Computing and Information Technology
Ready to give it a shot? Dive into the 10-question quiz below to get a feel for how prepared you are! Once you’ve written down your answers, hover over (or tap on a phone) the question to see the answers and explanations.
Warningplease do keep in mind that we can’t guarantee the accuracy of this quiz, so we do recommend you also run through a full-length practice exam. DSST and Pass Your Class both offer a good ones that we’ll share in the resources section below.
Question 1: What are the four steps, in order, of the machine cycle of the arithmetic logic unit?
a) Start, Process, End, Repeat
b) Input, Process, Store, Output
c) Fetch, Decode, Execute, Store
d) Fetch, Process, Store, Execute
This one is simple. Whenever the control unit receives an instruction, it carries out those four basic operations: it first fetches the instruction, then it decodes the instruction, after which it executes the instruction, and it finally stores the result.
Question 2: What is the unit of measurement for the processing speed of microcomputers?
Processor speed is expressed in Hz (Hertz). For older computers, MHz (megahertz) is used, while for new computers, which are faster, GHz (gigahertz) is used. 1 Hz is equal to 1 cycle (1 tick of the system clock).
BPS (bits per second) is used to express speed of data transmission; GB (gigabytes) is used to express storage space; and FLOPS (floating-point operations per second) is used to express the number of operations per second of supercomputers.
Question 3: Given a computer with only one processor, what process allows it to run several programs at the same time?
There are different ways in which an operating system can handle many processes. The most common one is multitasking: more than one task runs on one processor. Multithreading is when different parts of a program run: one thread waits for user input into a spreadsheet while another thread performs a calculation in the background. Multiprocessing is when the processor has several cores (independent processing units), or there are multiple processors, and they share the work among them. Make sure not to confuse those three terms. Multirunning is not an actual term.
Question 4: What is the interface system used on most consumer desktop or laptop computers?
a) Command-line interface
b) Menu-driven interface
c) Natural language interface
d) Graphical user interface
You usually access computers using a keyboard and mouse to select icons and menus from the desktop, and you navigate through folders and windows, etc., right? This is the graphical user interface. The command-line interface is where you type in text commands to give instructions to the computer. It is usually present in most operating systems but used mostly by experienced users and system administrators. A menu-driven interface allows you to navigate only using menus and sub-menus, such as on an automated teller machine; and a natural language interface allows you to speak to the computer to give instructions.
Question 5: Which model of database uses a key to connect data from different files?
a) Hierarchical database
b) Relational database
c) Object-oriented database
d) Network database
Is this one tricky? You just need to grasp your database concepts well! To connect data from different files in a relational database, a common data element, called a key, is used. In hierarchical databases, records are organized as parents and children, with only links between the parent and its children. Network databases are similar, with the exception that children records can have more than one parent record. Object-oriented databases are a bit more advanced: they store data as objects instead of records in tables and are based on the concept of object-oriented programming.
Question 6: Which type of software has no copyright?
a) Commercial software
c) Pirated software
d) Public-domain software
This is an easy one. Public-domain software is the type of software that is not copyrighted because they have been donated to the public by their creators. You can use them however you want without fear of legal prosecution. The three others are copyrighted. However, commercial software is paid software while freeware is available for free; and, of course, pirated software is software that should have been paid for and was obtained illegally.
Question 7: In which type of network are computers connected directly to one another without the need for a central server?
a) Wide area network
b) Client-server network
d) Peer-to-peer network
How do you differentiate among all those different types of networks? Their names contain hints. The term peer-to-peer means that things are shared among peers: all computers in the network have same capabilities, and there is no need for a central server to control the network. Client-server is the opposite: there is a centralized computer acting as a server, and individual computers share the services of that server. A wide area network is a network covering a wide geographic area, such as a country or even the world, and an intranet is a network that is internal to a company and thus private.
Question 8: Which device allows two different network types, e.g., a local area network and a wide area network, to communicate with each other?
Not sure if it’s a gateway or a bridge? To remember the difference between a gateway and a bridge, imagine the gateway as a portal between two worlds (thus two different types of networks) and the bridge as a bridge between two cities (thus two similar networks). As for the switch, it simply allows a computer to connect to a network, and a router simply directs messages among networks which are connected together.
Question 9: In the software development life cycle, which of the following has not yet been done by the stage of analysis?
a) Carrying out interviews
b) Defining the problem
d) Diagrams describing the data flow
Here is why you need to know the software development life cycle well. Prototyping is done at the design stage (which is after the analysis stage), where you build a limited working model of your system for quick testing and evaluation.
Question 10: What would you use encryption for?
a) To transmit data faster
b) To allow only authorized persons to view your data
c) To have a backup of your data
d) To filter unwanted data
Encryption makes your message secret: it transforms readable data into an unreadable form to prevent unauthorized access. To be able to read the data afterward, an encryption key, similar to a password, will be needed. Normally, only the person who performs the encryption, along with the authorized person(s), is in possession of that key.
Without proper security, there can be no privacy.
More DSST Study Resources
Are you at the beginning of your study process, or just looking for a couple more practice questions to finish prepping for your exam? In either case, you can find some of my favorite resources below. Some of the links below are affiliate (Amazon for instance), which means they’ll pay us a few bucks for every purchase through the link. Feel free to use those links if you want to support the site, but you can also just Google the title or pick the book up at your local library.
Official DSST Practice Test: Ok, so the DSST website isn’t the most inviting, but it will give you the best approximation of the real exam experience. Also, the official practice test is quite affordable (currently just $5 per practice exam).
Pass Your Class – DSST Computing and Information Tech: Textbooks are great as far as they go, but I’d generally recommend you opt for this exam guide instead. It tends to cut through the confusion and help you accelerate your learning process.
InstantCert Academy: Another website with a very dated design, but as ancient as it looks, this is actually an incredibly valuable resource. Basically, you get a massive set of flashcards that you can use to learn computing and to really solidify that knowledge so you’re ready for the exam.
Plenty of other resources exist – just do a quick internet search – but these are a fantastic start, and probably all you really need. I’ve personally done some exams with just InstantCert and the official practice test.