1.1.2. About the AP CS A Exam

This curriculum will prepare you for the Advanced Placement Computer Science A Exam. This exam tests your programming skills in Java.

The AP CS A exam is 3 hours long and has two sections — multiple choice and free-response. You will be given one hour and 30 minutes for each part. The first part has 40 multiple-choice questions, and the second part has 4 free response questions where you have to write Java code by hand. Each part is worth 50% of your grade. During the exam, you will have access to the AP CS A Java Quick Reference Sheet.

Starting in 2020, the AP CS A exam will cover the following units and will provide formative assessments called Personal Progress Checks for each unit in the AP portal. 20 hours of lab time is required in AP CS A courses to allow students to practice Java programming. Note that abstract classes, interfaces, and binary/hex conversion have been removed from AP CS A starting in 2020. This curriculum is arranged to follow the AP CS A units and provides many interactive exercises in each unit.

UnitTitleExam WeightClass DaysLab Days
Unit 1Primitive Types 2.5–5%8-10
Unit 2 Using Objects 5–7.5% 13-15
Unit 3 Boolean Exprs/ifs 15–17.5% 11-13 3-5
Unit 4 Iteration 17.5–22.5% 14-16 4-6
Unit 5 Writing Classes 5-7.5% 12-143-6
Unit 6 Array 10–15% 6-8
Unit 7 ArrayList 2.5–7.5% 10-12 3-6
Unit 8 2D Array 7.5–10% 10-12 4-7
Unit 9 Inheritance 5-10% 14-15 3-6
Unit 10 Recursion 5–7.5% 3-5

The 4 free response questions allow students to write code to answer a problem and cover the following areas.

For more information on the exam see the College Board AP CS A site and the 200+ page AP CS A Course and Exam Description (CED). The AP CS A Past Free Response Questions are available online. Here is an FRQ resource that categorizes the past FRQs by topic and provides links to their solutions (which are available online in many places). The College Board provides a question bank and formative assessment quizzes for each unit online for registered AP classes.

Also check out this list of CS Careers that taking CS A can lead to. Learning to code is an increasingly important skill that has applications in many careers!

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