Brainbench

Discussion in 'C Programming' started by Daniel, Feb 8, 2007.

  1. Daniel

    Daniel Guest

    My employer has asked me to take the C exam from brainbench.com.

    Does anybody have an idea of what kinda questions do they have ? How
    difficult it is ?

    Any help would be appreciated.

    Thanks
     
    Daniel, Feb 8, 2007
    #1
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  2. Daniel wrote:

    > My employer has asked me to take the C exam from brainbench.com.
    >
    > Does anybody have an idea of what kinda questions do they have ? How
    > difficult it is ?
    >
    > Any help would be appreciated.
    >
    > Thanks


    Yes. It's actually Richard Healthfield, Keith Thompson, and Chris Torek on the
    other side issuing the questions as you take the test, live.

    But no, I've never taken it. If there's no time limit on the answers, I don't
    see why one couldn't ace the test.
     
    Christopher Layne, Feb 8, 2007
    #2
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  3. On Feb 7, 10:07 pm, "Daniel" <> wrote:
    > My employer has asked me to take the C exam from brainbench.com.
    >
    > Does anybody have an idea of what kinda questions do they have ? How
    > difficult it is ?


    I haven't taken the actual test (and don't plan to) but you can take
    the "Sample Test" as many times as you want and judge for yourself.
    The sample test contains 5 random questions from what appears to be a
    pool of about 10 questions. For the most part the questions were
    good, clear, and well-balanced although a couple of them them assume
    knowledge of non-standard functions and compiler extensions. For
    example, one question assumed familiarity with the strdup function (a
    POSIX function, not ISO C, although available on many
    implementations), while another one required you to assume that
    pointer arithmetic on a void pointer behaved the same as on a char
    pointer (which is a common extension but not legal in ISO C). While
    it is obviously MUCH better than the Expert Rating C exam, and seems
    to have potential, it obviously isn't limited to ISO C, a fact which
    should be spelled out in the test description.

    Robert Gamble
     
    Robert Gamble, Feb 8, 2007
    #3
  4. Daniel

    Guest

    On Feb 7, 9:29 pm, "Robert Gamble" <> wrote:
    > On Feb 7, 10:07 pm, "Daniel" <> wrote:
    >
    > > My employer has asked me to take the C exam from brainbench.com.

    >
    > > Does anybody have an idea of what kinda questions do they have ? How
    > > difficult it is ?

    >
    > I haven't taken the actual test (and don't plan to) but you can take
    > the "Sample Test" as many times as you want and judge for yourself.
    > The sample test contains 5 random questions from what appears to be a
    > pool of about 10 questions. For the most part the questions were
    > good, clear, and well-balanced although a couple of them them assume
    > knowledge of non-standard functions and compiler extensions. For
    > example, one question assumed familiarity with the strdup function (a
    > POSIX function, not ISO C, although available on many
    > implementations), while another one required you to assume that
    > pointer arithmetic on a void pointer behaved the same as on a char
    > pointer (which is a common extension but not legal in ISO C). While
    > it is obviously MUCH better than the Expert Rating C exam, and seems
    > to have potential, it obviously isn't limited to ISO C, a fact which
    > should be spelled out in the test description.
    >
    > Robert Gamble


    I took it once. Very stupid. Nothing really helpful for daily work.
     
    , Feb 8, 2007
    #4
  5. Daniel

    Ernie Wright Guest

    Daniel wrote:

    > My employer has asked me to take the C exam from brainbench.com.
    >
    > Does anybody have an idea of what kinda questions do they have ? How
    > difficult it is ?


    I took it a couple of months ago. I did pretty well, although not as
    well as some here reportedly have.

    http://www.brainbench.com/xml/bb/transcript/public/viewtranscript.xml?pid=6417683

    The test consists of 40 multiple-choice questions, with a 3-minute time
    limit for each. If you need to take a break, you can pause the test
    *between* questions (not during a question--there's a "pause after this
    question" button).

    Unless you're a guru, the test will seem fairly difficult, regardless of
    your level of knowledge. The difficulty level of the questions depends
    on how well you've answered previous questions. The test rises to your
    level of incompetence.

    There are several questions of the form "What is the output of the
    following?", with a 10- or 15-line program or code fragment. You might
    be tempted to try to copy-paste-compile-run to find out, but the text of
    the page isn't copyable.

    There's no real math, and I don't recall anything from outside the
    language standard, so nothing about Win32 or POSIX or networking or
    makefiles, or other extracurricular topics.

