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Curriculum Framework

AP Computer Science Principles offers a multidisciplinary approach to teaching the underlying principles of computation. The course will introduce students to the creative aspects of programming, abstractions, algorithms, large data sets, the Internet, cybersecurity concerns, and computing impacts. AP Computer Science Principles will give students the opportunity to use technology to address real-world problems and build relevant solutions. Together, these aspects of the course make up a rigorous and rich curriculum that aims to broaden participation in computer science.

The AP CSP Course and Exam Description (.pdf/2.05 MB) provides an in-depth look at the course content, through-course assessment and end-of-year exam.

Computational Thinking Practices

  • Connecting computing
  • Creating computational artifacts
  • Abstracting
  • Analyzing problems and artifacts
  • Communicating
  • Collaborating

Big Ideas

  • Creativity
  • Abstraction
  • Data and Information
  • Algorithms
  • Programming
  • The Internet
  • Global Impact

Two AP Computer Science Courses

With the launch of AP Computer Science Principles, AP now offers two computer science courses — AP Computer Science A and AP Computer Science Principles. Students can take the courses in any order.

Currently one of the fastest growing AP courses, AP Computer Science A focuses on computing skills related to programming in Java. The new AP Computer Science Principles course complements AP Computer Science A by teaching the foundational concepts of computer science as it aims to broaden participation in the study of computer science.


Computer Science A

Computer Science Principles

Curricular Focus

Problem solving and object-oriented programming

Big ideas of computer science (including programming)

Programming Language


Teachers choose

Assessment Experience

  • Multiple-choice and free-response questions
  • Multiple-choice exam
  • Two performance tasks administered by the teacher, and students submit digital artifacts

Overview of Assessments

Visit the AP Computer Science Principles Exam Information page for more information on the assessment, sample student responses to performance tasks, and scoring information. 

The AP Computer Science Principles assessment consists of two parts: completion of through-course performance tasks and the end-of-course AP Exam. Both of these will measure student achievement of the course learning objectives. 

Through-Course Assessment

For the through-course assessment, students will upload digital artifacts — some examples include programs, digital art, or video — accompanied by a written response via the AP Digital Portfolio site. The two performance tasks, Explore and Create, are designed to give students broad latitude in personally selecting the focus and topics of their interest. The Explore task requires students to identify a computing innovation, explore its impact, and create a related computational artifact. The Create task focuses specifically on the creation of a computer program through the collaborative and iterative process of programming.

End-of-Course AP Exam

The end-of-course AP Exam is a paper-and-pencil written exam. It is 2 hours long and will include 74 multiple-choice questions, presented as either discrete questions or in sets. There are two types of multiple-choice questions:

  • Single-select multiple choice: Students select 1 answer from among 4 options
  • Multiple-select multiple choice: Students select 2 answers from among 4 options

On both the through-course assessment and the end-of-course exam, students will exhibit their achievement of the course learning objectives and their application of the computational thinking practices.

Students will receive a final exam score of 1-5, derived from their performance on both the through-course assessment and the end-of-course exam which will be administered in May. Review the AP Exam schedule