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AP Computer Science?


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Posted 25 December 2009 - 02:10 PM

Hey there everyone. Merry Christmas. I just thought I'd ask for some information on AP Computer Science seeing as my school does not offer it but one is allowed to take the exam without taking the class and I may self-teach ( I wouldn't take the exam until Spring of 2011 as I'd have to learn everything in a very small amount of time). Basically, what does the exam cover? What does a class used to prepare for the exam focus on? How is the exam split up? What are all the concepts that I'd need to know for the exam? Lastly, do you think it is practical to try and self-teach in preparation for such an exam? PS: My school barely has any computer science at all. We lost computer science 2 due to lack of interest and barely have enough people a year for computer science 1 which could be taken Sophomore and up.

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Posted 25 December 2009 - 02:38 PM

Have you checked the official description? Here it is for Computer science A: http://www.collegeboard.com/student/testing/ap/sub_compscia.html

The exam isn't too hard. I didn't take it, but I had planned on it. It turns out my school didn't do the necessary paperwork on time to order the exams and didn't tell me until it was too late.

It covers what pretty much what I would expect someone would learn after one semester of an introductory Java course. If you have enough experience with Java, I don't think you'd need to spend a lot of time studying.

If you have programming background and can take it, I'd really recommend doing it. The worst that can happen is that you pay for the test but don't score high enough to get college credit. The best is that you get an edge in college and start a class or two ahead, and that's a bigger deal (in my opinion) than it seems: it means more time for upper-level coursework, which is both more interesting and more important.

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Posted 25 December 2009 - 02:47 PM

Oh, it's in Java? I didn't know that. It seems then that it's not in my interest to take it as I'm not familiar in Java. I'm not sure if understanding c++ at all will help but I really don't understand Java too well and have most experience with c++.

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Posted 25 December 2009 - 02:59 PM

Quote:
Original post by Fuji
Oh, it's in Java? I didn't know that. It seems then that it's not in my interest to take it as I'm not familiar in Java. I'm not sure if understanding c++ at all will help but I really don't understand Java too well and have most experience with c++.
If you are fairly competent with C++, you can be up to speed in Java in a couple of weeks - less if dedicated. I won a small web development contract some years back, realised at the last minute that the requirements document specified Java, and taught myself as I went along [smile]

Almost every university computer science program teaches the first couple of introductory courses in Java these days, so whether or not you score well on the exam, you will be ahead of the curve if you learn Java.

Tristam MacDonald - Software Engineer @ Amazon - [swiftcoding] [GitHub]


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Posted 25 December 2009 - 03:05 PM

Quote:
Original post by Fuji
Oh, it's in Java? ... I'm not sure if understanding c++ at all will help but I really don't understand Java too well and have most experience with c++.

If you can learn one language you can learn another. Truth be told, you're going to have to learn several computer languages anyway. Get used to it.
-- Tom Sloper
Sloperama Productions
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Please do not PM me. My email address is easy to find, but note that I do not give private advice.

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Posted 25 December 2009 - 03:05 PM

In that case, I DO have a $45 gift card for Barnes and Nobel. Any books you can recommend that cover Java? I do have JCreator set up on my computer and I have dealt with C# and Java a little in the past. Either way, anything that strengthens my programming ability is something I am willing to consider.

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Posted 28 December 2009 - 07:27 AM

I'd say go for it. You'll need to know the material sooner or later.

I don't know if this will interest you, but I personally learned Java by participating each year of high school in a competition at a nearby university using Robocode. I had a lot of fun developing AI for the robots, and I just picked up Java naturally as I went on using online materials. Robocode's just a very nice learning environment; you can get a lot of interesting results without too much effort, but to get the best results could take a month or more of work.

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Posted 28 December 2009 - 07:43 AM

I think the AP board made a new policy this year that students aren't allowed to take an AP exam if one hasn't taken the course. This is because in previous years, students who didn't take the course usually performed worse as a whole and thus raised the curve on the tests.

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Posted 28 December 2009 - 08:22 AM

The guy above is wrong, according to the College Board website... support

I took Comp Sci A in high school, with no knowledge of Java besides what I learned while prepping. Java is really quite similar syntactically to C++, and syntax is what's most important on A, or at least that's my opinion of the test (which is low, I finished in like 20 minutes and had to sit for 3 hours).

I will also mention, however, that even though I got a 5, it didn't get me out of any college courses. My college, and from what I understand a lot of colleges, want the AB test, which focuses more on data structures. I didn't take that one, but a friend of mine without a Java background did and he did quite well. Course, he's brilliant, so it has to do with how good you think you are.

I did most of my prep from this website: http://javabat.com/ . I found it really quite helpful, and it was pretty representative of the sorts of things I saw on the test (just not ALL of it, for instance there's no OOP).

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Posted 28 December 2009 - 08:47 AM

Related, I'm taking APCS this year.

Is it true that the AB exam was dropped? The A exam is completely useless. Am I screwed?

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Posted 28 December 2009 - 09:20 AM

Quote:
Original post by nullsquared
Related, I'm taking APCS this year.

Is it true that the AB exam was dropped? The A exam is completely useless. Am I screwed?


It would seem so.

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Posted 28 December 2009 - 09:25 AM

I took the AP exam quite a while ago. (11 years now, yikes)
My school also didn't really have an AP class, but a few of us wrote the test, and it was extremely easy for all of us as I remember. (though it was not java back then)

The university I went to (Alberta) let me skip a boring intro cs course (and sit through the second boring intro cs course ;) ) because of it, so it was worth it, though I didn't get any credits.

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Posted 28 December 2009 - 09:39 AM

Quote:
Original post by nullsquared
Am I screwed?

Rarely, if ever, is life that hopeless, young Jedi. Find out what your options are and make a plan.

[Edited by - Tom Sloper on December 28, 2009 4:39:09 PM]
-- Tom Sloper
Sloperama Productions
Making games fun and getting them done.
www.sloperama.com

Please do not PM me. My email address is easy to find, but note that I do not give private advice.

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Posted 28 December 2009 - 09:52 AM

Quote:
Original post by Ezbez
Quote:
Original post by nullsquared
Related, I'm taking APCS this year.

Is it true that the AB exam was dropped? The A exam is completely useless. Am I screwed?


It would seem so.

Damn. Essentially I'm taking APCS for no reason, then. I could ace the A exam if you gave it to me this very instant.

Quote:
Original post by Tom Sloper
Quote:
Original post by nullsquaredAm I screwed?

Rarely, if ever, is life that hopeless, young Jedi. Find out what your options are and make a plan.


Thanks, and that's what I tried/am trying to do ATM [smile]. But enough high jacking [wink], I have my own thread over here: http://www.gamedev.net/community/forums/topic.asp?topic_id=554428

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Posted 28 December 2009 - 11:14 AM

It's nice to know others have had success in the past with similar endeavors. I also ordered a book with that gift card to help so hopefully I can get a roll on with learning and earn some college credit if possible :)




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