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Computing - Candidates better prepared

More candidates appear to be better prepared for Higher than previously

More candidates appear to be better prepared for Higher than previously

Higher candidates, in many cases, have a poor standard of written English, while a significant number do not read the question properly or do not answer in the right context.

"Candidates continue to give rather sparse and simplistic responses, lacking the technical detail required at Higher level," said the SQA.

Nevertheless, more candidates appear to be better prepared for Higher than previously.

At Advanced Higher, students were knowledgeable about the contents of the operational requirements document, could differentiate between the operation of stacks and queues, and demonstrated an excellent understanding of the binary search algorithm.

However, although most candidates understood the queue data structure, they were poor at applying the concepts involved to a problem-solving context and failed to grasp the use of pointers in the implementation of a queue and the efficiency of pointer management.

A number struggled with the writing of Prolog rules, while few could describe firewall rules.

"Centres should continue to encourage candidates to develop their problem- solving skills by implementing complex data structures and algorithms in a variety of contexts," said examiners.

They think candidates are improving their knowledge of object-oriented languages, but say they need to be able to compare these to other types of languages.

At Intermediate 2 level, candidates' ability to understand a variety of standard algorithms was "excellent", and the difference between a compiler and an interpreter was "well understood", as were test data tables. But teachers should beware that file suffixes such as.rtf and.txt are not acceptable answers for standard file formats; and candidates should be taught not to use trade names, eg Microsoft Word.

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