FAQ: Introductory Computer Science Courses
A typical computer science major takes the CMSC 201, CMSC 202 and
CMSC 341 (Data Structures) sequence to learn programming. However,
this may not be the right sequence of courses for everyone. This
is an informal guide to help you place yourself in the correct
course. If you have further questions or would like advice about
your specific situation, please ask your instructor.
Q: Should I take CMSC 104 or CMSC 201?
A: Students are required to have some programming experience before
taking CMSC 201. So, if you haven't done any programming, the answer
is simple: take CMSC 104. If you have written programs before, then you
can take CMSC 201 if you have mastered programming using loops, if
statements and either lists or arrays. Your programming experience need
not have been in Python - at this level, you should be able to convert
your programming skills from say Java to Python quite readily. If you are
not comfortable with this idea, you should take CMSC 104. You should also
consult the "CMSC 104 Checklist" to determine whether your experience is
equivalent to CMSC 104.
Q: I took a computer class in high school/community college, is it
equivalent to CMSC 201?
A: This depends a lot on what was covered in the class and how well
you mastered the material that was covered. Consult the "CMSC 201
Checklist". You should be able to check off the vast majority of
those items before proceeding to CMSC 202. Furthermore, you should
be comfortable with the idea of learning the items that you have not
checked off on your own.
Q: I've had many semesters of programming experience, which course
should I take?
A: This is a difficult question. If you have programmed in Python,
then you should refer to the checklists to determine where you stand.
It might even be the case that you are ready for CMSC 341. However, the
material in CMSC 202 and in CMSC 341 is quite challenging. So, it may
also be the case that you have had several semesters of programming,
but have yet to master the material in CMSC 202. In that case, you
should take CMSC 202.
Q: If I want an easy "A", shouldn't I just take CMSC 104?
A: CMSC 104 is designed for students who haven't had any programming
experience. If you already have substantial programming experience,
then you can get an easy "A" in CMSC 104, because it only covers
material that you already know. On the other hand, you can also get
an "A" by repeating the 3rd grade. The point is that taking CMSC 104
just to get an easy "A" is not going to prepare you for CMSC 201. In
fact, doing so will be detrimental to your work habits and you will
have a rough time when you have to work hard to keep up with CMSC 201,
CMSC 202 and CMSC 341.
CMSC 104, CMSC 201 and CMSC 202 Checklist
You can use the following checklists to help you determine whether
you have programming experience that is equivalent to students who
have taken CMSC 104, CMSC 201 and CMSC 202 at UMBC. You should check
off a concept or skill below only if you are able to incorporate it
in a programming project with little or no help.
CMSC 104 Checklist: You have programming experience that is
equivalent to CMSC 104, if you have the following skills and
understand the following concepts in some high-level programming
o Boolean expressions o writing pseudocode
o simple data types o if statements
o arrays or lists o for loops and while loops
o functional/procedural o writing functions
CMSC 201 Checklist: You have programming experience that is
equivalent to CMSC 201, if you have the following skills and
understand the following concepts, in addition to those
listed above for CMSC 104.
o functional/procedural o writing functions, importing
o top-down design o character and string handling
o libraries o file I/O
o abstract data types o using classes
o recursion o writing recursive functions
o searching and sorting o linked lists, stacks and queues
CMSC 202 Checklist: You have programming experience that is
equivalent to CMSC 202, if you have the following skills and
understand the concepts shown in Java, in addition to those
listed above for CMSC 104 and CMSC 201.
o oject-oriented o classes
programming o constructors
o inheritance o destructors
o polymorphism o operator overloading
o exceptions o iterators
o templates o STL
last modified on Sunday, 23-Jan-2011 12:46:38 EST