The AP Computer Science A course and exam focus on computing skills related to programming in Java. The course introduces students to computer science with fundamental topics that include problem solving, design strategies and methodologies, organization of data (data structures), approaches to processing data (algorithms), analysis of potential solutions, and the ethical and social implications of computing.
The AP Computer Science Principles course complements AP Computer Science A and focuses on the broader aspects of computing, including not only programming but also topics like the global impact of computing, the internet and cybersecurity, and creativity.
Additionally, the AP Exams for the two courses have different formats. AP Computer Science A has one end-of-year exam with multiple-choice and free-response questions. AP Computer Science Principles includes a through-course assessment for which the student must complete two projects during the course, and an end-of year exam with multiple-choice questions.