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Can You Pass Computer Science GCSE Right Now?

Knowing how to use Word and Excel won't save you now.

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A report out today from the Royal Society finds that 54% of English schools do not offer a GCSE in computer science.

That means that nearly a third of pupils in England don't have access to the subject at GCSE level. And of those that can and do take the Computer Science GCSE, only 1 in 5 are girls.

(To find out how your area fares, see a map here.)

So... would you pass a GCSE in computer science if you had to take it right now?

And if all of the questions were based on real exam papers, but highly simplified, and multiple choice? There's only one way to find out...

  1. 1. Here's a computer program written in high-level language compared with one written in a low-level language. Which of the following statements is an advantage of using a high-level language?

    AQA / BuzzFeed
    Correct
    Incorrect
    It saves the programmer time.
    Correct
    Incorrect
    Computer's only understand high-level languages.
    Correct
    Incorrect
    The programmes will always run faster.
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    It saves the programmer time.

  2. 2. What is the bit pattern shown below when converted to decimal?

    Correct
    Incorrect
    4
    Correct
    Incorrect
    24
    Correct
    Incorrect
    78
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    78

    Decimal is the counting system we use in everyday life, and is base 10. Binary is base 2. To convert from binary to decimal, start by writing out the binary place values: 128, 64, 32, 12, 8, 2, 1. Then compare to the 0s and 1s in the binary number, writing down the place values where there's a 1 instead of a 0. Finally, add those numbers up. In this case that gives you 64 + 8 + 4 + 2 = 78.

  3. 3. What is the same bit pattern converted to hexadecimal?

    Correct
    Incorrect
    2A
    Correct
    Incorrect
    4E
    Correct
    Incorrect
    7F
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    4E

    Hexadecimal is a base 16 number system. It uses the digits 0 to 9 as well as the letters A to F. In HTML, colours are represented by six digit hexadecimal numbers. For example, FFFFFF represents white. In this question, 0100 in binary converts to 4 in hexadecimal, and 1110 converts to E.

  4. 4. In the coding system ASCII the character A is represented by the numeric code 65. Which character is represented by the numeric code 70?

    Correct
    Incorrect
    E
    Correct
    Incorrect
    F
    Correct
    Incorrect
    f
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    F

    70 is five on from 65, and F is five on from A.

  5. 5. Which of the following statements is NOT an advantage of using Unicode to represent characters instead of ASCII?

    Correct
    Incorrect
    "Unicode can represent characters from a wider range of languages."
    Correct
    Incorrect
    "Unicode uses fewer bits to represent each character."
    Correct
    Incorrect
    "Unicode can represent scientific and mathematical characters."
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    "Unicode uses fewer bits to represent each character."

    Unicode actually uses more bits to represent each character, which is how it manages to represent a much wider range of characters, including those from languages other than English, and scientific and technical characters. ASCII only represents English language characters.

  6. 6. Which of these is used to connect different components of a computer's Central Processing Unit (CPU)?

    Correct
    Incorrect
    Bus
    Correct
    Incorrect
    Clock
    Correct
    Incorrect
    Control Unit
    Correct
    Incorrect
    Ethernet
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    Bus

    Buses transfer data between components inside a computer.

  7. 7. Which of these two types of computer memory is described as "volatile"?

    Correct
    Incorrect
    RAM
    Correct
    Incorrect
    ROM
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    RAM

    Volatile memory only retains information while a computer is turned on. If power is lost, so is the stored data. RAM, or random-access memory, is volatile, but ROM, or read-only memory is not.

  8. 8. Which of the following is the most suitable protocol to use to retrieve email stored on a server?

    Correct
    Incorrect
    HTTP
    Correct
    Incorrect
    HTTPS
    Correct
    Incorrect
    FTP
    Correct
    Incorrect
    IMAP
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    IMAP

    IMAP stands for Internet Message Access Protocol.

  9. 9. Which of the following is the most suitable protocol to use to make a payment securely when buying something from a website?

    Correct
    Incorrect
    HTTP
    Correct
    Incorrect
    HTTPS
    Correct
    Incorrect
    FTP
    Correct
    Incorrect
    SMTP
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    HTTPS

    HTTPS stands for Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure, and is the secure version of HTTP. On HTTPS all communications between your browser and the website you're on are encrypted.

  10. 10. Which of the following statements about run length encoding is true?

    Correct
    Incorrect
    "It always makes a file smaller."
    Correct
    Incorrect
    "It will not lose any of the original data."
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    It will not lose any of the original data.

    Run-length encoding is a form of lossless compression.

Kelly Oakes is science editor for BuzzFeed and is based in London.

Contact Kelly Oakes at kelly.oakes@buzzfeed.com.

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