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Computer Science 12:


Study guides for quizzes and the final exam




Study guide for paper Quiz 1, to be given February 23, 2020

Beginning on Sunday, September 29, we will have brief (10 to 20 minute) quizzes at the beginning of each class session. (Please arrive on time or early.) The quizzes will be on paper.

The September 29 quiz will be an on-paper quiz having three parts:

  1. Excel: Given a picture of a portion of an Excel spreadsheet, you will be expected to write appropriate formulas for the specified cells. The formulas will involve some of the functions that have been covered in lab and/or in tutorial material. These may include SUM, COUNT, AVERAGE, MIN, MAX, and the various functions involving dates. They may also include the basic arithmetic operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division). There may also be some fill-in-the-blanks and/or multiple choice questions about various different ways of subtracting dates (simple subtraction, DAYS360, YEARFRAC with default basis, YEARFRAC with basis = 1) to get the length of a time interval in days or years. Also you will need to know the difference between absolute and relative addressing of cells (e.g. $A$2 vs. A2).
  2. To prepare for the Excel part of the quiz, you will need practice using all the above-named functions and features. To that end, it is recommended that you not only do the homework but also play with examples in the Excel tutorials for all three weeks up to now.

  3. Scratch: There will be some fill-in-the-blanks and/or multiple choice problems involving Scratch. To prepare, review the assignments you did these past few weeks, and then read the Scratch Wiki pages linked here. Know the Scratch-specific meanings of the terms "sprite", "costume", "script", "block", and "block palette", and be prepared to answer basic questions about specific blocks similar to the ones you used in the assignmnets during the first three weeks. Also, be prepared to answer fill-in-the-blanks or multiple choice questions about the differences between vector graphics and raster (a.k.a. bitmap) graphics, about which see tutorials listed here as well as here
  4. Computer basics: There will be some fill-in-the-blanks and/or multiple choice questions about the section on Binary numbers in the tutorial Some basics of how computers work. Make sure you understand what binary numbers are and their role in computers. You will likely be asked to convert a small binary (base 2) number to a small decimal (base 10) number, or vice versa. You will likely also be asked to convert a small binary number to or from its hexadecimal (base 16) equivalent. Also, make sure you understand the meaning of all the terminology that appears in boldface type within that section of the tutorial. There may be fill-in-the-blanks or multiple choice questions about these terms.


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Study guide for paper Quiz 2, to be given March 1, 2020

The March 1 quiz will be an on-paper quiz having two or three parts, covering the following topics:

  1. Excel: Given a picture of a portion of an Excel spreadsheet, you will be expected to write appropriate formulas for the specified cells. The formulas will involve some of the functions that have been covered in class and/or in tutorial material. These may include SUM, COUNT, AVERAGE, MIN, MAX, and especially the IF function. They may also include the basic arithmetic operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division), plus the relational operators, (such as  < ,  > ,  <= , and  >= ),  which we've often seen used within logical expressions. Also you will need to know the difference between absolute and relative addressing of cells (e.g. $A$2 vs. A2), and you will need to know the date functions we covered in class (the DATE, TODAY, YEARFRAC (with and without the "basis" parameter), and DAYS360 functions, and the use of simple subtraction to compute the number of days between two dates). Make sure you know how to use both literal text values and literal numeric values within a formula. (A literal text value within a formula needs to be enclosed in quotes, whereas a literal numeric value must not be enclosed in quotes.)
  2. To prepare for the quiz, you will need practice using all the above-named functions. To that end, it is recommended that you not only do the homework but also play with examples in the Excel tutorials for all four weeks up to now. Make sure, especially, that you get practice with IF function.

