Pennsylvania Homeschoolers

AP* Online Classes

These projects... helped cement the concepts we were learning and show how they are applied in real life. I cannot think of one assignment that was not valuable in some way.

AP Class Reviews

AP Computer Science taught by Cynthia Lang

by Students and Parents

Pretty Good Class posted by Scott Driggers on May 11 2016 at 17:23:18

I enjoyed this class, and this was by far the easiest class out of all my Online AP courses.  I spent maybe 2 hours a week in the beginning on this class, but in the last few weeks this ramped up alot and I ended up spending about 8 hours a week on it.  Toward the beginning I was worried I wouldn't be sufficiently prepared for the exam, but I did well on the end of year test, and I feel confident about my score.  

This course did make me more interested in Computer Science, although I do not think I am going to major in it.  

I would recommend this class to students if they are willing to work hard, although I do have one complaint.  This didn't happen to me very often, but every once in a while I would have questions about home work or something, and I would post about it.  This was rarely resopnded to in a timely mannar, which didn't matter for me because I am an independent learner and I often just found the answers on my own.  But if you aren't going to be able to figure stuff out on your own, I suggest you be prepared to either wait or take the extra step in reaching out to your teacher because sometimes Mrs Lang isn't as available as my other AP teachers have been.


Difficult, but definitely worth it! posted by Christina Mussmann on May 09 2016 at 13:10:48

I found this class to be both challenging and rewarding. I felt like it prepared me well for the exam. Generally, I spent about eight hours a week total working on the assignments (the reading is certainly the most time consuming). I really enjoyed the code puzzles we did on CodingBat, and I felt like I learned a lot from them. I also have a better frame of reference for deciding whether to continue to study Computer Science. The weekly chats were fun, encouraging, and very interesting. I would definitely recommend this class to anyone who wants to try out (or continue) computer science. 

Also, please don't get discouraged if you're having trouble with the assignments at first! I started this class with no previous computer science experience, and I had to ask for help quite frequently for the first two and a half months. Don't feel like asking for help means you'll never get it. It might just take a while. It does take a while to wrap your brain around the ideas. As long as you are dedicated to learning the material and you don't give up, I have confidence that you can suceed in this class!

 


Not a bad course, really. posted by Wei Han on May 09 2016 at 01:26:14

The workload of this course really wasn't too bad (in comparison with other AP courses). On average, I would sepnd a maximum of three hours per week on give assignments. Concerning what sort of student would do well in this course, I think that this course isn't really a course for someone endeavouring to discover the wonders of computer science. Rather, the course is really geared toward the AP exam's sylabus, which isn't necessarily a bad thing.


Helpful Course posted by Zoe on June 08 2015 at 22:09:14

The course provided many resources that I used to help me prepare for the exam. I felt like I went into the exam with just enough information. The TA's helped many tons, and the WWW board was useful to post questions and ask other students about computer science. The weekly chats were also beneficial because Ms. Lang patiently walked me and other students through problems. 

I spent about 5 hours a week, give or take for hard or long assignments. 

The labs helped me to apply the things that I learned and use them towards a goal. 

Yes, definitely. It made me want to create my own apps and learn other languages. 


You definitely need a flexible mind to learn this language. Java has some interesting logic that may differ from logic that we use to figure out problems in everyday life. But if you are willing to work at it and are good at figuring out complex situations, this course will suit you fine. 


AP Computer Science Review posted by Anna Mitchell on May 30 2015 at 18:44:28

-Did you feel the course prepared you for the AP exam?

I’m not sure. I’d taken other programming classes in the past and was already somewhat proficient in Java, so the majority of the class was review. I did rely heavily on the Barron’s supplementary study guide to prepare for the types of questions I would see on the AP exam. 

-How many hours of work per day or per week did you generally put into the course?

About 3 hours a week. 

-Are there any particularly favorite assignments that you found especially valuable?

I enjoyed the College Board’s AP labs that Mrs. Lang assigned. One had us explore the basics of natural language processing by programming a “bot” that would respond to a user’s questions and comments. Another had us do some basic image processing. I think these labs demonstrated some of the interesting applications of CS in the real world. 

-Did the course enhance your interest in the subject?

Not really (see my response to the last question for more detail).

-Did you find your communications with other students to be interesting or valuable?

Yes. This class was probably the least interactive PA Homeschoolers class I’ve taken (and you definitely can’t expect a computer science class to be as interactive as a history class where people are debating economics and politics on the board!), but we students definitely helped each other out by posting and answering questions on the board. Also, my TA always answered my questions very thoroughly whenever I emailed him! 

-What sort of student would do well in this course? Would you recommend this course to other students (if they are willing to work hard!)?

I wouldn’t strongly recommend this course to someone looking to learn more about computer science, although I think that much of this is the fault of the College Board, not necessarily this class in particular. AP Computer Science shows almost none of the beauty or the fascinating applications of computer science (like self-driving cars!) - it’s a pretty tedious and dry class. There are so many more interesting ways to study CS. If this had been my first class in computer science, I would probably have been turned off. Thankfully I already know that I love the subject! 

