AP Computer Science (A)



COURSE OVERVIEW:     AP Computer science provides an introduction to the world of object oriented programming using Java, the rapidly developing language that provides cross-platform access and widespread application.  The major focus is on concepts that will be applicable to any object oriented programming language.  Students will also experience working with a multi-file large case study provided by the CollegeBoard.. Beginning in 2008 the study will be the GridWorld Case Study. (See the link below.)

PREREQUISITE: Students who take AP Computer Science must have successfully passed the class in Visual Basic entitled Software Design which includes a study of computer history, hardware, control structures and algorithms. Rarely exceptions to this policy have been made for students who can demonstrate equivalent skills.

ASSUMPTION:  During this semester students will work in the Math Computer Lab. In addition to class time at the 6:55 AM hour students may use computers during the day when they are not being used by a regular math classes.  (During such times it most likely that the computers by the wall will not be occupied unless the class has 35 students.) Students may also use the library computers.  Students will treat all equipment with respect.  Students are expected to treat each other with respect as well.  Students are encouraged to work together. Mindless copying is prohibited.   Vandalism, profanity in programs, tampering with someone else’s programs, misuse of equipment or cheating will result in an automatic “F”on projects and loss of Lab privileges. 

TEXTBOOKS (with textbook  and author links)

Lewis, John, William Loftus, and Cara Cocking. Java Software Solutions for AP Computer Science. Pearson Education, 2004.


Litvin, Maria, and Gary Litvin. Java Methods A & AB: Object-Oriented Programming and Data Structures, AP Edition. Andover, MA.: Skylight Publishing, 2001.(http://www.skylit.com) 


Schram, Leon, Multiple-Choice and Free Response Questions in Preparation for the AP Computer Science ("A" & "AB") Examination., D&S Marketing Systems, Inc.

GRADES:  Points will be given for various activities:     

                        Homework                   Projects

                        Tests                            Appropriate use of lab time

                        Quizzes                        Lab activities

PROCEDURES FOR PROJECTS:  After the introductory lessons on programming you will be assigned programs to write on a regular basis.  Class lectures will provide you with "hints" as how to proceed and information about the language structure and syntax.  Some programs will be exercises to be completed in a day or two.  Some may last for up to a week.  You should finish the assignments as soon as possible.  The purpose of these programs is for you to gain control of the language and to learn important  concepts.  Time does not permit us to make each one a "work of art."    Points will be deducted from programs that are not turned in in a timely manner. When a program is finished it will have to be tested in class. Students are encouraged to download the free java compiler for use at home.  See the link to Maria Litvin's web page for setting up the Java compiler.

TESTS:  Tests  and quizzes will be given and graded in a conventional manner.  

Students have 3 days to make up a missed quiz or test.  

EXTRA TEST:  Students not taking the AP exam will have a cumulative test on the day of the AP exam.  Students taking the AP exam will be exempt from this test.

FINAL EXAM:  School policies will be followed concerning the taking of final exams.

GRADES:  Grades will be determined by dividing points by possible points and determining a percent grade.                     

          93-100 A

        85-92   B

        75-84    C

        70-74    D

        69 and below F  


In the course of this semester some math videos may be shown during class time including:

The Pirates of Silicon Valley

Bill Gates, Biography

Computer History  


AP CONTENT  and resources


The objectives of the AP computer science committee.   

Collegeboard AP Computer Science A




GridWorld Case Study (131 pages)



Course Description from AP (164 pages)

http://www.collegeboard.com/prod_downloads/ap/students/compsci/52435 APCompSci-Locked.pdf


Summarized  content (Check List--Make sure you don't forget these terms.)  

     Java has only 7 primitive types,  everything else in java is an OBJECT. 

Primitive Types 

(7 only)

int, double, boolean, float, char short, long

These only should be tested by using = = comparisons.  Objects need to be compared using other methods.

short, long float, char (not on AP exam)

' ' can be used to assign to a char type


String.substring, and String.equals.

concatenation +

  " " can be used to assign strings 
   Arithmetic Operators  +, -, *, /, %  

increment/decrement operators

++ and --,  +=, -=, *=, / =, %=  

Relational operators

= =, !=, <, <=, >, >=  

Logical operations

&&, ||, !

