Welcome to the CSA Zone

(AP Computer Science A, Blocks 2 and 5)
Note: Block 2 meets on days A, B, D, E, F, and X. Block 5 meets on days A, C, D, F, G, and X.

Are you nervous when you see NCWEE? concerned when you see CIRC? perturbed when you see PBC? Visit Mr. Hansen’s fabled abbreviations page to make sense of those cryptic markings you see on your papers.


Schedule at a Glance (see archives for older entries)
Written assignments should follow the HW guidelines.


T 4/21/15

HW due (both blocks): AP review problems. Detailed instructions have been given before, but they are restated below for clarity. These requirements apply to all students, even those who are not planning to take the AP exam on May 7.

1. Divide your review time between multiple-choice and free-response problems, approximately 50% for each. If you wish, you can alternate them by day (multiple-choice on one day, free-response the next) or within the same day (a mixture of problems of each type).

2. Keep all work and evidence of daily effort together in one place. A 3-ring binder with removable pages is recommended, but if you prefer to use a spiral-bound notebook, that is also acceptable for AP review.

3. It is permitted to do your multiple-choice problems directly in the Barron’s review book, but if you do that, you still need to keep a summary in your AP review notebook. Here is an example of how to make a summary entry:

Apr. 21: MC #3-15 on pp. 718-722. 10 correct out of 13. 10:15-10:39 (24 minutes). Lesson: Michael, remember to check all of the answers, since the best choice may be slightly different from one that “mostly” works.

Observe the features of this entry:
     - It includes the date on which you did the work.
     - It clearly indicates the location and the multiple-choice (MC) problem numbers you worked on.
     - It summarizes your progress (10/13 correct).
     - It includes a time log.
     - It includes a “lessons learned” statement phrased in a positive, nonjudgmental way.
     - In the “lessons learned” statement, you address yourself by name. You don’t have to do this every time if you think it’s stupid, but believe it or not, there is educational research that strongly suggests that addressing yourself by name, especially in a kind and nonjudgmental way, is a powerful learning tool. The reason seems to have something to do with taking the time to reflect in a personal way on the learning process. So, please address yourself by name in at least some of your “lessons learned” sentences.

4. For free-response problems, enter the date, problem source, time log, and the full, complete text of your written response in your AP review notebook, NOT in the pages of the Barron’s review book. Do not leave anything out. For example, if the problem requires class definitions or constructors, write them out just as if you were taking the AP exam. Don’t leave things out, thinking, “Yeah, I know what I would have written there.” To practice the skill, you actually have to write it all out. The more you practice doing this, the better. You will naturally develop efficiencies and will find things that you can think about while you are writing (assuming, of course, that your writing skill is fluent enough that you can think and write at the same time).

5. For free-response problems, use the grading rubric provided either in the Barron’s book or in the AP scoring guidelines to correct your work, using a different color. (For example, if your original work is in pencil, as recommended, your corrections can be in blue or red ink.) Then, write a personal “lessons learned” statement for each problem.

6. Try to observe the AP timing rules: 26 minutes for each free-response problem, slightly under 2 minutes for each multiple-choice problem. Since some multiple-choice problems take longer than others, you will probably want to do them in groups of 5 or 10 at a time.

7. There are dozens of free-response problems with solutions available online. For example, use Google searches similar to these, all of which pull up what you want in the first 2 or 3 hits:

AP computer science a 2008 free response
AP computer science a 2008 free response scoring guidelines
AP computer science a 2013 free response
AP computer science a 2013 free response scoring guidelines

Omit online problems that refer to the case studies (GridWorld, etc.), since those are no longer tested.

8. In a 25- or 30-minute study session, you may have only enough time to complete one free-response question and perform the scoring and “lessons learned” statement. That is OK.

9. Your minimum requirement is 25 minutes per night, every night. You may take one day off per week. That means a minimum of 150 minutes per week. Note: If you are one of those “Philadelphia lawyers” who says that Mr. Hansen is not permitted to assign homework on days that the class does not meet the next day (because of the new 7-day rotating schedule, Phi Beta Kappa day, college trips, or whatever), then you can group your study sessions, e.g., 3 blocks of 50 minutes each. That’s your choice. Be aware, however, that the best educational benefit occurs when you do the review problems every night.

10. More is better. Don’t overdo it, but a daily goal above the minimum requirement of 25 minutes is recommended. If you intend to do well on the AP exam, a daily goal of 35-45 minutes would be a good idea. The time you spend on AP review is like money in the bank. Every minute spent is useful.

11. Your review notebook will be checked frequently. Bring your notebook to class each day. Some rechecking may also occur, meaning that if you fall behind, you need to get caught up right away to avoid the risk of getting another 0 on a rescan.


W 4/22/15

HW due (both blocks): AP review as described in the 4/21 calendar entry. Minimum time: 25 minutes. More is better, if you can manage it.


Th 4/23/15

HW due (both blocks): AP review as described in the 4/21 calendar entry. Minimum time: 25 minutes. More is better, if you can manage it.


F 4/24/15

HW due (both blocks): AP review as described in the 4/21 calendar entry. Minimum time: 25 minutes. More is better, if you can manage it.


Wk of 4/27/15

HW due (both blocks): AP review as described in the 4/21 calendar entry. Minimum time: 25 minutes per day, 6 or more days per week. More is better, if you can manage it. Time must be worked prospectively, not in arrears.

