Test preparation strategies for computer survey courses and for computer programming courses are discussed separately in this section (D. Applegate, M.B. Harms, CAL).
For Survey Courses
Experiment with a variety of memory strategies. Key words, mnemonics, visual association, and alphabetizing are approaches that may be effective. These are illustrated in the Memory Strategies section of this page.
Use flash cards or concept lists to test one's recall of terms and definitions, lists, and names and contributions. If one prefers to work with others, students may work together or with tutors to quiz each other on the information. Answer the questions at the end of each chapter in the book or in the text manual (if available) to test one's understanding and memory. Don't wait until the night before the exam to self-test, but leave plenty of time to seek clarification from the instructor or to have answers checked for accuracy.
Summarize the important information to be learned on a study guide. Compile all of the terms, people, and concepts in separate places, or arrange the information by chapter or topic. Examples of both types of study guides are given below.
Work individually or with other students to make up and answer practice questions. Find out what types of questions will be asked (e.g. multiple choice, true-false, fill-in, essay) and make up those types of questions using the lecture and text material. Try turning chapter headings or list headings into questions. Examine the types of questions at the end of each chapter or in the text manual.
Sample Multiple Choice Questions
Parallel computing systems designed to simulate the human brain are called:
Alan Turing developed a computing machine to break German codes during World War II. This machine was called:
Sample True-False Questions
Computer viruses are passed over networks, while computer worms are passed disk-to-disk. [false]
Different computer systems use different machine and assembly languages. [true]
C++ and Java are examples of procedural high-level languages. [false]
Sample Fill-In Questions
The first computer spreadsheet program was developed by ____ to run on ____ machines. [Dan Bricklin, Apple]
____ allows the user to show emotions in computer correspondences. [Flaming]
Common computer modems transmit information at rates of ____ to ____ bps. [9K, 26K]
Sample Essay Questions
List and describe the technological advances of the five generations of computer hardware.
Discuss the Turing test: what does it intend to do, how does it work, and how does one tell if a computer passes the test?
List and describe the four types of computer crime.
If essays will be given on the test, make up sample essay questions and then develop a short outline to summarize the answer. This abbreviated form of the answer will be easier to memorize and recall on the exam than a long-hand version. Outlining ahead of time is a very useful strategy if one has trouble completing an exam in the allotted time.
Review Lab Assignments
Lab material often shows up in both subjective and objective test questions. Make sure you are clear about lab procedures to complete specific tasks, such as:
Formatting a disk on a PC and on a Macintosh
Formatting a word processing document
Spell or Grammar checking a word processing document
Writing spreadsheet formulas
Creating a chart or graph in a spreadsheet
Querying a database
Locating information on a network
Sending or replying to an e-mail message
Creating a Graphic
Writing a C++ or a BASIC program
Saving a Document
Printing a Document
Making a Backup Disk
Deleting files from a Disk
Make sure you are clear about computer commands and what they do. For example, review these commands for word processing, spreadsheets, databases, and other applications:
copy - paste
copy - cut - paste
save - save as
header - footer
fill down - fill right
For Programming Courses
Work with other students to talk through programming procedures, flow charting, logical organization of commands, and functions of commands. Share with each other approaches to and strategies for problem solving. Try teaching the other students to test one's understanding of the concepts.
Summarize the important information to be learned on a study guide. A short example for a COBOL exam is given below (REFERENCE).
One of the best ways to prepare for programming tests is to practice writing programs. Make up your own tasks to be completed in the program, or work in study groups to make up tasks for each other. Then write a program to complete the task and see if runs correctly on the computer. If you have trouble making up problems, try using variations of the homework assignments.