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2021 AP Computer Science A Exam Guide

6 min readโ€ขapril 3, 2021

Your guide to the 2021 AP Computer Science A exam

We know that studying for your AP exams can be stressful, but Fiveable has your back! We have created a study plan that will help you crush your AP CSA exam. We will continue to update this guide with more information about the 2021 exams, as well as helpful resources to help you score that 5. Create a Fiveable account and join our Discord to stay involved in all things AP exams! ๐Ÿ˜

Format of the 2021 AP CSA exam

This year, all AP exams will cover all units and essay types. The 2021 AP CSA exam will take 3 hours total and the format will be:
  • Section 1: Multiple Choice (50% of score)
    • 40 questions in 1 hour and 30 minutes
  • Section 2: Free Response (50% of score)
    • 4 questions in 1 hour and 30 minutes
      • Question #1: Methods and Control Structures
      • Question #2: Classes
      • Question #3: Array/ Array List
      • Question #4: 2D Array

When is the 2021 AP CSA exam and how do I take it?

There are three different exam administrations this year and the tests will be taken in person at your school unless your AP Coordinator has indicated otherwise. Here is what we know from College Board so far:
  • The first administration offers the exam on paper, in school, on Thursday, May 6, 2021, at 12 PM Local.
  • The second administration offers the exam digitally, in school and at home, on Tuesday, May 18, 2021, at 4 PM EDT.
  • The third administration offers the exam digitally, in school and at home, on Tuesday, June 1, 2021, at 4 PM EDT.
Create a Fiveable account to get updates on the latest 2021 exam news.ย 

How should I prepare for the exam?

Weโ€™ve put together this plan to help you study between now and May. This will cover all of the units and essay types to prepare you for your exam. Join our Discord channel to talk to real students just like you studying for this exam! We have TAs in each subject channel to support you this Spring. Also, keep an eye out for more information on Cram Sessions and Cram Finales- live streams that will help you cram for your exam!ย 

Pre-work: set up your study environment

Before we begin, take some time to get organized. Remote learning can be great, but it also means youโ€™ll need to hold yourself accountable more than usual.ย 
๐Ÿ–ฅ Create a study space.
Make sure you have a designated place at home to study. Somewhere you can keep all of your materials, where you can focus on learning, and where you are comfortable. Spend some time prepping the space with everything you need and you can even let others in the family know that this is your study space.ย 
๐Ÿ“š Organize your study materials.
Get your notebook, textbook, prep books, or whatever other physical materials you have. Also create a space for you to keep track of review. Start a new section in your notebook to take notes or start a Google Doc to keep track of your notes. Get yourself set up!
๐Ÿ“… Plan designated times for studying.
The hardest part about studying from home is sticking to a routine. Decide on one hour every day that you can dedicate to studying. This can be any time of the day, whatever works best for you. Set a timer on your phone for that time and really try to stick to it. The routine will help you stay on track.
๐Ÿ† Decide on an accountability plan.
How will you hold yourself accountable to this study plan? You may or may not have a teacher or rules set up to help you stay on track, so you need to set some for yourself. First set your goal. This could be studying for x number of hours or getting through a unit. Then, create a reward for yourself. If you reach your goal, then x. This will help stay focused!
๐Ÿค Get support from your peers.ย 
There are thousands of students all over the world who are preparing for their AP exams just like you! Join our Discord channel to chat, ask questions, and meet other students who are also studying for the spring exams. You can even build study groups and review material together!ย 

AP CSA 2021 Study Plan

โž•ย  Unit 1: Primitive Types

This unit introduces the basics of Java. Students learn the Main method, how to call different methods and variables.
๐Ÿ“–Read these study guides:
๐ŸŽฅWatch this video:

๐Ÿ“ฑย  Unit 2: Using Objects

This unit builds on the first unit by adding reference data, and new classes such as Math and String. This allows students to represent different real-world objects.
๐Ÿ“–Read these study guides:
๐ŸŽฅWatch this video:

๐Ÿ–ฅย  Unit 3: Boolean Expressions and if Statements

This unit introduces conditional statements. Covering boolean expressions and If Statements, students learn how to use conditional statements and their syntax along with writing different boolean expressions.
๐Ÿ“–Read these study guides:
๐ŸŽฅWatch this video:

๐Ÿ•นย  Unit 4: Iteration

This unit builds on writing conditional statements and introduces for and while loops. In addition, students learn standard algorithms that they will use for the rest of the course.
๐Ÿ“–Read these study guides:

โš™๏ธย  Unit 5: Writing Classes

This unit introduces students to writing their own reference data types or classes. This unit will be the backbone for the rest of the course.
๐Ÿ“–Read these study guides:

โŒš๏ธย  Unit 6: Array

This unit introduces arrays, which is a kind of data structure. This allows similar data to be stored in a different way than individual variables. In addition, students learn array standard algorithms that they will use for the rest of the course.
๐Ÿ“–Read these study guides:

๐Ÿ’พย  Unit 7: ArrayList

This unit builds on Arrays by introducing ArrayList which has its own unique differences from Arrays, including having a dynamic size, and has methods for changing elements.
๐Ÿ“–Read these study guides:

๐Ÿ’ปย  Unit 8: 2D Array

This unit introduces 2 Dimensional Arrays and different standard algorithms that they will use for the rest of the course.
๐Ÿ“–Read these study guides:

๐Ÿ–ฒย  Unit 9: Inheritance

This unit covers how to create a class hierarchy with super and subclasses. In addition, inheritance is covered which shows what methods and behaviors are shared to other classes.
๐Ÿ“–Read these study guides:

๐Ÿ–ฑย  Unit 10: Recursion

This unit covers recursion which are methods that call themselves.
๐Ÿ“–Read these study guides:

More Resources:

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Exam Reviews
Unit 10: Recursion
Unit 1: Primitive Types
Unit 2: Using Objects
Unit 3: Boolean Expressions and if Statements
Unit 4: Iteration
Unit 5: Writing Classes
Unit 6: Array
Unit 7: ArrayList
Unit 8: 2D Array
Unit 9: Inheritance
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