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How good is OCR AS/A Level Computer Science (H046, H446) (from 2015)? Watch

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    A link to the course that I'm referring to: http://www.ocr.org.uk/qualifications...446-from-2015/

    I'm currently in Year 11 (doing my GCSEs), and am deciding what subjects I'll be doing for my AS/A levels. I want to take Maths, Further Maths, Physics and another subject, which would either be Computing or Spanish. I also wish to study Computer Science at university, but if this AS/A level course is bad, then I'm completely happy with studying Spanish instead.

    Can anyone who is taking this new Computer Science course for AS/A level give me their opinions of it?
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    Hey, im in year 12 currently doing this exact subject combination and personally I'm really enjoying it. I like you want to do comp. sci. at university, and I do have to admit that a lot of unis don't see it as a particularly useful course, but heres why... Basically if you look at the older spec they did very little (compared to ours like none) programming in the AS level and then they had the coursework at A2, but as I have seen from friends doing that currently you can get a decent mark (like a B maybe an A) without having a very complicated program.

    However, the new spec is a lot better, it's not perfect with still a fair bit of 'wishy-washy' stuff about ethics and that, but it is a serious improvement and will help likely help you at uni.

    Though, pro-tip before picking in it talk to some people at your preferred sixth form taking it and not just at the open day (maybe you could ask for an e-mail to ask more questions or something) and really try to get a feel for the department because I have heard too many horror stories about computing teachers in the country and it is a subject where a good teacher makes soo much difference as there aren't many good resources out there for it.

    Hope this helps, if you have any more questions fire away
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    (Original post by AlexTheGreat!)
    Hey, im in year 12 currently doing this exact subject combination and personally I'm really enjoying it. I like you want to do comp. sci. at university, and I do have to admit that a lot of unis don't see it as a particularly useful course, but heres why... Basically if you look at the older spec they did very little (compared to ours like none) programming in the AS level and then they had the coursework at A2, but as I have seen from friends doing that currently you can get a decent mark (like a B maybe an A) without having a very complicated program.

    However, the new spec is a lot better, it's not perfect with still a fair bit of 'wishy-washy' stuff about ethics and that, but it is a serious improvement and will help likely help you at uni.

    Though, pro-tip before picking in it talk to some people at your preferred sixth form taking it and not just at the open day (maybe you could ask for an e-mail to ask more questions or something) and really try to get a feel for the department because I have heard too many horror stories about computing teachers in the country and it is a subject where a good teacher makes soo much difference as there aren't many good resources out there for it.

    Hope this helps, if you have any more questions fire away
    Hi, thanks for your helpful response - I greatly appreciate it.

    Do you have to do any coursework at AS level? Do you have to write code in a programming language in the exam (not pseudocode or a flowchart)? Also, I read the new specification, and it described what you have to know very vaguely - it just listed the tops you have to know, but it doesn't say what parts or to what extent. Do you know exactly what you have to know, and if so, how did you find out? Are there revision guides that are available and follow the specification accurately and concisely without unnecessary information?

    I know they're a lot of questions, but my OCR GCSE Computing course has been dreadful because of the lack of teaching, and I'm going to end up with a high B overall at best because we started our coursework (which we had no idea about, since we hardly studied the course) so late that I wasn't allowed to finish it. So I'm sure you understand why I'd be worried about taking this course.
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    It's a shame to hear about what's happen at gcse Don't let it put you of alevel, but do take it as a warning for how bad teaching for computing can be.

    Ok, so I have been very lucky in that I have been taught by someone that actually wrote parts of the spec and one of the unit's papers and hence I have been taught the correct interpretations of everything. This is of course not the case for everyone and a lot of the resources are clearly trying to guess what is needed to be known. For example even the officially endorsed textbook is rubbish, it goes off on tangents and has really obvious mistakes. This is why I warn that you should only take it is the students at your chosen sixth form seem to enjoy it and sound like their in line for good grades.

