My Experience With CPSC 110 at UBC
Throughout the history of CPSC 110, many UBC students managed to pull a >90% in the course. But not a few end up failing it. Miserably.
First of all, this blog post is not intended to scare people away from taking CPSC 110.
But I do call for heavy consideration and preparation BEFORE taking the course, ESPECIALLY if you do not have any programming experience.
This post contains personal opinion on CPSC 110 and it might not be reflective of your (future) experience of the course.
What Is CPSC 110 About?
Long story short, CPSC 110 is a programming course in which you would have to deal with DrRacket.
It is a very important course that you would have to take, since it is a prerequisite to enrol in other upper-level Computer Science courses at UBC (e.g. CPSC 210, CPSC 213, CPSC 221, CPSC 310, CPSC 410, and many more).
Since I’m writing this post to share my experience with the course, I’ll start off by outlining and commenting on components of the course. Some parts of the course may have changed compared to the time I took it, but the key components should remain somewhat similar.
If you have a question or want to share your experience about the course, feel free leave your thoughts in the comment section below.
Most of the core content of CPSC 110 were delivered via edX, where I had to watch videos at my own time to learn how to write codes and solve programming problems in DrRacket.
After each and every unit, there were multiple-choice quizzes relevant to the unit that I had to complete for grades. It’s pretty straightforward, and I did relatively okay in this component of the course.
Up to Week 4 (which is around when Midterm 1 happens), I still felt relatively at ease with the course content. I passed the first midterm, although with a grade that was somewhat lower than I expected. I was surprised at how quick the grading turnaround was—I received the grades two or three days after the exam around the Add/Drop deadline with a W.
- What I should have done better: More practice
I still remember the Lab in Week 4. It was the one lab, other than the one in Week 1, which I managed to complete rather quickly on my own (with some reference to the course material of course). Aside from those two weeks, I did have some troubles here and there with lab problems every other week.
When I took the course, lab grades were taken from edX quizzes about the lab activities, but the lab codes themselves were not graded.
- What I should have done better: Redo lab problems after submitting the edX lab quizzes
For some reason I received decent grades in my problem sets overall, except for a week or two. What I did most of the time was emulating certain code structures in the course material we had. I made sure to follow the recipes and the general structure of the codes which was usually covered in the weekly material the problem sets were based upon.
- What I should have done better: Try working the problem sets without referring to course materials
Ok, now you know that I took a pre-pandemic, in-class edition of the course. As I mentioned earlier, since the bulk of the core content were delivered online through edX, most of the classes we had in person were about going through practice problems together with the instructor.
iClicker questions were presented in almost every class, and answers would count for grades. My iClicker answers were often a hit-and-miss, however.
- What I should have done better: Be more prepared before coming to every class
This is when things took a turn for the worse for me. I failed this midterm quite miserably.
The final delivered, well, the final blow, to me. There’s a fail-final-fail-course policy, meaning no matter how well you have done so far in the course, if you fail the final, you’re done for—i.e. you fail the course.
Over and Out
I’m not posting this with the intent of scaring people away from taking the course, but since I took it with such naivety and delusion thinking “it’ll just work out”, I felt it would be helpful to share my experience so that it can be a wake-up call to other students, especially since not a few fail it every term.
I will compile a more general list of advice in this post below.
- As Someone Who Failed CPSC 110, Here’s My Advice
- If you have taken CPSC 110 at UBC, what was your experience like?
- If you are planning to take CPSC 110, what questions do you have?
Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comment section below, and perhaps we could share some ideas and encouragement in how to best navigate through the course.