30 August 2010

Answer question without testing?

A player asked this question today:

"Am I supposed to be able to answer these questions without actually running the code and testing it? :)"

Excellent question! When I take my own quizzes to establish "minimum reasonable time to answer" (which I then use to make adjustments for very fast answers), I rarely actually write code to verify the choices I make.

But I cannot imagine how, for many of these quizzes, you could not take the time to do this, if you wanted to really be certain that your choices were correct.

Here's another way of putting it: unless you have the same depth of familiarity with PL/SQL that I do, you would at best recognize the overall appropriateness of a given choice. You would be hard-pressed, however, to feel very certain that a choice is correct without writing some code to test out your hypothesis.

That is why so many players express deep skepticism when they see other players answer questions correctly in 20 seconds that they take over 100 seconds to sort through.

So, yes, by all means, write some code, test out the choices, and learn about the features of PL/SQL in a way that will stick in your brain (the reinforcement of typing out the code will help lots).

Cheers, Steven


  1. Thanks for you reply Steven :)

    I see what you mean about the PL/SQL Challenge questions being quite different than the ones you asked in the Live Quiz at your presentation in Perth.

    I noticed that a lot of the questions involve transcribing PL/SQL from your image (making sure not to make a typo, which I might add is a very important skill when it comes to preventing bugs), compile it, run it, and (hopefully) understand it.

    I hope to see more challenges which involve more than testing our transcribing skills, not just 'does it compile', 'does it run' or 'does it output'.

    Looking forward to the challenges :)


  2. Ryan,

    I am not sure why you feel you need to transcribe all the code word for word. Certainly, if you are not familiar with a given area of functionality, you will want at a minimum to write some code to verify how something works. I suppose if you want to be 100% sure I don't have some typo or trick in my code (which I work hard to avoid and for which you will not be penalized anyway), you would transcribe it all, but I don't see that as necessary.