Moving on to this class in particular, the structure of the course was often confusing. It wasn’t clear who to contact for help - sometimes students would post questions about assignments on the discussion board and not receive a response for several days. (I think email was the best way to get in touch with the teacher and TAs, but this was never made clear.) Since I was used to AP classes where the teachers or TAs would frequently check the board and respond with help very quickly, this could be a little frustrating. The class mostly felt like self-study to me. I was frustrated by several other parts of the class, as well.

If you already have computer science experience, you could definitely self-study for the AP exam. But if you really want to take another math/science AP, I would recommend this class with reservations. Definitely use the Barron’s guide throughout the year to practice with free-response and multiple-choice questions modeled on the AP exam. Also, email your TAs any time you have questions!


Amazing Course!!!!! posted by Corinne Ebner on May 18 2015 at 16:18:17

First off, I'll just say that I came into this class with absolutely no experience whatsoever with programming or making computers work. I believe the extent of my knowledge about computers was how to use fundamental features of Microsoft Word. Which, of course, is pretty pitiful and has nothing to do with programming. Now I know how to tell my computer to calculate complicated math problems, sort numbers and words, and set up one-person games. So overall I think I learned a lot from this class, and I have quite a bit more knowledge of the world of computers than I ever thought I would. :)

Did you feel the course prepared you for the AP exam? Yes. Definitely. We took so many practice tests during the last couple months that I almost thought I was just taking another one when May 7th rolled around! I felt very confident about most of the questions, including the FRQs, thanks to the amount of material we covered each week, plus the constant support of Mrs. Lang and the TAs.

How many hours of work per day or per week did you generally put into the course? It really depended on the week. If we were doing a lab and/or practice tests, usually well over 6 or 7. Most "normal" weeks I think I spent between 5 and 7 hours a week. Again, it kind of depended on what assignments we had due about different techniques.

Are there any particularly favorite assignments that you found especially valuable? Well, the labs that were scattered across the year (the picture lab, the elevens solitaire lab, etc.) employed all of the skills we'd learned up to then. They were often fun and always educational, with great emphasis on the sort of things you'd need to know for the exam. Also, the textbook we used was very comprehensive and easy to understand, so I looked forward to reading the chapters each week.

Did the course enhance your interest in the subject? Oh, definitely! This was a very exciting class, and I've started seeing everyday problems or questions as things I could figure out using Java.

Did you find your communications with other students to be interesting or valuable? Absolutely! There was a lot of discussion and collective problem-solving among everyone on the WWW Board. Everyone was super helpful wih any questions someone had, and of course the TAs were always willing to pitch in if someone had a problem.

What sort of student would do well in this course? Would you recommend this course to other students? Honestly, I think it would be best to come in with some knowledge of programming. Although I eventually got the hang of things and was able to figure out a lot on my own, it took a lot of effort and brain exhaustion over the first few months to get into the groove. (Let me just say that I was very glad we had the weekend to work on assignments, unlike a lot of my other classes.) Mrs. Lang and my TA were very helpful in this respect, but I wish I'd had even a little bit of experience before starting the class. Other than that, I would definitely recommend this to anyone eager to learn more about programming! This was a really awesome course!


You won't be disappointed. posted by Beatrice Lopez on May 15 2015 at 20:58:13

If you're toying with the idea of taking this CS class, DO IT.  Mrs. Lang is an excellent instructor, the online textbook is humorous (but by no means, watered-down), the assignments are interesting and apt, and the class interaction is superb.  If you know something about coding and computers, this class is a great way to hone your already existent skills and prep for the AP Computer Science exam for those college credits.  If you know nothing about coding, don't be scared away!  Coming into this class, I had no previous experience with computer science whatsoever; and I will say that listening in on the first online chat session of the year, I was not quite sure Mrs. Lang or my more advanced classmates were speaking English!  But in a few weeks, diligently doing the readings before class and emailing my TA if ever I was truly stuck, I was coming into class confident, calm, and excited to discuss the material.  After that break-through, my computer science assignments were always the first thing I wanted to do in the school day.    

Oh, yes!  There was not one topic on the exam that we did not cover in the course, and the last few weeks of class were exam prep which prepared me mentally; I went in and out of the exam room poised and confident.  While we spent time reading in Barron's, doing mock exams, etc. in the last few weeks, all the topics/material had been covered previously; so exam prep really meant solid review of the year's work and practice with taking tests.   

I would say I put in about 3-5 hours per week; if I got really stuck on an assignment, that's when it took longer!  I'd usually be able to finish the weekly reading in an hour and then spend the rest of the time working on the assignments.  (Hint for when your stuck: I tend to work on the assignments for straight periods of time; say, I'll spend my entire Saturday afternoon coding the HW.  When you've been working for a straight two or three hours and you get stuck and feel like hurling your computer out the window, take a break, eat a snack, go for a breath of air outside, and then get back to work.  You'll solve the problem you've been working on for three hours in three minutes.  Trust me.  I speak from experience.  And that right there is the beauty of coding.) 

