One thing which caught my attention was the CP question paper of my First Semester in Engineering. CP was a particularly tough paper back then, it was compulsory for all branches of Engineering (one of the very grave follies of the University because of which even Mechanical and Civil Engineering students had to go through it) and the language was C - Turbo C to be precise.

The programs in the first question were about computing compound interest and Ackerman's <(yes, they had spelled it wrong) function - a good testing combo for a compulsory question (Many wished it were easier!). This was the first time I had seen the Ackermann's function and the question had mentioned it was popular with lecturers and students of Computer Science! I finished them with ease and moved on to the next question.

Expected score: 15 out of 20

The programs in the second question were about finding four-digit perfect squares which are concatenations of two-digit perfect squares (e.g. 1681) and a weird convergence-to-1 algorithm.

The algorithm goes like this

- If the number is odd, multiply by 3 and add 1.
- If the number is even, divide by 2.
- Repeat until number is 1.

Expected score: 16 out of 20

The programs in the third question were about neat tabular display of marks of 50 students and computing mean, variance and standard deviation (The formulas for each of them were given!). Again, good for me, but surprisingly, it was taking longer than expected because it was the first time I was writing full-fledged programs. My answer-sheet was getting dirtier with scribblings, cancellations, so I resorted to rough work.

Expected score: 14 out of 20

The programs in the fourth question were tricky - a program to compute and display tip speeds for a set of shank speeds against an input value of diameter (Whoa!) and a program to find minimax values in a 2-D array. It took a while for me to comprehend the first question though it turned out to be a simple program, but the second program caught me - I was not particularly good at functions at the time and this program had to do exactly that. So, I took an arduous, far less intuitive way out and the program turned out to be so large, I was assured it would not fetch me any marks!

Expected score: 10 out of 20

The programs in the fifth question were about structures - a point structure program and an employee structure program. The employee structure program was long as it required searching and sorting. Good, but time-consuming.

Expected score: 13 out of 20

So, I expected 68 out of a good first-time CP paper. I could be more intuitive with the programs, but for lack of time. Many others had struggled, because they expected "standard" programs and not out-of-the-box ones. The results came out later and many failed (CP is tough for many, even in IT and CS streams!), and I scored 45 - dismal and pathetic compared to my expectations. I applied for revaluation, but nothing came through it. I never got discouraged though - I had found programming interesting and fun, and I felt I had chosen the perfectly right career path. I have the copy of my answer-sheet with me till now, which I read through sometimes to brush up on programming basics!