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AP Computer Science Approach

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As of this year, College Board essentially canned the AP Computer Science AB course (Intro to Programming in College + Data Structures), leaving only the AP Computer Science A course, which I am enrolled in this year. While I enjoy having a relatively advanced programming class in high school (again, relative to high school, not college), the AP approach of BFI (brute force it) has me banging my head against a wall sometimes. For example, on my Unit 4 test, we got a question about finding the mode of an array of integers. Of course, I have already written a snippet to do so with a Map<K,V>. However, upon asking my instructor, he said that I would lose points according to the AP rubric for that part of the FRQ, but on regular assignments I was free to use the structures I wanted to, which is fair enough, especially considering he doesn’t like all of the AP policies either. In all honesty, I do understand why the AP standardizes their free response grading so as to have the scores ready by June. However, for those of us who actually know what we’re doing, it is frustrating and limiting to a degree.

6 Comments On This Entry

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m-e-g-a-z Icon

23 February 2010 - 06:27 PM
Your instructor should have been more than pleased in you attempting that question using a Map. I suppose some people are really fussy and want it done that specific way. ^^
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macosxnerd101 Icon

27 February 2010 - 03:08 PM
Yah, he was pleased that I've gone above and covered AP CS AB topics, and he did say on programming assignments, I was free to do what I wanted, but on tests (which are in AP format), he wants me to stick to the AP approach, as he uses old FRQs and their rubrics for grading.
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zim1985 Icon

04 March 2010 - 05:01 PM
I have the same issue in my CS class. We JUST started arrays and for loops, things I have been using for months (as I got a book and learned much of the language early on). The only exception is that my teacher wants me to only use what we are doing in class because I need to "practice for the AP test".

Albeit, he gives me side project utilizing what I know, usually variations of the AP CS AB problems he is giving to his second year students. I feel the pain though. We WON'T move on to the next topic until everyone understands it. That said, the class move unbearably slow at times. I'm glad I found dream.in.code. Trying help people pushes my debugging skills and analytical problem-solving skills to an extent not required of me in class.
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macosxnerd101 Icon

08 March 2010 - 08:58 PM
At least your instructor is being fair about giving you advanced assignments, but I don't disagree with him specifically about making you use the current (albeit dumbed-down) skill sets for your assessments. The worst thing you could do is get into a "bad" habit of using advanced tools for the AP, only to get dinged on points by graders who may not know the advanced data structures and tools. More to the point, it is the College Board approach I disagree with of limiting students to basic tools when the advanced students are way beyond them. It's sort of like how No Child Left Behind limits gifted education in certain school systems.
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Codebug Icon

19 July 2010 - 06:33 PM
It seems like it would be a much harder problem without using a map. In fact, without putting much thought into it, I can't think of a solution right off the bat without using a map. How could this be done?
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MATTtheSEAHAWK Icon

11 June 2011 - 02:10 PM

macosxnerd101, on 08 March 2010 - 11:58 PM, said:

At least your instructor is being fair about giving you advanced assignments, but I don't disagree with him specifically about making you use the current (albeit dumbed-down) skill sets for your assessments. The worst thing you could do is get into a "bad" habit of using advanced tools for the AP, only to get dinged on points by graders who may not know the advanced data structures and tools. More to the point, it is the College Board approach I disagree with of limiting students to basic tools when the advanced students are way beyond them. It's sort of like how No Child Left Behind limits gifted education in certain school systems.


I know this is a very old blog post but it's so true about No Child Left Behind in my school system. I know some kids really struggle and they are trying but most of the kids that this applies to in my school just don't try. I'm an all A student and have gotten a fair amount of awards but the kids who just act like idiots in my classes just piss be off and they hold up the class. Very good blog post :)
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