I finished Info. Sys. last year and I had the same problem... at that point, I loved C, but we had to do most if not all our coding exams in Modula-2
My personal experience is that it is very much dependent on the lecturer, and how s/he is instructed to grade.. I had a good lecturer for data structures, who actually told us not to worry about the syntax (missing ;, possibly incorrect syntax), that he was going to grade us on ideas alone.. needless to state, I loved his lectures :d
OTOH, my C++/OO lecturer thought it unfair that anyone should 'get away' with not knowing enough of the language to actually pass.. her argument seemed to go along the lines of 'if you did enough lab, you'd know enough to not goof the syntax in a major way..'..
So, as far as advice goes, I'd imagine that you're definitely ok with expressing your idea/algorithm in a language of your choice (ie: Perl).. so what remains is to know enough of the syntax/eccentricities of MatLab to 'translate' as it were...
so, by all means, study as much of the syntax of the language as you can, get that under your belt, and you should be good for any coding exam...
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