Additional feedback on 1-point questions

On 1-point questions in the various assignments of the course (which are by far the most common), you may find that you have not earned credit for your answer and there is no feedback from the staff. This page serves as a source for that supplementary feedback.

There are five common reasons that this might happen, one of which is far more common than the others. Unfortunately we do leave it to you to determine which applies here, though (5) below is a good place to start if you have no idea.

(1) Your answer is incorrect

If, for example, an answer calls for you to describe the runtime of a given algorithm using “big-oh” notation and your answer describes an incorrect runtime (say, you write O(log n) where O(n²) is the right answer), regardless of the explanation you provided, it will be marked wrong.

(2) Your answer violates a length constraint

Some questions have minimum length requirements (“In a short paragraph…”) or maximum length requirements (“In no more than two sentences…”) explicitly spelled out. Answers in violation of those constraints will often be marked wrong.

(3) Your answer answers the wrong question

Sometimes you may either (a) type the answer to the wrong question in the answer box or (b) answer a question entirely different from that which we asked. Do take care to read each question as it is written, give thought to what is being asked of you, and answer that question and only that question.

(4) Your answer is not written in English

While we are aware we may have students from all over the world, the course is taught in English and answers must also be in English.

(5) Your answer is insufficiently explanatory

This is far and away the most common reason to not earn credit for an answer in this course. When writing your answers, you should not leave it to the staff to infer or make a judgment call about what you are trying to say. Your answer should clearly and thoroughly convey the point you’re trying to make, with no ambiguity. As an example, consider the below question, which appears in this course’s second assignment:

Why do TCP/IP packets from one computer to another not always take the same amount of time to arrive at their destination?

A very common answer to this question (which receives 0 points) is “They might take different paths.” The reasons this answer does not earn credit are:

  • It is not thorough.
  • It is not clear why the packets might take different paths.

A more comprehensive answer which would earn full credit wouldn’t take much more than this: “There are many reasons why packets might take different amounts of time, but a common one is network congestion. Different packets may travel through different sets of routers from point A to point B based on the routers’ efforts to optimize for avoiding traffic.”

Remember as well that this course takes plagiarism seriously, and copying the above answer as your own is also not likely to result in a positive outcome. Indeed, it may result in removal from the course with no grounds for appeal.

In this course, you are always welcome to resubmit assignments if you do not reach the 70% threshold, so you can try a different answer the next time if needed!