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Advanced Placement

The Complete Guide to AP Computer Science A Exam [Updated for AP 2024 Exam]

Written by Apoorvaa Agarwal


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  • The AP Computer Science A course is organized into 7 topics: Introduction to Computer Science, Data Types and Operators, Control Structures, Functions, Algorithms, Object-Oriented Programming, and Abstract Data Types
  • The AP Computer Science A exam is divided into two sections: multiple-choice (40 questions, 75 minutes) and free-response (4 questions, 90 minutes).
  • The mean score for the AP Computer Science A exam in 2022 was 3.2 out of 5. This is slightly lower than the mean score for all AP subjects in 2022, which was 2.92.
  • The pass rate of the AP Computer Science A Exam for 2022 was 67.5%. This is slightly higher than the pass rate for AP overall, which was 60.2%.
  • With AP Computer Science A, some majors that you could choose from include computer science, software engineering, and information technology. Some of the career pathways that you could pursue include software engineer, web developer, data scientist, and computer security analyst.

Struggling with your AP Computer Science A Exam prep? Having trouble understanding concepts like object-oriented programming or algorithms and data structures?

The AP Computer Science A Exam had a passing rate of 67.5% in 2022. It is considered moderately challenging, with a difficulty rating of 4.4 out of 10, making it a manageable AP Exam.

Don’t worry, as this AP Computer Science A Exam guide has everything you need to succeed. With comprehensive practice questions, valuable tips, and effective strategies to optimize your studying, you’ll be well-equipped to earn a top score in this AP exam.

So, let’s get started and prepare to conquer the AP Computer Science A exam!

What is the AP Computer Science A exam?

AP Computer Science A is an advanced high school course that covers programming concepts, algorithms, data structures, and object-oriented programming in Java. The AP Computer Science A exam assesses students’ understanding of these concepts at the college level.

The AP Computer Science A exam consists of two sections:

  • multiple-choice questions
  • free-response questions

The multiple-choice questions cover programming fundamentals, while the free-response questions require students to write and analyze code. The exam is three hours long and is scored on a scale of 1-5.

Importance of AP Computer Science A for high school students:

  • Develops programming skills and logical thinking
  • Provides preparation for college-level computer science courses
  • Demonstrates proficiency in computer science to college admissions officers
  • Can help you get AP Computer Science A college credits and ultimately help you finish college sooner than usual.

AP Computer Science A Exam Format

Sections No. of questionsType of questions Computational thinking practice assessed Time limit Exam Weightage
Multiple-choice question40Individual questions, occasionally with 1–2 sets of questions (2 questions per set)1: Program Design and Algorithm Development
2: Code Logic
3: Code Testing
4: Documentation
1 hour 30 mins50%
Free-response question4Question 1: Methods and Control structures
Question 2: Classes
Question 3: Array/ArrayListQuestion 4: 2D Array
5: Code Implementation1 hour 30 mins50%
AP computer science A exam

How long is the AP Computer Science A Exam?

The AP Computer Science A exam has a total duration of 3 hours. The exam consists of two sections:

Section I: Multiple Choice (90 minutes)

This section consists of 40 multiple-choice questions that test your knowledge of programming concepts, data structures, algorithms, and other topics covered in the AP Computer Science A course.

Section II: Free Response (90 minutes)

This section consists of 4 free-response questions that require you to write code to solve problems or analyze code segments. The questions in this section test your ability to apply programming concepts and algorithms to real-world problems.

There is also a 15-minute reading period at the beginning of the exam, during which you can review the exam questions and plan your responses.

AP Computer Science A Exam Guide
AP Computer Science A Exam Guide

Topics for AP Computer Science A exam review

Units CoveredPercentage weightage for the exam (MCQ)
Unit 1: Primitive Types2.5-5 %
Unit 2: Using Objects5-7.5 %
Unit 3: Boolean Expression and If Statements15-17.5 %
Unit 4: Iteration17.5-22.5 %
Unit 5: Writing Classes5-7.5 %
Unit 6: Array10-15 %
Unit 7: Array List2.5-7.5 %
Unit 8: 2D Array7.5-10 %
Unit 9: Inheritance5-10 %
Unit 10: Recursion5-7.5 %
Units covered in AP CS A

