AP Computer Science Principles Exam

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About the Course

Learn the principles that underlie the science of computing and develop the thinking skills that computer scientists use. You’ll work on your own and as part of a team to creatively address real-world issues using the tools and processes of computation.

Skills You'll Learn

  • Making connections between concepts in computing

  • Designing a program to solve a problem or complete a task

  • Applying abstractions in computation and modeling

  • Analyzing computational work

  • Communicating ideas about technology and computation

  • Working collaboratively to solve problems

Equivalency and Prerequisites

College Course Equivalent

A first-semester introductory college course in computing

Recommended Prerequisites

High school algebra course

Exam Dates

  • Fri, Apr 30, 2021,
    11:59 PM ET

    AP Computer Science Principles Create Performance Task Due Date

    You must submit your final Create AP Computer Science Principles performance task via the AP Digital Portfolio by this time.

  • Thu, May 13, 2021,
    8 AM Local

    AP Computer Science Principles Exam

    This is the regularly scheduled date for the AP Computer Science Principles Exam.

Course Content

You’ll learn how important collaboration is in developing programs and how to use an iterative process in your work.

Topics may include:

  • Collaboration
  • Program design and development

On the Exam

10%–13% of exam score

You’ll explore how computers handle data and how data can be used to produce new information and solve problems.

Topics may include:

  • Data compression
  • Extracting information from data

On the Exam

17%−22% of exam score

You’ll learn how to use algorithms and abstractions to create programs that solve problems or to express your own creativity.

Topics may include:

  • Developing algorithms
  • Simulations
  • Algorithmic efficiency

On the Exam

30%−35% of exam score

You’ll explore how computer systems and networks work and how using multiple computers to divide tasks can speed up processes.

Topics may include:

  • The Internet
  • Parallel and distributed computing

On the Exam

11%−15% of exam score

You’ll examine the effects computing has had on societies, economies, and cultures and consider the legal and ethical responsibilities of programmers.

Topics may include:

  • The digital divide
  • Computing bias
  • Safe computing

On the Exam

21%−26% of exam score

Search AP Credit Policies

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

See Where AP Can Take You

AP Computer Science Principles Exam can lead to a wide range of careers and college majors

Career Areas 130
Majors 48

FAQs

No previous experience with coding is required. While programming is taught in the course, it’s only one of the many aspects of computing that you’ll learn.

Great! You can build on the skills that you already have and apply them to exciting and relevant projects.

Successful completion of Algebra I is highly recommended. A home computer is not needed, and schools are required to provide students with access to computing devices to complete the course. You do not need to have prior computer science knowledge or experience.

In this course, you will learn the computing skills needed to collaborate with peers to solve real world problems you are passionate about—from simple games and apps to programs that can analyze large data sets or inspire the creation of visual art and music. Students will collaborate on designing computing solutions to solve real-world problems that they care about. Students will use their creativity to develop hands-on projects throughout the school year.

Over 750 colleges and universities offer credit and placement for AP CSP. The College Board is actively working with institutions to develop and publish their credit and placement policies for AP CSP.

While we make every effort to keep our records up to date, colleges and universities develop and publish new policies according to their own often varying schedules, so you should always contact an institution you’re interested in directly (by phone or email) if you can’t find a published credit policy.

If your school is not planning to offer AP CSP next year, talk to your counselors and teachers to advocate for the course.

You can study independently to take the AP CSP Exam, but due to the nature of the course and the exam, we recommend, if possible, that you find another high school in your area or an online program that will enroll you in its AP CSP course. You can complete the required components of the course by submitting the Create performance task as final in the AP Digital Portfolio and taking the AP end-of-course exam. See a list of recommended online course providers.

If you plan to study independently instead of participating in an AP CSP course, we recommend that you take these steps.

Confirm with the AP coordinator at your school or a participating AP school:

  • Will the AP coordinator provide you with all the necessary information and directions for enrollment and submission of work in the AP Digital Portfolio?
  • Will the AP coordinator order and administer the AP end-of-course multiple-choice exam?

Review the course page to understand what you need to know to perform well in an AP CSP course and exam.

If possible, find a teacher who can mentor you through the course.

Not a student?

Go to AP Central for resources for educators