What is AP Computer Science?

The Advanced Placement program offered through the College Board, offers college-level content and examinations which may allow for credit and placement preference at most colleges and universities. AP courses and exams are for students who are willing and academically prepared for college level work before going to college. There are currently two courses and examinations offered in the field of computer science.

AP Computer Science Basics

What is AP Computer Science Principles?

The AP Computer Science Principles course is designed to appeal to a wide range of students especially those underrepresented in the field of computer science and technology with no prior knowledge. 

AP Computer Science Principles aligns with a first year introductory course in computing or technology offered at most colleges and universities. It has no specific programming language leaving students and schools to decide what is best for them. From how bits and bytes work, to creating software, to investigating the newest current technologies from an ethical and socially responsible point-of-view, this course has lots of interest.

Students will develop the following skills:

In order to gain college credit, students need to submit the Create performance task and take a two hour multiple choice exam, and score at least a 3 or higher. More AP computer science policies in your state.

AP Computer Science Principles Create Task

The Create performance task requires at least 12 hours of dedicated class time for students to complete and can be done in any programming language. They need to make a video of a program they created and respond to written reflection questions done through the AP Digital Portfolio. This accounts for 30% of their grade.

AP Computer Science Principles Exam

The end-of-course exam is 2 hours long and includes 70 multiple-choice questions. The multiple-choice section will include three different types of questions: single-select questions, single-select questions with a reading passage about a computing innovation, and multi-select questions. This is 70% of the final exam grade.

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What is AP Computer Science A?

The AP Computer Science A course aligns with a first year introductory course in object-oriented program design in Java offered at most colleges and universities. It is recommended that prior to taking this course the student has already taken and done well in a high school algebra course. Students should have a strong understanding of basic linear functions, composition of functions, and problem-solving strategies that require multiple approaches and collaborative efforts. In addition, students should be able to use a Cartesian (x, y) coordinate system to represent points on a plane. The course has a mandatory 20-hour hands-on programming requirement that is often met with labs prepared by the College Board.

The content is all Java programming. From declaring variables to controlling the flow of a program by using sequence, branching, and looping, students will work hands-on producing software solutions with object-oriented programming design. There is a strong emphasis on developing computational thinking practices to solve problems.

Students are expected to develop skills in the following areas:

AP Computer Science A Exam

The end-of-course exam is 3 hours long and consists of 40 multiple-choice questions that are worth 50% of the grade. The other 50% of the grade is from 4 free-response questions that are often multi-part with handwritten (pencil) solutions using Java. 

APCS Tutor principles A

AP Computer Science Tutoring

When would it be helpful to get a tutor for ap computer science? Do I need a tutor for AP Computer Science?

If the student is currently enrolled in the course and is having difficulty with understanding the content or completing the assignments, then you should seek out a tutor to work one on one with the student to clarify concepts and guide program development.

If you are planning to take an AP Computer Science course in the future, then taking a prep course, like CodeWizardsHQ’s AP Computer Science classes, might be a better way to prepare for success. All of our hands-on courses are terrific preparation to take an AP Computer Science course and exam in the future.  

How do I choose an AP Computer Science tutor?

There are many reasons to decide to get a tutor and it is helpful to decide what your goal is before starting your search. Is the purpose to get more test preparation so that your student passes a test like an AP Exam? Is it to improve study skills and provide tools for future learning? Perhaps, it is to have access to content and curriculum with the ability to learn at a customized pace? Knowing your goal will help narrow your selection of tutors.

If exam prep is the goal and time is short, seek out a reputable tutor by asking your local school district for recommendations. The teacher of the high school class may also be able to suggest additional local study resources such as a former student who did well on the test last year. If there is more time consider finding a study buddy from your class or a class that meets at a different time than yours. Trade and review each other’s notes and problem sets. Worried about in person studying? You are not alone. Reach out to the companies listed here in the Are there any AP Computer Science Tutors near me? section.

If the goal is to improve overall study skills rather than content knowledge, consider the following resources:

If the need is for specific computer science content, look for an AP computer science tutor by searching for someone who has either studied computer science at a collegiate level, successfully worked in the field of computing as a programmer/developer, or as a mentor/tutor/instructor. Take the time to evaluate if they have a proven track record of working with students who have a variety of learning styles and needs. You want someone who makes your student feel safe, supported, and comfortable with the learning tasks and is skilled at setting achievable measurable goals.

How to be best prepared for an AP computer science tutoring session?

Be realistic about the time you have to spend preparing for the exam. Both courses are chock full of content to learn, new terms, techniques, and skills to master. Do you need help with the whole course or are you just struggling to grasp how to interpret how a program goes from input to output? 

Start by taking a practice exam to help identify the areas you need to work on. Making a list of these areas is a terrific way to come to each session prepared. With your tutor, you will find the best way to study and retain information so that you can be confident on the day of the exam.

Free Online Practice Tests:

Resources for establishing a Study Schedule

APCS Tutor in classroom

How to Study for AP Exams: 5-Step Plan

You will need to determine if an in-person or a remote tutor is best for you. Either way, you will need a dependable device to connect to the Internet as well as a means to write down notes and assignment requirements. Come to each tutoring session ready to work on mastering key concepts and developing computational thinking skills. In other words, come prepared to solve problems using technology or pencil and paper.

Are there any AP Computer Science Tutors near me? How much does it cost?

If you are looking for AP computer science tutors, consider these resources:

Most sites offer a filter so that you can sort these lists by city and state to see what reputable tutors are in your area. Some sites do not screen their tutors. Use caution, read the terms of use and agreement before using any online platform. If meeting in person, meet in a public location and be sure your child is supervised appropriately.

Recommended: Preparing for the AP Computer Science Exam

APCS Tutor girl studying

Are AP Computer Science tutors worth it?

There is no correct answer to this question. If time management and content comprehension is a struggle then hiring a tutor to force consistent study time is definitely worth it. One of the benefits of taking an AP course and sitting for the examination is for the potential college cost savings. Another benefit is to stand out from other college and university applicants. Taking challenging college level work at a high school level, and doing well in the course and on the exam, is a mark of distinction.

In order for preparation or tutoring to be truly successful, the student has to be actively engaged and involved in their own learning. You should congratulate your student for pursuing the rigorous topic of computer science as their learning adventure. This is one field where the learning never ends! 

CodeWizardsHQ wishes you and your child all the best in AP computer science.