While the new AP labs are still rather raw and sometimes just meh, most of them were quite fun to do.  I particularly enjoyed the Picture Lab (although the set-up of the student guide was rather difficult to read) and loved seeing the concepts I was learning applied to image processing.  (Want to see how Photoshop works at the coding-level??  Too cool.) 

Definitely!  In fact, I'm considering a minor in CS when I head off to university this September.  I signed up for this class for the simple reason that I didn't want to graduate high school without some basic knowledge of how my computer works.  I came out of this class believing that CS is something I'd like to pursue at a much higher level!

Oh, yes.  I always looked forward to the online chat sessions where I could be sure to have great discussion with all my intelligent and humorous classmates.  Mrs. Lang's presentations and the discussions were always helpful in reinforcing the readings.  The WWW board was also a great way to ask questions, give advise, or just crack a Java joke!  

I'd recommend this course to any student in the least interested in coding or Java in particular.  If you're a newbie, be ready to work hard for the first few months and then reap the benefits.  Don't get me wrong though; computer science is awesome.


posted by Bethany Gardner on July 17 2014 at 19:03:23

Yes. I will admit I was a bit unsure going into the exam, but that was because of my mediocre track record with timed math exams, not because we weren't well prepared. I came out with a 5, though.

If you keep up with your homework and practice exams, come to the weekly whenever possible, make use of the old exams for anything you need extra work on, practice adhering to time limits, and most importantly practice coding on paper (very important--it's much different when you don't have Netbeans to test your code, mark syntax errors, and make rewriting easy), you'll be fine.

It varied. Some weeks had more assignments than others, and sometimes it took me longer to solve the coding practice problems. I think I averaged 6 hours a week, plus an hour of class.

This wasn't technically an assignment for this class, but I used what I learned in the first semester to write a program to analyze my data for my AP Psych research project, and being able to apply the class concepts to an outside problem was interesting and satisfying.

Yes. I'm attending the University of Rochester this fall to major in cognitive science and English, and my goal is to go to graduate school and do research. Cognitive science is the interdisciplinary study of the brain using psych, philosophy, neuroscience, linguistics, and computer science, so this class will be a useful foundation. I'm also considering adding a minor in computer science to icnrease my job options after undergrad.

While this class, by nature of the subject matter, isn't as interactive as AP English, what interactions I had were great. Group projects assigned in the chats went very well--here in PAH group projects are actually group projects, with everyone learning from each other instead of one person having to do it all. Also, my classmates were always ready to answer each others' questions on the class website.

You don't have to have prior coding experience to succeed in this class. Do know that the first quarter will be challenging, but you can catch up.

And contrary to popular opinion, you don't have to be a math person. Yes, the class has plenty of math geniuses (your 12 year old classmates and the freshmen doing college calculus), but I managed as much more of a lit nerd. I love logic and problem solving, but never liked math much (too repetitive). 

 


Excellent Challenging Course posted by Samuel on June 01 2014 at 20:13:24

I feel like this course challenged me a great deal but the workload was not beyond what I was able to bear along with the rest of my schoolwork. This course also prepared me very well for the APs and I learned a lot. I hope to take other PA Homeschoolers courses as well :)


Useful course, helpful teacher posted by Kathryn S on May 24 2014 at 13:54:21

This course was very useful for me. While I had some prior programming experience (not much, though), this course helped me learn how to write better structured code. The course also did prepare me for the exam. I did study quite a bit from Barron's and previous years' FRQ, but this test prep time was built into the class, and I was very glad I did not have to complete many class assignments in addition to test prep. Mrs. Lang is EXTREMELY helpful. She always responded to questions promptly and a couple times when I was having difficulty with an assignment or concept, she met with me individually. 

My time spent on this course varied greatly throughout the year, anywhere from 5 to 15 hours a week. Most weeks were probably in the 7 to 10 hour range. I didn't find much interaction with classmates built into class, though I did enjoy weekly chat sessions, and I ended up with great study partner.

I would reccomend this course to anyone interested in science or mathematics, though really, programming is a useful skill for anyone. Anyone willing to work hard can do well in this class, though I think it would be easier for detail orientated people -- I'm not terribly detail orientated (and had a tendancy to make stupid mistakes, like omitting a single semi colon and subsequently spending two hours trouble shooting :P) and I still managed to do well in the course.


Fun Preparatory Class posted by Ben Becker on May 17 2014 at 13:43:19

I already knew how to program somewhat before taking this class, but I learned more about how to write effecient, well-written, and robust code. I really loved how the class not only prepared us for the test, but also taught us to program well. Additionally, this class was really fun and I would recommend a person who is interested in programming to take the class.


