The Computer Science Academy of Westhill

Information about CSAW for New Westhill Students

CSAW currently provides open admission to all Westhill students. If you are currently districted to go to Westhill and want to know how to prepare to join our Computer Science Academy, you have come to the right page.

Entering Freshmen

Students who enter Westhill High School as Freshman must wait until near the end of their Freshman year to apply for admission to the Computer Science Academy of Westhill (CSAW). However, eigth graders districted for Westhill who think they may have eventual interest in joining CSAW are strongly advised to take a computer science class during their Freshman year at the school. The following sections are designed to help you decide on which course to take first.

Honors-Level Students Entering Westhill

Almost all honors-level students entering Westhill should start their Computer Science Pathway by first taking AP Computer Science Principles. Despite the AP moniker, this course is designed for students with no previous experience in Computer Science. It features no homework and only two large exams, the midterm and final. The only honors students who want to take a computer science class in their freshman year but should not take AP CSP are those who do not want to commit to a full year of computer science during their Freshman year may opt to start with Python, which is broken into two half-year courses, Python A and Python B.

Westhill also offers 1% of the incoming Freshman the opportunity to skip AP Computer Science Principles and take AP Computer Science A in their first year at Westhill. These students will typically have a significant amount of computer science experience either by attending summer camps or through independent study. Freshman who wish to be considered for this Accelerated Pathway must take a placement exam during the first week of school. If you are interested, please email the academy at during your final year of middle school.


Choosing Your First Course

Ideal freshman candidates for APCSP will be those students who are placing out of Algebra 1 and will be taking Honors Geometry (or another honors math class) in their first year of High School.
Python A
Ideal freshman candidates for this course consist of students who have a personal interest in computers and have at least a C average in their last math class in middle school.
Intro CS
Ideal freshman candidates for this course consist of students who do not meet any other criteria.
Freshman are strongly discouraged from taking APCSA. Please consider taking AP CSP. Consideration is given to 1% of students entering Westhill who have extensive computer science experience already. These students must take a placement exam during the first week of school to place out of AP CSP and into AP CSA.

CP Students Entering Westhill

CP-level students who wish to take a computer science class during their freshman year should opt for either Intro to Computer Science or Python A, both of which are half-year courses. Students who opt for the Intro course during their first semester can continue by taking Python A during their second semester. Students who opt for Python A can continue with Python B during their second semester. Eigth-graders who are struggling to pass mathematics in middle school are encouraged to take Intro to Computer Science as Freshman. All other CP-level students are encouraged to take Python A. Students unable to decide between the Intro and Python courses are encouraged to take the Placement Exam during the first week of school. This exam is used for placement only and is not used to determine admission into CSAW.

Students Transferring to Westhill

Students who enter Westhill other than as Freshman can apply to join CSAW at any time, once they become enrolled at Westhill. Admission to CSAW is open to all Westhill students. To apply for admission, simply go to the Forms page and fill out the on-line Application for Admissions Form. These students should also consider taking the voluntary Placement Exam during the first week of school to help them determine which computer science course to take first.

How Best to Prepare for CSAW

We encourage you to explore the field of computer science, yourself, no matter your age, by trying out some projects at or by clicking on one of the projects in the table, below. You can click on one of the Hour of Code projects to get a small taste for what you will do in our computer science classes. Alternatively, you can take a longer course such as's Express Course to help you determine if computer science is right for you. (If you do want to do one of the longer courses, it is recommended that you establish an account at this site using your personal gmail address.) Of course, none of these courses are required to join CSAW.

Express Course
A challenge for beginning programmers.
CS Coding Games
Java Game
An advanced game for students with some Java experience.
CS Coding Games
Python Game
An advanced game for students who know a little Python.

A website for CSAW, the Computer Science Academy of Westhill High School. CSAW's mission is to expose students to the rapidly growing field of Computer Science. We strive to get more girls and underrepresented students to consider STEM careers. To contact the webmaster with problems on this site or to ask questions about CSAW, send email to