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Re: Meditations on the Nature of Code Exams

by Sprad (Hermit)
on Mar 21, 2001 at 21:30 UTC ( #66066=note: print w/ replies, xml ) Need Help??


in reply to Meditations on the Nature of Code Exams

One of my professors was fond of saying that you can't study for a programming (or math) exam. If you don't know it by the night before the exam, no amount of cramming will help.

This may be true, but was of little consolation to those of us worrying about the upcoming test.

I've found that the best way to prepare for a programming test is simply to program. Write as much as you've got time for, run it all through the computer, and learn as much as you can from it. Syntax is a big issue, but it's also good to know all the little quirks of a language.

Write a small program that does nothing but simple file I/O. Write another one that just takes keyboard input. Write one for string manipulation, for math functions, for... whatever you think might trip you up on the test. You've been in the class long enough to have a good grasp of the subject matter. All you need now is the ability to express your knowledge in program form.

One big issue is whether the professor favors Elegance or Openness. I had a professor (same one who claimed you can't study) who was an elegance nut. The more "elegant" (his word for obfuscated) your code, the higher he'd grade you. If you could write a program in a single bewildering line, using constructs from strange nooks and crannies of the language, you'd get a gold star.

Conversely, I had another professor who loved programs that were perhaps less efficient and impressive, but easily understandable. If you turned in a one-liner when he was looking for a half page with comments, he'd mark you down for being a smartass.

Woe be to the student who forgot which class he was in...


Comment on Re: Meditations on the Nature of Code Exams
Re: Re: Meditations on the Nature of Code Exams
by arhuman (Vicar) on Mar 21, 2001 at 21:53 UTC
    in reply to Meditations on the Nature of Code Exams in thread Meditations on the Nature of Code Exams One of my professors was fond of saying that you can't study for a programming (or math) exam. If you don't know it by the night before the exam, no amount of cramming will help.

    I'll give you some hope and tell you that it's partially wrong.

    Even If one night of study won't give you as much as a constant learning
    (especially if you want to keep the information learned for a long time),
    It can limit the damages in the case you don't know anything, or even give you an easy success
    (if you're lucky or if the exam is REALLY easy)

    I can't stress it enough : It's definitly not the best way to learn (not even a good one...)
    The best way to learn is through constant practice.
    BUT never give up, it's never too late, when you're lacking time just, optimize it...

    You have to remember that you'll be graded for your exam, not for what you worth.

    You can optimize your learning process to be efficient for the exam :
    coding the way the examinator like it, working on topics the examinator like and may use for the exam,
    learn a lot of little details useful only for the exam that you'll forget later
    (I recall I learnt 5 pages of number defining some protocols just for one exam,
    I have of course forgotten them yet but, being able to cite large part of a protocol,
    long series of technical numbers, was very impressive for the examinator if I refer to the grade I had...
    It didn't made me smarter, It was just an 'exam optimization' but it really improved my prestation)

    It's not cheating or fooling. I call it optimization for it's just that. You optimize your chance of having a good grade.
    They make the rules (your worth is determined by your ability to pass an exam which has not much to do with the reality) you play with them ;-)

    Final note : I really prefer true (long) learning, which is the most fullfilling for me (when I have the feeling that I'm efficient/skilled) but look around inner valour is often ignored in favor of the 'showing'.
    I learnt to play with this fact, I just wanted to share...

    "Trying to be a SMART lamer" (thanx to Merlyn ;-)
Re (tilly) 2: Meditations on the Nature of Code Exams
by tilly (Archbishop) on Mar 22, 2001 at 00:02 UTC
    I have to agree with the professor on studying math, but I have to say that it is very strongly subject specific. With a subject that builds on itself like math or any language, you really cannot cram a significant chunk in at midnight before your test. So study a little through the term and get your sleep. However with subjects based on large numbers of facts, such as biology, you most definitely can cram and should.

    Therefore while I agree that cramming won't help in math, it certainly will help in a lot of subjects.

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