our first class begins with a quiz (what?!)

this quiz is specifically designed for someone who is already out of college, didnt learn anything about code but shows enough interest to try out a class or tutoring session.

the important thing isnt so much what they answer, (you can even mention that) but the questions and choices are what matter.

its a warm-up to get them into the subject without feeling like they have to pay close attention, and hopefully the answers are all obvious enough that by trying to answer them, you teach yourself something.

a quick lecture would not serve as a warm-up, and would put more pressure on someone to pay attention. hence a quiz. plus you get to tell a person who is brand new to the subject: “ok, we start with a quiz!” then they think youre a sadist… and then you lay question 01 on them:


simple question 01: (of ten)

what do you think cls does?

a. puts text on the screen
b. reboots the computer
c. clears the screen of text
d. crashes the internet


if they get it wrong, you make sure they understand its not important right now (how could it be?) and tell them it clears the text. maybe they just learned a command, maybe not. next question! (definitely keep it moving…)


simple question 02:

which command do you think opens a new file to save data

a. arropen “text.txt”
b. open “r”
c. close
d. open “w”


simple question 03:

what do you think print does?

a. puts text on the screen
b. clears the screen
c. changes the color of something
d. adds two numbers


simple question 04:

why on earth would that be called print, anyway?

a. before computer screens were common, computers used teletypes
b. the basic command for putting text on the screen was called print
c. a few computer languages call it that, because of teletypes mentioned
d. all of the above


simple question 05:

which of these commands converts text to uppercase?

a. str
b. val
c. ucase
d. mid


simple question 06:

what do you think mid does?

a. quits the program
b. crops text from the middle of a character string
c. downloads music from youtube
d. converts text to lowercase


simple question 07:

which of these commands lets you print to the screen in yellow?

a. mid 5 20
b. arrcurl “time.org”
c. prints
d. colortext 14


simple question 08:

what does the divby command do?

a. adds two numbers
b. subtracts one number from the other
c. draws a line on the screen
d. divides one number by another


simple question 09:

what are the names of the other arithmetic commands?

a. plus, minus, times
b. add, subtract, pizza
c. gaga, ooh, lala
d. one, two, tres, cuatro


simple question 10:

how do most people learn how to write code?

a. standing on their head and listening to beatles 45s at 78 speed
b. typing in examples,attempting simple tasks and taking other code apart
c. “lasers”
d. somewhere along the way to their phd in rocket science


novice question 01: (of five)

what is the best description of programming?

a. writing instructions a computer can understand
b. writing instructions no mortal can comprehend
c. designing the coolest video game ever imagined
d. living in your parents basement (ok, yes– trick question!)


novice question 02:

what is a variable?

a. something only the computer knows, but wont tell you
b. a name that has data assigned to it
c. the thing that flips down on the front of a printer
d. an exciting dance routine that was banned in finland


novice question 03:

which of these is a valid line of fig code?

a. just do what i want!
b. hello computer, would you clear the screen?
c. x  “hello, world!”  colortext 2  print
d. when{you go out}– pick up{some eggs};


novice question 04:

most lines of fig code begin with a / an…

a. variable
b. octopus
c. equation
d. soundbite


novice question 05:

fig consists of more or less the following:

a. oranges, cherries, grapes, whipped cream
b. hypotenuse, circumference, primes, isosceles
c. functions, input/output, loops, conditions, variables
d. celtic runes and secret handshakes


advanced question 01: (of five)

which of these lets you count backwards from 15?

a. now  “hello”  print
b. for x, 15, 1, -1
c. forin x, textfile
d. count backwards from fifteen


advanced question 02:

which of the following fig syntax is *optional*:

a. quotes for strings
b. # hashes for comments
c. 5.5 decimal points in non-integers
d. ( ) | ; : ,


advanced question 03:

what is an array?

a. a file that lets you save your game
b. an input device
c. a type of variable that stores multiple items
d. another way of saying “internet”


advanced question 04:

which of these best describes a function?

a. text input from the keyboard
b. the numeric ascii value of a character
c. an operator applied to an array
d. a section of code that is given a unique name


advanced question 05:

what is a conditional?

a. i will tell you if you give me 5 dollars
b. that depends, what day of the week is it?
c. a section of code that runs if two items correspond in a specific way
d. all of the above


if 20 is too many questions, skip the “advanced” questions and get on with the lesson.


be sure that anyone taking the quiz understands the purpose is to warm up, not to get the answers right. if you dont want them to relax, start with functions– theyre the most difficult of the “7 concepts” in fig:

  • variables
  • input
  • output
  • basic math
  • loops
  • conditionals
  • functions



6 thoughts on “our first class begins with a quiz (what?!)

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