This lesson contains a series of activities you can use to familiarize yourself with the Explore Performance Task, how it is scored, and some example tasks provided by the College Board.

Students review the Submission Requirements and Scoring Guidelines for the Explore PT. Subsequently they review three example scored Explore PT submissions with commentary to better understand how the Submission Requirements and Scoring Guidelines are used together. In a wrap up conversation they identify a piece of advice, a "gotcha," and a remaining question they have about the Explore PT.

Note: Most the exemplar task, scores, and commentary on scoring shared in this lesson come directly from the College Board. Code.org's commentary is noted where applicable.


Students will be able to:


The Explore PT is in many ways straightforward: you perform research on a computing innovation and present your findings. As you dig into the details of the task, however, you quickly come across some of the nuances of individual components of the task and how they're scored. This lesson is designed to introduce what these nuances are, and begin to provide some answers to the questions that will inevitably arise. Keep in mind that the next lesson provides a more structured set of responses to those questions, and so today students are just diving in to what the task looks like.


College Board Handouts

College Board Explore PT Samples

Annotated Explore PT Samples

(optional) Digital Portfolio Setup

Getting Started

Today the students are going to start looking more deeply at the Explore PT, focusing specifically on understanding

Reassure the students that they already have much of the knowledge and skills they need to do well on this task. The hardest part might be just understanding what is required of them.

Review Explore PT Submission Requirements and Scoring Guidelines

Starting with the "AP CSP Performance Task Directions" handout in the Resources section, ask the students to read the following:

For the scoring guidelines the class can focus only on the first 3 columns for now: "Reporting Category," "Task," "Scoring Criteria." We'll dive into the decision rules later. Just get familiar with these documents.

After reading, ask the students to discuss with a partner the following:

Here are some of the key points that the students should remember:

They will need to submit:

Also note that the Scoring Guidelines provide specific guidance on how each part of the task will be graded

Activity: Explore PT Sample Response C

Ask the students to read the Explore PT Sample Response C. This is a raw student submission - exactly what the student uploaded for their computational artifact and written responses. Ask the students to spend a few minutes with a partner reviewing this exemplar. Be ready to share out the following answers.

This sample actually received a perfect 8/8 score. Ask the students to look at the sample response C side-by-side with the scoring guidelines and the actual AP scorer's notes (given in the annotated Sample C document) to see why. Try an answer these questions with a partner:

Ask the students to share their responses after discussing with a partner. Where possible call out ways that the discussion is answering questions raised earlier in the class about the Submission Requirements or Scoring Guidelines.

Pro Tip

Difference between "harmful effect" and "data security concern."

Activity: Explore Performance Task Annotated Samples D (5/8) and E (2/8)

Now, ask the students to look at some examples that did not earn a perfect score. Provide pairs of students copies of the Annotated Explore PT Samples D and E. The students can pick which one they want to look at first. As they review this task with a partner, please ask them to answer these questions:

Ask partners to spend a couple minutes specifically discussing the prompt above. Then have the whole class share the results of their discussion. Where possible call out ways that the discussion is answering questions raised earlier in the class about the Submission Requirements or Scoring Guidelines.

Pro Tip

The students should be gaining comfort with the structure of the task and scoring guidelines at this point. Since these task missed some points they provide a good opportunity to dive into those components of the Scoring Guidelines.

Sample D falls short by:

Sample E falls short by:

Wrap Up

Ask the students to take a few minutes to write (1) one piece of advice that they have from the Explore PT, (2) their bigest "gotcha," and (3) a question they still have. Share these with a partner, or the entire group.

The next lesson is designed to address these three specific prompts. The students will have time to dive deep on what counts as a computing innovation, and how to choose one wisely. They will be given a checklist of "gotchas" next to each part of the task to use.

(Optional) AP Digital Portfolio Setup

At some point students need to setup their AP Digital Portfolio to officially submit your performance tasks and to sign up for the exam. Doing that setup and navigating around the digital portfolio will take a little bit of time.

Note: Pick the right time to do this tech setup. Use the "AP Digital Portfolio Student Guide" linked in the resources section.

Making PDFs for Written Responses

The students are required to make a PDF of their written responses to prompts. It's recommended that they use the College Board templates for filling out their responses. At some point they will have their written responses in a word processing document such as Microsoft Word, Google Docs, or Pages.

How to make a PDF, a guide copied from "AP Digital Portfolio Student Guide"

How to make a PDF

Making PDF using Microsoft Office (Word, PowerPoint)

Making PDF using Google Docs

Making PDF using Pages

Making PDF of Program Code (for the Create PT)

Students will need to make a PDF of their code and they also draw an oval and rectangle onto the PDF to highlight certain parts. There are a few options for this.

Using CodePrint to Annotate and Make PDF

CodePrint Oval and Rectangles DEMO

Using a Word Processor (Google docs or MS Word) to Make PDF and Annotate: This option is fine but the students won't get line numbers next to their code which can be inconvenient.

Making a video screen capture

If you are using Mac or Windows machine, code.org recommends the students to use the screen capture service provided by "Screencast-o-Matic".

Standards Alignment