harik2014
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I'm starting Computer Science A Level in September, and I want to know if you had any advice or good resources? I'm looking for an A or A* grade.
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winterscoming
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The main thing that people tend to find 'hard' with Computer Science is the fact that it's a subject all about learning new ways of thinking. The best advice is mostly common-sense; Make sure you turn up for all the lessons, do all the assignments in good time, don't allow yourself to fall behind, and don't go looking for shorcuts because there aren't any; All of the most challenging topics require you to fullly take the time to understand the underlying concepts and practise the skills like Programming, SQL, Database Normalisation, analysing/solving problems, reading pseudocode, writing flowcharts, number conversions, tracing algorithms, etc.

There's just no quick or easy way to learn the majority of things you need for computer science. Aside from some of the theory, everything else requires you to learn problem solving methods and new ways of thinking to be able to do them. I.e. they are new skills, so you can either do it or you cant; there's no "in between"; no amount of memorisation or cramming can help.

And realistically, even a lot of the theory (e.g. Hardware and Networks) won't be easy if you just try to memorise it - you really need to understand those things at a deeper level and do more research into those concepts

In terms of more specific, a few things I can think of related to programming:
  • When learning programming, make use of Google and StackOverflow - every question you could think of about any of the main programming languages will most likely have been answered already on there. Get used to spending a lot of time writing questions into Google along the lines of "How to do XYZ in <programming language>"
  • If you're using Java or Python, then download either IntelliJ (Java) or PyCharm (Python). -- both of those have 'free' (Community Edition) versions available. Most of the time colleges get students using rubbish tools which are missing a lot of really important features that'll make your life easier and help you learn the syntax/structure of the language. (e.g. autocomplete, mouseover help, error highlighting, etc).
  • Whichever IDE you end up using (IntelliJ, PyCharm, Visual Studio, etc.). Make sure you find out how to use its debugger. The debugger is the single most important tool you'll ever learn as a programmer. It exists to help you be able to pause your program on a specific line when the program is running, so that you can step over the program line-by-line, then inspect the variables/data in your program to see what's going on.
  • Programming is all about problem solving. The best way to learn is just to practise a lot. When you are confident with the basics, challenge yourself to solve more problems; the more you do, the easier it'll be: https://www.ocr.org.uk/Images/260930...es-booklet.pdf

Have a look at some of these too:
https://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/subjects/z34k7ty
https://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/A-level_Computing
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCsB...Rg-vQASN2ZeHwg
https://studio.code.org/projects/app...zqgoxuu810unLw
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harik2014
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(Original post by winterscoming)
The main thing that people tend to find 'hard' with Computer Science is the fact that it's a subject all about learning new ways of thinking. The best advice is mostly common-sense; Make sure you turn up for all the lessons, do all the assignments in good time, don't allow yourself to fall behind, and don't go looking for shorcuts because there aren't any; All of the most challenging topics require you to fullly take the time to understand the underlying concepts and practise the skills like Programming, SQL, Database Normalisation, analysing/solving problems, reading pseudocode, writing flowcharts, number conversions, tracing algorithms, etc.

There's just no quick or easy way to learn the majority of things you need for computer science. Aside from some of the theory, everything else requires you to learn problem solving methods and new ways of thinking to be able to do them. I.e. they are new skills, so you can either do it or you cant; there's no "in between"; no amount of memorisation or cramming can help.

And realistically, even a lot of the theory (e.g. Hardware and Networks) won't be easy if you just try to memorise it - you really need to understand those things at a deeper level and do more research into those concepts

In terms of more specific, a few things I can think of related to programming:
  • When learning programming, make use of Google and StackOverflow - every question you could think of about any of the main programming languages will most likely have been answered already on there. Get used to spending a lot of time writing questions into Google along the lines of "How to do XYZ in <programming language>"
  • If you're using Java or Python, then download either IntelliJ (Java) or PyCharm (Python). -- both of those have 'free' (Community Edition) versions available. Most of the time colleges get students using rubbish tools which are missing a lot of really important features that'll make your life easier and help you learn the syntax/structure of the language. (e.g. autocomplete, mouseover help, error highlighting, etc).
  • Whichever IDE you end up using (IntelliJ, PyCharm, Visual Studio, etc.). Make sure you find out how to use its debugger. The debugger is the single most important tool you'll ever learn as a programmer. It exists to help you be able to pause your program on a specific line when the program is running, so that you can step over the program line-by-line, then inspect the variables/data in your program to see what's going on.
  • Programming is all about problem solving. The best way to learn is just to practise a lot. When you are confident with the basics, challenge yourself to solve more problems; the more you do, the easier it'll be: https://www.ocr.org.uk/Images/260930...es-booklet.pdf

Have a look at some of these too:
https://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/subjects/z34k7ty
https://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/A-level_Computing
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCsB...Rg-vQASN2ZeHwg
https://studio.code.org/projects/app...zqgoxuu810unLw
Hey, thank you so much for your help! Means a lot I'll take as much as what you said on board.
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iamverydead
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(Original post by winterscoming)
The main thing that people tend to find 'hard' with Computer Science is the fact that it's a subject all about learning new ways of thinking. The best advice is mostly common-sense; Make sure you turn up for all the lessons, do all the assignments in good time, don't allow yourself to fall behind, and don't go looking for shorcuts because there aren't any; All of the most challenging topics require you to fullly take the time to understand the underlying concepts and practise the skills like Programming, SQL, Database Normalisation, analysing/solving problems, reading pseudocode, writing flowcharts, number conversions, tracing algorithms, etc.

