To get a sense for which topics your class needs to review, we recommend administering a Barron’s practice exam as a pre-test, another as a post-test after some review, then the 2009 released AP CS A exam (the most recent fully-released exam) as a final practice.
The 2009 exam includes GridWorld questions (Free response question 2, multiple choice questions 21–25). Instructors could have students skip these now obsolete questions, or replace them with questions of similar difficulty from the 2004 exam to allow an AP score to be reasonably computed.
As you re-teach concepts, practice questions and assessments can be gleaned from the Bellevue International Mastery Tests (included as a file within the Unit 9 materials). These tests, written and graciously shared by Arthur Watson, provide an easy way to retest your students. Should you decide to use these resources, keep the following in mind:
The tests do not include recursion, searching, or sorting since these were the most recently covered units before whole-year review.
There are 3 versions of each test (A, B, and C). Versions are similar, so students can re-take each exam after working on material to earn a higher score.
As it gets closer to AP test time, Arthur lets his class use the A version test/answer keys to study for the B and C versions.
Whether in-class or for homework, giving students ample opportunities to drill test questions will help them overcome test anxiety. The resources listed below provide practice material using different learning modalities:
Practice problems & solutions broken down by topic. Old AP multiple-choice questions & answers.
175 multiple-choice questions (self-checking)
Timed practice tests, flashcards, featured “question of the day.”
If you have been using the exams provided with this curriculum, students should be familiar with the directions and guiding text of the AP exam. During review, you should push the test-taking strategies covered in the websites referenced below:
There are 3 available practice exams you can give to your students. For ELL classrooms, start by giving the first practice exam with a little extra time (~ 10 minutes) on each section, so they have time to get used to pacing and reading.
After you have re-taught topics, assigned practice timed practice at home, give the next exam at full time, and ask the students to report back to you what they felt were the most challenging aspects of the exam.
If students report that reading is slowing them down, take a class period or two to drill the word wall vocabulary. Have students practice reading and explaining questions to each other. At this point, repetition is key. Strengthening topic-specific vocabulary and recall will be more beneficial than reviewing additional topics.
Some fun vocabulary review strategies include:
Pictionary: encourage students to write some code (or find, or circle it in a sample of code on the board or projector) to illustrate a concept or term.
Vocabulary bingo: Print out word wall words (or challenging concepts) on bingo cards (you can make them online here: http://osric.com/bingo-card-generator/). Rather than just calling out words, call the definition of the term or project an example of the concept in sample code, having students come up with the word they need to find on the bingo sheet.
If your students are speeding through the review sessions, add additional challenges by sticking to Section II questions. Students can access Section II questions from 2009 – 2014 on the AP CS website here: http://tinyurl.com/m7ljyec. The most recent released Section II test questions and scoring rubric are included with Unit 9 materials. 2014’s questions and scoring rubric are available on the AP web site.