  3. Scratch: There will be some fill-in-the-blanks and/or multiple choice problems involving Scratch. Know the Scratch-specific meanings of the terms "sprite", "costume", "script", "block", "block palette", and "variable," and be prepared to answer basic questions about specific blocks similar to the ones you used in the assignmnets during the first four weeks. Especially, be prepared to answer questions pertaing to if/then blocks and/or if/then/else blocks. Also, be prepared to answer questions about the use of variables to keep track of data. Review all the exercises you've done so far, and make a note of the various blocks you have used under the following categories on the block palette: "Events", "Control", "Looks", "Motion", "Operators", and "Data". In your Scratch window, examine and play with a wide variety of blocks (not just the ones you've used in exercises) in each of these categories, enough to give yourself a memorable feel for (1) what each category is all about, and (2) which kinds of blocks belong in each category.
  4. Computer basics: There will be some fill-in-the-blanks and/or multiple choice questions about whatever parts of the following tutorial we have time to cover in class this week: Some basics of how computers work. Again you will likely be asked to convert a small binary (base 2) number to a small decimal (base 10) number, or vice versa. You will likely also be asked to convert a small binary number to or from its hexadecimal (base 16) equivalent.
  5. Also there will likely be some fill-in-the-blanks or multiple choice questions about the more common ways by which numbers, text, and colors are stored in a computer's memory. For example: (1) Know the general differences between integers and floating-point numbers and how they are stored. Know that floating-point numbers are stored as a binary equivalent of base 10 scientific notation, with a sign bit, an exponent, and a mantissa. (2) As for characters, know that ASCII stores characters as 7-bit binary codes, whereas UCS-2 (a subset of Unicode) stores characters as 16-bit binary codes, of which the first 128 codes represent the same characters as the ASCII codes with the same numeric values. (3) Make sure you understand the basics of RGB color codes. You will be expected recognize the hexadecimal RGB codes for the following colors in particular: white (FFFFFF), black (000000), red (FF0000), green (00FF00), blue (0000FF), and yellow (FFFF00).


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Study guide for paper Quiz 3, to be given March 8, 2020

On Sunday, March 8, we will have our usual brief (20 minutes or so) quiz at the beginning of class. (Please arrive on time or early.) It will be an on-paper quiz with Excel problems somewhat similar to last week's Excel quiz problem, but probably more challenging.

To prepare for the Excel part of the quiz, you will need practice using all the functions we've covered so far (listed in the previous two study guides), plus AND and OR. To that end, it is recommended that you not only do the homework but also play with examples in the Excel tutorials for all five weeks up to now. Make sure, especially, that you get practice with IF, AND, and OR functions, including nested IF functions and other possible combinatons of IF functions. You will likely also be expected to know how to use date functions (DATE, TODAY, YEARFRAC, and DAYS360) and how to compute the difference in actual days between dates via simple subtraction. All other Excel functions and other Excel features that have been covered so far will be fair game too.

There will also be one or more multiple-choice and/or fill-in-the-blanks questions. Likely Excel topics covered include the Excel date functions and the difference between absolute and relative cell references.

Besides Excel, there will be some fill-in-the-blanks and/or multiple choice problems involving Scratch. Know the Scratch-specific meanings of the terms "sprite", "costume", "script", "block", "block palette", and "variable," and be prepared to answer basic questions about specific blocks similar to the ones you used in the assignmnets during the first five weeks. Review all the exercises you've done so far, and make a note of the various blocks you have used under various categories of the block palette. In your Scratch window, examine and play with a wide variety of blocks in each category, enough to give yourself a memorable feel for (1) what each category is all about, and (2) which kinds of blocks belong in each category.


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Study guide for paper Quiz 4, to be given March 15, 2020

THIS QUIZ WAS CANCELED due to the CoViD-19 crisis. However, the material mentioned below is still fair game for subsequent quizzes, and for the final exam.

Quiz 6, to be given on Sunday, March 15, was going to include the following:

To prepare for the Excel part of the quiz, the main thing you will need is practice using all the above-named Excel functions -- not just using them in a spreadsheets, but also thinking through various problems involving them. To that end, it is recommended that you play with examples in the tutorials. Make sure, especially, that you are comfortable with with nested IF functions and logical expressions involving AND and OR. Among other things, be prepared to recognize what kinds of nested IF expressions can be converted to simpler IF expressions using AND and OR. At the same time, learn to recognize and avoid unnecessarily complicated, redundant logical tests within a nested IF or within an IFS).

To prepare for the database portion of the quiz, review your notes from last week's class and read the database tutorials. It is also recommended that you do Google searches on each of the database terms in conjuction with the word "database," i.e. do searches on "database record," "database key," etc.


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Study guide for online open-book quiz 1, to be given April 5, 2020

Instead of on-paper quizzes, there will now be a class participation grade based on your participation in our online class via Zulip chat.