    There is no coursework at as level, that is for the full A2. It is very similar to gcse coursework except you are expected to come up with your own project and work with a real client. If your school has bad timing with it again you can easier start early on your own, I already have part of my design written. So at alevel as you need to be more independent anyway that kinda of issue occurs a lot less.

    In the exam you are expected to code in pseudocode and they can also ask for very simple javascript and little man computer assembly code as well. The pseudocode is a jump up from the difficulty at gcse and you are expected to be a lot more precise so don't under-estimate it.

    So taking computing should maybe with a pinch of salt, not because of the subject but simply because of the lack of teachers in this country that can actually teach it well (I also had bad gsce teacher at my old school, one of the lovely-est people but couldn't code to save her life )
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    Hey I definitely recommend taking Computer Science for A level if you want to study it for university. I'm currently in Year 13 and i'm going to study Computer Science at uni.
    I didnt take computing last year, which i really regret. Even though it isnt a requirement for most universities, it's preferred and it'll make the first year of uni so much easier. Also some unis lower the entry requirements if you have a high grade in further maths or computer science/computing.
    I decided to do the exam for AS level in OCR Computer Science this year just so i could understand the fundamentals before i go to uni and it's not too bad. I've been self teaching myself the spec and understanding the theory was fine, it's just the coding i find quite difficult, considering i've had no past experience in it. If your teachers are not very good, there are tons of help on the internet. Codecademy is a great website to learn how to programme and craigndave on youtube will help you with the OCR spec. I just didnt spend that much time with this course as it wasn't a requirement for uni and i was just focussing on my A2 exams but it was definitely interesting to learn about.
    Hope everything goes well
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    The main resource you only really need is the official OCR Computer Science text book, it has everything you need to know in there (excluding how to programme). I answered all the theory based questions in the exam by just using the knowledge i learnt from the book so definitely just know every page inside out. The book is very text heavy so i would suggest making your own notes from it. Then just make sure you know how to code.

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Level-Compu.../dp/1471839761

    This is the link to the book i was talking about.
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    Currently doing this course (in year 12), the theory is mainly GCSE but with slightly more detail. There's a bit more content in the form of data structures, bit more on the binary maths, boolean algebra. So the theory of this course is pretty easy but do beware that you will only have 1 past paper to work from (we have none!) when it comes down to revising for it in Year 13.
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    I'm also doing Maths, Further Maths, Physics and Computer Science and can only echo what's above. The F451/2 past papers (from the previous spec.) are also useful for revision.

    Regardless of what you choose, you'll enjoy your subjects if you're motivated - enjoying them is halfway to doing well in them

    P.s. I'll also be putting a revision guide that I've made for H046 on Amazon sometime after my CompSci exams (the last of which is in three hours...). #Sellout
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    Doing the first year currently, from my experience it is a huge step up from GCSE IT/Computing.

    (Original post by AlexTheGreat!)
    However, the new spec is a lot better, it's not perfect with still a fair bit of 'wishy-washy' stuff about ethics and that, but it is a serious improvement and will help likely help you at uni.
    Personally, this guy seems a little cocky with the subject. It's very heavily underworked on. The textbook that supports the course is really bad, weak and nothing compared to the AQA side. The support is still behind.

    We are waiting for more resources on the topic, yet OCR have decided to only start publishing them now towards the end of our AS levels.

    Personally, I would say take it, but in a few years when the course has more material. Currently it's really badly supported. Go aqa if possible
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    (Original post by AlexTheGreat!)
    It's a shame to hear about what's happen at gcse Don't let it put you of alevel, but do take it as a warning for how bad teaching for computing can be.

    Ok, so I have been very lucky in that I have been taught by someone that actually wrote parts of the spec and one of the unit's papers and hence I have been taught the correct interpretations of everything. This is of course not the case for everyone and a lot of the resources are clearly trying to guess what is needed to be known. For example even the officially endorsed textbook is rubbish, it goes off on tangents and has really obvious mistakes. This is why I warn that you should only take it is the students at your chosen sixth form seem to enjoy it and sound like their in line for good grades.

