Mid-Year Exam ideas


I am preparing for a 90 minute mid-year exam. I am in the midst of Unit 4, but want to give a flavor for the entire year and what to expect in AP testing. Has anyone done anything they like? My ideas so far are to do a rapid research topic, either a programming challenge or debugging, and multiple choice questions similar to the variety offered through the end-of-chapter assessments. I would love to hear your ideas and share in any resources that have already been created.


@chadkm I am in the same boat! So, I don’t have answers, but I have ideas!

I am planning on having students do a practice performance task with the explore. Literally the exact same questions, but I will grade it and give them feedback. Then, second semester first week we will do the REAL explore - where I cannot give them feedback. I am hoping that with immediate feedback and re-implementation, students will be more ready for the real thing. I have started this process already and students have noted what they would do differently next time… specifically around picking an innovation that works well with the task.

BUT, I also want to do something a bit more summative. I have kicked around the idea of doing something with all the vocabulary we have used - especially since code.org made those nice vocab lists for each unit. I also have thought about doing some “predict what this code will do” tests since there seems to be a good amount of that on the AP test and my students seem pretty comfortable with guessing and checking when doing their own programming, but less comfortable with actually making predictions before running a code. Unfortunately, I have neither one of those prepared yet… but I’d love to hear what you do! I will share anything I come up with!


@caroline you seem to always have your act together on these types of things - any insight you can share here? :slight_smile:


Wow Katie, those are some great plans. I think the more practice the better. I am close to finishing unit 4 and I’m considering using the rapid research as part of the assessment. Also looking to pull in a variety of MC questions from the semester so far. Still not sure what to do on the coding. So many possibilities. Thanks for sharing your ideas to date.


Thanks Katie, wish it always felt that way from the inside!

I took the sample questions from the AP site and edited it down to just questions I felt we had covered at least a bit and that is what I’m going to use. Its going to be a tough test but at least I feel like they might learn from it. I expect to scale it heavily.

I just broke my ankle and I’ll be out between now and when the mid term is given. I have a volunteer programmer who is going to work with them to keep moving on Unit 5. But i don’t think we’ll do any review lessons. :frowning:


Hi everyone, here is one suggestion. I did download the AP CSP practice test from College Board website and used the multiple choice questions. Remember you can use the test as long as the students don’t get a printed copy for their personal use. So just made class copies.Although there are many questions from Units 4 and 5, the students were not so baffled. :sweat: Also used the Explore Task PT as second part of the midterm assessment. Used the same rubric as found on College Board. The students cannot use it for their final portfolio submission but it will help them on their final product as I plan on sharing the evaluation once they are back in class next week. hope this helps


After reading these suggestions and thinking about what time we actually have available, I think I will be doing the following:

  1. About 20 multiple choice questions that are either inspired by the assessments on code.org, or come from the AP resource as suggested by Vijayshree.
  2. Using the Rapid Research at the end of Unit 4 but modifying it to be individual work that produces an artifact to teach others about a particular type of cyber threat and provide some action steps to take. This is something I think will be great to do, but may take more time than I want, so I may give the students the assignment ahead of time so they can begin the reading and research ahead of time.
  3. A brief programming sample in which the students use the concepts learned in Unit 3 to create a drawing that incorporates certain CS structures and concepts. They will have time on our last day in class before the exam to do the majority of this work. They will wrap it up by doing a written explanation about one function they wrote and answering one or two other related questions.

Those are my thoughts heading into our last day before exams start.


I really like the idea of use sample questions from the AP Practice Test from College Board, as suggested. Great idea!

I love Katie and Chadkm’s idea of using the Rapid Research (Explore PT) at the end of Unit 4.

Wondering… should I attempt to give them the Explore PT if we have not completed Unit 4? We are just wrapping up Unit 3.

I’ll have about 5 days to introduce Unit 4 and do some type of Mid-Term review before our our 90 minute Mid-Term period.

Thoughts? Do you think students can be successful without going through the Unit 4 scaffolding first?


Unit 4 focuses on big data and privacy on internet. Exposure to this topic opens up more venues for research and exploration for the Explore PT. The Unit 4 Practice PT is aimed at giving students practice for the Explore PT. The questions, the rubric, the submission instructions all mimic the Explore PT. My suggestion would be to wait on assigning the Explore PT till after Unit 4. You can definitely introduce the Explore PT so students have an idea of what to expect and get them started on thinking about topics they could venture into in the Explore PT.


Thank you very much! I really appreciate the insight!


@rwaller you could do all of the explore except for 2d which deals with data. I broke the explore (practice) into mini sections thoughout the year and then brought all sections together at the end.


Thanks Katie! Appreciate the insight and advice!



I am looking for a mid-term final exam as well. (Multiple Choice)

Have you found anything?


These are all great ideas. If anybody develops any materials, tests or exams. Please share them with me at tim.butler@beisd.net.



Not sure if it is still useful to resurrect this old thread, but I’m sitting here administering an exam for Unit 1, chpt 1 & 2, Unit 2, chpt 1, and Unit 3.

