*Updated April 3, 2020
The College Board has modified the AP Computer Science A exam, and all other AP exams, in response to the disruption caused by COVID-19.
The AP Computer Science A exam for 2020 will be shorter, administered online, cover less material, and have a different format than previous tests.
Here are the key changes you need to know to do well in the upcoming AP Computer Science A exam.
Will I get AP credit for the modified AP Computer Science A exam?
Students who take the 2020 AP Computer Science A exam will be eligible for college credit, according to the College Board: “Colleges support this solution and are committed to ensuring that AP students receive the credit they have worked this year to earn. For decades, colleges have accepted a shortened AP Exam for college credit when groups of students have experienced emergencies.”
As in previous years, a student must obtain a score of 3, 4 or 5 to be eligible for college credit.
How long is the 2020 AP Computer Science A exam?
The online 2020 AP Computer Science A exam will be just 45 minutes long, instead of the three hours it took in previous years, and can be taken at home (if schools are still closed on exam day) or at school.
What is the AP Computer Science A exam format for 2020?
The 2020 AP Computer Science A exam will be an open book/open note exam based entirely on free-response questions. There will be no multiple choice questions as there were in the past.
What device should I use to take the 2020 AP Computer Science A exam?
You can take the exam on any device you have access to, including a computer, tablet or a smartphone. You should make the determination of which device works best for you beforehand.
You are also allowed to submit a photo of your handwritten work.
What if I don’t have internet access?
If you need access to the internet or a working computer, contact the College Board here for help. The College Board is committed to making the 2020 AP Computer Science A exam work for all students: “We recognize that the digital divide could prevent some low-income and rural students from participating. Working with partners, we will invest so that these students have the tools and connectivity they need to review AP content online and take the exam.”
What will be tested on the 2020 AP Computer Science A exam?
You will be tested only on material from Units 1 through 7, so you should be prepared to answer questions on these topics:
- Unit 1: Primitive Types
- Unit 2: Using Objects
- Unit 3: Boolean Expressions and if Statements
- Unit 4: Iteration
- Unit 5: Writing Classes
- Unit 6: Array
- Unit 7: ArrayList
What will not be tested on the 2020 AP Computer Science A exam?
You won’t be tested on material from Units 8, 9 and 9.
- Unit 8: 2D Array
- Unit 9: Inheritance
- Unit 10: Recursion
Are exam question types and sample questions available for the 2020 AP Computer Science A exam?
The AP Computer Science A exam will consist of two questions, one on Array and ArrayList and one on methods and control structures. Check here for a description of the questions.
You will have 25 minutes to read and respond to the first question and five minutes to upload their response. Then you will have 15 minutes for the second question plus another five minutes to upload their response.
What’s the 2020 AP Computer Science A exam date and time?
The College Board is offering two exam dates for each AP exam this year.
The AP Computer Science A exam is scheduled for Friday, May 15 at these times:
- Hawaii Time: 10 a.m.
- Alaska Time: 12 p.m.
- Pacific Time: 1 p.m.
- Mountain Time: 2 p.m.
- Central Time: 3 p.m.
- Eastern Time: 4 p.m.
The AP Computer Science A make-up exam will be held on Wednesday, June 3 at these times:
- Hawaii Time: 8 a.m.
- Alaska Time: 10 a.m.
- Pacific Time: 11 a.m.
- Mountain Time: 12 p.m.
- Central Time: 1 p.m.
- Eastern Time: 2 p.m.
Note: Unless you have a scheduling conflict, you should plan on taking your AP Computer Science A exam on the primary date. This way, you can take it on the make-up date if it turns out you can’t take it on the primary date.
Is the College Board offering any free AP Computer Science A exam review courses?
The College Board is committed to making free resources available to students through exam day.
Note: The AP Computer Science A review courses will also cover topics that have been excluded from this year’s exams.
What are my other options for preparing for the 2020 AP Computer Science A exam?
If you don’t have an AP Computer Science A review book already and can’t get it on time through Amazon, which has recently confirmed that even Amazon Prime deliveries of non-essential goods could be delayed a month, try eBay or other alternate sources.
And don’t worry if you have problems getting your book delivered early enough to help you with your prep. There are online resources that you can use to help you prepare for the 2020 AP Computer Science A exam.
This free Udemy Decoding AP Computer Science A course is intended to help you prepare for and ace the AP Computer Science exam, according to its creator. The course consists of 115 lectures and over 10.5 hours of content, and each chapter comes with exercises that will help you put the skills you learn into practical use right away. You will learn Java fundamentals in their entirety and understand the concept behind object-oriented programming (OOP).
More than 30,000 students have taken this course to date.
This Java Programming Essentials: AP Computer Science A course is the first of two courses — the second one is described below — meant to help students prepare for the AP Computer Science exam. In this course, the instructor covers the first part of AP Computer Science, including a complete introduction for Java programming. This course covers topics such as elementary programming in Java, program structures, OOP, and basic data structures. It includes 20.5 hours on-demand video, 19 articles, and 379 downloadable resources.
This course is currently available for $9.99, but generally costs $49.99.
This Java Object-Oriented Programming: AP Computer Science B course is the second course — the first one is described above — meant to help students prepare for the AP Computer Science exam. This course includes complete tutorials for OOP, program analysis, and introduction to algorithms. It includes 1.5 hours on-demand video, 46 articles, and 490 downloadable resources.
This course is currently available for $9.99, but generally costs $59.99.
This edX AP Computer Science A: Java Programming, taught by professors from Purdue University, will teach you the basics of programming in the Java language and cover topics relevant to the AP Computer Science A course and exam.
This course is free to audit, but there’s a fee of $49.99 to obtain a Verified Certificate.
Note that at the time of publishing this article, future dates for the course are yet to be announced.
If you’re taking more than one AP exam in 2020, check here for details on other revised AP exams.
Susan Chu is a writer and editor who likes to write about trends in higher education.