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Advanced Placement

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

Written by Apoorvaa Agarwal

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What are Hardest AP Classes?

Are you struggling with understanding the concepts of computer science? Do you find programming, data analysis, and algorithms challenging?

The difficulty rating out of the course by past students is 4.4 out of 10. The pass rate for the year 2022, for the AP CSP Exam was 63.5%. And the mean score obtained by students out of 5 was 2.92 in 2022.

This blog lists the advantages of taking and passing the AP Computer Science Principles exam, including a brief description of the test, lists some beneficial tips to assist students to prepare for the exams.

AP Computer Science Principles exam format

The College Board’s standardized test, the AP Computer Science Principles (CSP) exam, gauges students’ knowledge of the fundamental concepts in computer science.

The purpose of the test is to evaluate students’ capacity for a critical study of the impact of computing and technology as well as problem-solving using computational thinking.

Exam SectionNo. of questionType of questionTime allocated
Multiple-choice questions70 questionsSingle-select (57 questions)
– Single-select with a reading passage about a computing innovation
(5 questions)
– Multiple-select (8 questions)
2 hrs
Performance Task2 tasksExplore and create a task12 hrs total outside the test time
AP Computer Science Principles exam structure 

The performance task section requires students to complete two tasks:

  • Explore task
  • Create task

The Explore task asks students to analyze and evaluate a computing innovation, while the create task requires students to design, implement, and test a computer program to solve a real-world problem. In the Create task, students are required to submit their code and a written response to prompts provided in the performance task section.

Overall, the AP CSP exam is designed to assess students’ understanding of the fundamental concepts of computer science and their ability to apply those concepts to solve real-world problems.

Source: College Board

ap computer science principles exam guide
AP CSP Exam Guide 2023

When is the AP Computer Science Principles exam in 2024?

The AP Computer Science Principles exam 2024 will be held on Monday, May 15 at 12:00 pm (local time).

Every year, in May, the AP Computer Science Principles test is routinely given. It’s crucial to remember that exam dates and times might change based on where and how the exam is administered.

For the most recent information on exam dates and registration deadlines, students can check with their institution or the College Board website.

Is AP Computer Science Principles Hard? 

Is AP Computer Science Principles Hard? Yes, AP Chemistry has consistently been ranked as one of the hardest AP classes.

According to a survey done, class alumnae gave AP Chemistry a rating of 7.3/10 for overall difficulty, making it the 4th most difficult AP course (while AP Physics C Electricity and Magnetism, AP English Literature, and AP Physics C Mechanics being the top three).

In 2022, AP Chemistry had a pass rate of 54% which is slightly lower than other AP courses. If you have a strong base in Chemistry and Algebra 2, then AP Chemistry class might seem a little less intimidating.

Despite being one of the hardest AP classes, AP Chemistry was still opted by 124,780 students in 2022 as it is one of the preferred AP courses of many competitive colleges/universities.

Many students find the multiple-choice section of the exam to be challenging due to the broad range of topics covered and the various question formats used. However, with proper preparation and study, students can build a solid understanding of the key concepts and skills needed to succeed in this section.

Students who are new to computer science can also take the course and succeed on the exam with dedicated study and preparation.

AP Computer Science Principles vs. AP Computer Science A 

The AP Computer Science Principles (CSP) and AP Computer Science A (CSA) are two advanced placement courses offered by the College Board in computer science. While both courses focus on programming and computer science concepts, there are some key differences between the two:

Course ContentA broad introduction to computer science which involves problem-solving and object-oriented programmingA more-in depth course focused on programming and software including algorithms
Topics CoveredComputing innovations, programming, data analysis, and the impact of computingData structures, algorithms, and software design principles, Java programming language
CodingEmphasizes coding, but not as heavily as AP CSAEmphasizes coding, requires students to write significant amounts of code
Computational ThinkingEmphasizes computational thinking skillsEmphasizes computer thinking but to a lesser extent than AP CSP
Exam FormatMultiple choice questions and performance tasksMultiple-choice questions and free-response
Programming LanguageNo specific programming languageEmphasizes Java programming
GoalBroadening participation in computer science and other STEM fields by exposure to multiple aspects of computingDevelop skills for future study or a career in computer science or other STEM fields
AP Computer Science Principles vs. AP Computer Science A 

How to prepare for the AP Computer Science Principles exam?