Lot of fun ;D posted by Alyssa Goodall on May 21 2013 at 17:31:50

This AP course did prepare me in some aspects for the exam, but you definately have to know how to do algebra and be good at it. Especially converting into different number systems such as binary and hexadecimal could possibly be tested.

I spend generally 4 to 12 hours a week doing my homework, not including the classtime.

I remember my first program (and how unoriginal it was). I was very excited and enthusiastic about it, and i hope future students will find the same thing. I find joy in seeing an incredibly tricky assignment come through trial and error and turn out to finally work out.

I thoroughly enjoyed the class because I love to learn the easy (and sometimes hard) way and figuring out shortcuts. It would definately be cool if the drjava people made the program be able to create and modify templates or macros so that we did not have to write out public static void main (String[]args) every time we create a program.

Communication among the students is mostly meaningless, but otherwise fun and help others to remember terms better. When there is a change in the syllabus, you could ask the other students what it was.

If you are willing to work hard, a student who is good at math (or at least likes it ALOT) and is somewhat intelligent would do relatively well during the course.

~Alyssa~


Initially challenging but so worth it posted by Hannah Huynh on May 17 2013 at 24:13:19

Initially, I was very challenged in this class because I had no coding experience before.  But after lots of hard work put in the first semester, everything started to make much more sense and I actually really began to enjoy coding.  Assignments were only due once a week which was nice, and I probably spent around 5-7 hours a week on the class depending on what was due.  I really like the weekly chats that Mrs. Lang held.  Though I had to get up at 6am PST every Monday morning to attend, I found her powerpoints and examples really helpful.  Often time during the chat we were paired off with another student to work on an assignment, but other than that, there were not a great deal of communication in the class.  This class really did enhance my knowledge and interest of computer science.  As a math/science inclined student, I know coding will be a very useful skill for me so I am very glad I took this class.  I would recommend this class to any student who is willing to work hard.  You don't have to have coding experience to take this class because I didn't, but if you work hard it will be worth it!  


Computer Science-- DO IT! posted by Blake Baer on May 18 2012 at 23:42:04

Dear Prospective Student,

I'll begin by saying this right up front. This was a very difficult course. I found myself spending up to 6 hours a day on the assignments for this. Despite the daunting difficulty, this was an incredibly rewarding and valuable opportunity and one that I would really suggest trying out. Allow me to explain.

I came into the course with absolutely no background in Computer Science. While I knew a thing or two regarding computers in general, I knew nothing regarding programming. In the beginning of the year, I had lots of software difficulties with Java, Alice, and NetBeans. I got behind due to these difficulties, so it was discouraging to see my class-mates go speeding off into the sunset. These difficulties got to the point where I considered dropping out of the class with the partial refund. However, Mrs. Lang helped me through the difficulty and encouraged me to stay in the class. I definitely do not regret it. After the software difficulties, the assignments soon became quite difficult also. Each week became a burden and a struggle to complete the assignments, especially since I was already behind. However, due to Mrs. Lang's help, and my own determination, I soon powered my way through the troubles and finished the fall semester with a respectable grade.

Spring semester started and I was out of the blocks much quicker than the fall semester. This good start really helped me to focus in and understand the stuff that I was programming. In the fall semester, I would sometimes just go through the actions, and not really apply myself to understanding the code. Spring semester, with most of the difficulties out of the way, I found myself really enjoying the material. I would sometimes even create a program just because I wanted to, and not because it was an assignment. While the work load was still really hard, I didn't care because I was really really really beginning to enjoy the stuff I was doing. When the exam came into view ahead, I began to study and try practice exams. My first couple practices, I got close to 60% on the multiple choice questions. That wasn't good enough in my opinion, so once again, I set my hand to the grind stone and studied daily, for hours at a time. I would even have a Java textbook for "light" nighttime reading. I took another practice exam, and got a 35 out of 36 on the Free Response questions. By the time the exam came, I was bursting with confidence, in no small part due to my studying and the guidance of Mrs. Lang.

So, was Computer Science worth the hard work? Answer: Yes! 

Despite the furthering of knowledge in Computer Science, I felt that this course really enforced a discipline that would otherwise be lost on us homeschoolers. It helped me become independent and disciplined, which are two brilliantly valuable attributes in college preparation. When I finished, I gained a real amount of confidence by looking back on the year and remembering all the difficulties I went through. The hard work required throughout the year really payed off, and helped me see just what I am capable of. Aside from general programming knowledge, the assignments also improve math, logic, and problem-related thinking. I can't overstress how much I enjoyed this course. I consider myself in a much better light having completed something as challenging and rewarding as this was.

And finally, the teacher. Mrs. Lang is incredible. It was only through her encouragement and guidance that I managed finish the fall semester, and then to excel in the spring semester. I found her to be easily approachable, very encouraging, kind, and patient. On top of those character qualities, she also has a supreme understanding of the material that she teaches. If I ever had a question, I would just drop her a line and she would kindly respond in a very encouraging and informative email. A class is only as good as the teacher. I think this is an good example of an excellent class being led by an excellent teacher. 

