AP Computer Science classes adapt to exam changes

Advanced Placement Computer Science teacher Donald Gornto is still readjusting to 49-minute classes as he prepares his classes for their AP exam in May.

“As a Computer Science Teacher, block scheduling was nice,” Gornto said. “It allowed enough time to cover an entire lesson and then have time for the students to work on their program. Then the next day the students could work on their program and I could work with them individually so that they could understand the concepts being taught.”

Current AP Computer Science Principles student and sophomore Nathan Nemetz did not have Gornto for Computer Science last year, but did have Gornto for Geometry Honors.

“[I think] I would have not preferred block scheduling with APCSP,” Nemetz said. “In block scheduling, Mr. Gornto would double up each day where we learned two concepts a day in Geometry. [I feel like] learning two subjects a day in APCSP would be very overwhelming and would be more difficult to grasp the material. In regular scheduling, we learn about one topic a day, which allows me to have a better understanding of the material and overall a better understanding of the course.”

On top of the challenges of having a hybrid class, some in-person students and some e-learning students, Gornto faced another challenge: College Board Guidelines.

“College Board changed the AP Computer Science Principles scoring guidelines last year,” Gornto said.

Previously, there were two smaller tasks which were 16% and 24% of students’ AP scores. For the 2020-2021 school year, those two small tasks changed into one large task worth 40% of students’ AP scores.

Nemetz said he feels confident about the AP exam.

“I believe I will be fully prepared for the AP exam,” he said. “Each unit covers a history or elements about the computer. We have been preparing for the exam by creating a study guide for all the information.”

Gornto said he is also optimistic about his students’ pass rates.

“I had my highest pass rate ever in APCSA – 92%,” he said. “I feel the students this year will do better.”

By Isabella Rootsey