Preparing for the AP Computer Science Principles (CSP) exam requires students to have a solid understanding of the foundational concepts and computational thinking practices in computer science. Here are some tips to help students prepare for the AP CSP exam:

In summary, AP CSP is a more general introduction to computer science, with a broader range of topics covered, and a focus on computational thinking skills.

AP CSA, on the other hand, is a more technical course focused on programming and software development, with a heavier emphasis on coding, the Java programming language, and preparing students for careers in computer science or software development

  1. Understand the course content: As mentioned earlier, it is crucial to understand the course content to prepare for the exam. Ensure that you have a strong grasp of programming principles, computer systems and networks, data analysis, and the impact of computing on society.
  2. Begin evaluating your abilities: Assess your coding and computational thinking skills early on to identify areas that need improvement. This will help you tailor your study plan accordingly.
  3. Learn the principles: The exam includes multiple-choice questions that test your knowledge of computing concepts and theory. Review the course material and practice with sample questions to improve your understanding of these concepts.
  4. Work on multiple-choice exercises: Practice answering multiple-choice questions regularly to become comfortable with the exam format and types of questions. Use online resources and practice exams to get a sense of the questions you might encounter.
  5. Polish your performance task: The performance tasks on the exam are graded based on specific rubrics, which you can find on the College Board website. Review these rubrics and practice coding and refining your projects accordingly.
  6. Practice, Practice, Practice: Consistent practice is essential to prepare for the AP CSP exam. Practice coding regularly and solve practice problems to build your skills and confidence.
  7. Optimize your time management: Create a study plan and manage your time effectively to cover all the necessary course material before the exam. Additionally, ensure that you use your time efficiently during the exam by reading instructions carefully, managing your time on each section, and not getting stuck on challenging questions.
  8. Stay motivated: Lastly, maintain a positive attitude and stay motivated throughout your preparation. Set achievable goals, take regular breaks, and stay focused on your long-term objectives.

Overall, preparing for the AP Computer Science Principles exam requires a combination of understanding the course content and developing strong test-taking strategies. With proper preparation and study, students can succeed on the exam and earn college credit or advanced placement in a computer science course in college.

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

In 2022, only 11.4% of the 134,651 students who took the AP Computer Science Principles 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 Principles 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 Principles Tutoring today and achieve your goal of scoring a 5 on your AP Test!


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.

By utilizing the information and resources in this blog, you can develop a solid study plan and confidently approach the exam.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

How long is the AP Computer Science Principles exam?

The AP Computer Science Principles Exam is 2 hours long. It consists of two sections, with the first section being a multiple-choice section that lasts for 2 hours and the second section being a performance task section that lasts for 12 hours outside the test time.

How many questions are on the AP Computer Science Principles test?

The AP Computer Science Principles Exam consists of two sections. The first section is a multiple-choice section that contains 70 questions, which students have 2 hours to complete. The second section is a performance task section which is worth 30% of the total score.

What is the AP Computer Science Principles exam?

In the AP computer science principles exam, students are tested on their understanding of computational thinking practices. The exam is divided into two parts; explore task and create task.

Do colleges accept AP Computer Science Principles?

Yes, over 950 colleges and universities offer credit and placement for AP computer science. Read about the credit policy of your college for AP Computer Science Principles.

Can you self-study for AP Computer Science Principles?

Yes, it is possible to self-study for AP Computer Science Principles, although it may require more effort and discipline than taking a formal course. Students can use a variety of resources, such as textbooks, online courses, and practice exams, to prepare for the exam on their own.



Reviewed by

Priyanshi Agrawal

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