Good luck to all on the 2018 AP Computer Science exams!
Here are my predictions for the 4 four CS A Free Response Questions for 2018.
DISCLAIMER :: I have no idea what the questions will be, but I have fun each year trying to guess the topics before the exam. I have gotten pretty good at predicting the free response topics as I do spend considerable time working with the released free response questions.
1. ArrayList of Classes / References – You gots to know how to write code to manipulate an ArrayList<NeverSeenThisClassBefore> as it is on the exam every single year going all of the way back to 2006. The Elevens lab does a good job with this topic as well. This question type involves lots of drilling down to get to the various pieces. You must be comfortable with abstraction to handle this type of question. 2015 had the Sparse Array which was a very cool question.
2. Make a Class from scratch – Every student should know how to make a class, implement an interface, extend an abstract class, and extend a non-abstract class. In 2014, the Trio question marked the return of the interface FR which means an abstract class Free Response can’t be too far behind. Be prepared create an interface / abstract class / non-abstract class in part A and then use Part A to make a new class in Part B as was the case in 2015 and similarly in 2017. Be prepared to override some methods and make something new from something old. You know you will have to create a complete class or create something really similar and it will be super!
3. Processing an Array / String with a possible make a class twist – String questions have made a comeback recently. Arrays pop up from time to time. I predict a basic algorithmic array or string question. Look back at Question 3 from 2017 for a recent example. I am also betting part A must be called by part B and / or part B must be called by part C as was the case in 2017. This could also be another create a class question with a string or array as a component.
4. Matrices / List of Lists – Be on the lookout for another matrix of classes question. I predicted this in 2013 and was wrong, but I went with it again in 2014 and hit pay dirt as the there was a Student[ ][ ] question on the exam. There will certainly be a matrix question again this year. 2017 had a matrix of Positions so be ready again this year for a matrix of classes just in case. This could also be the year the matrix question uses a List of Lists. Sparse Array from 2015 was basically a matrix question which I could also see being done with a List of Lists.
I will post follow-up comments after I see the 2018 Free Response questions. Hopefully, my predictions will be right on this year. I have been pretty close in the past, but this year is a new year.
A few review points to emphasize before the exam.
Multiple Choice [ 90 minutes ] – Manage time and get through the 40 questions more than once. Skip the longer questions the first time through. Answer the easy questions first. Shoot for 33 or greater on the M/C if aiming for a 5.
Free Response [ 90 minutes ] – Answer the easiest question first and do not leave any questions blank. Make sure to return and to call part A from B if the question says you MUST do that. Shoot for at least 27 on the FRQ section if you are aiming for a 5.
If you want some great reviews the AP Computer Science A Exam, I have quite a review slides posted AP Exam review slides with Java code projects ready for students to complete. The Java code projects have runner files and everything students need to test student hand-written free response code. Feel free to use them to help your students. It is very beneficial for students to write the free response code on paper and then type it up. I will post my solutions to the 2018 FRQs with a Java code project once College Board releases the questions.
Do you need great AP Computer Science Curriculum that covers all of the topics I have listed above? Do you need labs, slides, tests, quizzes, and worksheets that cover arrays, arrays of references, ArrayList, ArrayList of References, Matrices, Matrices of References, Interfaces, and Abstract Classes? Take a look at the A+ Computer Science Curriculum.
The A+ Computer Science Curriculum was designed to provide students with multiple opportunities to master the core concepts covered on the AP Computer Science A Exam.
If you like my humor and want to spend a few days hearing more about how to get students ready to ROCK the AP exam, email me about setting up a custom training at your school or for several schools. I will show you how to get any student ready to make a 5!