AP Computer Science Principles Practice Exam

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There aren’t many options for a high schooler who wants to go into computer science in college. Most schools don’t have a big programming department, so an advanced placement (AP) computer science class may be your only option. You can also take the AP computer science exam to gain college credit.

With two different tests for the AP computer science course, you want to be sure you are studying for the right one. This article is going to focus on preparing for the principles exam, specifically by taking an AP computer science principles practice exam.

Summary: Use an AP CSP practice test listed below to start your preparation for this challenging exam.

Other AP Computer Science Principles Resources

We have made a list of resources for you to utilize to help you prepare, including the coveted AP CSP practice exam:

Name of Test Number of Questions
2014 College Board AP CSP Sample Questions 20 multiple-choice, 2 two-answer
AP CSP Practice Exam 1 Full 66 multiple-choice, 8 two-answer
College Board AP CSP Past Exam Questions Numerous questions

What is the Computer Science Exam?

As mentioned above, there are actually two different AP computer science tests. The AP computer science A practice exam focuses more on JAVA and object-oriented programming. We will be focusing on the AP computer science principles exam.

This exam focuses on the fundamental concepts behind computer science, and the course helps prepare those going into college for computer science to get ahead of other classmates. By passing (scoring a three or higher) the exam, you will likely not have to take the intro to computer science class in college.

AP Computer Science Principles Breakdown

Unlike other AP exams, the AP computer science exam is broken into five main ideas instead of units to be taught over the course of a school year. Your teacher may teach them in a different order, but you can be certain these five ideas will make an appearance in your class and on the exam:

  • Big Idea One: Creative Development (10-13%)
  • Big Idea Two: Data (17-22%)
  • Big Idea Three: Algorithms and Programming (30-35%)
  • Big Idea Four: Computer Systems and Networks (11-15%)
  • Big Idea 5: Impact of Computing (21-26%)

There are also six computational thinking practices that you will be asked to complete on the exam to put your knowledge into a creative answer. They are as follows:

  • Computational Solution Design – design and examine computational solutions for a specific purpose (18-25%)
  • Algorithms and Program Development – develop and implement algorithms (20-28%)
  • Abstraction in Program Development – create programs that use abstractions (7-12%)
  • Code Analysis – test and evaluate the efficacy of algorithms and programs (12-19%)
  • Computing Innovations – investigate computing innovations (28-33%)
  • Responsible Computing – follow the rules and contribute to computing’s inclusive, safe, collaborative, and ethical culture (tested in other answers)

About AP Computer Science Questions

There are a total of seventy multiple-choice questions on the AP computer science exam. Unlike the other AP tests, there is no free-response questions on this exam. However, you will be asked to develop a computer program of your choice, in your class, for thirty percent of your score.

In the seventy multiple-choice questions, there are some different types of multiple-choice answers that you will be asked to use. Fifty-seven of the questions will be single-answer multiple-choice questions over practices and principles.

Five of the multiple-choice questions will be single-answer but relate to a passage about computing innovations. You will need to be able to draw conclusions from the passage to be able to answer these questions.

The final eight multiple-choice questions will be two-answer questions. You will be asked to pick the two answers that best fit the question. 

You will have a total of two hours to complete the seventy questions, so you will have just shy of two minutes per question. Be sure to efficiently use the allotted time you are given to increase your chances of scoring well.

This part of the exam accounts for seventy percent of your grade, so you should spend the bulk of your studying on this section. However, the computer program still accounts for thirty percent of your score, so be sure that you are using the class time your teacher permits well to score best.

Here is the breakdown of the exam portions:

  Answer Type Score % Time Given Questions
Section 1 Multiple-choice, two-answer multiple-choice 70% 2 hrs 70
Section 2 Computer program creation 30% At least 12 hr 1 task

How to Use an AP CSP Practice Exam

An AP computer science principles practice exam is one of the best ways to study for the actual AP exam. However, to adequately prepare yourself, you need to be sure that you have a CSP practice test, not an AP computer science A practice exam.

The best AP computer science practice test will have diverse questions with detailed explanations so you can learn from the mistakes you make. 

Not only do they help you learn what you may not know, but they also help you realize what you may need to brush up on before taking the exam. This can make you a more efficient studier as you know which areas to focus on while also knowing what you already have a good understanding of.

While it can be difficult to not only find an AP computer science principles practice exam, it can also be hard to know if the one you are using has topics that are relevant to what will appear on the AP CSP test. The ones we have listed above along with the resources below will help you feel prepared.

However, there are other options to study for the AP CSP exam. Keep reading to see what else you can do to make yourself feel ready for the exam.

How Do I Prepare for AP Computer Science Exam?

There are a few different methods you can use to prepare yourself for the AP computer science principles exam that you can tailor to you and your learning style. 

The first method you can use is to create or find flashcards to use for review. Whether you create them with a pen and index cards or use an online resource (like Quizlet) to get some flashcards, be sure you have a way to take them with you so you can study whenever you have a free moment.

As mentioned above, an AP computer science principles practice exam is a great way to study for the exam. Not only will you narrow down the topics that you need to study and be a more efficient studier, but you will also be able to become more efficient on the exam by utilizing practice tests.

Most practice tests are comprised of questions that appeared on previous AP CSP exams. This means you will familiarize yourself with the wording of questions as well as the answers to be able to know what it is asking faster. By doing so, you will be able to answer quicker, saving you precious time.

The third resource for studying is something that your AP computer science teacher will give you at the end of the course. You will likely receive a study or review guide that you can use to practice and review topics, especially with peers that took the AP class with you.

Then you know that you will be studying the appropriate material since your teacher was the one that collected the material to make the study guide.

As stated above, make sure you use class time well, too, since that will be your only time to work on your computer program that is worth thirty percent of your score.

AP Computer Science FAQs

The AP CSP exam has a pass rate of right around 66%. However, the AP CSP has one of the lowest perfect score rates at a low 12.4%. If you want a perfect score, it is important to study hard and perform well on the computer program portion.

You will need to answer at least 75% of the multiple-choice questions correctly as well as astound the AP test scorers with your computer program to be able to score a 5 on the AP computer science principles exam.

AP test scores are not curved. However, they are calculated by the College Board in a manner that reflects more consistent scores across several years and subjects.

Official AP Computer Science Principles Resources

Dave Evangelisti
Dave is our founder and CEO. He has 20+ years of experience in the testing and test prep industry.