Pseudocode – mandatory

  • Chris Aitken

    My students are asking me if they will be penalised if they don’t use the appropriate terminology when using pseudocode in the exam.
    For example:
    SEND “hello” TO DISPLAY
    they wrote as PRINT “hello”

    What are your thoughts? Is it mentioned somewhere in the pseudocode specification document and I’ve missed it?


    As I understand it the Haggis pseudocode is to be used as a standard way of presenting pseudocode to students, not for them to have to use when answewring questions.

    Chris Aitken

    Brilliant – thanks Ian!

    Lee Murray

    That’s also how I understand it. Quintin Cutts explicitly stated at a CPD event I attended that no pupil will be expected to write exact Haggis pseudocode, but that they can write any style of pseudocode they want. He clarified that Haggis will be used in questions, but is not expected in answers.

    Peter W Donaldson

    Hi everyone,

    just to clarify, pupils can answer code writing questions in whatever programming language they’ve been taught in. Haggis pseudocode is a standard reference language for examiners setting code understanding questions so the style of pseudocode doesn’t vary from year to year as it’s done in the past and because examiners don’t know which languages pupils will be familiar with.

    If it states in a question “write the answer in a language with which you are familiar with” I’d expect most students to be writing their answer in VB 6.0, VB.NET, TrueBasic, COMAL, Pascal, Python 2 or 3, Livecode, Java, Javascript or any other programming language their teacher has used to teach the basic CS concepts.


    But would an answer in Haggis be accepted? (I think it should be. It’s not a programming language as such but it has a syntax)


    Sean Stratton

    Ian I would say that Haggis should not be accepted in a question that requires an implementation only in a question that requires a design. If we start accepting designs for implementation then we would be shooting ourselves in the foot.
    Peter your answer relates to question where they are given the pseudocode and expected to create a program?

    I have started teaching Haggis, if only to stop the students from becoming confused when they see it written. However, I will not be enforcing its rigour when marking the questions. As long as it’s a working design I would think that it is acceptable?


    Greg Reid

    The rigour of Haggis is to ensure that pupils (and staff) don’t meet anything unexpected in the exam.
    If we are testing a pupil’s ability to think through a problem (computationally) and define a solution, does it matter whether their answer is given in Haggis or a programming language? I would say no.
    With this in mind Sean I would agree with you that to answer with perfect Haggis Syntax is also unimportant. Equally, would it matter if an answer in program code had a comma missing. I would like to think that’s not what we’re testing.


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