For each week starting on March 29, half of your class participation grade will be based in your participation, during the first half hour, in what will essentially be an open-book quiz on previously-covered material. During that time, you will be asked questions in the "class session" stream that you will be asked to answer in your private stream. Because this is an open-book quiz, the questions will be more in-depth and require more thinking than the kinds of questions you were asked on the paper quizzes.

Every topic previously mentioned in the Quiz 4 study guide should also be considered fair game, because on-paper Quiz 4 was cancelled due to the CoViD-19 crisis.


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Study guide for online open-book quiz 2, to be given April 12, 2020

Online quiz 2, to be given on Sunday, April 12, will include the following:


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Study guide for online open-book quiz 3, to be given April 19, 2020

Online quiz 3 to be given on Sunday, April 19, will include the following:


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Study guide for online open-book quiz 4, to be given April 26, 2020

The April 26 quiz will be an online quiz, similar to the last two quizzes, and will include the following.

  1. Excel: There will be one or more spreadsheet problems involving VLOOKUP, and there will be one or more spreadsheet problems involving one or more of the previously-covered Excel functions, possibly including the decision-making functions (IF, AND, OR, COUNTIF, SUMIF, and AVERAGEIF), the date functions (DATE, TODAY, DAYS360, YEARFRAC), and/or other functions (LARGE, SMALL, SUM, COUNT, AVERAGE, MIN, MAX). There may also be another Goal Seek problem. There may also be fill-in-the-blanks questions about various other Excel features we have studied so far.

    About half of the quiz will be devoted to Excel.

  2. Websites, WinSCP, and Unix file permissions: There will be some fill-in-the-blanks and/or multiple-choice questions about Unix file permissions as you encountered them via WinSCP or FileZilla. Make sure you understand what "read" (R), "write" (W), and "execute" (X) permissions mean for both regular files (including HTML files) and directories/folders, and make sure you are aware of the three categories of users ("owner," "group," and "others") for whom permissions are set. Also make sure you understand the rationale for the recommended permissions for HTML files and the folders/directories that contain them, either directly or indirectly. For example, make sure you understand how the web server program gets treated as a user, and what permissions it does and does not need. (See the relevant tutorial.)

  3. Programming concepts: There will be some fill-in-the-blanks and/or multiple choice questions about Scratch, similar those in the quiz two weeks ago.

  4. Databases: There will be one or more fill-in-the-blanks and/or multiple choice questions about database terminology. See last week's study guides for the list of terms covered so far.

  5. Wordpress categories and tags: There will be one or more fill-in-the-blanks or multiple choice questions about Wordpress categories and/or tags. Know that categories and tags are both ways of grouping your posts, and linking to those groups, to make it easier for readers to find posts on your blog. Know that categories are intended to be similar to a table of contents whereas tags are intended to be similar to an index.


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Study guide for online open-book quiz 5, to be given May 3, 2020

The May 3 quiz will be an online quiz including the following:

  1. There will be some Excel problems, which may involve any of the topics covered so far. Be especially prepared for problems involving the financial functions PMT, PV, and FV, and problems involving the logical functions (IF, AND, OR) including nested or otherwise multiple IF, and functions using criteria (CountIF, SumIF, and AverageIF). Also be prepared for problems involving VLookup, the LARGE and SMALL functions, the date-related functions ((DATE, TODAY, DAYS360, YEARFRAC, and the use of simple subtraction to get a time interval in actual days). The questions will include at least one problem in which you are asked to write an appropriate formula to accomplish some particular calculation. The questions may also include fill-in-the-blanks and/or multiple choice questions.

    There may also be some short-answer essay questions (no more than a sentence or two) and/or fill-in-the-blanks or multiple-choice questions about the financial functions, including the time unit conversions that are often needed.

  2. There will probably be a few fill-in-the-blanks and/or multiple choice questions about the Microsoft Word features covered in this week's tutorials: automatically generated table of contents, citations, and bibliography.

  3. There will also be some questions about the following tutorial:   The components of most websites. These questions might include some short-answer essay questions (no more than a sentence or two) as well as fill-in-the-blanks and/or multiple choice questions.


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Study guide for online open-book quiz 6, to be given May 10, 2020

The May 10 quiz will be an online quiz containing the following:

There will be some spreadsheet problems involving string (text) concatenation in Excel. You will be asked to write Excel formulas that may involve string concatenation, and there will likely also be some multiple-choice and/or fill-in-the-blanks questions involving string concatenation in Scratch as well as Excel.

