Your guide to the 2021 AP Computer Science Principles 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 CSP 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
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Format of the 2021 AP CSP exam
This year, all AP exams will cover all units and essay types. The 2021 CSP exam format will be:
Scoring Rubric for the 2021 AP CSP exam
Performance Task (6 points total)
Program purpose and function = 1 point
Data abstraction = 1 point
Managing complexity = 1 point
Procedural abstraction = 1 point
Algorithm implementation = 1 point
Testing = 1 point
Multiple Choice: Earn a point for each correct answer. There is no penalty for incorrect answers.
Check out our study plan below to find resources and tools to prepare for your AP CSP exam.
When is the 2021 AP CSP exam and how do I take it?
The performance task is due May 20, 2021 @ 11:59 PM ET.
The multiple choice exam will be will be administered in three administrations:
May 17, 2021 at 8 am, your local time on paper, at your school.
May 26, 2021 at 4 pm ET digitally at your school or home.
June 7, 2021 at 4 pm ET digitally at your school or home.
The tests will be taken in person at your school, unless your AP Coordinator has indicated otherwise. Create a Fiveable account
to get updates on the latest 2021 exam news.
How should I prepare for the exam?
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 you’ll need to hold yourself accountable more than usual.
🖥 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.
📚 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!
📅 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.
🏆 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!
🤝 Get support from your peers.
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!
AP CSP 2021 study plan
🕹 Big Idea 1: Creative Development
This unit is all about computing innovations: what they are, how they work, and how they're made and fixed.
⚙️ Big Idea 2: Data
This unit is all about how computers represent data, and how they can store and process ever-increasing quantities of it.
📱 Big Idea 3: Algorithms and Programming
An algorithm is a set of instructions used to accomplish a specific task or solve a problem. Sound familiar? The definition of an algorithm is very close to the definition of a program. That said, there are some major differences. The key difference is that an algorithm represents the problem-solving logic, while a program is how you carry it out. Programs execute algorithms. In this unit, you'll learn all about them.
🖥 Big Idea 4: Computer Systems and Networks
This Big Idea focuses on computer systems and networks: what they are, how they work, and how they can be used to help you speed up your programs. One of the biggest connectors of computer systems is the Internet, and a great deal of this guide also covers how the internet works.
⌨️ Big Idea 5: Impact of Computing
The rise of the internet has led to a rise in the amount of data and human capital available to researchers. This free flow of data and information makes identifying and solving problems easier, and more people have access to the solution once it's found. Think about all the problems you've been able to solve with a quick Google Search, where before you'd have to consult a manual or a professional.
The spirit of collaboration the internet can foster (on a good day) extends to larger, more formal systems as well. Two examples are known as Citizen Science and Crowdsourcing.
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