If you’re considering going into computer science and earning college credits in high school, you’re probably hesitating between taking AP Computer Science Principles and AP Computer Science A.
These two advanced placement courses have similar content, but the details and exam formats are different.
The AP informatics A course and exam focus on computer skills related to Java. AP Computer Science Principles is a broader, conceptual view of computer science. You can take one, the other, or both. Here’s what you need to know to help you decide.
What does AP informatics A mean?
AP computer science A covers one semester and emphasizes the use of Java. Because Java is a vast programming languagethe course focuses on object-oriented programming and design.
The AP Computer Science A course includes: 10 units of content† During the lesson, you will gain an understanding of coding by using Java to write and test code while exploring topics such as modularity, variables, arrays, and the impact of computing.
By the time the course comes to an end, you will have the skills to:
- design programs
- Developing algorithms
- Write and implement code
- Test and Document Code
As part of the AP Computer Science A course, you will complete a minimum of 20 hours of hands-on lab work.
What do the principles of AP computer science cover?
AP Computer Science Principles is a comprehensive look at the field of computer science. You study five big concepts from computer science:
- Creative development
- Algorithms and programming
- Computer systems and networks
- Impact of Computing
The instructor will choose the programming language you use as you progress through the curricula. You learn to:
- Making connections between computer concepts
- Designing programs to solve a problem or complete a task
- Analyze math
- Applying abstractions to calculations and modeling
You will also have the opportunity to communicate about technology and calculations and collaborate to solve problems.
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By taking an AP computer science course, you build knowledge of the field no matter which one you complete.
AP informatics A teaches you about coding and its functions, while the principles of AP informatics show the broad outline of the field.
Any AP course can count toward credit requirements, another benefit of enrolling in one or more classes.
This article has been reviewed by Monali Mirel Chuatico
in 2019, Monali Mirel Chuatico graduated with her bachelor’s degree in computer science, which gave her the foundation she needed to excel in roles as data engineer, front-end developer, UX designer and computer science instructor.
Monali is currently a data engineer at Mission Lane. As a data analytics captain at a non-profit named COOP CareersMonali helps recent graduates and young professionals overcome the underemployment by teaching them data analysis tools and guiding them on their professional development journey.
Monali is passionate about implementing creative solutions, building community, advocacy for mental health, empowering women and educating young people. Monali’s goal is to gain more experience in her field, expand her skills and do meaningful work that will positively impact the world.
Monali Mirel Chuatico is a paid member of the Red Ventures Education Integrity Network.
Last reviewed on May 3, 2022.