AP Computer Science Principles Assessment Tips

The following strategies will help you do your best work when completing the performance tasks.

Read all task directions and guidelines

The Assessment Overview and Performance Task Directions for Students (.pdf/1MB) includes tips to read before completing the performance tasks, such as reviewing student samples and the scoring guidelines, the performance task directions, and the guidelines you must adhere to while completing each performance task. Underline key points as you read. Each performance task has its own unique guidelines, so be sure to take time to review both sets.

Review scoring guidelines and samples

You’ll find the scoring guidelines for both performance tasks on the About the Assessment page. Spend time familiarizing yourself with the scoring guidelines. The student samples allow you to see high-performing student responses as well as student responses with room for improvement. Use the student samples to practice applying the scoring guidelines so you can better apply the rubric to your own written responses.

Plan out your time

Your teacher will provide you with in-class time to complete each performance task. You will be given at least 8 hours to complete the Explore performance task and at least 12 hours to complete the Create performance task. We recommend taking time to map out your approach and what you plan to accomplish each day. This will help you stay on track and meet your goal of completing on time with a quality submission. At the end of each class, write down in a journal what you accomplished and what you plan to accomplish next. These notes can be very helpful when you have to complete your written responses and describe your development process. If the amount of class time provided is insufficient, you may work on your performance tasks outside of class.

Complete all components and answer all written responses

Be sure to complete all components of the performance task. When you review the scoring guidelines, you’ll see that much of your score comes from your written responses—just writing the program for the Create performance task is not enough to earn a high score. When completing the written responses, be sure to clearly label your answers. We recommend using the Written Response templates for Create (.doc/61KB) and Explore (.doc/23KB) provided by College Board  as a guide for organizing your responses.

Answer succinctly

Read and reread your responses. Be sure you have answered what was asked. The word-count limit is meant to encourage you to write clearly and concisely. Use the scoring guidelines to rate your own responses and determine if you can clarify or streamline any parts. You may need additional cycles of revision for this.


Throughout the year, your teacher will most likely give you scaffolded tasks to prepare you for completing the performance tasks on your own. Take these opportunities to review and understand the feedback that your teacher gives you on your work. Your teacher won’t be able to give you feedback on your final performance tasks that you upload for scoring, so these practice performance tasks are your only opportunity to get important feedback on your computational artifacts as well as your answers to written responses.

Credit contributors

When completing the Explore and Create performance tasks, you are allowed to incorporate media and program code that is not your own with significant modifications, extensions, or improvements. When using the creative work or innovations of another individual, you are required to acknowledge the creators or owners.

  • For Create, you can acknowledge program code that isn’t your original work by adding comments in the code. This program code cannot be used in your answers for the written responses, as these responses require you to include program code that you wrote.
  • For Explore, acknowledge any media used in the creation of the computational artifact in the artifact itself or in part 2e of the written response.

Failure to acknowledge the ideas and works of others is considered plagiarism, and any performance task that contains plagiarism will be given a score of 0. Before submitting your performance task, check that you have acknowledged all contributors.

Digital portfolio submissions

Once your performance tasks are complete and you are satisfied that you have done your best work, it is time to upload them to the digital portfolio. Before you upload your work, double-check that you have not included your name on any of the components, including as part of the file name.

Uploading a file to the digital portfolio is only the first step in submitting work to College Board for scoring. Uploaded files are stored as drafts until the student goes through the necessary steps to submit their work as final.

You will be submitting five files as final. When you are ready to submit, be sure to:

  • Check that the current draft does indeed represent your final submission.
  • Check to be sure that you’ve submitted your work to the correct performance task. It is common for students to accidentally reverse their submissions, submitting Create for Explore and Explore for Create.
  • Complete the attestations for each of your submissions.
  • Submit each draft file as final.

Only files submitted as final are sent for scoring.


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