October 15th, 2002, 10:45 AM
C++ Test on Lined Paper....
I recently almost failed a test in my C++ class. We had to write three simple programs on lined paper and turn them in at the end of class. Has anyone ever had to do that before? I can't see how writing programs on paper is any kind of accurate test of programming abilitys. How can one go about debugging a program on paper? I'm not a big developer or anything but I really enjoy programming in C++ (on a computer) and getting a bad grade doing somthing I like to do is very sad. So, is this typical and I just suck or is this instructor a weirdo?
Last edited by Rdesign; October 16th, 2002 at 03:35 PM.
October 15th, 2002, 11:14 AM
I had to do a technical test for a investment bank which was similar to that..
You had to define a small subsystem that they defined in generic terms, and you had to increase the details and levels of code that you wrote as the questions went on..
It's hard, i found, as I develop iteratively, I use the help files, and look up sytax in books etc.. Writing it out on paper, will though, show what level of competence you are at..
October 15th, 2002, 11:45 AM
My CS teacher believes that writing tests on paper prevents people from getting better marks by using the online help or code which one has written before or being better at typing than others (or looking at other people's screens or sharing files over the LAN ;) ).
Of course, this method of testing is usually far from reality - but have you ever managed to convince a CS teacher with reality? I haven't :(
October 15th, 2002, 02:59 PM
I can see cheating by using file sharing(or FTP...) being a problem. I just can't get over the inability to compile the program (I mean, you HAVE to do that!). Three programs in an hour is tough enough for a begginer, figuring out what a brace looks like on paper shouldn't be a consideration when weighing skills, I say. I got a 57% on the test and I think I am in the top 5 hightst scores in the class. I guess I should practice writing this stuff out but that seems like such a waste of time....
At least I'm not alone. Thanks.
October 16th, 2002, 03:06 AM
I seriously doubt the teacher's looking for an operable program that is debugged. Most likely, he/she's trying to force you to think the problem through prior to coding. One of the most valuable lessons you can learn.
1) Grab a sheet of paper, sketch out a class structure (or whatever).
2) Find problems.
3) Goto 1.
The worst thing you can do is sit down to a fresh working environment and start coding from a white screen. Your teacher was likely looking for mastery of basic program knowledge, and the ability to create a well structured interface, and the ability to refine your design ideas.
October 16th, 2002, 01:39 PM
Well, he cut my throat on syntax....
He killed everyone on simple syntax errors. I can see how writing programs on paper might be helpful for some people but not for me. I feel more creative and fluid when I'm pounding the code into the text editor. I have devoloped a certin method of doing things and it works for me. This method of mine does not involve paper, I just can't find a reason to use it. Than again, I have only been programming anything for 7 months and I have a long way to go.
Last edited by Rdesign; October 29th, 2002 at 10:52 PM.
October 17th, 2002, 02:25 AM
In my class, we don't write code in exams, well we do, but nothing more than 10 lines long. The exams tests on your understanding of what certain programs does, etc.
When it comes to writing decent amount of code, that's done in assignments.
Of course in exam, you can't look up books and stuff to see what a piece of code does. But when it comes to coding, people at my Uni agrees that looking up references and books when coding is not cheating. After all that's what you do in real life.
It's like a doctor saying, OK, I THINK this medicine is gonna cure your disease, but I can't confirm it 'cos looking this up in a book will be cheating.
So, guess it depends on what you mean by simple programs, if it's just to make a class that adds or changes a couple of variables, you really shouldn't need a compiler to help you with that. If it's say a data structure or algothrm then it's a bit rediculous.
October 17th, 2002, 11:33 PM
Three complete programs
On this test we had:
1. to make a triangle of x's 20 lines long and constantly wideing by two.
2. a program dealing with marbles and saving various amounts and types specified by the user.
3. I can't remember what the third one was but it was just as complicated.
He graded on a curve and I got a C. Two guys who like Java also got C's and they say we haven't even covered anything new to them yet. I don't think any of us ever wrote a program on paper before, that's somthing I'll have to practice if I want to get better than a B I guess.
Last edited by Rdesign; October 17th, 2002 at 11:42 PM.
October 29th, 2002, 10:36 AM
These programs are pretty simple, and I would expect that anyone in even an intro class could handle these provided that they kept up on their assignments and made use of the prof's office hours if needed.
There are a whole bunch of important skills being tested here. Being able to hand-write code on paper is not so useless as you might imagine. As a developer I spend a lot of time at a white board writing out ideas to share with others (esp. my boss). Being able to debug code does also require that you be able to look at it and spot the problem. Sure, the compiler gives you a diagnostic message, but don't count on that message to have anything to do with the real problem. Modern compilers are better, but 10 years ago the one thing you could count on was that the problem -wasn't- on the line where the compiler choked. Wait until you start using the Standard Template Library. The messages when you have an error there are completely incomprehensible.
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October 29th, 2002, 10:56 PM
I can't wait. When I wrote this post I was really frustrated. I feel better about the way the tests are going to go now. Thanks for the advice.
November 13th, 2002, 08:01 AM
I'd give anything for hand written exams. All our tests here are Multiple choice. tracing through a 100 line program with pointers going every which way through countless data structures suclks.
November 15th, 2002, 05:57 PM
I guess it could be worse....
Ooo.... Sorry for you friend. I'm sure i'll have the privilege of taking part in such tests when I get to the university.