Published February 16, 2024

Everything You Need to get a 5 on AP Computer Science Principles

In this article, we will explore several effective tricks and tips to help you achieve a perfect score of 5 in the AP Computer Science Principles exam. By mastering these strategies, utilizing the right resources, and applying our AP Computer Science Principles test tips, you can confidently approach the exam and excel in it like a pro. So, let's delve into these techniques and insights to ensure you know how to pass the AP Computer Science Principles exam!

Free AP Computer Science Principles Resources

No need to stress if you're cramming last-minute for the AP Computer Science Principles exam; we understand the situation! If you're looking for ways to pass the exam despite the time crunch, we've got you covered with some valuable student-made AP Computer Science Principles exam tips and last-minute cramming resources. Let's dive right into these helpful insights to aid your preparation!

What Do I Need to Memorize for the AP Computer Science Principles Exam?

The AP Computer Science Principles Exam covers a range of topics that are grouped into five Big Ideas, each encompassing various essential concepts and skills. Let's explore these Big Ideas in detail and learn the best way to study for the AP Computer Science Principles exam:

Big Idea 1: Creative Development

This Big Idea focuses on fostering creativity and collaboration in computer science. Topics include working together effectively, understanding program functions and purposes, designing and developing programs, as well as identifying and rectifying errors that may occur during the programming process.

Big Idea 2: Data

Data plays a crucial role in computer science, and this Big Idea delves into its various aspects. Topics cover binary numbers, data compression techniques, extracting valuable information from data, and effectively utilizing programs with data to solve real-world problems.

Big Idea 3: Algorithms and Programming

At the core of computer science lies algorithms and programming. This Big Idea encompasses a wide range of topics, such as working with variables and assignments, data abstraction, mathematical expressions, manipulating strings, using Boolean expressions for decision-making, understanding conditionals and nested conditionals, implementing iteration for repetitive tasks, developing efficient algorithms, working with lists, binary search algorithms, calling and developing procedures, utilizing libraries, simulating scenarios, understanding algorithmic efficiency, and exploring undecidable problems.

Big Idea 4: Computer Systems and Networks

This Big Idea delves into the fascinating world of computer systems and networks. Topics include understanding the Internet and its functioning, exploring fault tolerance to ensure system reliability, and understanding parallel and distributed computing that enables the efficient execution of tasks across multiple interconnected systems.

Big Idea 5: Impact of Computing

The impact of computing extends far beyond the technical aspects. This Big Idea explores the broader consequences of computer science in society. Topics cover the beneficial and harmful effects of technology, the digital divide that affects access to technology, recognizing computing bias and its implications, exploring crowdsourcing and its applications, understanding legal and ethical concerns in computing, and promoting safe computing practices to protect individuals and data.

Mastering these five Big Ideas will provide students with a comprehensive understanding of how to study for the AP Computer Science Principles exam and the diverse and dynamic field of computer science, knowing how to prepare for the AP Computer Science Principles Exam and beyond. 

What is on the AP Computer Science Principles Exam?

Content Overview 

Exam Weight 

Creative Development 


Computer Systems and Network 




Impact of Computing 


Algorithms and Programming 


AP Computer Science Principles Exam Format

The AP Computer Science Principles exam has a unique format compared to other AP exams that can be completed within a few hours. It consists of two main parts: the Create performance task and a multiple-choice exam. The multiple-choice exam follows the traditional format of other AP tests, where you take it at a designated location and time.

However, the Create performance task is different. You'll work on it throughout the course and submit it before or on a specific deadline, which is usually around the same date as the multiple-choice exam. This means you have both an in-person test (the multiple-choice exam) and a take-home test (the Create performance task) for the AP Computer Science Principles course. The combination of these two components makes the exam a distinctive and comprehensive assessment of your knowledge and skills in the subject.

What does the AP Computer Science Principles MCQ section look like?