Thanks to Chris O. in Block 5 for finding this nifty automated multiple-choice test in Java! Feel free to use these problems toward your AP review. Note: Some newer AP topics, such as parameterized lists, are not necessarily well represented here. You will want to supplement these with problems from the Barron’s review book in any case.


M 5/4/15



T 5/5/15



W 5/6/15



Th 5/7/15

AP Exam, 8:00 a.m., Steuart Building 201-202. Please arrive by 7:30 a.m.

Format of the exam will be as follows:
Part I, 40 multiple-choice questions in 75 minutes.
Part II, 4 free-response questions in 105 minutes.
There will be a short bathroom break between the two parts. No discussion, texting, e-mailing, or phone use of any kind are permitted during the bathroom break. Violations of this rule are punishable by having your score canceled. If violations are widespread, or if the AP administrators have any reason to believe that anyone has had access to a cellphone for any purpose during the exam or during the break, then all the AP scores for STA and NCS, in all subjects, could be canceled for the year.

What to bring: Several sharpened pencils with erasers. Pen is permitted on free-response questions but is not recommended. Instead of erasing large blocks, you are encouraged to mark deletions with a single large “X” and continue. Anything marked with an “X” will be ignored during grading.

Leave in your locker or car: Cellphone, calculator, scratch paper, notes.

The most important thing to leave behind is your phone. Any phones brought into the exam room, or even into the area outside the exam room, are subject to confiscation. Maybe you didn’t hear me, so I’ll say it again: Any phones brought into the exam room, or even into the area outside the exam room, are subject to confiscation.

The AP people want to have high confidence that nobody is using a phone during the bathroom break to send information about the exam to someone in a different time zone. For this reason, the AP administrators reserve the right to cancel all scores (not just the computer science scores, but all STA and NCS AP scores for the entire year) if they believe that anyone has had access to a phone during the exam or during the bathroom break.



F 5/8/15



M 5/11/15

Begin working on your Monte Carlo simulation project.


T 5/12/15

Submit your hard copy of requirements for approval, hopefully by today.


W 5/13/15



Th 5/14/15



F 5/15/15



M 5/18/15



T 5/19/15



W 5/20/15

Field Trip to NSA’s National Cryptologic Museum, Fort Meade, MD. Bus will leave at 8:00 a.m. from the service road beside the Martin Gym. We will be back on campus by 1:15 p.m. People going on the field trip will be excused from Blocks 2, 3, 4, and 5, and we’ll be back in time for lunch and Block 6.

Normal school dress (jacket and tie) will be required. However, if the weather is warm, you may leave your jacket on the bus during the museum tour and lecture if you wish. NCS students should plan on wearing closed-toe footwear (i.e., real shoes, no sandals or flip-flops) for safety when entering and exiting the bus.


0800: Depart STA, service road behind Martin Gym
0900: Arrive at National Cryptologic Museum
0900-1015: STAtistics class takes tour of museum while CS class has cybersecurity lecture
1015-1030 (approx.): Break and time for shopping at the museum shop
1030-1145: CS class takes tour of museum while STAtistics class has cryptanalysis lecture
1145-1200: Break and preparation for boarding bus
1205: Board bus for STA
1300 (approx..): Arrive at STA


Th 5/21/15



F 5/22/15

Last day of class; target completion date for Monte Carlo project.

Note: It is acceptable to submit source code by e-mail, provided you preserve the indentation. All other items (requirements, design, final report, and earlier markup(s) of any of the above) must be submitted in hard copy. It is safest to hand them directly to Mr. Hansen during the day on May 26, but if you are willing to take a risk, you can also slip them under the office door at MH-104.

Please use this subject line format if you submit source code by e-mail:

__Block 7 AP Computer Science Monte Carlo Project (Fred and Mildred)


M 6/1/15

Last possible day for submitting project components (with permission).

Submission status as of 20150529 1612 EDT:

Block 2
Zack and Natalie (draw poker): illness, made contact 20150529, hard copies of all but conclusions rcd. 20150601
Daniel and Trevor (rock, paper, scissors, Spock, lizard): almost complete; requirements in hard copy rcd. 20150601
Clayton and Nat and Jordan (golf): source code received 20150527, other 3 components rcd. 20150529 1430 EDT
Ryan H. and Andrew (2048): source code received 20150525, all other components rcd. 20150529 1335 EDT
Ryan F. and Mark (floaters): made contact 20150529, source code rcd. 20150529, final hard copies rcd. 20150601
William and Erin (Buffon’s needle): all components except design/milestones rcd. 20150529 1335 EDT, remaining items rcd. 20150601

Block 5
Henry and William (simplified Monopoly): source code 20150528, all other components rcd. 20150529 1335 EDT
Becky and Chris (super tic-tac-toe): complete as of 20150526
Nick and Kelsey (tennis): complete as of 20150529 1210 EDT
Annabel and Thomas (mancala): complete as of 20150526
Jennifer and George (Battleship): requirements markup submitted 20150528, source code received 20150529, remaining 3 components delivered by George at 20150529 1345 EDT


Links Based on Class Discussions:
-- Latest revision of the MODD course outline from 2005, before we had a good textbook to use
-- Homemade “Segway”-like balancing scooter uses a fair amount of calculus!

Serious Links:
STA School Handbook
-- AP Computer Science A Course Description (includes full course outline and sample MC and FR questions!)
-- Summer math camps for talented high school students
-- GridWorld case study
-- Click here for other serious links

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Last updated: 01 Jun 2015