 

Q: Did you feel the course prepared you for the AP exam?

A: I walked into the exam room with 100% confidence that I could perform well. Like all exams, Computer Science requires hours of study and hard work in preparation of the exam. However, I felt the class did a fantastic job in helping you prepare for the exam, either through practice tests or simple tips from the wonderful teacher, Mrs. Lang. This course covers everything (and more!) that is featured on the exam, so there were no "surprises" in the material of the exam. 

Q: How many hours of work per day or per week did you generally put into the course?

A: On average I would do close to 1-2 hours per day. However, when the assignments got tougher, I found myself spending as much as 6 a day. Typically, I would do close to 7-10 hours on a normal week. I found out quite quickly that I was a rather slow programmer, so these numbers might not reflect the time you will spend. 

Q: Are there any particularly favorite assignments that you found especially valuable?

A: I thoroughly enjoyed working through Boolean problems. I found that Computer Science in general really improved my logical skill set, but Boolean in particular really honed my logical thinking function.

Q: Did the course enhance your interest in the subject?

A: Of course! Like all subjects, the more you learn about it, the more interesting it becomes. While I didn't have much experience in the beginning, my interest grew throughout the class. I don't necessarily see myself pursuing a career in computer science, but it is a very valuable and, in most cases, applicable skill set to have.

Q: Did you find your communications with other students to be interesting or valuable?

A: While the interactions were, for the most part, limited to asssignments and meetings in the chats, I did find that the classmates played a large part in encouraging and inspiring me to perform better. All were very friendly, quite happy to answer my questions, and easy and fun to work with.

Q: What sort of student would do well in this course? Would you recommend this course to other students (if they are willing to work hard!)?

A: I found that Java programming requires a logical mind. Solving Boolean problems really strengthened my thought process and logical understandings, which is a very valuable skill to have, even if you don't enter the Computer Science field. If you are a hard working student, then you will do very well in this class. If you aren't a hardworking student, then you should still do this class because it will turn you into one (quite quickly, I found out!). Any student with any background of Computer Science can succeed in this class, depending on whether you apply yourself and work hard.

If you have any qualms about your lack of experience or knowledge, I was in the same place. This course is designed for people like you. Do it! I guarantee you won't regret it. 

-Blake Baer

 


TAKE TAKE TAKE THIS CLASS!!!! posted by Tynan Stewart on June 07 2011 at 15:51:27

Hey prospective Compsci student!

 

Well, what can I say?  The title says it all.  TAKE THIS CLASS!  Mrs. Lang is an awesome teacher and Computer Science is an amazing, fun and, if sometimes challenging, thoroughly worthwhile course.  Let me say right here, even if you’re not a computer whiz, or (like me before this class) know next to nothing about programming, you should still take this class.  In fact, you should definitely take this class!  I distinctly remember my stomach plummeting when I looked at my classmates bios and reading about how some had built computers from scratch, etc.  My reaction was something along the lines of “……uh-oh, what have I gotten myself into now?.....”   But that brings me to the first question that you, the prospective AP CS student, probably have:

Put simply, I walked into that AP test room with a 110% assurance that I knew the material.  And by “knew” I don’t mean memorized or something paltry like that.  I mean “knew” as in I understood it, could apply it and could absolutely, positively ace the exam.  As far as feelings before tests go, I felt that I went into the AP CS with the most focused, most prepared and most confident mindset I’d ever had up to that point.  Truly.

Hmm, this is always a tricky question to answer.  I want to say that I put in about 7-8 hours a week as an average; however, I most definitely put in more time at the beginning of the year (when I was still getting my feet wet I suppose) and somewhere in the middle (when the assignments and material got tougher).

Well, to me, most all the assignments were valuable, but I did particularly enjoy the assignments that were given when we started really moving into object design and implementation.  Also, programing and animating in Alice was always a treat!

Absolutely!  It was really (aside from a little previous dabbling in Python) my first exposure to real Computer Science.  And I loved it! 

Honestly, apart from the weekly chat and several paired programming assignments, I didn’t have too much interaction with my classmates.  However the people I did get to know were always funny and smart—a perfect combination for classmates, in my opinion!

As I said (or maybe I didn’t; but now I am!), I would recommend this class to any student, even if they are inexperienced in the ways of computers or computer programming!  Be warned—this is not an easy course.  But Mrs. Lang structures the schedule at a perfect pace to learn and is always there with a helping hand or word, should you need it.  All in all, if you’re on the fence about this course, I hope this review has helped you decided in favor of adding AP COMPUTER SCIENCE WITH MRS. LANG to your courses for next year!

Viva la Homeschool Hackers 2011 and beyond!!!


