Q&A-KCSE Computer Studies Paper 1

Describe one difference between system software and application software

  • System software manages the computer hardware/application software
  • application software is for end-user tasks

 Identify the type of software used to compress files.

Utility Software

Explain why solid state storage is the best choice for a fitness tracker.

  • Because it will be subject to movement  and it does not use mechanical/moving parts


  • Solid state storage is smaller/more compact so better suited for a wearable device


  • Doesn’t have moving parts  because they could be disrupted during use

Explain the functions of the following parts of the CPU

Control Unit; Decodes instruction; Controls the fetching and writing of data;

Arithmetic Logic Unit/ ALU; Executes mathematical instructions;  Executes logical instructions; Compares values held in registers;

 Clock; Controls the number of instructions carried out each second;   allows the CPU to synchronize operations;

Identify one component common to all computers.

  • Processor

 State two components of the CPU

Any two from:

  • Registers
  • Clock
  • CU
  • ALU

List four ways of acquiring software in an organization

  1. Commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) software: Organizations can purchase pre-developed software solutions from commercial vendors. These software products are typically ready-made and designed to fulfill common business needs. Examples include productivity software, customer relationship management (CRM) systems, and accounting software. COTS software can be licensed based on a one-time purchase or a subscription model.

  2. Custom software development: Organizations may choose to develop custom software tailored to their specific requirements. This involves hiring software developers or outsourcing the development work to a third-party vendor. Custom software offers flexibility and can be designed to align with unique business processes and workflows. It allows organizations to have full control over the software's features and functionality.

  3. Open-source software: Open-source software is developed collaboratively and made freely available to the public. Organizations can acquire open-source software without incurring licensing costs. They have the right to use, modify, and distribute the software as per the terms of the open-source license. Open-source software can be an economical option, and it allows organizations to benefit from community-driven development and ongoing improvements.

  4. Software as a Service (SaaS): SaaS refers to software applications that are accessed and used over the internet. Organizations can acquire software on a subscription basis, where the software is hosted and maintained by the vendor. Users access the software through web browsers or dedicated client applications. SaaS eliminates the need for local software installation and offers scalability and accessibility from any location with an internet connection.

Describe how the CPU and main memory work together.

Data and instructions are fetched from main memory, from addresses requested by the CPU on the address bus. (Data and instructions are sent) using the data bus. (Data and instructions are then) decoded and executed in the CPU.
Results of operations are sent back to the memory on the data bus

What are the functions of the system clock in the CPU?

  • It dictates the speed at which data is transferred between these components and enables the sequential execution of instructions in the correct order.
  • generates a timing signal that is used to synchronize communication between CPU components and the rest  of the computer system

State the factors that affect the performance of the CPU

Number of cores
The number of cores a processor has directly affects the performance of the processor. Each core can perform its own fetch-execute cycle independently of others, so different applications can be allocated to different cores. Quad-core (four-core) and even octa-core (eight-core) processors are becoming common

Cache memory
A processor’s cache is a small portion of incredibly fast memory. It has read and write speeds far higher than hard disk drives and even SSDs. The cache is used to store frequently used information and reduces time wasted in fetching the same information from main memory time and time again

Clock speed
A processor’s clock speed relates to the frequency of the pulses generated by the system clock. The higher the frequency, the more cycles of the fetch-execute cycle can be completed in the same period of time.

Word length
A word is a group of bits that is treated as a single unit by a processor. Words can be used for representing both instructions and data. The length of a word is the number of bits that are assigned to it, with higher word lengths allowing for more bits to be transferred and manipulated as a single unit.

Address bus width
The width of a bus relates to the number wires that make up the bus. Increasing the width of the address bus increases the range of addresses that it can specify, hence increasing the computer’s amount of addressable memory. Adding a single wire doubles the number of addressable memory locations

Data bus width
Increasing the width of the data bus increases the volume of data that can be transferred over the bus at any one time. A wider data bus allows the processor to fetch more data from the main memory in one cycle of the fetch-execute cycle, reducing the number of cycles required to fetch large volumes of data.

State two functions of utility software

  • Repairing files
  • Compression
  • Defragmentation
  • Back up
  • Anti-virus / anti-spyware / anti-malware
  • Firewall
  • Managing application updates
  • Format disks/drives
  • System analysis tools

Describe the function of the Cache memory

  • (Cache) Stores regularly accessed instructions/data
  • Reduces the need to access instructions/data from the main memory
  •  Makes up for the difference in speed of the CPU and main memory

Why are CD-Rs and CD_ROMs referred to as WORM?

  • Because data is recorded to the disks once but can be accessed many times without changing the content
  • once data is written to the disk, it becomes read-only and cannot be altered or erased.

Define the term multimedia

  • Is an integration of sound, text, graphics, and video to convey information

Describe the principles of operation of  laser printers and describe how they are applied in real-life scenarios

  • A laser printer makes use of powdered ink and static electricity to print
  • Unlike inkjet printers which print line-by-line, laser printers print the whole page in one go


  • The data from the  file to be printed is sent to a printer driver
  • The printer driver checks that the data is in an understandable format
  • The printer driver checks if the printer is able to carry out the print job
  • The data is sent to the printer and is stored in a printer buffer
  • A printing drum in the printer is given a positve charge. A laser beam removes the positive charge in some areas. This leaves negatively charged areas which matches the characters/images to be printed