The Computer Science Academy of Westhill

Which Comp Sci Course to Take?

Students are sometimes confused about which Computer Science course to take at Westhill. This page describes the differences between the courses offered and provides various roadmaps for computer science course sequences (Pathways). Here is a diagram that shows the computer science courses currently offered at Westhill High School.

pathways

A pathway consists of a sequence of courses designed to allow a student to build a certain set of skills. The Computer Science Academy at Westhill (CSAW) offers students an opportunity to get recognition on their high school transcripts if they complete their Computer Science Pathway. The image, above, shows some possible combination of courses students may take to achieve these requirements. Although the above diagram implies a large number of Pathway possibilities, most students typically follow one of several set paths such as those shown on the diagram below:

Some Possible Computer Science Pathways

DescriptionFreshmanSophomoreJuniorSenior
Description
CP Track #1
Freshman
Intro CS
Sophomore
Python A/B
Junior
Intro Web Design
Senior
AP CSP
Description
CP Track #2
Freshman
Intro CS/Python A
Sophomore
Intro Web Design
Junior
CP Cyber
Senior
AP CSP
Description
Honors Track #1
Freshman
Python A/B
Sophomore
AP CSP
Junior
AP CSA
Senior
Data Structures
Description
Honors Track #2
Freshman
AP CSP
Sophomore
Honors Cyber
Junior
AP CSA
Senior
Data Structures
Description
Accelerated
Freshman
AP CSA
Sophomore
Honors Cyber
Junior
Data Structures
Senior
TA/Indep Study

Requirements for CS Pathway at CSAW

Students who complete 3.5 computer science credits with a B- average or better during their 4 years at Westhill will have completed CSAW's Computer Science Pathway. This completion shall result in a Concentration in Computer Science being acknowledged on the student's high school transcript. If three or more courses are honors or AP-level courses (and a student maintains a B- average or better on the computer science courses taken), the acknowledgement shall be upgraded to Concentration in Computer Science with Honors. More information about the requirements for transcript recognition in computer science may be found in the Stamford Public School's Course of Studies catalog.

Which Starter Course to Take

All Honors-level students should start with AP CSP as their first computer science class (including Freshman). For all other students, the choice will be between Python A and Intro to CS. The Intro to CS course is based on block programming and, as such, provides a gentler introduction to programming.

starter

Which AP Course to Take

If you are thinking about taking an AP Computer Science class at Westhill, this section will help you decide between AP Computer Science Principles and AP Computer Science A.

venn

AP CSP vs. AP CSA

Choosing Between AP CSP and AP CSA

comparison

Comparing AP CSP with AP CSA

How Hard are AP Computer Science Exams

By their nature, all AP exams are difficult. Students may be wondering about the relative difficulty levels between the AP Computer Science A exam and the AP Computer Science Principles exam. In previous studies, students have consistently voted AP Physics C to be the most difficult of all AP exams. AP Computer Science A has historically placed second in the difficulty ratings in this poll.

Based on feedback from students who took the AP CSP exam in May of 2017, the multiple choice portion of AP CSP exam is significantly less challenging than most other AP exams. Here is Mr. Sarkar's opinion on the relative overall difficulty of the various CS courses offered at Westhill.

difficulty

Optional Placement Exam

Still not sure which course to take first at CSAW? Consider taking the optional Placement Exam in the fall. The results of this exam can help you make a decision about which course to take first.

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 CSAW@StamfordCT.gov