Mapping model exam questions to content statements

  • sthomsonar

    In response to a letter to the SQA expressing concern about the lack of detail in the content statements, I have been advised that the Specimen Paper, Exemplar Paper and Past Papers should all be used to ascertain ‘the types of things that we ask and how we ask them’. Having spent some time mapping questions to content statements, there are a number of things that appear in the BrightRed Study Guide, Scholar and the Hodder Gibson Model Practice Papers that I think may go beyond the course. I wondered whether anyone would be willing to comment on my list below. The things I think we probably do not need to prepare pupils to expect in a Higher Computing Science exam include:

    • The calculation of the maximum amount of addressable memory on a system (as per old course)
    • The steps involved in a memory read and memory write operation
    • Questions which require an understanding or use of the term ‘scalable’
    • Questions which require knowledge of the differences between corrective, perfective and adaptive maintenance
    • Questions which require an understanding or use of the term ‘run length encoding’
    • Questions which require an understanding or use of the term ‘alpha testing’
    • Questions which require knowledge or use of the terms used to describe the layers of the operating system (as per the old course)
    • Questions which require an understanding or use of the term ‘interframe compression’

    As someone who never taught the old IS course, I find the following difficult to map to the content statements and they don’t appear in either the Specimen Paper or the Exemplar paper:

    • The calculation of sampling frequencies for sound files
    • The storage requirement for a video file

    The Exemplar Paper includes the following things that are difficult to map to the content statements but as they have been published in the Exemplar Paper seemingly do need to be taught:

    • Recognition of rules and facts within blocks of Prolog code
    • The ability to recognise and draw Entity Relationship Diagrams


    Tony Harkins

    Hi Andrew

    I’ve tried to trawl through the three available papers to know exactly what to teach. I’ve emailed the SQA to make sure that some of my assumptions are correct and I’m waiting for a response.

    I am assuming that anything that is mentioned explicitly in AH cannot be asked at Higher therefore, in the waterfall model of software development, we don’t need to go into as much detail as in the old higher.

    For example, component, integrative, beta (acceptance) and final testing is AH only so no need to discuss alpha testing. Evaluation criteria mentioned at AH are usability, efficiency, effectiveness(goal-tracking), reliability and robustness so these terms should not appear at Higher. The three types of maintenance come at AH so no need to teach them at Higher.

    However, I don’t think we can assume all of the rest since the course assessment specification mentions terms without giving us the detail of what might be asked.

    For example, we were asked in 2015 to describe a method of compressing video files. Therefore, I think we might, in the future, be asked to describe how bitmapped graphics and audio files are compressed. They won’t mention RLE or LZW explicitly but the principles might be required.

    Similarly, we had to calculate video file size in 2015 so I’d expect a graphic or audio file size question to be possible.

    I have still taught memory read and write as this seems the logical extension to N5 for computer architecture although most questions have focused on cache memory.

    Operating systems are mentioned under Technical Implementation(software requirements) and the 2015 paper asked about levels of access so who knows what might be asked?

    To summarise, no one really knows as the assessment specification lacks the detail that can be found in Graphic Comms, Physics etc.

    I’ll try and upload my course content document with detail I’ve added from the papers we have seen.



    This is brilliant, thanks very much.
    I’ve been struggling with the same thing. I am not sure there was such a correlation between the N5 model papers and the final exams but I may be wrong!

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