Is AP Computer Science Principles Hard or Easy? A Complete 2023 Guide

Is AP Computer Science Principles hard

This blog will answer the most popular query of students, “Is AP Computer Science Principles hard?“, including factors that determine the difficulty of the course:

  • Topics covered in the study
  • Tips for managing the coursework.
  • AP CSP exam, including the pass rates, grading system, and breakdown of scores by section.

Finally, we will compare AP CSP to other AP courses and recommend taking the course. Whether you’re considering taking AP Computer Science Principles or are already enrolled in the course, this blog will provide valuable insights and tips for success.

Is AP Computer Science Principles hard?

No, AP Computer Science Principles is considered a relatively easy AP course.

The AP courses now include principles of computer science course. This course was started in 2017 and has continued to be one of the simplest yet most complex exams to get a perfect score on. AP Computer Science Principles (AP CSP) is a college-level course that introduces students to the basics of computer science and computational thinking.

Five significant concepts make up the course structure for AP Computer Science Principles:

BIG IDEA 1Creative Development
BIG IDEA 3Algorithm and Programming
BIG IDEA 4Computer Systems and Networks
BIG IDEA 5Impact of Computing

AP Computer Science Principles is designed to be accessible to students with no prior coding experience and emphasizes collaboration, creativity, and problem-solving skills.

Regarding the difficulty, AP CSP can vary depending on a student’s prior experience and comfort level with technology. Some students may find the course challenging due to its rigorous coursework and complex concepts, while others may find it manageable with regular practice and study.

Is AP Computer Science Principles hard?  

Factors that determine the difficulty of AP CSP exam – 3 key factors

While several factors can influence the difficulty of AP Computer Science Principles, the three key factors which play the most crucial role are:

  1. Prior knowledge of computer science: Students with little or no experience in computer science may find AP CSP more challenging than those who have already taken introductory courses. Understanding basic programming concepts and algorithms is vital for success in the class.
  2. Interest in the subject: Students naturally interested in computer science and technology may find the course more engaging and easier to grasp. Motivation and passion for the subject can help students stay focused and committed to the coursework.
  3. Quality of teaching and learning resources: The quality of instruction and available learning resources can significantly impact the difficulty of the course. A skilled and experienced teacher who uses effective teaching methods and provides helpful feedback can make the coursework more manageable. Enroll with Wiingy’s expert AP Computer Science Principles tutors and ace your exams.

Topics covered in AP CSP

AP Computer Science Principles covers various topics related to computer science and computational thinking. The curriculum is designed to give students a broad understanding of the subject matter, rather than focusing on one programming language or platform.

Some of the key topics covered in AP CSP include:

1. Computational Solution DesignDesign and evaluate computational solutions for a purpose
2. Algorithms and Program DevelopmentDevelop and implement algorithms
3. Abstraction in Program DevelopmentDevelop programs that incorporate abstractions
4. Code AnalysisEvaluate and test algorithms and programs
5. Computing InnovationsInvestigate computing innovations
6. Responsible ComputingContribute to an inclusive, safe, collaborative,
and ethical computing culture
Topics covered in AP CSP
  1. Programming: Students learn to write code using block-based and text-based programming languages. They explore concepts such as variables, loops, conditionals, and functions and use these tools to solve problems and create projects.
  2. Data analysis: Students learn to work with data sets, analyze data using spreadsheets and other tools, and use visualization techniques to communicate insights.
  3. Computer systems and networks: Students learn about the importance of online security, including best practices for password creation and management, encryption, and online privacy.
  4. Impact of computing and technology: Students explore how technology affects society and culture and examine issues such as privacy, intellectual property, and the digital divide.
  5. Collaboration and communication: Students learn to work collaboratively with peers, share and critique ideas, and communicate their work effectively.

Throughout the course, students also develop problem-solving and critical thinking skills and are encouraged to apply these skills to real-world challenges. By the end of the course, students should have a solid understanding of the fundamental concepts of computer science and be able to apply them to a range of projects and problems.

When is the AP Computer Science Principles Exam 2023?

AP Computer Science Principles exam 2023 is scheduled for Monday, May 8, 2023, at 12:00 pm local time.

The AP Computer Science Principles Exam is typically administered in May of each year. The exact exam date may vary yearly, so it is important to check the College Board website for the most up-to-date information. To take the exam, students must register through their school’s AP coordinator by the deadline set by the College Board. Late registration may be available for an additional fee.

Preparation for the AP Computer Science Principles Exam is essential for success. In addition to regular class attendance and completion of coursework, students should also consider taking AP CSP practice tests and utilizing other study resources. Practice tests can help students become familiar with the format and content of the exam, identify areas of strength and weakness, and develop test-taking strategies.

Some resources that students may find helpful for preparing for the AP Computer Science Principles Exam include online practice tests, review books and study guides. Additionally, students can work with their teacher or a tutor to identify areas where they need additional support and practice.

Ultimately, the level of preparation and dedication to studying can significantly impact a student’s performance on the AP Computer Science Principles Exam. By taking the time to study and practice, students can increase their chances of earning a high score and receiving college credit.

AP Computer Science exam format

Although, AP Computer Science Principles is considered quite easy, passing the exam depends on the student’s exam preparation and study pattern. The pass rate for the exam varies from year to year but typically falls between 60-75%.

The AP Computer Science Principles Exam is graded on a scale of 1-5, with a score of 3 or higher considered a passing score. The exam has two sections: a multiple-choice section and a performance task section.