The AP Computer Science A course description includes a framework that outlines specific computational thinking practices that students should focus on throughout the year. These computational thinking practices are mentioned below:

SkillDescriptionExam weightage (MCQ section)
Program Design and Algorithm DevelopmentDetermine required code segments to produce a given output30 % – 35 %
Code LogicDetermine the output, value, or result of a given program code given initial values40 % – 45 %
Code ImplementationWrite and implement program codeNot assessed in MCQ section
Code TestingAnalyze program code for correctness, equivalence and errors12 % – 18 %
DocumentationDescribe the behavior and conditions that produce identified results in a program12 % – 18 %
Topics covered

When is the 2024 AP Computer Science A Exam date and time?

The AP Computer Science A exam for 2024 is scheduled to take place on Wednesday, May 8 at 12 PM local time.

Students are required to take the exam at approved schools or testing centers and must register through their high school’s AP coordinator after enrolling in the corresponding AP course.

The registration deadline is usually in the spring, but students should confirm the exact date with their AP coordinators. Although there is a fee to take the exam, students who require financial assistance may be eligible for reduced fees or waivers.

Will I get AP credit for the 2024 AP Computer Science A Exam?

Whether you receive AP credit for the AP Computer Science A exam depends on the policies of the college or university you plan to attend.

AP credit is a form of college credit that is granted to students who receive high scores on AP exams. AP credit policies vary by institution, with some colleges and universities granting credit for certain AP exams and scores, and others not granting any credit at all.

Before taking the AP Computer Science A exam, it’s a good idea to research the AP credit policies of the colleges and universities you are considering. This information can usually be found on the school’s website or by contacting the admissions office.

In general, colleges and universities that grant AP credit for the AP Computer Science A exam typically require a score of 3 or higher. However, some institutions may require a higher score, such as a 4 or 5, and may only grant credit for certain types of courses or programs.

It’s also worth noting that some institutions may allow AP Computer Science A credit to count towards certain degree requirements, while others may only allow it to count as elective credit.

Again, it’s important to research the specific policies of the institutions you are considering to determine how AP credit for the AP Computer Science A exam will be awarded.

What is the difference between AP Computer Science A and AP Computer Science Principles?

AspectAP Computer Science PrinciplesAP Computer Science A
Course FocusCovers a broader range of computer science concepts, including programming, data analysis, and the social impact of technology.Emphasizes programming concepts and problem-solving skills through the study of Java programming language.
DifficultyConsidered to be less challenging with a focus on problem-solving and critical thinking.Considered to be more challenging due to its emphasis on coding and programming.
Programming LanguageBlocks-based (eg. Scratch, App Inventor) and text-based (eg. Python)Text-based (eg. Java)
PrerequisitesNo formal programming experience requiredPrior experience with Java programming and basic data structures recommended
College Major RelevanceApplicable to a wide range of majors, including social sciences and humanities, as it covers a broad range of topics related to technology and society.Best suited for students interested in pursuing computer science or related majors.
Comparison of AP Computer Science A vs AP Computer Science Principles

When choosing between AP Computer Science A and AP Computer Science Principles, students should consider

  • their interests
  • career goals,
  • and skill level in programming.

Additionally, students should consider the credit policies of the colleges and universities they are interested in attending, as some may only grant credit for one of the courses.

Strategies for success in AP Computer Science A Exam

Tackling multiple-choice questions

  1. “Read it twice, code it once”

Read the question and options carefully, and look for clues in the problem description before selecting an answer.

  1. “Process of elimination”

Eliminate options that are obviously incorrect, then use your knowledge and reasoning skills to select the best answer.

  1. “Answer easy questions first”

Start with the questions you know you can answer confidently, then come back to the harder ones later.

  1. “Don’t second-guess yourself”

Once you’ve selected an answer, stick with it unless you have a good reason to change it.

Tackling free-response questions

  1. “Understand the question”

Make sure you understand exactly what the question is asking before you start writing your code.

  1. “Plan, code, check”

Take a few minutes to plan out your approach, then write your code and check it thoroughly before submitting.

  1. “Show your work”

Clearly label your code and include comments to explain your thought process and reasoning to earn partial credit.

