Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

At the start of the quarter:

Q: I haven't taken CSE 142 before. Should I be in CSE 154?

A: CSE 154 assumes basic programming experience in Java, C, or a similar language. We expect you to be generally familiar with concepts such as:

  • variables
  • parameters
  • loops
  • if/else
  • arrays
  • interacting with (using) objects

If you aren't sure you have enough programming experience, look at past quarters' CSE 142 web sites. Do you understand the material? If so, you should be okay in CSE 154. If you're still not sure, you can email further questions to the instructor or contact our helpful academic advisors at

Q: How do I add CSE 154 to my schedule? How do I change sections? Can you give me an add code?

A: Contact our course administrator, Pim Lustig (, for all registration issues such as adding the course or changing sections. He will be happy to help you.

During the quarter:

Q: I need help with my homework! What should I do?

A: There are lots of resources available to help you. For example:

  • There is probably someone in the WPL today, or maybe the instructor has office hours. If so, go see them.
  • Check the message board; your question may have been answered there.
  • Read the relevant chapters and sections of the textbook, especially the large "Case Study" example at the end of the relevant chapter. The case study programs are larger examples, created step-by-step, that bear a lot of similarity to each assignment.
  • Look at the in-class lecture examples and slides.
  • Look at this week's section handout problems and their solutions.
  • Try solving some smaller problems first to understand the relevant concepts, such as the ones at the ends of the textbook chapters or lecture slides.
  • Start early! We get swamped the day assignments are due.
  • Don't panic. You have late days, and even if you run out, it is only -1 point for each day late.

Q: The WPL and other resources are not enough! I need more help, such as a personal tutor. Can I get this kind of help?

A: In general, no. We in CSE do not provide individual private tutoring; there are too many students and not enough resources. We also feel that you must demonstrate your own ability and not be walked through substantial parts of the course by a private tutor. We also do not permit you to be regularly tutored "on the side" by your CSE 142/143 TA, whether or not the TA is being paid to do so.

Q: I have a scheduling conflict and need to miss a lecture or section on a particular day. Is this okay? How can I find out what I missed?

A: Lecture attendance is optional, so you may miss a lecture without penalty (so long as no exam takes place on that day). To find out what you missed, look at the Lectures section of the course web site. All slides and program code from lecture will be posted there.

You do get points for section participation and submitting the weekly problems. Section handouts will be given out only in section, so you'll have to attend if you want a copy. We don't allow students to submit the weekly problems if they aren't physically present at their section, nor to make up a missed section. But you don't need to attend every section to get the full points, so it is fine to miss a few during the quarter.

Q: I got a low score on homework and/or exams, and I'm worried about doing poorly in the course. How much impact will my past low score(s) have on my grade? What can I do?

A: You can compute for yourself the impact of your past scores on your grade. The grading weights are listed on the course syllabus.

If you want to raise your grade, the best way is to do well on future assignments and exams. We generally do not offer much extra credit nor any way to directly make up or replace low scores on past assignments or exams.

If you don't think you will be able to raise your grade enough, you may need to consider dropping the course or switching to a Satisfactory/Not Satisfactory (S/NS) option. See UW's Grading System web page for more information about grades, S/NS, and other options.

Q: When is the last date to drop the course? When is the last date to switch to Satisfactory/Not Satisfactory (S/NS)?

A: This information can be found at the UW Academic Calendar for this year.

Q: I have had a traumatic incident in my life this quarter (death in the family, accident, emotional hardship, etc.) that has made it impossible to do well in CSE 154. What should I do?

A: You may want to look into UW's hardship withdrawal procedure.

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This document and its content are copyright © Marty Stepp, 2013. All rights reserved. Any redistribution, reproduction, transmission, or storage of part or all of the contents in any form is prohibited without the author's expressed written permission.