Excellent posted by Matthew Kilgore on June 01 2011 at 23:51:41

Prospective Student,

public static ArrayList<Integer> selectionSort(ArrayList<Integer> arr);
Can you understand the above code snippet?  If not, then do I have the class for you!
*puts on salesman outfit; starts shouting*
Hi--I'm a  parody of TV salesmen, and I'm here to show you AP COMPUTER SCIENCE A!  Why take CS at a regular vendor, when you could take it through PA Homschoolers?  It's fun; it's thought-provoking!!  Just look at what our customers are saying:
"I truly incinerated the exam.  It was cake--passing with no tension whatsoever!" -Matt

"The heart of this course was a series of real-time chats, held weekly.  These chats were engaging, and inspired great discussions.  I always looked forwards to them!" -Matt

"Prior to taking this class, I was able to program--barely.  At the time, I thought my issue was lack of experience.  However, as I took this course, I soon realized my issue was lack of understanding.  I would spend hours debugging because I did not realize how a function worked!  AP CS taught me this." -Matt

BUT WAIT--THERE'S MORE!!

Sign-up now and we'll throw in a great teacher!  Look at our customers again:

"Mrs. Lang was fabulous--she was well-organized and moderated the chats perfectly!" -Matt

HURRY--THIS IS A LIMITED-TIME OFFER!


Enjoyable, engaging, and excellent, but also difficult posted by Zerek Dodson on May 26 2011 at 14:55:11

I would have to say that AP Computer Science was undeniably my absolute favorite course this year.  Mrs. Lang was an excellent teacher, consistently prepared for class and eminently knowledgeable on the subject.  Our textbook was a pleasure to read and quite informative, though some of the exercises were graced with ambiguities.  What I learned was fascinating and valuable.  Through the year, my experience with Java and ability to code that I learned has come in handy in countless situations, from automating messy processes that would take me hours to do by hand to running simulations and/or generating data for other classes to just improving my overall faculty of analytic thinking.

As regards preparation for the exam, the class was truly excellent.  My preparation for my other AP tests (done outside PA Homeschoolers) could best be described as a mad, nervous dash to the finish that left me exhausted.  This course was different.  Mrs. Lang really began teaching for the AP exam from day one, and started us reviewing in earnest early and in-depth.  There was no shock or sudden change in the amount of work; the work we were already doing simply merged with review.  I scored very well on practice tests and felt quite confident during the test.

Looking over the other reviews, I see some outrageous (I think) numbers on the amount of work necessary.  Though there was fluctuation, I would say that I typically put in around 6 hours or so a week.  Those 6 hours, however, were intensely concentrated periods; I wasn't talking with friends or even listening to music.  I was focused on my code.

Before this course, I suppose I would say my interest in computer science was somewhat blasé.  My father is a software engineer, and I've played around with Ruby and GNU Octave and the like.  However, I gained quite an appreciation for the subject, and far more techniques of coding than I'd ever learned by myself.  I am now quite enamored of the subject, and hope to continue study of it in college, perhaps even work toward a minor. 

Social interaction in the class was. . . hmmm.  I should say that I didn't really seek out my classmates, so I'm not sure what other's experiences were.  

Our AIM meetings were weekly, although the class was so big and schedules so conflicting that we had three class incarnations each week, and hence never had the whole class together.  The meetings themselves were quite businesslike; Mrs. Lang presented the material and we asked questions.  Our social board (a student-led forum) had some activity, though it was dominated by two or three individuals and mainly discussed issues relevant to the class.  Mrs. Lang attempted to get us together by assigning some paired programming exercises near the beginning of the course, but apparently those didn't work out.

However, one of our last activities, a computer ethics mock trial, involved substantial collaboration.  I was quite involved with it, and I found that many of my classmates were extremely intelligent, sophisticated, and motivated.  I'm sort of sad that I didn't take greater advantage of my connections with them.  We had people from various locations around the world, and it was quite interesting figuring out the time differences.

I won't sugar-coat it: this is not an easy course.  You must be dedicated and perseverant to succeed; coding assignments can be highly frustrating.  You must be willing to spend substantial time to make sure things are "just right".  Academically, a strong foundation in both Algebra and logical thinking is essential.  I studied categorical and syllogistic logic previous to the course, and I found that programming had the same "flavor".  My knowledge of logic was eminently useful; boolean operations are really bits of symbolic logic, and were straightforward for me. 

To conclude, to any student who has the background in Algebra, the commitment to quality, and the passion for logical puzzles—I would recommend this course without reservation.  


The Best Class of All Time posted by Michael Thompson on May 23 2011 at 16:36:10

This was truly the best class I have ever taken. I had so much fun learning about Java and writing programs about whatever I wanted to write about. I wish I could have worked on this class all day. Mrs. Lang is also amazing, she was always extremely accessible, and answered all of my questions very quickly. Here are my answers to the questions asked about this course:

Did you feel the course prepared you for the AP exam?

Absolutely, this was the only AP class I have taken where I scored well on practice tests from the very beginning. The way Mrs. Lang teaches the material is perfect for the AP exam, and pretty much any other application. 

How many hours of work per day or per week did you generally put into the course?

The actual class work didn't take me that long, maybe 3-5 hours a week. I also wrote a lot of programs that were just for fun, and that probably took an extra 2 hours a week. 