Make sure you understand the following similarities and differences amongst the Excel and Scratch versions of string (text) concatenation: (1) Excel uses the '&' operator (or the CONCATENATE function), whereas Scratch uses the "join" block in the "Operators" category of the block palette. (2) Both Excel and Scratch can automatically convert non-string values to strings before concatenating them (but be aware that many programming languages do NOT do this automatically, but instead require all the concatenated values to be strings already, thus requiring the programmer to explicitly convert numeric or other non-string values to strings before concatenating them). (3) Even in Excel, outside the context of string concatenation, automatic conversion of strings (text values) to numeric values does not necessarily happen in every context where a novice Excel user might expect it to happen. (You might have run into this issue when doing homework, e.g. when doing the HW 7 salesforce problem, if you computed the rank as text values rather than numeric values and then tried to use them as numbers in the summary table.)

There also will be one or more spreadsheet problems involving Excel's COUNTIF, SUMIF, and AVERAGEIF functions. Make sure you understand the greater flexibility that string concatenation gives you when using these functions. Remember that the criterion, when NOT an exact match, is a string containing special characters, e.g. a string such as  ">100"  which begins with a comparison operater. Such a string can be created using string concatenation, rather than just using a single string literal. Only with string concatenation can, for example, a SUMIF function have the ability to sum all the values in a range that are greater than the value in some specified cell.

There will also be one or more other spreadsheet problems, which may involve any of the other Excel topics covered so far. Be especially prepared for problems involving the LARGE and SMALL functions and the financial functions PMT, PV, and FV. Also be prepared for problems involving VLookup, the date-related functions ((DATE, TODAY, DAYS360, YEARFRAC, and the use of simple subtraction to get a time interval in actual days), and the logical functions (IF, AND, OR) including nested or otherwise multiple IF. The questions may include fill-in-the-blanks and/or multiple choice questions and/or a problem in which you are asked to write an appropriate formula to accomplish some particular calculation.

Regarding Scratch, you may be shown a script and asked questions about what it does and/or how it could be changed to do some other thing. You might be asked which block is needed to perform some task, and/or what needs to be put in the holes of said block. Such questions may involve any of the blocks you are likely to have used in the homework assignments, if you did them correctly.

There will also be some multiple-choice and fill-in-the-blanks questions about the contents of both of the tutorials The components of most websites and Some basics of how computers work. Any part of these tutorials is fair game, including number base conversions, RGB color codes, and binary representations of numbers and text, which were covered earlier in the semester and which you should review. You will be expected to recognize (or easily look up) the hexadecimal RGB codes for the colors listed in the tutorial here. There will also be one or more number base conversion problems as well as questions about various other topics covered in these tutorials.

New topics covered in Some basics of how computers work that are fair game on the quiz include: amounts of memory, disk space, and time; categorization of computers by size; "Moore's law"; primary vs. secondary storage (e.g. RAM vs. disk); other computer hardware components; input and output devices; the system "bus" (and its three component "buses") connecting all the computer's hardware components and the I/O devices together; hardware vs. software; and types of software. Make sure you understand the differences between primary and secondary storage, and make sure you understand what "Moore's Law" is and why it has been slowing down lately. Be sure you understand the meanings of all words emphasized (bolded and undrlined, or bolded and italicized) in the tutorials.

Regarding The components of most websites, the topics you will be responsible for include: the relationship between the Internet and the World Wide Web, the three network models, static vs. dynamic content; front end vs. back end; the various languages that can be used on a website (including programming vs. non-programming languages and front end vs. back end languages); and the use of a database as part of the back end on many websites.


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Study guide for the final exam, to be given May 17, 2020

The final exam will be given on Sunday, May 17.

As agreed to in class, the final exam will be given at 3:00 PM, rather than our usual class time of 1:00 PM. At 1:00 PM there will be a last-minute question-and-answer session.

The final exam will cover all the material covered on all the quizzes, plus a few other matters mentioned in previous quiz study guides though they did not appear on the actual quizzes themselves, plus new material covered this week. The final exam will have more short-answer essay questions than the quizzes did, although the final exam will also have Excel formula problems and fill-in-the-blanks and multiple choice questions similar to the quizzes. At least 50% of the final exam will consist of problems very similar (in both subject matter and type of problem) to those on the quizzes (especially the quizzes given during the latter half of the semester). At most 10% will deal with new material covered this week.

