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#1 AVReidy  Icon User is offline

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How hard would it be to pass AP CS without taking course?

Posted 25 February 2012 - 01:10 PM

Hey everyone,

I'm currently a junior in high school and I'm thinking about studying for and taking the AP computer science exam sometime before I graduate. I'm wondering how difficult it would be to do well on it without taking the course (my school doesn't offer it).

I've just started looking at the course description pdf provided by CollegeBoard, and tried some of the short answer problems in it. I believe I got the ones I tried right, but the ones I didn't try looked challenging to me. At this point, I feel that I have a fairly solid understanding of the basics of Java and programming in general, but I didn't know what an interface was until I saw it in an exam question and looked it up - so I still have a lot to learn.

If any of you can offer advice on how I should go about studying for this, I'd really appreciate it. Will my Head First Java book be enough? Should I invest $35 in the 2004 released exam? I think passing this exam would help me out a lot when applying for college, so I would be willing to work hard on my own to do well. I've taught myself the basics of programming in the last year or so, so I'm hopeful that I can learn some more advanced topics that are necessary for the exam before I take it.

I could be wrong, though. Is it crazy to think I could do well on the exam without taking the course?

Thanks!

This post has been edited by AVReidy: 25 February 2012 - 01:16 PM


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Replies To: How hard would it be to pass AP CS without taking course?

#2 tlhIn`toq  Icon User is offline

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Re: How hard would it be to pass AP CS without taking course?

Posted 25 February 2012 - 01:21 PM

SO you don't want to learn anything, you just want to pass the test by memorizing the answers? Please don't apply for work at my company.
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#3 macosxnerd101  Icon User is online

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Re: How hard would it be to pass AP CS without taking course?

Posted 25 February 2012 - 01:26 PM

If you can do stages 1-2 from my thread Getting Better at Programming Java, you should be good. College Board has a bunch of GridWorld practice FRQs you should do as well. You also get a good portion of the GridWorld API for the exam. It's not hard to pass if you know what you're doing. It's not hard to get a 5 if you really know your Java.
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#4 AVReidy  Icon User is offline

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Re: How hard would it be to pass AP CS without taking course?

Posted 25 February 2012 - 01:47 PM

Thanks macosxnerd101.

I'm also wondering if colleges actually care about your AP scores, assuming they even get to see them when you apply. I don't think I'd be ready to take the CS exam until 2013, but I would give it a shot before applying (this fall, I guess) if it means the schools will be able to see my scores.

I really want to take the exam to show colleges that I have programming experience and ability, but I honestly don't know if even acing the AP exam (not that I would ace it) would mean anything to college admissions.

@tlhIn`toq

I'm not sure what led you to believe that, but I guess I gave you the wrong impression. I actually learn programming by building things, and I rarely read books on programming. I have never explicitly sat down to 'study' it, either. I didn't know it was possible to memorize answers for these tests, but thanks for the enlightenment. I'll be sure to memorize the SAT as well.
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#5 macosxnerd101  Icon User is online

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Re: How hard would it be to pass AP CS without taking course?

Posted 25 February 2012 - 01:56 PM

View PosttlhIn`toq, on 25 February 2012 - 03:21 PM, said:

SO you don't want to learn anything, you just want to pass the test by memorizing the answers? Please don't apply for work at my company.

This is actually a test where you can only do but so much memorizing. Not saying it's the best programming test, but it's a stronger test than a lot of colleges provide in their intro to programming classes. And there is a free response section requiring students to write code by hand to be graded. No compiler, no computer.

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I'm also wondering if colleges actually care about your AP scores, assuming they even get to see them when you apply. I don't think I'd be ready to take the CS exam until 2013, but I would give it a shot before applying (this fall, I guess) if it means the schools will be able to see my scores.

I really want to take the exam to show colleges that I have programming experience and ability, but I honestly don't know if even acing the AP exam (not that I would ace it) would mean anything to college admissions.

Some ask for your scores in the application. Most have an AP credit policy. Look at that. Colleges will gauge your scores against their policies, most likely. And even if you aren't eligible for credit if you go there, a 4 or 5 on an AP exam is looked at favorably. The official college board transcript should be sent after you graduate high school, once you've made your decision.

A lot of college applications have spaces for extra comments. You can include self-studying for the AP CS exam there. No one thing will make you though, so just keep that in mind.
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