    Before taking the test, I re-read my copies of K&R2 and Peter van der
    Linden's Expert C Programming,

    http://www.amazon.com/C-Programming-Language-2nd/dp/0131103628
    http://www.amazon.com/Expert-Programming-Peter-van-Linden/dp/0131774298

    and the C FAQ,

    http://c-faq.com/

    I also took the sample test. In addition to giving you the flavor of
    the real thing, this gives you a chance to test your Web browser and
    Internet connection.

    - Ernie http://home.comcast.net/~erniew
     
    Ernie Wright, Feb 8, 2007
    #5
  6. Daniel said:

    > My employer has asked me to take the C exam from brainbench.com.
    >
    > Does anybody have an idea of what kinda questions do they have ? How
    > difficult it is ?


    Of more concern to me is its quality.

    A few years ago, a number of experts here in comp.lang.c took the test
    and compared notes afterwards (back in the days when it was called
    Tekmetrics, or something like that). We discovered an inverse
    correlation between one's score on the test and one's level of C
    knowledge as recognised by others here in comp.lang.c. For example, if
    I am not mistaken I scored higher than LK and CT - which is patently
    ludicrous.

    It is possible that things have improved somewhat, as (I vaguely recall
    that) Martin Ambuhl worked with Brainbench on fixing the quiz's grosser
    stupidities, but we have not again conducted such a wide-ranging review
    to the best of my knowledge, so the question remains open.

    --
    Richard Heathfield
    "Usenet is a strange place" - dmr 29/7/1999
    http://www.cpax.org.uk
    email: rjh at the above domain, - www.
     
    Richard Heathfield, Feb 8, 2007
    #6
  7. Daniel

    Beej Guest

    On Feb 7, 10:46 pm, Richard Heathfield <> wrote:
    > Of more concern to me is its quality.


    This whole thing has me thinking...

    Do you suppose it would be useful to have an open C test written by
    the community that anyone could access? (With answers, of course.)

    I'm not thinking of this as a competitor to this brainbench* thing;
    more of as a learning tool.

    Does such a thing already exist?

    -Beej
     
    Beej, Feb 8, 2007
    #7
  8. Richard Heathfield wrote:

    > It is possible that things have improved somewhat, as (I vaguely recall
    > that) Martin Ambuhl worked with Brainbench on fixing the quiz's grosser
    > stupidities, but we have not again conducted such a wide-ranging review
    > to the best of my knowledge, so the question remains open.


    Yes, indeed, they did pay me to modify questions and answers so they
    would conform to standard C, not rely on undefined or implementation
    defined behavior, and actually relate to C as it might actually be used.
    Unfortunately for the OP's question, I have never looked at the use to
    which my changes were put.

    I shudder to consider the consequences of your claim that

    > A few years ago, a number of experts here in comp.lang.c took the test
    > and compared notes afterwards (back in the days when it was called
    > Tekmetrics, or something like that). We discovered an inverse
    > correlation between one's score on the test and one's level of C
    > knowledge as recognised by others here in comp.lang.c.


    My invitation to recast the questions and answers was based in part on
    the fact that Brainbench (with a different name then) claimed that mine
    was the highest score registered on the test. That pretty much puts me
    out of the running as someone to answer questions here.
     
    Martin Ambuhl, Feb 8, 2007
    #8
  9. Beej said:

    > On Feb 7, 10:46 pm, Richard Heathfield <> wrote:
    >> Of more concern to me is its quality.

    >
    > This whole thing has me thinking...
    >
    > Do you suppose it would be useful to have an open C test written by
    > the community that anyone could access? (With answers, of course.)
    >
    > I'm not thinking of this as a competitor to this brainbench* thing;
    > more of as a learning tool.
    >
    > Does such a thing already exist?


    How about the comp.lang.c FAQ at http://c-faq.com ?

    --
    Richard Heathfield
    "Usenet is a strange place" - dmr 29/7/1999
    http://www.cpax.org.uk
    email: rjh at the above domain, - www.
     
    Richard Heathfield, Feb 8, 2007
    #9
  10. Martin Ambuhl said:

    > Richard Heathfield wrote:
    >
    >> It is possible that things have improved somewhat, as (I vaguely
    >> recall that) Martin Ambuhl worked with Brainbench on fixing the
    >> quiz's grosser stupidities, but we have not again conducted such a
    >> wide-ranging review to the best of my knowledge, so the question
    >> remains open.

    >
    > Yes, indeed, they did pay me to modify questions and answers so they
    > would conform to standard C, not rely on undefined or implementation
    > defined behavior, and actually relate to C as it might actually be
    > used.


    Thank you for confirming that, Martin. Now then...

