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Important Updates

AP Computer Science Principles Updates for 2020-21
For the 2020-21 academic year we’ve made updates to the AP CSP course and exam to improve the course experience and better align AP CSP to introductory college courses in the subject. You can use the new Course and Exam Description starting fall 2020 to guide your instruction. Order a Course and Exam Description binder today.

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Course Overview

AP Computer Science Principles is an introductory college-level computing course that introduces students to the breadth of the field of computer science. Students learn to design and evaluate solutions and to apply computer science to solve problems through the development of algorithms and programs. They incorporate abstraction into programs and use data to discover new knowledge. Students also explain how computing innovations and computing systems—including the internet—work, explore their potential impacts, and contribute to a computing culture that is collaborative and ethical.

Course Content

Based on the Understanding by Design® (Wiggins and McTighe) model, the AP Computer Science Principles Course and Exam Description provides a clear and detailed description of the course requirements necessary for student success. The course is designed to be equivalent to a first-semester introductory college computing course. The major areas of study in the course are organized around big ideas that encompass ideas foundational to studying computer science.

The AP Computer Science Principles course framework is organized into five big ideas. As always, you have the flexibility to organize the course content as you like.

Big Idea Exam Weighting (Multiple-Choice Section)

Big Idea 1: Creative Development

10%–13%

Big Idea 2: Data

17%–22%

Big Idea 3: Algorithms and Programming

30%–35%

Big Idea 4: Computer Systems and Networks

11%–15%

Big Idea 5: Impact of Computing

21%–26%

Computational Thinking Practices

The AP Computer Science Principles course framework included in the course and exam description outlines distinct skills from computational thinking practices that students should practice and develop throughout the year—skills that will help them learn to think and act like computer scientists. Emphasis is placed on creativity and collaboration as pedagogical strategies to be used to develop a diverse, appealing, and inclusive classroom environment.

Computational Thinking Practice Description Exam Weighting (Multiple-Choice Section)

1. Computational Solution Design

Design and evaluate computational solutions for a purpose.

18%–25%

2. Algorithms and Program Development

Develop and implement algorithms.

20%–28%

3. Abstraction in Program Development

Develop programs that incorporate abstractions.

7%–12%

4. Code Analysis

Evaluate and test algorithms and programs.

12%–19%

5. Computing Innovations

Investigate computing innovations.

28%–33%

6. Responsible Computing

Contribute to an inclusive, safe, collaborative, and ethical computing culture.

Not assessed

AP and Higher Education

AP Computer Science Principles was created with significant support from the National Science Foundation and more than 50 leading high school and higher education computer science educators who piloted the program at their institutions. Over 750 colleges and universities offer credit and placement policies for AP CSP and more will be communicated over the next year. The College Board is actively working with institutions to develop and publish their credit and placement policies for AP CSP.

Visit the AP Higher Education site for higher education support and resources, as well as information on recruitment, admissions, and credit and placement policies.

Meet the Development Committee for AP Computer Science Principles.