There's just no quick or easy way to learn the majority of things you need for computer science. Aside from some of the theory, everything else requires you to learn problem solving methods and new ways of thinking to be able to do them. I.e. they are new skills, so you can either do it or you cant; there's no "in between"; no amount of memorisation or cramming can help.

And realistically, even a lot of the theory (e.g. Hardware and Networks) won't be easy if you just try to memorise it - you really need to understand those things at a deeper level and do more research into those concepts

In terms of more specific, a few things I can think of related to programming:
  • When learning programming, make use of Google and StackOverflow - every question you could think of about any of the main programming languages will most likely have been answered already on there. Get used to spending a lot of time writing questions into Google along the lines of "How to do XYZ in <programming language>"
  • If you're using Java or Python, then download either IntelliJ (Java) or PyCharm (Python). -- both of those have 'free' (Community Edition) versions available. Most of the time colleges get students using rubbish tools which are missing a lot of really important features that'll make your life easier and help you learn the syntax/structure of the language. (e.g. autocomplete, mouseover help, error highlighting, etc).
  • Whichever IDE you end up using (IntelliJ, PyCharm, Visual Studio, etc.). Make sure you find out how to use its debugger. The debugger is the single most important tool you'll ever learn as a programmer. It exists to help you be able to pause your program on a specific line when the program is running, so that you can step over the program line-by-line, then inspect the variables/data in your program to see what's going on.
  • Programming is all about problem solving. The best way to learn is just to practise a lot. When you are confident with the basics, challenge yourself to solve more problems; the more you do, the easier it'll be: https://www.ocr.org.uk/Images/260930...es-booklet.pdf

Have a look at some of these too:
https://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/subjects/z34k7ty
https://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/A-level_Computing
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCsB...Rg-vQASN2ZeHwg
https://studio.code.org/projects/app...zqgoxuu810unLw
im doing CS A-levels as well, this is some great advice! I'd like to ask a question tho, is there a lot of maths? Would i struggle with it if i got a 6 in maths?
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winterscoming
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(Original post by iamverydead)
im doing CS A-levels as well, this is some great advice! I'd like to ask a question tho, is there a lot of maths? Would i struggle with it if i got a 6 in maths?
It's more about logical thinking and problem solving than the type of maths you'd be used to from GCSE so you really don't need to understand most of the numerical methods from GCSE maths. However someone who is good at maths should have the ability to think logically and learn new methods of solving problems, so in some ways computer science is more of the same, even though most of the numerical methods from GCSE maths don't really apply to Computer Science, and the methods you'll use in CompSci are going to be more closely related to computational thinking (programming) instead.

Your college should introduce everything from basic principles anyway, it's essentially a whole new subject that colleges don't really expect students to be familiar with beforehand.

For example, in the exam you might need to spot repeated patterns in a list of data to understand the algorithm which yields a particular result for that data. Then use a programming language (or pseudocode or a flowchart) to write those algorithm steps, and to generalise it for an algorithm which would work for any set of data. But when you're starting out, you'll be writing the code for simple patterns like the Fibonacci sequence or checking whether a word is a 'palindrome'. But later gradually building up to more difficult and complex problems, and learning how a lot of common well-known algorithms work too.
Last edited by winterscoming; 1 year ago
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iamverydead
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(Original post by winterscoming)
It's more about logical thinking and problem solving than the type of maths you'd be used to from GCSE so you really don't need to understand most of the numerical methods from GCSE maths. However someone who is good at maths should have the ability to think logically and learn new methods of solving problems, so in some ways computer science is more of the same, even though most of the numerical methods from GCSE maths don't really apply to Computer Science, and the methods you'll use in CompSci are going to be more closely related to computational thinking (programming) instead.

Your college should introduce everything from basic principles anyway, it's essentially a whole new subject that colleges don't really expect students to be familiar with beforehand.

For example, in the exam you might need to spot repeated patterns in a list of data to understand the algorithm which yields a particular result for that data. Then use a programming language (or pseudocode or a flowchart) to write those algorithm steps, and to generalise it for an algorithm which would work for any set of data. But when you're starting out, you'll be writing the code for simple patterns like the Fibonacci sequence or checking whether a word is a 'palindrome'. But later gradually building up to more difficult and complex problems, and learning how a lot of common well-known algorithms work too.
ooh! ive already done a code for the fibonacci sequence so i guess that for now im fine! thank u so much! this really helped~
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