5 things to know about taking the AP CS Principles Exam

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Did you know that girls and students of color are less likely to take AP Computer Science exams? Even if they’re enrolled in the course, many of these students won’t get credit for their work at the college level because they don’t take the exam. Female students account for only 27% of all students taking AP Computer Science exams and underrepresented minorities make up just 20%.

How can you help? Teachers and parents are key to motivating students to try the exam. Join the 350+ teachers at schools in our AP CS Principles Hall of Fame who have helped lead record-breaking change in computer science by encouraging girls and underrepresented minorities in their classrooms.

Whether it’s misconceptions or intimidation, Code.org wants to help break down the obstacles with these 5 things to know about taking the AP CS Principles Exam.

1. Sign-up deadlines are early in the year.

If you haven’t done so already, be sure to check in with your AP Coordinator to find out the deadline for your students to sign up. For many schools, the deadline is early in the year, even if the exam is in the spring. If your students need special accommodations, the deadline for requests is Feb 23, 2018.

2. Taking the exam correlates with increased success in college, whether or not a student passes.

AP classes prepare students for the rigor of taking courses in college, and part of that preparation includes getting ready to take college-level exams. Students who take the AP Exam are more likely to graduate from college than their counterparts who don’t — whether or not they pass.*

3. Financial Aid is available

Many schools, states, and the College Board offer different financial aid opportunities to help give all students the chance to take the AP exam. Ask your AP Coordinator about the financial aid options available at your school and let your students know about them!

4. Your students are more prepared to pass than you think

Most Code.org classrooms don’t get to every level or cover every topic, but last year, 73% of the students who took AP exam passed it. We saw remarkable rates of success in classrooms where teachers had never taught CS before this year and the students were taking their very first AP exam. For example, in Oakland, students did better on AP Computer Science Principles exams than they did on AP English, AP Math, AP Science, or AP History. But, will your students try taking the test?

5. College credit

More and more schools are offering credit for AP Computer Science Principles. And, even for schools that do not offer computer science credit, students can often get a general credit for AP exams.

So, how can you get your students to sign up?

Consider trying one of these techniques from our Hall of Fame teachers to encourage the students in your class:

  1. Play this video in your class

2. Send home this flyer

3. Give students extra credit for taking the exam

4. Send individual emails or encourage students in your class 1:1 to take the exam. This can be especially valuable with the girls or underrepresented minorities in your class. They are less likely to be given personal encouragement by teachers and parents, and your support can really boost their confidence.

Alice Steinglass, President, Code.org

Written by

Code.org® is dedicated to expanding access to computer science increasing participation by young women and students from other underrepresented groups.

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