"short circuit"

numeric casts

(int) and (double)

use of .5 for rounding
    escape sequences

  \\, \", \n

\t Unicode \uxxxx

(not on AP)

Wrapper Classes

Integer  Double



(not on AP)


System.out.print  System.out.println

Arrays  of primitives and objects

Initialization of named arrays (int[] arr = { 1, 2, 3 }

one-dimensional arrays and two-dimensional rectangular arrays
control structures if, if/else, while, for, return do/while, switch, plain and labeled break and continue (not on AP)
Method overloading signature of a method depends only on the number, types, and order of the parameters  
Classes use of new operator  

In the AP Java subset, all classes are public

All instance variables are private

Methods, constructors, and constants (static final variables) are either public, or private.

AP Java subset does not use protected and package (default) visibility
Comments /* */, and //  
final final keyword is only used for final block scope constants and static final class scope constants.final parameters or instance variables, final methods and final classes are not in the subset.   
static In the exam, static methods are always invoked through a class  
this The use of this is restricted to passing the implicit parameter in its entirety to another method   
input AP will not test input methods.  We will use JOptionPane methods  for user interaction.  This will require understanding of the Wrapper classes for converting integers and doubles from Strings.  


 Standard Classes and Interfaces With Their Required Methods (Check List)

class java.lang.Object boolean equals(Object other) 
String toString() 
interface java.lang.Comparable  "implements comparable"

int compareTo(Object other)

// return value < 0 if this is less than other
// return value = 0 if this is equal to other
// return value > 0 if this is greater than other 


class java.lang.Integer implements java.lang.Comparable

Integer(int value)
// constructor 
int intValue() 
boolean equals(Object other) 
String toString() 
int compareTo(Object other)
// specified by java.lang.Comparable 
class java.lang.Double implements java.lang.Comparable  Double(double value)
// constructor 
double doubleValue() 
boolean equals(Object other) 
String toString() 
int compareTo(Object other)
// specified by java.lang.Comparable 
class java.lang.String implements java.lang.Comparable  int compareTo(Object other)
// specified by java.lang.Comparable 
boolean equals(Object other) 
int length() 
String substring(int from, int to)
// returns the substring beginning at from
// and ending at to-1 
String substring(int from)
// returns substring(from, length()) 
int indexOf(String s)
// returns the index of the first occurrence of s;
// returns -1 if not found 
class java.lang.Math  static int abs(int x) 
static double abs(double x) 
static double pow(double base, double exponent) 
static double sqrt(double x) 
class java.util.Random  int nextInt(n)
// returns an integer in the range from 0 to n-1 inclusive 
double nextDouble() 

class java.util.ArrayList 

int size() 
boolean add(Object x) 
Object get(int index) 
Object set(int index, Object x)
// replaces the element at index with x
// returns the element formerly at the specified position 
void add(int index, Object x)
// inserts x at position index,sliding elements
// at position index and higher to the right
// (adds 1 to their indices) and adjusts size 
Object remove(int index)
// removes element from position index, sliding elements
// at position index + 1 and higher to the left
// (subtracts 1 from their indices) and adjusts size 

Topics to master :  All of the above terms must be known and their use understood.

Introduction and background of Java, Java Applications, HTML, Java Applets, Control Structures, Control Structures, Methods, Arrays , Object-based Programming , Object-Oriented Programming (OOP) , OOP, Strings and Characters, Basic GUI Components 

    UNITS OF STUDY (These may be modified as needed)

  Multiple choice questions from Schram book are assigned for homework when topics have been covered.  


Ideas considered 

Java in Context or 

More Computer History

Lab:  "The Hello Program"

Getting everything to work.


The need for portability, information hiding, encryption, privacy,  encaspsulation.

The confusion about Java 1 and Java 2

The swing classes  Jbutton vs Button  


The Java virtual machine, bytecodes versus complete compiling. 


