Computer Applications focuses on word processing speed and accuracy, skill in the use of database and spreadsheet applications, and the integration of all of these. Contestants will have the opportunity to produce two printouts and the mandatory tie breaker. Each printout will be assigned a weighted point value, based on difficulty, which will be so indicated on the contest paper.
This is a technology based contest, and the goal is for students to have a thorough, working knowledge of these three applications and be able to complete substantial tasks in all of them and to direct data from one application to another. The difficulty of the elements on tests will increase as we get to higher levels of competition. Being a contest based on Microsoft Office, Computer Applications will continue to make incremental changes to keep abreast of the changing technology. Again this year, competitors will be using Office 2007 or Office 2010, and in addition, Office 2013. The format of these versions is fairly consistent.
Since 2012, we have created an Access database with multiple tables annually that we post on the UIL website to be used with a practice exercise (also posted) and subsequently with the Region and State tests. The consensus of using this type of downloaded data has been consistently positive. Using downloaded files has minimized typographical errors on these tests and has been closer to what is common in the business world usage of Microsoft Office. If a student has to enter all the data for a test and makes an error on one or more values, then every field that is calculated based on the fields with the typos are also incorrect, and this complicates grading.
An Access database is posted on the website, and it is entitled 2014 Starter File.accdb. Please download this file and the associated file, 2014 Download Exercise.pdf which has the following elements.
General Information for the UIL Exercise Using Downloaded Files. This simply gives some background on the exercise. UIL Computer Applications Exercise Using Downloaded Files. The exercise imports tables from the downloaded database, adds a table with minimal records, makes calculations using an update query, prints a report, and creates a select query. The exercise then skips to Excel to "read" the results of the select query from the Access database, creates subtotals and creates a chart. Clues. Clues are given for various calculations, formulas and created fields, and the design view of the report is shown. Printouts. The printout from the Access portion of the exercise is shown for Office 2007 and for Office 2010/2013. One printout is shown from Excel for that portion of the exercise.
After you've tried the sample exercise as a coach, have your students attempt the exercise to give students a truer picture of how people use Microsoft Office, particularly Excel and Access. Perhaps, eventually this will make it clear what the actual function of a database is as opposed to the usage of a spreadsheet. Many students working with a very limited collection of data have little understanding of the value of database applications and feel that everything can be done in a spreadsheet. This is not the case when there are large database tables with multiple relationships. Hopefully, this will also make the grading a bit more straightforward with the elimination of most typos.
Thanks to Computer Applications coaches for all your help in trying to keep this contest moving as technology moves. Additional Information
Technology keeps changing, and the Computer Applications Contest continues to be pulled forward in the wake. With Microsoft Office 2013 now available, Computer Applications, in the spirit of using the "current or near current version of Microsoft Office," will allow use of either Office 2007, 2010 or 2013 for all contests.
Currently, tests are written in one version of Office, and they are tested in the other two...
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