Monday, September 17, 2007

M359: Possible Exam Strategy

On Sunday morning at the M500 Revision weekend Stuart Hutchison (our tutor for the weekend) discussed with us a possible exam strategy, and this is detailed below.

NoteIt is up to the individual how they use the following information; I am only documenting it as I believe some people might find it of use.

Format
2 part exam, with 3 hours allowed.

Part 1:  12 short questions worth 5 marks each, giving a total of 60% of the overall exam mark.  This equates to 108mins for part 1 with 9mins per question.

Part 2:  2 out of 3 long questions worth 20 marks each, giving a total of 40% of the overall exam mark.  This equates to 72mins for part 2 with 36mins per question.

Breakdown (and possibly what could be expected)
Stuart has based this breakdown on his experience of tutoring M358 and reviewing the M359 sample paper.

Part 1:
Q1., Q2.  Warm-up questions, normally quiet easy i.e. “Describe the differences between data and information”.
Q3.  Entity – Relationship Diagram to Relational Model.
Q4.  Relational algebra.
Q5.  Normalization.
Q6.  SQL – Code supplied, what does it do / correct the mistakes.
Q7.  SQL – Write some SQL from scratch.
Q8.  SQL – procedures, triggers, cursors, views.
Q9.  Entity Relationship Model – Revise / update.
Q10.  De-normalization, complex data.
Q11.  Data warehousing.
Q12.  XML.

Part 2:
Q13.  Entity Relationship Model to Relational Model (including relational algebra).
Q14.  SQL / Restructuring / Normalization / Access control.
Q15.  Sub-typing / Entity Relationship Models / Populating a database.

Revision Strategy
A high percentage of the exam appears to be based on SQL and data modelling, therefore by using the following strategy a student could potentially expect to get a good overall mark for the exam.

1.  SQL – A must.
2.  Data modelling – Entity Relationship Models.
3.  Relational algebra – borderline effort.
4.  Normalization / de-normalization – borderline effort.

Block 1 – skim.
Block 2 – learn well.
Block 3 – the bible, a must.
Block 4 – skim.
Block 5 – section 1 skim.

Conclusion
By concentrating their revision on blocks 2 and 3 (especially block 3) a student should be able to do enough in the exam to get a good mark.

One final exam tip ;)  “don’t think as thinking costs time”  In other words do not waste time on questions you will struggle with, move onto what are the easy questions for you.

1 comment:

Simon Knights said...

Hi Ian,

This is really useful.

Thanks.