Number of Questions

Time Allotted 

Exam Weight

70 Questions 

120 Minutes 


The second component of the AP Computer Science Principles exam is the multiple-choice section, which comprises 70 questions, each offering four answer options. Among these questions, 57 are of the traditional "one correct answer" type, 5 are also one-correct-answer questions but are based on a reading passage, and 8 questions have two correct answers. When attacking this section remember your AP Computer Science Principles exam tips!

You will have 120 minutes to complete this section, and it carries a weightage of 70% towards your overall score in the exam. This segment assesses your understanding of the subject matter and plays a significant role in determining your final performance.

What does the AP Computer Science Principles FRQ look like?

The AP Computer Science Principles exam's Create performance task involves designing a computer program of your choice, collaboratively if desired. You'll submit a PDF with instructions, use of a collection type, and procedures, along with a video demonstrating your program's functionality. Your written response (approx. 750 words) should cover the program's purpose, code segments, and calls to procedures.

When do AP Computer Science Principles scores come out?

Usually, the scores for the AP exams are released in July each year. However, if you want to keep a close eye on any updates or changes, you can always check the official CollegeBoard Annual calendar. It's the go-to resource for all the important dates related to the AP exams. So, mark your calendar, remember those AP Computer Science Principles exam tips and stay informed!

Should I Self Study AP Computer Science Principles?

One cool thing about AP CS Principles is that a significant part of the Create task is done during class, and you get to collaborate with classmates for some input. This setup allows you to take your time and avoid feeling rushed. On the big exam day, you'll tackle multiple-choice questions, which can feel less daunting compared to free-response ones.

Now, if you haven't taken the AP Computer Science Principles course and want to self-study for the exam, is it doable? Well, if you're already computer-savvy and have a solid coding background, self-studying for AP CS Principles could work well for you, and by focusing on tips for the AP Computer Science Principles exam you’ll easily understand how to ace the Computer Science principles exam. The questions are more straightforward compared to many other AP classes. However, keep in mind that coding issues, especially for beginners, can be tricky to solve without a teacher's guidance.

If you decide to take the self-study route for the AP Computer Science Principles exam, ensure you have some support, either in-person or online, to help you through any challenges you might face. Having a guide can make a big difference in your self-study journey and boost your chances of success!

Is the AP Computer Science Principles Exam Hard?

AP Computer Science Principles is often considered a breeze, with alumni giving it a cool 2.8/10 for overall difficulty – the easiest among the 28 big AP classes in the survey. So if you're looking for a relatively stress-free AP experience, this might be the one for you!

The pass rate is around average compared to other AP classes, with 69% of students graduating with a 3 or higher. While it may not have the highest pass rate, it's still a solid performance that showcases the effectiveness of the course.

What's even more impressive is its popularity! With a whopping 137,000 entries last year, it's definitely a widely-taken course. And it's no wonder, considering that 86% of students would still recommend the class compared to other AP courses. That's a pretty high approval rating!

One of the best things about AP Comp Sci Principles is that you don't even need prior programming experience to enjoy it! Alums who took the course without any coding knowledge rated it as an enjoyable experience. So, if you're curious about computer science and want a fun and accessible introduction to AP classes, this could be the perfect fit for you. Don't be afraid to give it a shot – you might just discover a new passion for coding and technology!

Explaining the previous AP Computer Science Principles Scores

So, let's talk about the AP Comp Sci Principles 2022 results! The pass rate came in at 69%, which is pretty much on par with other AP classes. The majority of students (34%) scored a 3, which is not too shabby at all.

Now, there were some interesting trends in the score distribution over the past 5 years. It has been on a bit of a rollercoaster ride, dropping from 73% in 2018 to 67% in 2021. The biggest dip (a 4% drop) happened between 2020 and 2021. However, things started to turn around in 2022, with the pass rate going up to 69%.

It's always fascinating to see how these numbers change year after year. So, if you're planning to take the AP Computer Science Principles exam in the future, keep these trends in mind and be ready to tackle the challenges. And remember, it's not just about the scores – learning and enjoying the subject are what truly count! Keep on coding!

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