Those of you considering taking CS 252 (Computer Architecture) in Spring 2001 should be forewarned that there will be a pass/fail prerequisite quiz at the end of the first week of classes to see if you are ready to take the course. The purpose of the quiz is to ensure that everyone has re-familiarized themselves with the prerequisites so that we do not need to slow down lectures to cover material that most of your classmates already know. The quiz does not affect your grade.
We did this last time it was offered and it worked very well. People who hadn't taken a hardware course > 2 years were able to get back up to speed on their own, and I was able to limit the lecture material that was most already knew. (Students overwhelmingly supported the concept when surveyed.)
This semester, for example, we will use some of the freed lecture time to talk about similarities and differences between digital signal processors and desktop microprocessors.
In case you would like to get started reviewing the prerequisite material before the class starts, either take a look at the CS 152 home page containing lecture slides and exams, or borrow a copy of the book "Computer Organization and Design" Second Edition, 1997 (ISBN 1-55860-428-6) and read chapters 2, 6, 7, and 8.
P.S. Back when we had a written prelim system that covered hardware topics, such a prerequisite test was unnecessary. But now we need another mechanism to get students to "reload their cache" of prerequisite material.