Are there any particularly favorite assignments that you found especially valuable?

Towards the beginning of the year, a couple of the students had a contest to see who could write the fastest program to print out prime numbers, and that was really fun, and I am still improving my prime numbers program today. 

Did the course enhance your interest in the subject?

This was my first exposure to computer science, and I loved it, so yes, absolutely. I was to planning study computer science or electrical engineering in college before this class, and this class made me want to study that even more. 

Did you find your communications with other students to be interesting or valuable?

Yes, there were a lot of really smart kids in the class, and that made this class even more fun. 

What sort of student would do well in this course? Would you recommend this course to other students (if they are willing to work hard!)?

Someone who is gifted in math and science would have a ton of fun in this course, but someone who is more gifted in other areas might have a difficult time. But, anyone could do this course if they work hard enough. And I would highly recommend this course!!! 

I really have no complaints, this class was excellent.


AP Computer Science Class Review posted by Dakotah Chmiel on May 22 2010 at 13:18:55

      I took this class because I have been interested in computers and programming for a long time, and enjoyed it very much (it was one of my favorite classes in the year, for sure). At times it could be tedious or frustrating, but always rewarding when you figured things out, and had a working program. I did feel quite prepared for the AP exam, as well. The course usually required about 1 to 2 hours per day of work on the projects. In taking this class I learned not only about Java, but a lot about programming and computers in general as well. I think I was lucky to have such great classmates, and a great teacher (Mrs. Lang) as well, and it was a lot of fun working with them. If you are willing to put in the work and time, are interested in computer programming, and have analytical thinking skills and patience, you would do well in this class, I'm sure.


A class for Nerds posted by Matthew Westendorf on May 21 2010 at 11:41:45

This class was excellent.  The teaching was good.  The format with online meetings needs some work.  The class would tend to go way off topic and lose focus.  However, Mrs. Lang was good at bring the group back on topic.  I found this to a difficult class, and on average I would spent over 12 hours a week on the exercises.  This was easily one of my favorite classes for the year, and I would recommend it to anyone wanting to get a good base in programing, even if they do not want to learn JAVA.


Hard work, but worth the effort. posted by Andrew Parrish on May 20 2010 at 09:19:15

The AP Computer Science A class is probably one of the most difficult courses I have ever taken. It is the first AP class I've ever been in, so I wasn't sure what to expect.

The class definitely prepared me well for the exam. Everything I needed to know was covered in depth by the online textbook we used. I was nervous but fairly confident on the day of the exam, and I feel that, due to the extensive background familiarity with the subject material (we'd been using all this stuff in programming all year), I did well on it.

This class will take a LOT of time. I think I put in 18 hours a week on average. Coding problems require a great deal of abstract thought and an open, problem-solving mentality. Some of the hardest ones WILL result in banging one's head against the keyboard in an effort to shake loose a critical inspiration.

I have always had some interest in computer programming, reading books out of the library on the subject, but I'd never taken any kind of course on the subject. It was not quite what I expected it to be, but it is definitely an interesting and unique field and I enjoy programming a lot. Taking a course like this was the difference between reading books written in Chinese and actually being able to understand Chinese. I couldn't program before, and I can now, and the skill I gained in this course will definitely be one that I hang on to, in college and elsewhere.

Any kind of student would do well in this course, provided they are willing to put a whole lot of work into it. A natural talent for problem solving or looking at a problem from a different perspective is useful, but not necessary. The only requirement I can think of would be a decent grade in Algebra, I or II, because most of computer science is based on algebra, and the rest just is algebra. The nice thing about this class is it really forces you to pick up logical and clear thinking, even if you didn't have this skill before (which I didn't). You will come away from the class having been given an entirely new outlook on solving problems. From coding in Java, which requires you to solve a large range of exercises with a limited set of tools, you will now automatically respond to any problem by assembling your resources methodically, carefully considering the scope of the problem, and reaching an understanding of small parts of it until a solution becomes clear. I would wholeheartedly recommend this course to other students, especially if they already have interest in the subject material.


posted by Theresa%20Marlin on May 10 2010 at 06:46:48


worth it posted by Theresa Marlin on May 07 2010 at 09:10:50

This class is very difficult, but in my opinion, worth it. It takes a very dedicated and motivated student to excel in Computer Science, due largely to it's meticulous and repetitive nature. There are times when you will honestly never want to see another line of code again, but in the end, it's all worth it.

The course was definitely good preparation, perhaps the most frustrating part was not in the actual course, but in the prep work. With AP CS A being one of the least popular AP exams, there are hardly any resources. While my sister had three-four prep books per AP course, I started with one and after much searching managed to find another one.

During the actual course, I put in around an hour or so of work per day. However, as the course progressed and we got more into review, I was reviewing up to five hours a day, taking full length practice tests 4 times a week.