  1. “Write legibly”

Make sure your code is neat and easy to read, with appropriate indentation and spacing.

How can Wiingy help with AP Computer Science A exam prep?

In 2022, only 27.3% of the 77,753 students who took the AP Computer Science A exam scored a 5. While 3 is considered the unofficial passing rate, most elite universities, such as Harvard or Princeton, offer AP credit only if you score 5 or higher. 

Getting a 5 is possible if you have the right support in your high school, but that’s rarely the case.

Here at Wiingy, we work with vetted AP Computer Science A tutors with demonstrated expertise and experience in helping students score a 5 on AP exams

Unlike tutor marketplaces, every Wiingy tutor is screened individually and undergoes a comprehensive assessment. Less than 3% of applicants are selected to become tutors on Wiingy’s platform, ensuring tutors are highly qualified and experienced in teaching AP courses.

Our tutors will work with you 1-on-1 to master the content and skills you need to succeed. Experienced tutors can provide you with curriculum-specific guides and practice questions and familiarize you with the exam format to help you ace the test.

We know that sometimes you don’t want to pay for private tutoring because it is too expensive. It’s common to see tutoring costs between $100 to $150 per hour. Wiingy’s rates are very affordable, starting from just $28 per hour, much lower than the average AP tutoring offered by other platforms.

One more advantage of studying with us is that we don’t require you to sign up for any packages or yearly subscriptions. You can sign up for as little as a single lesson and add more lessons as per your requirements.

While we try to match you with the perfect tutor as per your needs, we know that sometimes even the best tutors might not be the right fit for you. That’s why we offer you the Perfect Match Guarantee, which means that if you are not satisfied with your tutor for any reason, you can request a free replacement at any time

Sign up with Wiingy AP Computer Science A Tutoring today and achieve your goal of scoring a 5 on your AP Test!


In conclusion, the AP Computer Science A Exam covers various units, including object-oriented programming, algorithms, and data structures. With a passing rate of 67.5% in 2022 and a mean score of 3.20, it is evident that students have the potential to succeed in this moderately challenging exam.

Although the AP CSA Exam carries a difficulty rating of 4.4 out of 10, with dedication, thorough preparation, and the right resources, students can confidently navigate the exam and strive for a high score.

The AP CSA exam is considered more difficult than the AP CSP exam because of the programming and practical aspects of CSA.

Whether you’re just beginning your AP Computer Science A journey or looking for additional support, utilizing study materials and strategies tailored to this exam will enhance your chances of achieving success.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

What topics are covered on the AP Computer Science A exam?

The AP Computer Science A exam covers a wide range of topics, including fundamental computer science concepts, programming methodology, and data structures.

How long is the AP Computer Science A exam?

The AP Computer Science A exam is a timed exam that lasts for 3 hours.

How is the AP Computer Science A exam scored?

The AP Computer Science A exam is scored on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest score. The multiple-choice section accounts for 50% of the total score, and the free-response section accounts for the remaining 50%.

Can I take the AP Computer Science A exam without taking the course?

Yes, you can take the AP Computer Science A exam without taking the course. However, a strong background in algebra and basic programming knowledge is recommended. Self-studying requires dedication and discipline, and seeking guidance from a qualified instructor is advisable.

What kind of programming language is used on the exam?

The programming language used on the AP Computer Science A exam is Java. The exam is designed to test students’ understanding of fundamental computer science concepts and their ability to write, analyze, and implement algorithms using the Java programming language.


  1. https://apcentral.collegeboard.org/courses/ap-computer-science-a/exam
  2. https://www.princetonreview.com/college-advice/ap-computer-science-a-exam
  3. https://www.tun.com/blog/ap-computer-science-a-exam/
  4. https://library.fiveable.me/ap-comp-sci-a/finals-and-exam-prep/2022-ap-computer-science-exam-guide/blog/c0f5inSMKJ1P24v6OIQ6
  5. https://reports.collegeboard.org/media/pdf/2021-ap-student-score-distributions_1.pdf
  6. https://apcentral.collegeboard.org/media/pdf/ap-score-distributions-by-subject-2022.pdf

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Priyanshi Agrawal

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