The theory component of CAT seems to have earned itself a bad rep. The theory really needn’t be boring “book learning”: almost without exception, you should be able to see examples of and experience the technology that you are learning about. CAT is a living subject — you are surrounded by examples of computer technology all the time. Technology changes rapidly and you can keep up-to-date by simply being curious.
Learning about HDD’s? Open up a failed (broken) HDD to view the actual metal platters and actuator arm inside the device.
Learning about open source software? Load an old PC with Ubuntu and OpenOffice and explore the differences between that set-up and the Microsoft operating system and office suite you are used to using.
Putting the pieces in place
Almost all of your theory should fit into one of the two diagrams below, and if you are answering a question, start by detailing where it fits into the diagrams:
For example, if a question requires you to explain what a mouse is:
- Start by describing its place in the first diagram and list the obvious facts: a mouse is a hardware device used for input,
- and continue by describing in terms of the second diagram how the input from the mouse, such as a right-click, is processed and the result is output on the screen as a right-click menu.
I cannot stress enough the importance of learning terminology. Make a list of acronyms and learn them off-by-heart – make a set of flash-cards and ask your friends and family to help you!
As in almost any subject, knowing a little about the history of computers important in understanding where we are now.