AP Computer Science Principles

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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

Assessment Dates

  • Tue, May 26, 2020,
    11:59 PM ET

    AP Computer Science Principles Performance Tasks Due Date

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

Course Content

You’ll learn that creativity is an important part of computing.

What you’ll do:

  • Apply a creative process to making a digital artifact (for example, a video, animation, infographic, audio recording, or program).
  • Make a digital artifact that is used for creative expression.

You’ll learn to use abstractions to model the world and communicate with people as well as computers.

What you’ll do:

  • Use data and programming abstractions to write programs and manage complexity.
  • Use models and simulations to represent phenomena.
  • Use models and simulations to develop and test hypotheses.

You’ll explore the many ways in which raw data in transformed into information and knowledge.

What you’ll do:

  • Work with data using a variety of computational tools and techniques.
  • Use computing tools to extract useful information from large data sets.

You’ll learn what algorithms are, what they can do, and how they’re used in computing.

What you’ll do:

  • Develop and express original algorithms.
  • Implement algorithms in a computer language.
  • Analyze algorithms analytically and empirically.

You’ll learn the concepts and techniques related to writing programs, developing software, and using software effectively.

What you’ll do:

  • Create a computer program to express your creativity, satisfy your curiosity, create new knowledge, or solve a problem.
  • Find errors in your program and fix them.

You’ll explore the principles of systems and networks that enable the Internet to function.

What you’ll do:

  • Gain insight into how the Internet operates.
  • Study characteristics of the Internet and systems built on it.
  • Analyze important concerns such as cybersecurity.

You’ll examine the many ways in which computers have changed how we think, work, live, and play.

What you’ll do:

  • Gain insight into how computing enhances human cognition, communication, and interaction.
  • Explore how computing has driven innovation in other fields.
  • Analyze the beneficial and harmful effects of computing in different scenarios.

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See Where AP Can Take You

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

Career Areas 130
Majors 48


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.

You will learn the skills needed to create digital projects—from simple games and apps to programs that can analyze large data sets or inspire the creation of visual art and music. On the AP Digital Portfolio–a web-based digital application–you will upload two digital projects accompanies by written responses that describe or analyze your work 

Over 500 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 of interest directly (via 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 assessments, we recommend, if possible, that you find another high school in your area or an online program that will enroll you in their AP CSP course. In this way you can complete the required components of the course: submitting performance tasks and taking the AP Exam at the end of the course. See a list of recommended online course providers.

If you plan to study independently and don’t participate in an AP CSP course, we recommend the following:

Confirm the following 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 Exam at the end of the course?

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.

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