Size of collaborative groups?


Does anyone know whether or not students can work as a group of 3 for their Create PT? I am not finding anything from the College Board about the size of the group that is acceptable.

And, what if there is an odd number of students in the class?

Thanks for any help you can give!


So I swear I heard or read this, but I’m having trouble finding the source. For create you can have ONE collaborative partner. If the class has an odd number of students there can be one team of three.

…finding the source.


Thanks, Baker. Since this didn’t seem like an easy answer, I decided to call the College Board and thought I’d report back to the group. According to the supervisor I spoke with, students are allowed to work in groups of 2-3. They are also allowed to ask others in the class for help if they get stuck or want additional feedback. So, for example, one pair could ask another group of three for feedback/brainstorming/help, etc. (Obviously it is very clear that they can’t ask me for help.)

I could not get their help in identifying where in writing this is for the Create PT, and the AP Course Audit group (to whom they would have referred me) is closed until March.

I hope this helps others in the same boat as I am.



Good find. Brook and I independently called the CB as well. What I said before definitely was true at one point but apparently they’ve scaled that back. We got roughly the same answer, and no, it’s not documented anywhere.

Certainly the spirit of the language around collaboration for the PT seems to assume a single partner, but I guess the more the merrier :). NOTE: since a student must account for all collaborative help and contributions, having more than one or two collaborators could become unwieldy if not intractable.


Good points. Thanks again for your help!


I have a related question on collaborative coding. I have a student who is doing a collaborative coding project with his father outside of class, does the coding partner have to be in their class, or does it have to be a student?


Great question! I will be very interested to hear the answer.

I did find the folks at the College Board to be quite helpful, but I did need to get bumped up to a manager for the answer. With something this new, it seems like they, too, are trying to find answers.

Good luck, Lynette!


This doesn’t seem fair! What if he is a programmer by trade?


Hi Lynette,

I forwarded your post to Brooke and Baker.




  1. Taken to the extreme, my understanding is that the “collaborative partner” can actually be an anonymous person on the Internet. Think: open source project on GitHub that you want to extend or add to. In a collaborative situation for the task you are required to highlight and write about elements that you specifically added to the project and give attribution to parts created by others. Fortunately or unfortunately this leaves the door open to getting “professional help”. Of course the same risks are true for any AP performance task - in AP Studio Art, little Johnny Picasso might have an edge. The checks against cheating like this are two: 1) the teacher must attest that the student’s claims about what they contributed are true and that the student’s writing is his/her own 2) the AP reader is allowed to use their judgement to ascertain the quality/veracity of the student’s contribution.

I can tell you from 15 years of experience reading students’ code in AP CS A that you can tell - even if you’ve never met the student - when something is amiss. Writing code is not like solving a math problem - it is a form of personal expression and you can just tell when you’re reading a pro v. a student. Not that a student in this class couldn’t write like a pro, but your spidey senses start to tingle and you begin to read with a suspicious eye. Frequently, the written prose is a giveaway that the student doesn’t really know what they did. This may be small consolation, but I actually doubt instances of cheating like this will be few and far between, and I trust the AP readers to suss out the quality of the student’s contribution pretty well.

  1. Brook and I are getting back on the podcast horse next week, and our first guest is Crystal Furman from the College Board who is the woman “in charge” of many assessment matters. So we’ll ask!



Should the students that pair up to make the same program? For example, they both make solitaire? Or are they suppose to be paired up to just “help” each other in different parts? Also, if they can work with a parent outside of class, I am assuming they can work with someone from another section or class, right?



Students CAN pair up to make the same program, but they aren’t required to pair up. They can work with a parent (as per Baker’s guidance) but it would be good for them to cite where they got work from somewhere else or if someone helped them with the code.

Yes, they can work with someone in a different class/section. They just need to be able to talk about ONE part that they did independently.


That’s what I have had them doing. When I took a few to the NY Hackathon, it was explained a little different. They worked on the same project but used their own code - idea was the same but ALL the code was their own, sort of. They bounced how to off each other. How does that work? Just comment that they had help on something?


I feel like the safest thing to do is to have them work alone and make their own programs and have a coding partner at the most.


@kaitie_o_bryan I can’t see how they will have a significant amount if they are sharing all the design together. How will it be significant if the app is going to have to do the same thing? Significant makes me think that if the student has 100 lines of code, their part should be at least 75 of it leaving only 25 lines for the collaboration. How is the partner going have enough that’s different when they are sitting right next to each other discussing the app?


@carmichaelc this is what I am looking at.

When I think of this, I think of the design a digital scene app that students did. Parts of it were independent, but other parts were owned by other students. As long as students cite the work, and are clear in the write-up about what part they developed independently, it would appear to meet these requirements.

I am paying careful attention to that bullet point “students are required to independently create at least one significant part of the program”. I THINK they could essentially have the exact same code submitted and just document what part they contributed independently. I think of “significant part” as “important part” not as “majority part of the code”.


Can a student use an app they began in unit 5, Mad lib app, to modify or make different as their final Create PT? They worked on it alone, but would like to improve it. Is this okay to do?


It is not okay for students to use any of the programs that they have already developed as part of a class assignment. To be on the safe side, I would have my students build something from scratch. Here are the instructions on page 114 of the purple handbook.


I believe we were told they could use a parent for a resource on the Explore Task but the Create Task guidelines in the purple book state that the teacher should oversee the formation of groups. That isn’t possible if it is an adult outside the class.


Hi Amy,

I think you are right. Looking at the post above from Kaitie O’Bryan, there is a sentence that states: “It is strongly recommended that a portion of the program involve some form of collaboration with another student in their class.” Interested to see what Baker or Brook learned from the podcast with Crystal Furman.