AP Computer Science Principles Exam Tips

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

Read all task directions and guidelines

The AP Computer Science Principles Student Handouts (.pdf/1 MB) includes tips to read before completing the performance task, such as reviewing student samples and the scoring guidelines, the performance task directions, and the guidelines you must adhere to while completing the Create performance task. Underline key points as you read.

Review scoring guidelines and samples

You’ll find the scoring guidelines for the Create performance task on the About the Exam page. Spend time familiarizing yourself with the scoring guidelines. The student samples allow you to see high-performing student responses and 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 response.

Plan out your time

Your teacher will give you at least 12 hours of in-class time 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 response and describe your development process. If the amount of class time provided is insufficient, you may work on your performance task outside of class.

Complete all components and answer the written response

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 response—just writing the program for the Create performance task is not enough to earn a high score.

Answer succinctly

Read and reread your responses to the prompts. 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.

Practice!

Throughout the year, your teacher will most likely give you multiple programming tasks to prepare you for completing the performance task on your own. Take these opportunities to review and understand the feedback your teacher gives you on your work. Your teacher can’t give you feedback on your final Create performance task that you upload for scoring, so these practice performance tasks are your only opportunity to get important feedback on your program and your answers to the written response.

Credit contributors

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

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.

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

Digital portfolio submissions

Information coming soon: The digital submission process for AP Computer Science Principles course is changing for school year 2020-21. We’ll post instructions on this page in August — be sure to check back. 

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