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Important Updates

2020-21 AP Course Audit: What You’ll Need to Do

If you’re teaching an AP Computer Science A course for the first time in 2020-21, you’ll need to submit two items:

  • A subject-specific AP Course Audit form
  • Documentation showing your understanding of course scope—choose 1 of 4 options:
    • adopt the AP unit guides
    • adopt an endorsed provider syllabus
    • claim identical to a colleague’s approved syllabus
    • submit your own course syllabus for review (For help creating your syllabus, sign in to your AP Course Audit account and click on the Resource section.)

If you’re teaching a previously authorized AP Computer Science A course, you won’t need to submit anything. Your school administrator can simply renew your course for 2020-21.

Once authorized, you’ll receive:

  • Access to AP Classroom (practice exams, formative assessments, etc.) in July 2020
  • Inclusion in the AP Course Ledger published in November 2020
  • Access to online score reports in July 2021

Getting to Know the AP Computer Science A Course

The key document for each AP course is the course and exam description. Start by reviewing it to understand the objectives and expectations of the course and exam.

AP Computer Science A Course and Exam Description

Endorsed Providers

Programs offering curriculum and professional development for AP Computer Science A may be able to provide additional support to you and your school, including an approved syllabus for your use. If you decide to you use a syllabus by a College Board endorsed provider, simply choose a provider syllabus available for adoption in your AP Course Audit account.


Your course must fulfill these requirements.

AP Computer Science A curricular requirements:

  • The students and teacher have access to a college-level computer science textbook, in print or electronic format.
  • The course provides opportunities to deepen student understanding of the required content outlined in each of the units described in the course and exam description.
  • The course provides opportunities to deepen student understanding of the big ideas.
  • The course provides opportunities for students to develop the skills related to the computational practices:
    • Computational Practice 1: Program Design and Algorithm Development
    • Computational Practice 2: Code Logic
    • Computational Practice 3: Code Implementation
    • Computational Practice 4: Code Testing
    • Computational Practice 5: Documentation
  • This course provides students with hands-on lab experiences to practice programming through designing and implementing computer-based solutions to problems.
  • The course includes a structured-lab component composed of a minimum of 20 hours of hands-on lab experiences.
  • The course teaches students to recognize the ethical and social implications of computer use.

AP Computer Science A resource requirements:

  • The school ensures that each student has a college-level textbook (in print or electronic format) for individual use inside and outside the classroom. The textbook is supplemented when necessary to meet the curricular requirements.
  • The school ensures that the teacher has a copy of the most recent edition of a college-level computer science textbook or other appropriate materials to support instruction.
  • The school ensures that each student has access to the AP Computer Science A labs.
  • The school ensures that each student has access to a computer for a minimum of 3 hours a week; additional time is desirable. The computer system must contain appropriate software to create and edit programs and must allow programs comparable in size to the current AP Computer Science A labs to compile in seconds. Internet access is strongly encouraged.

The list below represents examples of textbooks that meet the curricular requirements of AP Computer Science A. The list is not exhaustive and the texts listed should not be regarded as endorsed, authorized, recommended, or approved by College Board. Not using a book from this list does not mean that a course will not receive authorization. Syllabi submitted as part of the AP Course Audit process will be evaluated holistically, with textbooks considered along with supplementary resources to confirm that the course as a whole provides students with the content delineated in the curricular requirements of the AP Course Audit.

The current editions of the following textbooks meet the AP Course Audit curricular requirements. Earlier editions of these texts or other textbooks not listed here may meet the AP Course Audit curricular requirements if supplemented with appropriate college-level instructional resources. For discussions regarding the usefulness of these texts and other teaching materials in the AP Computer Science A classroom, please consult the AP Computer Science A Teacher Community.

  • Anderson, J. and J. Herve.  Java Illuminated. Jones & Bartlett Learning.
  • CompuScholar, Inc. TeenCoder: Java Programming. Alpharetta, GA:
  • Cook, Charles E. Blue Pelican Java. Refugio, Texas: Charles E. Cook, 2010.
  • Dean, John, and Raymond Dean. Introduction to Programming with Java: A Problem Solving Approach. McGraw-Hill.
  • Ericson, Barbara. Java Review for the AP CS A Exam. Online Text.
  • Gaddis, Tony and Godfrey Muganda. Starting Out with Java: From Control Structures through Data Structures. Pearson.
  • Horstmann, Cay. Big Java: Early Objects. Hoboken, N.J.: Wiley.
  • Horstmann, Cay. Java Concepts. Hoboken, N.J.: Wiley.
  • Kolling, Michael, and David Barnes. Objects First with Java: A Practical Introduction Using BlueJ. Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Prentice Hall.
  • Lambert, Ken, and Martin Osborne. Fundamentals of Java: AP Computer Science Essentials. National Geographic Learning/Cengage Learning.
  • Lewis, John, and William Loftus. Java Software Solutions: Foundations of Program Design. Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Prentice Hall.
  • Lewis, John, William Loftus, and Cara Cocking. Java Software Solutions for AP Computer Science. Addison-Wesley.
  • Litvin, Maria, and Gary Litvin. Java Methods. Andover, Mass.: Skylight Publishing.
  • Lizarraga, Adrian and Roman Lysecky. Programming in Java with ZyLabs. ZyBooks: A Wiley Brand.
  • Reges, Stuart, and Marty Stepp. Building Java Programs. Boston, Mass.: Addison-Wesley.
  • Savitch, Walter, and Kenrick Mock. Absolute Java. Pearson.
  • Walter Savitch. Java, An Introduction to Problem Solving and Programming. Pearson/Prentice Hall.

This annotated sample AP Computer Science A syllabus shows how the curricular requirements can be demonstrated in a syllabus and what level of detail you’ll need to include.

AP Computer Science A Sample Syllabus 1 (.pdf/1.1MB)

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