Good luck to all on the 2017 AP Computer Science exams!
Here are my predictions for this year’s 4 AP CS A Free Response Questions. 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. 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. 2010 had the CookieOrder question and 2012 had ClimbInfo. Sparse Array from 2015 was another cool List of classes question. I think making something like Sparse Array but with a list of lists is quite possible.
2. Make a Class from scratch – Every student should know how to make a class, implement an interface, and extend an 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 in part A and then use Part A to make a new class in Part B as was the case in 2015. 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! Look at the 2005, 2006, and 2007 AP FR questions if you want some past FR examples.
3. Processing an Array or String – String – String – I missed the boat on the Strings last year as there were a whopping 3 questions that did something with Strings. They will not get me this year as I am including both arrays and Strings here. I know it is kinda like cheating, but I am covering my behind this year. I predict a basic algorithmic array or string question. Look back at BatteryCharger from 2009 or the Sound question from 2011. Those questions are pretty good algorithm questions. Find a particular something in an array or string. I am also betting part A must be called by part B and / or part B must be called by part C.
4. Matrices – 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. Finally! There will certainly be a matrix question again this year and with PictureLab being one of the AP CS A Labs, I am thinking a matrix of references is again a distinct possibility.
I will post follow-up comments after I see the 2017 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.
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.
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.
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, check out my workshops going on over the summer or 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!