At the end of their multiple choice and short answer section, my students have 4 programming questions. I wrote the programming prompts in a handout I gave them, but also as comments in AppLab. I gave them the link to my “project”. They will “Remix” it to provide the solution and then link their Remix back for me to examine.

Here is an example: https://studio.code.org/projects/applab/2ShIGhg-8dx2vtOlT73EM0WPgM5NR2qWpFX4A28pMKA

I’m hoping this works out.


I love the idea of doing a programming remix as part of the exam! Thanks for sharing this!


Exam results:

My students, all three of them, did well on the programming part except that they felt a lot of time pressure.

For some background, this CSP curriculum is being used for Computer Science 1 in a school that hasn’t offered CS1 for a couple years but has been offering computer programming which is in Python. My students are concurrently taking Python.

We did Unit 3 lessons 4 & 5 in class before I ditched that and assigned lessons as homework that we reviewed in class. Our in-class experience was that dragging and dropping blocks was tedious especially because lesson 4 is pre-functions. Boy, were we glad when functions were introduced!

Also, one of my students has an extremely low frustration tolerance, and the lesson where he almost rage quit was the last lesson we did together in class. He’s also the one that felt the most pressure in the exam on the programming portion. These same questions outside the classroom would have been fine. But the complexity from problems 1 to 4 rose dramatically, and the students were quite stressed by the end.

Knowing what I now know some things I’ll consider going forward:

  1. Pre-test practice problems – my questions were fairly different from the undersea exercises in Unit 3.

  2. Geometry – I asked my kids to reproduce a “house” type picture. My kids are strong math students, but for the sake of assessing programming and not geometry skills, I could have either provided interior angles or have previously taught them to have the math done in the code, like 180-60.

  3. Walk thru decomposition – I think it might have helped some of my students to have drawn a paper/pen solution before rushing into the code. Not sure since I already had a “write a pseudocode solution” problem before they started to code.

  4. Anxiety for stuck students rises very fast.

I would appreciate feedback on #4. My day-to-day solution for stuck students is to have them code at home. (There are school issued Chromebooks for each student, and this year’s students have internet access at home.)

I know for myself when I’m stuck on a programming problem, it’s important to walk away for a little while. In an exam situation, I don’t know what to do.

For a first year teacher, I think things could have gone a lot worse, but there is definite room for improvement.


I have created a couple of practice exams, which I offer through the year. I don’t include Performance Tasks, as they get plenty of practice with those in Code.org practice PTs. I found question databases online (one from the AP, and I pulled some from the books they handed out when I attended the summer training. If you want more specifics, email me. JR


Wow, sounds like you’re doing a lot of great stuff and you’re thinking about very high level problems, especially for your first year teaching.

For stuck students, I would agree what may be helpful is extra practice. My guess is students get stuck when they feel the problem is unfamiliar. With more practice, they have more contexts to connect a problem to and see aspects of it that may exist in previous problems they solved. Sounds like you’re having them do that already.

Another thing that might be helpful is to have a process or framework to follow. Many students feel safer following steps (for better or worse) rather than facing something they feel is very open-ended or divergent. We ultimately want them as functional human beings to be able to solve these types of problems, so it’s a bit unrealistic to give them an “algorithm” for solving any problem we throw at them, but there might be certain things they can do. For example, I tell my students to first make sure they fully understand the problem. Read the problem and read it again. If it helps to draw a picture, draw a picture. Underline things, circle things, write notes to yourself. Understand as much as possible every piece of information given. Then, figure out what you can. Don’t worry if you don’t think of a solution right off the bat - that’s part of the process of problem solving, and most problems aren’t ones we solve in one step. Figure out what you can and that might help you figure out some more.

Hopefully it helps the students to think of problem solving as a process that we expect to be challenging, rather than a “you got it or you don’t” test in which the first sign of confusion sets off a “I don’t get it, I’m screwed” reaction.


Checking in on the Mid-year exam thread. Looks like a good number of people are trying different things. I just thought I would post an update and describe what is working in my class this year.

This year’s mid-year exam included 20 multiple choice and one open design programming challenge with two open response questions.

Students had 90 minutes to complete this task. I was a little worried about the short time for writing a program, but their expertise has clearly advanced. The Qs took about 20-30 minutes. They spent the rest of the time programming and were able to complete in about 60 minutes, what would previously have taken them 2-3 hours to do. I did allow students to work with a partner if they chose to do so, as long as they could answer the open response questions with regard to their own work within the project. About six out of 23 students took me up on that offer.

The two open response questions were designed to get them thinking about what they developed, and to demonstrate being able to share insights on functions, algorithms and loops. My final grading was 60% MC and 40% programming and written responses. The average score was around 82%. I found there were certain MC questions everyone seemed to know and then a few that the whole class struggled with. Great for knowing what to focus on as we move toward May.

Finally, as an aside, I put my MC test into a Google Form and used that as the assessment tool. At the end of the form, I put a blank question where I could include a score for the open response/programming portion. It was pretty cool to be able to have the MC graded automatically (including two-choice answers) and be able to email the results back to students with ease! This worked well with Forms and Google Classroom.