. View a summary of all 2021 AP Exam formats.

40 questions 1hr 30mins 50% of Score

The multiple-choice section includes individual, single questions as well as occasional sets of 2 questions. You’ll be asked to:

  • Determine the required code segments to produce a given output
  • Identify the output, value, or result of given program code based on initial values
  • Analyze program code for correctness, equivalence, and errors
  • Describe the behavior and conditions that lead to results in a program

4 questions 1hr 30mins 50% of Score

In the free-response section, you’ll respond to four questions with written answers. The section includes:

  • Question 1: Methods and Control Structures—You’ll be asked to write program code to create objects of a class and call methods, and satisfy method specifications using expressions, conditional statements, and iterative statements.
  • Question 2: Classes—You’ll be asked to write program code to define a new type by creating a class and satisfy method specifications using expressions, conditional statements, and iterative statements.
  • Question 3: Array/ArrayList—You’ll be asked to write program code to satisfy method specifications and create, traverse, and manipulate elements in 1D array or ArrayList objects.
  • Question 4: 2D Array—You’ll be asked to write program code to satisfy method specifications and create, traverse, and manipulate elements in 2D array objects.

Exam Preparation

Search AP Credit Policies

Find colleges that grant credit and/or placement for AP Exam scores in this and other AP courses.

Not a student?

Go to AP Central for resources for educators