First of all, good on you for choosing to self-study for the exam! It’s challenging, but definitely within reason and can be done in a number of months, if done correctly.

Since I studied for the exam in my freshman year of high school and got a 5/5, I would like to share the 3 top tips that I wish that someone had told me when I was preparing for the exam:

  1. Learn the absolute fundamentals of Java/CS and practice them until you are 100% comfortable with them. I would recommend this course to get started and practice for free
  2. Next, you’ll want to gain a solid understanding of the AP curriculum. This may be confusing at first, but I suggest that you use some free online resources like this course ( and continuously practice until you are able to code basic constructs, like classes, for loops, and strings/arrays with ease
  3. After you are comfortable with the core curriculum, it’s time to practice real coding. Look around online for real-world Java problems, algorithms questions, and previous years’ FRQs on the College Board website. This will ensure that you’re able to get a 5 and ace the written code section of the exam

Remember to start studying well ahead of time (at least 1-month at the very least) and you should have it in the bag! Good luck and you can get that magic 5/5 if you put in the effort and commit to executing these steps!