AP Test, 6 Computational Thinking Practices & 7 Big Ideas


As I begin to plan for an upcoming first semester final exam, I am finding that I need some clarity on the 6 Computational Thinking Practices and The 5 Bid Ideas of the Concept Outline. I was given a great introduction to these things at the CSP Professional Development last summer but was not ready to hear it at that point. :slight_smile: If this discussion exists some where else I am am happy to move there (I searched but couldn’t find it.)

Some questions:

  • Are people teaching these explicitly?
  • Are they are useful review mechanism or organizational scaffold for the test?
  • Any good links out there that makes sense of all this?

Computational Thinking Practices

  • P1: Connecting Computing
  • P2: Creating Computational Artifacts
  • P3: Abstracting
  • P4: Analyzing Problems and Artifacts
  • P5: Communicating
  • P6: Collaborating
    The Concept Outline
  • Big Idea 1: Creativity
  • Big Idea 2: Abstraction
  • Big Idea 3: Data and Information
  • Big Idea 4: Algorithms
  • Big Idea 5: Programming
  • Big Idea 6: The Internet
  • Big Idea 7: Global Impact

Steve Wright
Computer Science Teacher
Oakland Technical High School


Hi Steve,

I’m also trying to figure out what to do for a midterm exam. I hadn’t thought of trying to use Big Ideas and Computational Thinking Practices and that seems pretty challenging. I looked through a some questions in a different curriculum and didn’t get any great ideas there either. Many of their questions seemed quite tied to their curriculum.

I’m currently planning on reusing test questions from the units we have covered. I’d love to know what others are doing!

@brook suggested that we look at the Essential Questions for each big idea. They are in the purple book. https://secure-media.collegeboard.org/digitalServices/pdf/ap/ap-computer-science-principles-course-and-exam-description.pdf


cmeeks, many thanks for the reply. What I pasted (poorly I see now :slight_smile: ) in to my original email came from the purple book.

I think I am going to do the same as you and re-use / edit questions from the three units (1,2,3) as my mid-term. I like the idea of hanging these questions off of both/either the Computational Thinking / Big Ideas but I think that may need to wait for next year when I have a bit of hindsight to help. I’m thinking a chart of some sort that can track learning objectives as we address them? Something to mirror what is in the Purple Book against the Big Ideas.

Maybe a review assignment where students review what they have done in the first three units by mapping them against the Big Ideas? Or I do that and they… Thinking out loud…

Thanks again!



I am also thinking of using questions from the 74 question practice test on the secure part of the AP site.


On my mid-term for my class I broke the test into 3 parts: 1) vocabulary terms - since most of my students have not had any CS prior this was good for them. 2) some of the questions from the practice AP exam from college board ( I went through and selected the questions that corresponded with units 1 - 3 that we have covered in class) and 3) a short written section - similar to the practice PT’s that we have been doing.


Vlaise, many thanks. I was thinking of doing something similar.

  1. vocab
  2. AP style multiple choice
  3. I was considering a basic App Lab Challenge: draw a square with two parameters then use that function to drawAllSquares …


Hey Steve!
This is Briana from Cleveland who was visiting last week. I was doing some research on CTP’s and stumbled on your question. I really like referencing and using Google’s Computational Thinking unit. They tie in the importance to other subject areas which I found very valuable.

Briana Guevara
Computer Science Teacher
John Marshall School of Information Technology