Programming Challenges

The A451 exam paper often had questions requiring students to produce an algorithm. For instance:


Questions follow that test understanding of key constructs and/or ability to construct a flow chart or algorithm.

I have been through all the A451 past papers and pulled them out and turned them into practical programming challenges to complete in lessons. They can be found here: GCSE Programing Challenges

So the example in the exam paper above now looks like a programming card like so:


In most cases I have added things to stretch and challenge including:

  • Functions
  • Iteration
  • Error Handling
  • Reading and Writing to a CSV file

The aim of this was to a) improve application of programming skills and have some challenge to use as practice but b) through this practical experience improve students ability to be able to answer these types of questions.

I usually use these in the Spring Term of Year 10. The Autumn term is usually used to give students the chance to acquire and practice all the skills and constructs (input, output, variables, constants, data types, sequence, selection, iteration, error handling, functions, string manipulation, file handling) before moving onto these challenges in the Spring. In the Summer we moved onto SQL and the practice NEA tasks.

I print three copies of each challenge onto card and place in the middle of the room and students come out select a challenge, solve it and then move onto another. I try and guide them which to do as some are harder than others.

As help they have all their past work from the Autumn term, help resources and videos for different programming constructs on the networked shared area, this Programming Code Bible and then some resources as show here (Programming Challenges Resources) that have a PowerPoint including a video of the intended output to help students visualise what the program needs to be able to do, and also what the csv file might look like once data is output. This folder also contains python solutions to each problem. I try not to give students the code initially. This folder is now ready and available for students resource bank in September.

Let me know what you think

Other posts you may be interested in: Resource: GCSE Computer Science Revision

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