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To what degree does learning computer science require memorisation?

I know this depends on subjects and maybe things are different in each college but could someone put an example, e.g. In Xxx class, I had to answer this question or accomplished this task. I was/wasn't allowed to use books or notes.

I'm planning to enrol in a German college.

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    $\begingroup$ You learn programming/algorithms by understanding it, not by memorizing the code. $\endgroup$ – hengxin Dec 25 '14 at 12:57
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    $\begingroup$ Computer science is not, primarily, about programming. How subjects are tested varies massively between different institutions, even within the same country, so your question is far too broad to have a real answer. $\endgroup$ – David Richerby Dec 25 '14 at 14:35
  • $\begingroup$ This question could be rephrased, roughly, "To what degree does learning computer science require memorisation?" which might be a more answerable question. $\endgroup$ – Dave Clarke Dec 26 '14 at 20:18
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Many computer science courses are project based, which means that they may not involve an exam at all or the exam will be worth only a small fraction of the final grade.

Exam questions that are purely about memorisation are not particularly good. You may encounter them in early years, but if you understand the material, the facts you are asked to memorise will be second nature to you.

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No. Students are not asked to memorize lines of code. Memorization plays very little part in computer science degrees and computer science exams, at reputable institutions. Computer science is about much more than just programming or writing code. It's certainly not about memorizing lines of code.

So, you can rest comfortably. If you don't enjoy memorization, no problem! That's not a barrier to studying computer science.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thank a bunch! I know that my ability has limitation so I really need to know what I'm signing up for. $\endgroup$ – user8852 Dec 26 '14 at 19:58
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As other answers have pointed out, the amount of memorization required varies course to course and institution to institution. I thought it would be helpful to provide some examples:

1) First midterm exam in the intro CS course at Princeton (this is usually the first exam CS students will take)

2) Final exam in the "Algorithms and Data Structures" course at Princeton. This is usually the second or third course a CS student will take.

Again, note these examples are only from a single institution in the US, but hopefully they provide a little insight into what CS exams are like at the undergrad level.

Note: both of these exams are closed-notes, but in each case you were allowed to bring in a one-page "cheat sheet"

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