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It probably all depends on the course and teacher. Mind you, I'm coming from complete left field - I'm a ChemE, no comp sci courses save for some in grad school for algorthms.

Of the courses I took from comp sci, mostly algorithms with C++ thrown in, the tests were aimed more towards knowing how the algorithms worked and demonstrating them on paper, with little emphasis on the language used. There was some C++ questions, but mostly "code an effective data structure for such-and-such, with prototypes of what member functions you need", so that they know you knew about encapsulation etc. If anything, there was more along the lines of "spot the syntax/runtime error and fix it". So in these cases, I learned the algorithms and passed with no problem (of course, I already knew about C++ well before this point).

Now, in a class that I help teach in ChemE, the exams required you to know how to use a program called PolyMath which was used to solve differential equations. Before there were massive computer clusters, the tests involved writing out with exact syntax the program text you'd enter into PolyMath, in addition to having a small number of students at a time with limited time to run PolyMath to solve one problem on the test using a small number of borrowed computers. You had no manuals, and PolyMath, being DOS based, had no online help, so you HAD to know how to enter everything. I didn't have to take this course, but I know students hated that concept. However, I doubt this is similar in CS.

So the best suggestion is to talk to students that have already taken tests with this profession; get in contact with your student chapter of IEEE, or ASM, or a number of other CS-based groups; many of these groups keep copies of tests from previous years archived which you can persue. Many professors are putting old test copies in the library on research, so check there as well. Experience from others will be the only way to tell if things in this class are going to be concept based or syntax based. Hope for the former, of course, as it's much easier to study and perform :D

Dr. Michael K. Neylon - || "You've left the lens cap of your mind on again, Pinky" - The Brain

In reply to Re: Meditations on the Nature of Code Exams by Masem
in thread Meditations on the Nature of Code Exams by Elgon

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