SectionNo. of questionsType of questionExam Weightage
Multiple-choice question70 questions4 answer option70%
Performance TaskStudents create programs
outside of test time
Develop a computer
program of their choice
AP CSP exam format

Source: College Board

The multiple-choice section consists of 70 questions that assess students’ knowledge of programming, data analysis, and the societal impact of technology. The performance task section requires students to complete two performance tasks, one focused on programming and one focused on data analysis.

To earn a passing score on the AP Computer Science Principles Exam, students must demonstrate a solid understanding of the concepts covered in the course and be able to apply them to real-world scenarios. This requires consistent practice and preparation throughout the course, as well as familiarity with the format and content of the exam.

ap computer science principles exam guide
AP CSP Exam Guide 2023

AP CSP exam pass rate and mean score

The AP Computer Science Principles Exam is graded on a scale of 1-5, with a score of 3 or higher considered a passing score. According to the 2022 data from the College Board, the passing score of AP CSP is 63.5% in comparison to other AP exams.

pass score_ap computer science principles
Pass Score of AP CSP

The mean score of AP CSP is 2.9 for 2022.This means that students generally perform better on the AP Computer Science Principles exam than on the average AP exam.

mean score_ap computer science principles
Mean Score of AP CSP

Comparison with other AP courses

The relative difficulty of AP courses can depend on various factors, such as the level of prior knowledge required, the amount of material covered, and the rigor of the exam. It is important to choose a course that aligns with your interests and strengths and to approach each course with a growth mindset and a willingness to learn.

AP CSP (Computer Science Principles) is generally considered to be one of the easier AP courses, compared to others such as AP Biology, AP Physics, and AP Chemistry. This is because AP CSP requires less prior technical knowledge or mathematical background than these other courses. AP CSP is also an introductory-level course that covers basic concepts in computer science, including programming, data analysis, and the impact of computing on society.

On the other hand, several other AP courses are considered more challenging due to their content, depth, and rigor. These courses require a strong foundation in prior knowledge, critical thinking, analytical skills, and a willingness to study and engage with the complex subject matter.

Tips for managing coursework

The time commitment required for AP Computer Science Principles varies depending on a student’s prior computer science and programming knowledge. However, AP CSP typically requires a significant time commitment outside of class as a college-level course.

Students should spend several hours each week on homework and studying, in addition to attending class and participating in group projects. It’s important to prioritize time management and stay on top of assignments to stay caught up.

To manage the coursework in AP CSP, students should:

  1. Create a schedule: Make a weekly or monthly schedule that includes time for homework, studying and other activities. Stick to the plan as closely as possible to ensure all coursework is completed on time.
  2. Stay organized: Use a planner or online calendar to keep track of assignments, due dates, and other important information. Keep all materials and notes for the course in one place to avoid losing or misplacing them.
  3. Seek help when needed: Be bold and ask for help from the teacher or a tutor if a concept or assignment is difficult to understand. Utilize online resources and study groups to get additional support.
  4. Practice regularly: Programming and computer science concepts require practice and repetition to master. Spend time regularly practicing coding and working through problems to solidify understanding.

By prioritizing time management, staying organized, seeking help when needed, and practicing regularly, students can successfully manage the coursework in AP Computer Science Principles and succeed in the course.


Compared to other AP courses like AP Calculus, AP Physics, and AP Chemistry, AP CSP is typically considered to be a relatively easy AP course. With rigorous practice sessions and focused learning, anyone can achieve great scores in this subject and get good college credits.

The course covers a wide range of topics, including problem-solving, data analysis, algorithms, programming, and the societal impacts of computing. By engaging in hands-on projects and collaborative activities, students gain valuable insights into the power of computing and its relevance in today’s world. The AP Computer Science Principles exam consists of two main components: the Create Performance Task and the Explore Performance Task.

In 2022, the passing rate for AP CSP was 63.5%, higher than the average for other AP exams. The mean score for AP CSP in 2022 was 2.9, indicating that students tend to perform well on this exam compared to the average AP exam.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is AP Computer Science Principles harder than AP Computer Science A?

The difficulty level of AP Computer Science Principles (CSP) and AP Computer Science A (CSA) can depend on individual strengths and prior knowledge. However, AP CSA is generally considered more challenging due to its focus on programming concepts and more advanced topics. At the same time, AP CSP has a broader focus on computing principles and their impact on society. The difficulty rating of both the subjects are similar , as well as the passing rate and mean score. It indicates that the difficulty varies based on students who prefer theoretical subjects and those who prefer practical applications.

Is it worth taking AP Computer Science Principles?T

Yes, it can be worth taking AP Computer Science Principles (CSP) as it provides an introductory-level understanding of computer science concepts, including programming, data analysis, and the impact of computing on society. It can also help to develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills, which can be valuable in various careers. Additionally, earning a high score on the AP CSP exam can earn college credit, saving time and money on future college courses.

Can you take AP Computer Science Principles with no experience?

In AP computer science A students learn about Java programming, algorithms, data structure, and software development principles, while in AP computer science principles students learn about different concepts of computing, including data analysis, programming, and social implications of technology. Students can learn AP computer science principles without any prior experience but they need some prior experience in computer science for AP computer science A.

How long is the AP CSP exam?

The AP Computer Science Principles test comprises one multiple-choice part that takes two hours to complete. The exam also includes a Create Performance Task that must be done outside of test time.

Is AP Computer Science Principles for beginners?

Yes, AP computer science is the best AP course for beginners who are interested in taking an AP computer science course. You don’t need any kind of experience or knowledge related to computer science for this course.


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