AP Computer Science A introduces students to computer science through programming. Fundamental topics in this course include the design of solutions to problems, the use of data structures to organize large sets of data, the development and implementation of algorithms to process data and discover new information, the analysis of potential solutions, and the ethical and social implications of computing systems. The course emphasizes object-oriented programming and design using the Java programming language.
College Course Equivalent
AP Computer Science A is equivalent to a first-semester, college-level course in computer science.
It is recommended that a student in the AP Computer Science A course has successfully completed a first-year high school algebra course with a strong foundation of basic linear functions, composition of functions, and problem-solving strategies that require multiple approaches and collaborative efforts. In addition, students should be able to use a Cartesian (x, y) coordinate system to represent points on a plane. It is important that students and their advisers understand that any significant computer science course builds upon a foundation of mathematical reasoning that should be acquired before attempting such a course.
The AP Computer Science A course requires that solutions of problems be written in the Java programming language. Because the Java programming language is extensive, with far more features than could be covered in a single introductory course, the AP Computer Science A Exam covers a subset of Java.
The AP Computer Science A course must include a minimum of 20 hours of hands-on, structured lab experiences to engage students in individual or group problem solving. Thus, each AP Computer Science A course includes a substantial lab component in which students design solutions to problems, express their solutions precisely (e.g., in the Java programming language), test their solutions, identify and correct errors (when mistakes occur), and compare possible solutions. College Board has developed several labs that are aligned to the course framework that fulfill the 20-hour lab requirement. The class period recommendations provided in the unit guides a