The AP Computer Science A Exam
College Board revealed that this year’s test would have some unique revisions in response to school closures and the effects of COVID-19. Some suggested ways of prepping for them will be laid out below.
How to Prepare for the Examination: Question Strategies
When reading questions for the first time and considering how to answer the problem, these vital suggestions may aid you.
1. Conduct a keyword search
Methods exist for a reason – their explanations frequently include hints for resolving subsequent problems. Make a mental note of these terms so that when a question requests assistance in resolving a specific problem, you will know where to begin your search.
2. Consider the relationships between the functions
While reading the problem, consider how problems might be combined or used to solve a larger problem. This may lead you to the solution.
You can access the College Board’s Java Quick Reference guide via the internet.
This reference includes routines that you can use throughout your test — for example, if you require a random number, use Math.random (). Acquainting yourself with the proper use of this brief reference guide will serve as a “sanity check” to ensure that your syntax is right.
If you forget the syntax, for example, how to obtain the length of a string, you can use this guide to verify that it is indeed var.length ().
Precautions to Bear in Mind
1. Avoid obsessing over the grammar or logic of a single question
Exam problems must be solved within a specified amount of time. If you have difficulty solving problems within time constraints during practice problems, invest your time strategically.
According to the College Board’s 2019 APCS A Scoring Guide, errors result in equivalent deductions. However, if your code is nearly perfect, you will not lose many points. If time is limited, it may be preferable to move on to the next task and earn as many points as possible. Then, if you have time, return to inspect your work.
This is not a general rule; if you believe you can do more by focusing only on one issue, go for it!
2. Ensure that each issue receives the maximum amount of credit possible
Examine rubrics such as the 2019 APCS A Scoring Guide on the College Board’s website and become familiar with the factors that contribute to deductions. For example, mixing up  and get() on arrays and ArrayLists results in a deduction, while “missing ; where structure clearly conveys intent” does not.
3. Respond to each section of the question
When reviewing the problem, ensure that everything is taken into account and that the solution you are considering meets all of the requirements.
By clearly understanding what the problem is requesting and developing a solution that satisfies all of the criteria, you can avoid losing points for missing a need or having to rework a solution to satisfy a requirement.
4. Examine specifics and test scenarios to ensure comprehension
Ascertain that, if test cases are provided, they correspond to what you believe should occur when a method is called.
For instance, verify that a method you believe provides a string actually produces a string, or that a question requesting an integer count actually gives an integer count.
These facts are critical to ensuring that your solution adequately addresses the issue and makes use of other methods.
5. Verify your work.
Make the most of the time you have remaining. Revisit your solution and ensure that your code accurately reflects your thoughts and that it solves the problem.
Need extra guidance and tutoring to prep for the exam? Here at Singapore Coding Club, we can assist you with our tutors who have taken the exams themselves and have gotten into prestigious Computer Science Faculties around the world.
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