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Computing Sciences and Computer Engineering

Placement Test Preparation

This page is meant only for students admitted conditionally to the M.S. in Computer Science program. Students who have been offered regular admission do not need to take a placement test.

The placement test is a written exam, that will assess students' knowledge of four major Computer Science topics: (1) Programming in C++; (2) Computer Organization; (3) Data Structures; and (4) Theory of Programming Languages. Below are relevant preparation materials and helpful pointers on these topics.

  • Programming in C++: Chapters 8-18 of the book C++ Programming Language: From Problem Analysis to Program Design-7th edition, by D. S. Malik. In addition, relevant aspects of C++11 and C++14 that may not be in the book. Students' ability to do the following will be specifically tested:
    1. Use user-defined simple data types.
    2. Use the string data type.
    3. Understand and use arrays and strings.
    4. Apply arrays.
    5. Understand and use records (structures).
    6. Understand and use classes & data abstraction
    7. Understand and use pointers.
    8. Understand and use recursion.
    9. Understand and use smart pointers.
    10. Understand and use lambda functions.
  • Computer Organization: Chapters 1-3 of the book Computer Organization and Architecture- Fourth Edition, Linda Null and Julia Lobur. Students' knowledge of the following topics will be specifically tested:
    1. Converting numbers between bases.
    2. Signed integer representation: 2's complement, Excess-M representation, Booth's algorithm for multiplication, carry versus overflow, binary multiplication and division using shifting.
    3. Floating-point representation.
    4. Character codes: EBCDIC, ASCII.
    5. Boolean algebra: simplification of boolean expression, representation of boolean function.
    6. Logic gates.
    7. Digital circuits and their relationship to boolean algebra.
    8. Combination circuits.
  • Data Structures: Chapters 2-12 in Michael Main and Walter Savitch, Data Structures and Other Objects Using C++, 4th edition, ISBN-13: 978-0-13-212948-0. Below are some helpful links:
  • Theory of Programming Languages: Chapters 3-5 and 9 in Concepts of Programming Languages, 11th Edition, by Robert W. Sebesta, Pearson Higher Education. Students' knowledge of the following topics will be tested :
    1. Context free grammars, Backus Naur Form, parse trees, attribute grammar.
    2. Lexical analysis, top-down and bottom-up parsers, recursive descent parsing, LL & LR parsing.
    3. Static & dynamic binding, static & dynamic scope, block structuring.
    4. Subprograms and parameter passing, local referencing environments.

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