Information about CSAW for Future 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 Freshman

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.

AP Computer Science A AP Computer Science Principles Python A Intro CS
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. 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. 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. Ideal freshman candidates for this course consist of students who do not meet any of the above criteria.

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 Into 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.

Website Project Description An Hour of Code Lots of Fun Projects for New Programmers Angry Birds Twenty coding puzzles based on Angry Birds
Made With Code Kaleidoscope Make a kaleidoscope animation out of different images
Made With Code Monster Dancing Make a monster that dances Express Course A longer course if you want a real challenge

Optional Placement Exam

During the first week of the 2020-2021 academic year, CSAW will administer a voluntary Placement Exam. This exam, as its name implies, is used only for placement purposes, not as a criterion for Academy admission. Students who are unsure about which computer science course to take first, between Intro to Computer Science, Python A, or AP Computer Science Principles are encouraged to sign up for this exam. Students who desire to take AP CSA who have not previously taken a computer science class at Westhill may also be asked to take this exam. To register for this exam, please send email to More information about this exam can be found by clicking here. No previous computer science experience is required to take this test.