Review of Computer hardware design, primary and secondary memory, processors, peripherals (the monitor and printer are really files)  Network use vs single-user systems


Open architecture of computer design and modulation of computer code  (reusable components)


Intellectual property rights.  Stealing is stealing even if 

electronic.   Ask for permission when using someone else's materials.  Site sources. 

Give credit where credit is due.


The Java Runtime environment and the Java development kit

How to do the 

"Same Thing"

as in VB

Control Structures in Java

STRINGS and the Input problem

Lab: write the "guessing game"

too high, too low, etc.

Lab:  Write Euclids Algorithm for GCF


A comparison of loops and control structures

% for Mod.  Math.pow for ^  

VB commands and Java commands.

Strings as input using the JOptionPane method which is similar to an Input Box in VB.  This requires the use of the Integer and Double wrapper classes to parse strings for input.

Arrays of primitives




   "WE'RE not in Kansas any more!"

Lab:  Master arithmetic


The need for type casting.  You can be betrayed by arithmetic. Java is a "grown-ups language."  We have to count from zero and we have to be sure where the arithmetic is sent.

Round off error (storage of variables)


Scope of variables & the garbage collector.


Importing calls to Java library classes


AND/OR  Boolean Algebra and DeMorgan's Law

Pre and Post Conditions

Everything is an object  (except primitives)

A together project using gui objects to re-create an earlier VB program assignment for times table flash cards.

Lab:  Use the javax.swing classes to recreate a flash card program for multiplication tables.  Add personality.

The use of the dot member to access methods of a class. 

VB was Object Oriented all the time! 

In Java properties are called instance variables

Events are called Methods.

Action Listeners show the implementation of one class by another

After this project students who want to may use gui components for projects.  Their use is not required.

   My Pet #1

Our first homemade class

Two files work together:

The Pet class and the TestPet class which contains the "main" and tests the functionality of your class.

Add your own personality

How to make a class.  Instance variables,  constructors, static variables, method oveloading, accessors, mutators, return types, parameter lists

Strings for real

Labs:  jumble words,  change last name, first name format to first name last name as needed by the secretaries who type up the graduation program. Pig Latin

A Jumble guessing game

 Substring concatination, etc

the .equals() method and its necessity.

Arrays of Strings

A Working Class

your choice

Make a MyFraction class

(use your GCF module for reducing fractions--reusable code!)

or a MyComplex class that mimics the function of the calculator

Solve the problems that arise from making a useful mathematical class.

More practice with function overloading with multiple constructors, methods, returns


Lab:  NewPet an abstract class

Make several classes that extend NewPet.

For example MyDog, MyCat, MyFish


Data Abstraction

Array Lists


The use of super 

Over riding a method

The null pointer

"is-a" and "has-a" relationships.

Apply functional decomposition

Properties of ArrayLists so that the TestPet Class can be used to demonstrate polymorphism

John Conway's 

"Game of Life"

Lab:  The Game of Life

Two dimensional arrays

Concatinate a string to represent the matrix and display on JOptionPane

Analyze the problem of the boundary cases.


Lab:  Fibonacci and Factorial

 A method that calls itself!  

How powerful.

Sorting and Searching

Lab: Sort, search

A comparison of efficiency 

Applets that show efficiency:

University of British Columbia


Rochester Institute of Technology demo


     A close encounter with the GRIDWORLD

Identify class structure/methods, etc.


Lab: test anything you don't understand

Practice AP tests

Multiple Choice and Free Response Questions from past AP tests.



SUN Download compiler:


   Older machines can use, less memory intensive version 



Sun Tutorial:


Swing components



Setting up your computer to run Java (Use the advice from Maria Litin's Website)



Pellissippi State 






Connecticut State

Colgate University for AP Computer Science


MY SYNTAX "cookbook":




HTML template for applets:  Replace "MyClass"  with name of class in 3 locations and adjust width and height parameters as needed.



You can e-mail me with any questions at   myemail here