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As Someone Who Failed CPSC 110, Here's My Advice

Published by The LingoNomad

on February 24, 2021

This post is the icing on top of my 3-part series on failing CPSC 110 at UBC. If you want to read my other 2 posts, here they are, perhaps you could find some useful information sprinkled throughout my experience:

Requoting what I wrote in one of the posts above, I think I should reiterate that CPSC 110 is often branded as a course that those without any programming experience could manage.

Do not believe it.

I may be wrong and totally biased, but whatever the case...

As a student, it is TO YOUR BENEFIT to treat CPSC 110 with skepticism so that you tread on it carefully.

Anyways, here's a list of my advice. Essentially, try preparing yourself excessively before taking the course.

  1. Versions of the course are available online through edX, scour through them, go through the course, and learn them beforehand before you decide to enrol in the course. Google CPSC 110 edX and there should be some course material you can try your hands on. You'd probably even find some past course descriptions so you can get more familiar with the course before taking it.

  2. Past exams are legally available online, courtesy of UBC CSSS (UBC Computer Science Society). Link to UBC Computer Science Exams Database: You can certainly try them out and gauge how comfortable you are with the material, whether before taking the course, or before taking actual midterms and finals if you are already in the course.

  3. CPSC 110 is a content-heavy and practice-heavy course. Perhaps don't take it in your very first term as there are a lot of (unexpected) adjustments you may have to go through as you enter a new learning environment, or in a new city even, for some of you.

  4. If you are really uneasy about taking CPSC 110, alternatively, you might want to take CPSC 103 + CPSC 107 instead, as the combination of these two courses are considered equivalent to CPSC 110. CPSC 103 teaches Python, and CPSC 107 teaches you DrRacket. Failure rates in these two courses are much lower in comparison to those in CPSC 110.

  5. In the post I wrote here, I gave a breakdown of CPSC 110 course components and I also wrote some notes on what I should have done better. The thing is, when I actually took the course, I did feel like I already did what I could. It's not easy to actually do I what I wrote I should have done better when I was also juggling other courses at the same time. Having to learn and relearn materials and actually get comfortable with it and eventually to click with it—this would all take time and it would likely be too late to do all of these once you are (past) mid point through the course. So the takeaway is, prepare yourself excessively before taking the course.

Over and Out

Well, that's about what I could think of for now. I have to say though, this list of advice are mostly geared towards students with no programming experience with DrRacket or any other programming languages.

I'm aware that a lot of students also do well in the course, as they could net an easy >90% in the course, but then again, many don't and even fail. Whichever category of students you turn out to be, I hope this post helps.

Your Turn

  • If you have taken or are currently taking CPSC 110, how much do you agree or disagree with this post?
  • What advice would you give to someone who is about to take the course?

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