    There is no coursework at as level, that is for the full A2. It is very similar to gcse coursework except you are expected to come up with your own project and work with a real client. If your school has bad timing with it again you can easier start early on your own, I already have part of my design written. So at alevel as you need to be more independent anyway that kinda of issue occurs a lot less.

    In the exam you are expected to code in pseudocode and they can also ask for very simple javascript and little man computer assembly code as well. The pseudocode is a jump up from the difficulty at gcse and you are expected to be a lot more precise so don't under-estimate it.

    So taking computing should maybe with a pinch of salt, not because of the subject but simply because of the lack of teachers in this country that can actually teach it well (I also had bad gsce teacher at my old school, one of the lovely-est people but couldn't code to save her life )
    Hi, thanks for your helpful response. Thank you to everyone else, too. I'll still be thinking about it, but everyone's advice has certainly helped.
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    (Original post by sanjar12345)
    Doing the first year currently, from my experience it is a huge step up from GCSE IT/Computing.



    Personally, this guy seems a little cocky with the subject. It's very heavily underworked on. The textbook that supports the course is really bad, weak and nothing compared to the AQA side. The support is still behind.

    We are waiting for more resources on the topic, yet OCR have decided to only start publishing them now towards the end of our AS levels.

    Personally, I would say take it, but in a few years when the course has more material. Currently it's really badly supported. Go aqa if possible
    completely agree with you actually, the supporting materials are pathetic. Multiple mistakes in the exam book and resources my teacher has given us. No real test resources have been made by OCR and the revision guide is the practically the textbook with the extra stuff removed.
    Don't even get me started on course content, extremely convoluted with a lot of useless things to learn just for the sake of making it a 2 year course.
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    Hi, I do computer science. I've got to admit that you need to be very good at programming or you will have a very hard time building your project at the A2 level. I would recommend you on your free time to build a small project from your interest and write a documentation about it in order to be prepared for the coursework. Unfortunately, AS level doesn't prepare you for the coursework as it should, because of its 100% theory. If you pass to A2 level and you don't know how to program well, you are screwed.

    The issue is that many people hear that the project is only programming but in reality, you need to write an evidence and explain how your program works.

    It's hell without good programming skills.

    Also, bear in mind that you can still go to university for computer science without doing A level computer science. I would not recommend it because of its bad preparation for the last year and the bad recourses. The reason I became good at programming was from self-teaching by watching youtube videos. I never learned 'real' programming at school.

    Pathetic course. Just don't choose it.
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    Anyone here who did the AS last year (grades?)? I find Computer Science extremely easy and GCSE OCR Computing piss, but I feel like I've been lulled into a false sense of security and the AS exam might surprise me. From my knowledge, the questions that come up seem to just sort of ask for the definition (obviously not directly) and the uses (which are in the textbook).
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    Can anyone tell me how the papers went? I cant access the 2016 paper. What questions were on it?
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    I don't get all this praise on this subject. The AS exam is tomorrow, here is my experience of OCR Computer Science over the last two years.

    OCR is a joke. Literally a joke. Last year, they CHANGED the SPECIFICATION literally 3 DAYS after the exam, and again in January with no indication of what was changed unless you called the exam board - about a two-week reply to say they didn't know either. The 'subject specialists' are also basically frauds. Grade boundaries were also rock-bottom, with around 40% scoring you an A - Just shows how bad the entire country was at this exam! I'm sure you've also heard about the other messed up exams they've done this year at GCSE level? God knows how this board are allowed to operate in this country.

    When it comes to the project, the average amount of time you'd get is maybe 6 months, depending on when your teacher starts it. Because of how bad last year went (Out of 12 people, only 3 gained a C or above, me not included) we wanted to confirm with the exam board with written proof that our projects were good enough to go. This is where Robert Leeman comes in. I don't know anybody in my class that didn't take the piss out of this guy, just at how slow he was to reply (two weeks on a good day!) and how utterly useless his replies were! He judged our projects all on complexity, many of the replies we get literally just saying "not complex enough" with no ideas on improvements. After we looked at the mark scheme, there was physically no mention on complexity, meaning we wasted so much time with this guy it gave us two months left to complete these projects - I basically lied my way through this with the most broken code you'll ever see to the point only one thing actually worked in it, still scored 52/70 unmoderated thanks to my write-up and 'bull shiting skills'.

