FRQ Practice Information
A great way to prepare for the AP exam is to use old exams for practice. We practice the multiple choice part of the exam using the College Board site. The free-response section of the exam requires that you hand write code. You cannot run nor test your hand written code during the exam.
To practice for the AP free-response questions (FRQ) you can hand write code, but you don’t know if it will work. I suggest you actually practice by writing your code in an IDE (Eclipse or IntelliJ) and then running your code. To do this, though, you will need to write more code than is required on the exam. The FRQs often only require that you write a method or section of code, not an entire main program or class. In order to get your code to run, though, you need to write the rest of the methods in the class or a main program in order to actually test your code. It is also good practice to write the extra code not required for the questions.
So, for these assignments, I recommend that you write the code for each question of the test as well as the supporting code. Just write enough extra code in order to test the code required for the exam practice.
Old AP Computer Science A FRQ Test Sections
On the right are a few of the old AP Computer Science A free response questions. I left them exactly as written so that you also get practice reading and deciphering what they ask, which sometimes is not that easy to do. Exams prior to 2019 will have code that is no longer being tested on the exam (like Interfaces). The test, though, will often only have one question (out of four) that has this type of code. So, they do still provide good practice. You can skip those question or ask and I’ll explain how to write the little bit of code that you may not understand.
- 2020 exam FRQs were not released as a downloadable pdf.
- 2018: question 3 contains Interfaces
- 2017: question 2 contains Interfaces
I have also included the scoring guides for the test. The scoring guides give the answers and also give a breakdown of how they score student answers for each question. Try not to look at the scoring guide until you write your own code. Once you finish with your code, look at the scoring guide to assess how you would have done. Just a warning, though, the code they provide in the scoring guide is often extremely efficient and elegant. It was written by professional programmers and is often not like the code you will write. They don’t grade on code efficiency or elegancy. They are only looking for if your code will do the correct thing. Don’t think your code won’t score well because it doesn’t look like the answer.
I generally don’t assign FRQ practice through the College Board’s site like I do for the multiple choice questions. The FRQs on College Boards site are not automatically graded nor do they provide the scoring guide (or didn’t in prior years). Without the scoring guide, it is difficult to determine how you would actually score. Thus, I don’t use College Board’s site for FRQ practice.
Baron's Exam Prep Textbook
In addition to the practice that is provide from College Board, either through their website or the old FRQ exams, we do have AP Computer Science A exam prep book that you can check out from the textbook center. This book has 4 complete practice exams (MC and FRQ) with answers and explanations. It also has a bunch of testing strategies and tips as well. It is another great resource if you are serious about the exam.