    > Unfortunately for the OP's question, I have never looked at the use
    > to which my changes were put.


    That is also interesting. Perhaps we should give them another round (if
    it's still free - I see no reason why we should pay them for the honour
    of doing their testing for them).

    <snip>

    >> We discovered an inverse
    >> correlation between one's score on the test and one's level of C
    >> knowledge as recognised by others here in comp.lang.c.

    >
    > My invitation to recast the questions and answers was based in part on
    > the fact that Brainbench (with a different name then) claimed that
    > mine
    > was the highest score registered on the test. That pretty much puts
    > me out of the running as someone to answer questions here.


    Well, Martin, dem's da breaks. :)

    Seriously, I have two replies to that:

    1) an inverse correlation doesn't mean an inverse law. :)
    2) if everyone taking the test was saying how broken it was, and if they
    accepted that sufficiently that they were prepared to hire someone to
    fix it, why would they think that a high test score was meaningful?

    --
    Richard Heathfield
    "Usenet is a strange place" - dmr 29/7/1999
    http://www.cpax.org.uk
    email: rjh at the above domain, - www.
     
    Richard Heathfield, Feb 8, 2007
    #10
  11. Martin Ambuhl wrote:
    > Yes, indeed, they did pay me to modify questions and answers so they
    > would conform to standard C, not rely on undefined or implementation
    > defined behavior, and actually relate to C as it might actually be used.
    > Unfortunately for the OP's question, I have never looked at the use to
    > which my changes were put.


    This is actually cool to see corporate companies embracing correctness rather
    than mediocrity.
     
    Christopher Layne, Feb 8, 2007
    #11
  12. Christopher Layne said:

    > Martin Ambuhl wrote:
    >> Yes, indeed, they did pay me to modify questions and answers so they
    >> would conform to standard C, not rely on undefined or implementation
    >> defined behavior, and actually relate to C as it might actually be
    >> used.
    >> Unfortunately for the OP's question, I have never looked at the use
    >> to
    >> which my changes were put.

    >
    > This is actually cool to see corporate companies embracing correctness
    > rather than mediocrity.


    Well, what's actually cool is that they entered into the debate, and
    were prepared to recognise that they were wrong and fork out to get
    some remedial work done. We have yet to determine whether they embraced
    correctness to the extent of putting up a set of decent questions with
    correct answers.

    --
    Richard Heathfield
    "Usenet is a strange place" - dmr 29/7/1999
    http://www.cpax.org.uk
    email: rjh at the above domain, - www.
     
    Richard Heathfield, Feb 8, 2007
    #12
  13. Daniel

    Oliver Wong Guest

    "Christopher Layne" <> wrote in message
    news:...
    >
    > But no, I've never taken it. If there's no time limit on the answers, I
    > don't
    > see why one couldn't ace the test.


    There is a time limit.

    - Oliver
     
    Oliver Wong, Feb 8, 2007
    #13
  14. Daniel

    Beej Guest

    On Feb 7, 11:48 pm, Richard Heathfield <> wrote:
    > How about the comp.lang.c FAQ athttp://c-faq.com?


    Well, the C faq is great, but it doesn't really present the material
    in the same way as a test does. Peoples' brains operate in different
    ways reading one or the other.

    -Beej
     
    Beej, Feb 9, 2007
    #14
  15. Daniel

    Daniel Guest

    I wrote the exam and it was okay types and not extremely difficult but
    the images took some time to load up and I lost some time.


    Do you think a poor brainbench score means a bad programmer and vice
    versa.
     
    Daniel, Feb 14, 2007
    #15
  16. Daniel

    Ian Collins Guest

    Daniel wrote:
    > I wrote the exam and it was okay types and not extremely difficult but
    > the images took some time to load up and I lost some time.
    >

    That's not very considerate of them.
    >
    > Do you think a poor brainbench score means a bad programmer and vice
    > versa.
    >

    There's a lot more to being a good programmer than being able to score
    well it tests.

    --
    Ian Collins.
     
    Ian Collins, Feb 14, 2007
    #16
  17. Daniel said:

    > I wrote the exam and it was okay types and not extremely difficult but
    > the images took some time to load up and I lost some time.


    Draw your own conclusions about how much thought has gone into the test.

    > Do you think a poor brainbench score means a bad programmer and vice
    > versa.


    No. I think there is little or no relation between your score on that
    test and your skill in the subject being tested.

    --
    Richard Heathfield
    "Usenet is a strange place" - dmr 29/7/1999
    http://www.cpax.org.uk
    email: rjh at the above domain, - www.
     
    Richard Heathfield, Feb 14, 2007
    #17
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