The new material covered this week pertains to Microsoft Word's Mail Merge feature. The questions on this topic will be either fill-in-the-blanks or multiple choice.

Regarding Mail Merge, make sure you understand what Mail Merge is, what it does, how to use it, and how Mail Merge uses a single-table database, typically an "address book." For example, you should know that, in a form letter created via mail merge, the special blanks that get automatically filled in from the address book (or other database table) are called "fields," and you shoukd know that each Mail Merge field gets filled in from the corresponding field of the database table. Also, you should know that each personalized copy of the form letter is filled in from a record in the database table.

To prepare for the remainder of the exam, review all your past quizzes (or at least the ones from tha latter part of the semester) and review everything else you were asked to review in all the quiz study guides (including the ones from earlier in the semester).

About Excel:  Approximately half the exam wil likely consist of Excel spreadsheet problems. If you've been having difficulty with the Excel problems on the quizzes, it is strongly recommeded that you re-read various tutorials on problem-solving skills (including the Week 1 tutorials on math word problems, the Week 5 tutorials on Excel including problem-solving with multiple IF functions, and the Week 5 tutorials on algorithmic problem-solving skills) and apply some of those methods to the Excel problems on your old quizzes. DON'T just look at the correct answers I gave you, but try, first, to solve the problems yourself again, WITHOUT looking at the corrected answers, but using problem-solving methodology. In addition to reading the problem-solving tutorials, you should also review your notes on the Excel functions we covered in class and review your homework and the feedback you recieved on it. Then try to solve the old quiz problems yourself, and only THEN look at the corrected answers.

Regarding the tutorial on Some basics of how computers work:

  1. Any of the bolded or underlined words, anywhere in the tutorial, is fair game for a fill-in-the-blanks or multiple-choice question.
  2. Make sure you understand what binary numbers are and their role in computers. There may be a few number-base conversion problems (binary to and from decimal, binary to and from hexadecimal).
  3. You will be expected to understand the basics of RGB color codes, and to recognize (or be easily able to look up) the hexadecimal RGB codes for the specific colors listed in the tutorial.
  4. Make sure you understand the differences between primary and secondary storage.
  5. Make sure you understand what "Moore's Law" is and why it has been slowing down lately.
  6. Make sure you understand what "buses" (the "system bus" and its component "buses") and a "motherboard" are on a computer.

You should also review the tutorial on The components of most websites. In that tutorial, every word in bold italics is fair game for a fill-in-the-blanks question. There will likely be some multiple-choice questions on other aspects of the tutorial. Among other things, know the difference between static and dynamic content, and between front end and back end. Know which languages are programming languages and which are not, and know which languages are (primarily) front end languages and which are (primarily) back end languages.

About data types:  You will be expected to understand the concept of data types, as we encountered them both on the machine level (see the sections on binary representations of various kinds of data in the tutorial on Some basics of how computers work) and on a higher software level in Excel and Access.

In particular, make sure you understand the ways we used strings (text values). Know what string concatentation is and how we used it both in Excel and Scratch, and make sure you understand the use of special characters in criteria for the COUNTIF, SUMIF, and AVERAGEIF functions in Excel. Also, make sure you understand the difference between a number and the string representation of that number.

Also, make sure you understand Excel logical values, as we used them with the IF, AND, and OR functions. Make sure you understand both their similarities to and their differences from the criteria used in the COUNTIF, SUMIF, and AVERAGEIF functions.

About various other topics:  You will be expected to answer questions about database terminology. You will be expected to write the HTML for a very simple web page, as in the quiz problem. You will be expected to understand Unix file permissions as we used them in WinSCP or FileZilla. You will be expected to answer a few questions about any of the Microsoft Word features we covered in class (and/or that you were specifically required to use in Draft 4 of the paper), and about Wordpress. There will likely also be some questions about Scratch, based on things we did in the Scratch homework assignments and based on various aspects of Scratch we discussed in class (e.g. its logical and comparison operators, and vector vs. bitmap graphics). Questions on all these topics may include short-answer essay questions as well as fill-in-the-blanks and multiple choice.


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Last semester's quiz and exam study guides

D. Nixon: CS 12 > Quizzes & Exam