    The course itself isn't too hard to learn, although I do also struggle with different aspects of it, to be expected without taking a GCSE course on computer science - my previous school did not have one. My teacher told us about a conference with Vinay Thawait, another subject specialist of the course. He didn't know what he was talking about, and apparently, no other teacher at this conference really cared too much either. When it came to questions, my teacher was the only one to actually ask anything, question after question, Thawait being utterly disinterested in anything asked and obviously wanted to just leave.

    Can I also add that this is the only exam board to offer NO PAST OR SPECIMINE PAPERS widely available to students? The only way to access anything is either through a teacher login where there is ONLY ONE EXAMPLE of each paper or through third party sources which don't know any better themselves. All I've got is a poorly-written textbook full of mistakes, grammatical errors and more...

    I don't think I've ever taken a course so unorganised, so problematic and stressful as this! It also doesn't help that this was also the first two years of it being run, another cause for disaster in this subject. I don't think I'll pass these two exams which are the most disheartening part of it all, which has limited my future and put me under a lot of pressure, something I do not want or need. Last year I scored an E. I've got 20% now done with the project complete which does help a little, now to complete two 2:30 papers and hope for the best.
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    (Original post by Michael007800)
    I don't get all this praise on this subject. The AS exam is tomorrow, here is my experience of OCR Computer Science over the last two years.

    OCR is a joke. Literally a joke. Last year, they CHANGED the SPECIFICATION literally 3 DAYS after the exam, and again in January with no indication of what was changed unless you called the exam board - about a two-week reply to say they didn't know either. The 'subject specialists' are also basically frauds. Grade boundaries were also rock-bottom, with around 40% scoring you an A - Just shows how bad the entire country was at this exam! I'm sure you've also heard about the other messed up exams they've done this year at GCSE level? God knows how this board are allowed to operate in this country.

    When it comes to the project, the average amount of time you'd get is maybe 6 months, depending on when your teacher starts it. Because of how bad last year went (Out of 12 people, only 3 gained a C or above, me not included) we wanted to confirm with the exam board with written proof that our projects were good enough to go. This is where Robert Leeman comes in. I don't know anybody in my class that didn't take the piss out of this guy, just at how slow he was to reply (two weeks on a good day!) and how utterly useless his replies were! He judged our projects all on complexity, many of the replies we get literally just saying "not complex enough" with no ideas on improvements. After we looked at the mark scheme, there was physically no mention on complexity, meaning we wasted so much time with this guy it gave us two months left to complete these projects - I basically lied my way through this with the most broken code you'll ever see to the point only one thing actually worked in it, still scored 52/70 unmoderated thanks to my write-up and '********ting skills'.

    The course itself isn't too hard to learn, although I do also struggle with different aspects of it, to be expected without taking a GCSE course on computer science - my previous school did not have one. My teacher told us about a conference with Vinay Thawait, another subject specialist of the course. He didn't know what he was talking about, and apparently, no other teacher at this conference really cared too much either. When it came to questions, my teacher was the only one to actually ask anything, question after question, Thawait being utterly disinterested in anything asked and obviously wanted to just leave.

    Can I also add that this is the only exam board to offer NO PAST OR SPECIMINE PAPERS widely available to students? The only way to access anything is either through a teacher login where there is ONLY ONE EXAMPLE of each paper or through third party sources which don't know any better themselves. All I've got is a poorly-written textbook full of mistakes, grammatical errors and more...

    I don't think I've ever taken a course so unorganised, so problematic and stressful as this! It also doesn't help that this was also the first two years of it being run, another cause for disaster in this subject. I don't think I'll pass these two exams which are the most disheartening part of it all, which has limited my future and put me under a lot of pressure, something I do not want or need. Last year I scored an E. I've got 20% now done with the project complete which does help a little, now to complete two 2:30 papers and hope for the best.
    absolutely spot on except it isn't that hard to get a high grade, there's just a high probability the paper could screw you over
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    Can I also add that when he had to upload the report and grades for our programming project, the box that the exam board gives to justify each project only allows for 20 characters? 20. WHOLE. CHARACTERS. He puts in a sentence and stops typing.

