AP CSP Students Answer the 7 Most-Asked Questions about AP Computer Science Principles

apcsp student asking questions

AP CSP Students Surveyed

If you have questions about the Advanced Placement Computer Science Principles course then you are not alone. There are several questions that are frequently asked – so why not ask the people that know, the students that have completed the course.

It may not be pretty or what you want or expect, but here are the views of previous AP CSP students on the top 7 asked questions about the course.

1. How do you get a 5 on AP Computer Science Principles?

Here are the views of four student that successfully completed the AP CSP course.

  • Make sure your performance tasks are good and just go over content within a week of the exam
  • Memorize base vocabulary essential to the course
  • I feel that I learned the most from the practice exam
  • People who don’t get a 5 usually don’t get it due to performance tasks.

You get a 5 on AP Computer Science Principles by first getting a good score on the create performance task by matching the rubric requirements, and secondly, preparing for the exam by knowing the essential vocabulary and answering practice questions.

2. Is AP CSP easy?

A very common question is a simple one, “is AP CSP easy?”. Well it is viewed as one of the easier AP courses, but if that is the case then why are students not getting a score of 5? Here are some views:

  • Take this for an easy A and a 4/5.
  • If you know how to code or basic CS stuffs then it’s gonna be an easy 5, just remember to follow the rubrics for your personal responses.
  • The AP exam is a joke, anyone with a brain can get a 5.
  • If you’re already versed in comp sci and want a free 5, this is your AP to self study.

AP CSP is considered one of the easiest advanced placement (AP) courses by previous students with a very low ‘average difficulty score’ of 2.8 out of ten [1]. Despite this, students struggle to get the top score of 5. On average, only 4 students in a class of 32 students reaching the ‘5’ score (12.4%), based on [2].

[1] Exam Study Expert [2022] The Easiest & Hardest AP Classes: 2,627 REAL Reviews, https://examstudyexpert.com/easiest-ap-classes/

[2] College Board. AP Program Participation and Performance Data 2021. https://research.collegeboard.org/programs/ap/data/participation/ap-2021

3. Why should I take the AP CSP Course?

You should take the AP CSP course because it is both useful and interesting to you. But there are other considerations (such as if it is easy – see above). What did ex-students say:

  • If you take a class because you like it, you’ll be helping yourself in the long run because your morale will be boosted and you’ll be less bogged down with work
  • If you’ve ever thought about coding and wanted to start at a Middle school level, this is a good place.
  • Take AP Computer Science Principles as your first AP class freshman year

You should take the AP CSP course because if you wish to understand some of the principles of computer science including programming, then CSP is able to help you achieve this. Although it does not cover the subject to the level taught at University, it will definitely help you.

4. Is AP CSP Exam easy?

If you take the AP CSP course then you will take the AP CSP exam. Multiple choice questions, 70 questions in 2022 over 2 hours, is not considered too difficult – if you are prepared.

There is not much feedback on the exam. On YouTube for example, it is split by the students that tried hard and advise on how to get a 5, and the students that moan about the course being so, so easy, but didn’t get a 5.

Here are a couple of viewpoints:

  • The exam is multiple choice and its nothing really programming based— all you do is go through logic gates, problem solving, and other obstacles programmers face that they would fix with code,
  • but you don’t use do code part yet, you just figure out what you’d need the code to do before you write it. Its like an IQ test almost.
  • … took 2020 exam. i heard the exam has changed but probably still the easiest ap out there. multiple choice didn’t look too hard either.

If you wish to do well academically, such as at University, getting to understand how to prepare for exams, specifically for you, is important. So try it.

Prepare as well as you can, and ask yourself afterwards “what did I do wrong, what went well, what will I change next time?”. If you do this then, 1, you will do well in this exam, 2, you will benefit in future exams – a win-win!

5. What about the AP CSP Tasks?

Perhaps this is the most important answer in this article. To generalize, students that don’t do as well as they expect tend to get a lower score in the performance task.

Nearly every comment below says the same thing. If you take anything from reading this, then listen to these views:

  • Simply don’t mess up on your performance tasks.
  • Be thorough on your performance tasks. Check with the rubrics and make sure there is no ambiguity on whether you are earning each point.
  • Make sure to try for the performance tasks, and follow guidelines as much as possible. this is the most subjective AP exam, so make everything clear and align yourself to the rubrics provided.
  • As long as it meets the requirements and you follow the rubric you’re fine.
  • Don’t blow off the performance tasks. Just don’t.

The AP CSP create performance tasks set you up for a good AP CSP score. Check with the rubrics, follow the guidelines, align yourself with the rubrics.

There is no secret, simply put, if you want to do well in Computer Science Principles then do well in the create performance task!

6. Any advice on the programming for AP CSP?

There is no set way to teach or learn programming on the AP course. There are several programming languages or tools that can be used, therefore this can make it less clear what you need to do.

For programming in the create task, follow the guidelines and rubrics, and for the exam understand the logic of the programming concepts (such as if statements, loops, lists and procedures), and the syntax of pseudo code.

Here are the views of past students:

  • Focus on understanding the concepts and applying them to problems you’ll encounter. This helped me so much when we had to create programs for different units.
  • Build with the code you are using in class at home, even if you create just stupid crap, familiarity with your language is key to explaining how your code works the way it does on the ap exam.
  • don’t know how i got a 3 to be honest with you. the performance tasks are easy and the multiple choice is also easy. It might be because I can’t understand the pseudo code questions.

The advice of the programming for AP CSP is to learn how to program, use the rubrics to get a good score in the create performance task, and be familiar with pseudo code to answer the programming questions in the AP CSP exam.

7. What is AP CSP equivalent to?

The AP CSP course is equivalent to a “semester introductory college computing course”.  Whilst you will need to check with individual colleges and universities for their policy on credit or placement, it does benefit you if you wish to study computing at a higher level of education.

At university the first course in a computer science or information technology degree is CS101 or IT101 and is called ‘IT Fundamentals’, ‘Principles of IT’, or something similar.

The 101 course is similar to the AP CSP course but wider and deeper,  meaning there is more material, more areas to study, and the areas covered in AP CSP are covered in more detail at university.

Will AP CSP help you pass 101, yes, is it the equivalent of 101, no.

University can be a big jump from school, depending on the level of the university and the degree that you take.

If you are taking a difficult computer science degree then you should seriously think about learning some programming language before you go. It will really help with the fast pace of learning at the beginning.

If you are taking a simpler IT degree at a less demanding university then any material that you cover beforehand will mean it is easier for you at the start.

So, in summary, AP CSP is equivalent to a foundation course that prepares you for the first semester unit in IT and programming.

Further information

If you are preparing for the AP CSP exam then you may be interested in what type of questions are in the AP CSP exam, click on this link to read the article “Ultimate Guide to AP Computer Science Principles Exam Questions”.

More information on the AP CSP course and exam can be found on our dedicated web page at ‘Help with your AP CSP Exam Preparation’.


Well there are your questions answered by the people that know. If you are thinking of taking the AP CSP course, or, are already on it and want to know how to be successful, the answers above hopefully have helped you.

The student views used in this article can be found in this survey: Exam Study Expert [2022] The Easiest & Hardest AP Classes: 2,627 REAL Reviews. Survey results. https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1s-YM81RvD11h9UOTba_XsBKEy-NW8PEXim2UxSLwdRE/edit#gid=1924688511

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