Having a live session every week, we were able to talk with each other live more than other classes do, but our WWW board was pitiful and our social board was even worse. We might have had a total of 3 threads on the social board the entire year. However, we all had each other's AIM addresses, so we were able to chat if we found an assignment difficult and needed an extremely smart fellow student coder. *cough cough*

A student who would do well in this course needs to be, as I said before, extremely dedicated. They also need to be at least semi-good at math. In addition, they need to be willing to spend great amounts of time debugging their code, searching for logic errors, compile-time errors, and runtime errors, and have incredible amounts of patience. Finally, they also can not be prone to beating their computer screen up, otherwise their computer screen will look like a meteor shower hit it by the end of the class.


Fun class, and one that will get you a great grade on the AP posted by Toyam Cox on May 04 2010 at 17:17:46

Q: Did you feel the course prepared you for the AP exam?

A: Yes, very much so. I was a programmer before taking this class, but this class taught me more material, and prepared me for the exam.

Q: How many hours of work per day or per week did you generally put into the course?

A: About 5 hours a week; to really do well in a program, one can not do it it in short bursts, one needs to do it in consecutive hours, if I had broken it up over many days I would have been spending a little more time.

Q: Are there any particularly favorite assignments that you found especially valuable?

A: Not really, the homework assignments were most of it, they were very valuable for understanding how to code, but the most useful assignment were the practice tests.

Q: Did the course enhance your interest in the subject?'

A: Yes. As I have said, I was a programmer before this, but this class got me to understand much more about this language.

Q: Did you find your communications with other students to be interesting or valuable?

A: Yes, as it made working out kinks in code easier, and it was easier to find hints. Most of this conversation came though AIM, the WWWBoard is not used very much in this class, but that does not mean that there is no communications between students.

Q: What sort of student would do well in this course? Would you recommend this course to other students (if they are willing to work hard!)?

A: Almost all students, preferably those who can understand how to program, can trace a program, and those who can learn a couple of rules for how to write a program, such as what goes where, and rules like that.

Q: Any other thoughts, questions or comments?

A: Yes: Why is the Computer Science test given on pen and paper?

Toyam Cox


Fun class, and one that will get you a great grade on the AP posted by Toyam Cox on May 04 2010 at 17:17:39

Q: Did you feel the course prepared you for the AP exam?

A: Yes, very much so. I was a programmer before taking this class, but this class taught me more material, and prepared me for the exam.

Q: How many hours of work per day or per week did you generally put into the course?

A: About 5 hours a week; to really do well in a program, one can not do it it in short bursts, one needs to do it in consecutive hours, if I had broken it up over many days I would have been spending a little more time.

Q: Are there any particularly favorite assignments that you found especially valuable?

A: Not really, the homework assignments were most of it, they were very valuable for understanding how to code, but the most useful assignment were the practice tests.

Q: Did the course enhance your interest in the subject?'

A: Yes. As I have said, I was a programmer before this, but this class got me to understand much more about this language.

Q: Did you find your communications with other students to be interesting or valuable?

A: Yes, as it made working out kinks in code easier, and it was easier to find hints. Most of this conversation came though AIM, the WWWBoard is not used very much in this class, but that does not mean that there is no communications between students.

Q: What sort of student would do well in this course? Would you recommend this course to other students (if they are willing to work hard!)?

A: Almost all students, preferably those who can understand how to program, can trace a program, and those who can learn a couple of rules for how to write a program, such as what goes where, and rules like that.

Q: Any other thoughts, questions or comments?

A: Yes: Why is the Computer Science test given on pen and paper?

Toyam Cox


Fun class, and one that will get you a great grade on the AP posted by Toyam Cox on May 04 2010 at 17:17:28

Q: Did you feel the course prepared you for the AP exam?

A: Yes, very much so. I was a programmer before taking this class, but this class taught me more material, and prepared me for the exam.

Q: How many hours of work per day or per week did you generally put into the course?

A: About 5 hours a week; to really do well in a program, one can not do it it in short bursts, one needs to do it in consecutive hours, if I had broken it up over many days I would have been spending a little more time.

Q: Are there any particularly favorite assignments that you found especially valuable?

A: Not really, the homework assignments were most of it, they were very valuable for understanding how to code, but the most useful assignment were the practice tests.

Q: Did the course enhance your interest in the subject?'

A: Yes. As I have said, I was a programmer before this, but this class got me to understand much more about this language.

Q: Did you find your communications with other students to be interesting or valuable?

A: Yes, as it made working out kinks in code easier, and it was easier to find hints. Most of this conversation came though AIM, the WWWBoard is not used very much in this class, but that does not mean that there is no communications between students.

Q: What sort of student would do well in this course? Would you recommend this course to other students (if they are willing to work hard!)?

A: Almost all students, preferably those who can understand how to program, can trace a program, and those who can learn a couple of rules for how to write a program, such as what goes where, and rules like that.

Q: Any other thoughts, questions or comments?

A: Yes: Why is the Computer Science test given on pen and paper?

Toyam Cox


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