What’s the difference between AP Computer Science Principles and AP Computer Science A?

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The AP Computer Science A course and exam focus on computing skills related to programming in Java. Students cultivate their understanding of coding through analyzing, writing, and testing code as they explore concepts like modularity, variables, and control structures.

The AP Computer Science Principles course complements AP Computer Science A and focuses on the broader aspects of computing. Students learn to design and evaluate solutions and to apply computer science to solve problems through the development of algorithms and programs. They incorporate abstraction into programs and use data to discover new knowledge. Students also explain how computing innovations and computing systems including the internet work, explore the potential impacts of these innovations, and contribute to a computing culture that is collaborative and ethical.

Additionally, the AP Exams for the two courses have different formats. AP Computer Science A has one end-of-course exam with multiple-choice and free-response questions. AP Computer Science Principles includes the Create performance task, which is completed during the course, and an end-of-course multiple-choice exam.