    Not gonna say him by name just in case, but he is a good teacher. Can go off on a tangent, but really tries when it comes to his students, putting in his entire budget just on our class. He wrote entire paragraphs for EACH student in our class, explaining each individual good thing we did and why we deserve our given grade. And to then just shrink it down to a sentence? Not going to happen. He, fortunately, was allowed to email the board directly which hopefully, in the long run, will improve our grades. Once it's all over, I'll also upload my project if people want to see that too and it doesn't handicap me in any way.

    Apparently, no other school he is in contact with ever messaged the exam board either with the number of problems it has. He then compared out project work with that of other schools? The amount of work we put in basically destroyed that of anyone else. Data analysis was key? So many other school projects didn't even touch on this. I feel both greatly ahead, but also heavily disadvantaged to the rest of the country thanks to this guy, great teacher.

    I'll also post my grades here too once I've got them. These last two years felt like a waste to me, I don't want anyone else to suffer the same.
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    Its a **** course, dont do it.
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    In my experience, OCR A-LEVEL COMPUTER SCIENCE IS A LOAD OF SH**!

    I have just taken 1 out of the 2 papers today and the majority of the topics in the specification (e.g. FDE cycle, databases and TCP/IP networking stuff...) were not even in the exam. The specification was also heavily misleading; OCR posted a 'subject clarification' PDF just less than a month ago which is absolutely ludicrous - this meant that books and other resources covered topics which were not even going to be tested!

    The coursework was pretty bad too - it's basically choosing a project idea which will get a good mark. In my case, I chose a quiz generator which was tedious to code and write up, but at least I got a high mark for it. The write up is by far the worst part of the course.

    There is also a lot of overlap between GCSE Computer Science and A-Level Computer Science (e.g. ROM/RAM, FDE cycle, binary/hex/denary conversion...) as GCSE is not a prerequisite for A-Level. The A-Level covers many different topics, but at a very shallow level.

    If I could go back in time, I definitely would not have picked A-Level Computer Science! I would've preferred to just research topics on my own, and create and program projects which I am genuinely interested in, such as web applications, instead of wasting 2 years... (most topics in A-Level will be covered in the 1st year of uni at a much greater depth)

    Link to OCR's brilliant specification: http://www.ocr.org.uk/Images/383613-...de-a-level.pdf
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    (Original post by N eye C)
    In my experience, OCR A-LEVEL COMPUTER SCIENCE IS A LOAD OF SH**!

    I have just taken 1 out of the 2 papers today and the majority of the topics in the specification (e.g. FDE cycle, databases and TCP/IP networking stuff...) were not even in the exam. The specification was also heavily misleading; OCR posted a 'subject clarification' PDF just less than a month ago which is absolutely ludicrous - this meant that books and other resources covered topics which were not even going to be tested!

    The coursework was pretty bad too - it's basically choosing a project idea which will get a good mark. In my case, I chose a quiz generator which was tedious to code and write up, but at least I got a high mark for it. The write up is by far the worst part of the course.

    There is also a lot of overlap between GCSE Computer Science and A-Level Computer Science (e.g. ROM/RAM, FDE cycle, binary/hex/denary conversion...) as GCSE is not a prerequisite for A-Level. The A-Level covers many different topics, but at a very shallow level.

    If I could go back in time, I definitely would not have picked A-Level Computer Science! I would've preferred to just research topics on my own, and create and program projects which I am genuinely interested in, such as web applications, instead of wasting 2 years... (most topics in A-Level will be covered in the 1st year of uni at a much greater depth)

    Link to OCR's brilliant specification: http://www.ocr.org.uk/Images/383613-...de-a-level.pdf
    I agree completely 100%
 
 
 
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