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DSST Computing and Information Technology Study Guide

Updated: Feb 14

DSST Computing and Information Technology Exam Outline

Prepare for Success: Computing and Information Technology DSST Exam

Are you planning to take the Computing and Information Technology DSST exam?


With our comprehensive study guide, you're equipped with the tools you need to succeed.

Navigate with Confidence

Our study guide offers a detailed exam outline, providing invaluable test structure and content insights.

We've got you covered, from computer hardware and software to networking and data management.

Maximize Your Preparation

Prepare effectively by familiarizing yourself with the exam's format and critical concepts.

Our study guide breaks down each topic, ensuring you have a solid grasp of the material.


Table of Contents


1. Computer Organization and Hardware

Girl fixing computer processing unit.
Computer Organization and Hardware (19% - 21%)

Processing Components

The CPU, or Central Processing Unit, serves as the computer's brain, executing the instructions provided by computer programs.


Primary Storage

Primary storage, also known as memory, houses the program instructions and data necessary for immediate access and processing by the CPU.



Peripherals encompass all external devices connected to the CPU, such as keyboards, mice, monitors, and printers, which expand the computer system's functionality.



Computer architectures define the design and capabilities of a computer system, including its underlying structure and programming model, without referencing any specific implementation.


Data Representation

Data representation refers to the methods employed within a computer system to represent and manipulate information, facilitating efficient storage, retrieval, and data processing.


Units of Measurement

Bits, bytes, pixels, and other units serve as fundamental measures within computing, quantifying data size, resolution, and other relevant parameters essential for digital operations.


DSST Computing and Information Technology Trivia Question # 258


2. Systems Software

Employee showing UI design on a board.
Systems Software (14% - 16%)

Operating Systems

Operating systems manage computer hardware resources and provide essential services for running other software programs.

They facilitate communication between hardware components and software applications, manage system resources such as memory and CPU usage, and provide a program execution platform.



Utilities are small software programs designed to complement the operating system's capabilities.

They perform specific tasks to enhance system performance, optimize resource usage, troubleshoot issues, and provide additional functionalities not included in the core operating system.

Examples of utilities include disk cleanup tools, antivirus software, file compression programs, and system maintenance utilities.


User Interfaces

User interfaces (UIs) are the graphical or textual interfaces through which users interact with computers and software applications.

UIs provide users with a means of inputting commands, accessing information, and navigating through software functionalities.

They can range from simple text-based interfaces to sophisticated graphical user interfaces (GUIs) featuring icons, menus, and windows for intuitive interaction.


3. Application Software

Female reviewing application software on her cell phone.
Application Software (14% - 16%)

Word Processing and Desktop Publishing

Word processing and desktop publishing software are used to create, edit, format, and print text documents.

They provide tools for composing written content, applying formatting styles, inserting images and graphics, and arranging elements on a page to produce professional-looking documents.



Spreadsheets offer users a visual representation of data organized in rows and columns, similar to a paper worksheet.

They provide robust calculation and analysis capabilities, allowing users to perform mathematical operations efficiently, create formulas, generate charts and graphs, and analyze large datasets.


Hypertext, Multimedia, and Presentation Software

Hypertext, multimedia, and presentation software create interactive presentations and multimedia content.

They allow users to integrate text, images, audio, video, and interactive elements into presentations or documents.

These tools are commonly used for educational purposes, business presentations, and entertainment media.



Database software is designed for storing, organizing, retrieving, and managing large volumes of data.

It provides users with a structured framework for storing information, making it easy to search, filter, and manipulate data.

Database systems often include data security, integrity, and concurrency control features to ensure consistency and reliability.



Graphics software encompasses both raster and vector graphics editing tools.

Raster graphics software is used to manipulate images composed of pixels, while vector graphics software is used to create and edit scalable graphics composed of geometric shapes.

These tools are essential for graphic design, digital art creation, photo editing, and illustration tasks.


Software Licensing

Software licensing refers to the legal agreements that govern how software can be used, distributed, and redistributed.

It outlines the terms and conditions under which users are granted permission to use the software and may include restrictions on copying, sharing, modifying, and selling the software.

Software licenses help protect intellectual property rights and ensure compliance with copyright laws and usage agreements.


DSST Computing and Information Technology Trivia Question # 259


4. Communication and Networks

Two men managing computer networks.
Communication and Networks (19% - 21%)

World Wide Web

The World Wide Web (WWW) is a global network of interconnected computers that serve web pages containing text, multimedia, and interactive content.

It enables users to access and share information online using web browsers.


Personal Communications

Personal communications technologies provide users convenient access to data and applications on different host systems.

These technologies include email, instant messaging, video conferencing, and social media platforms, facilitating communication and collaboration among individuals and groups.


Network Access

Network access refers to connecting to and using resources on remote computer systems or networks.

Remote network access allows users to access files, databases, applications, and services from a distance, typically using secure protocols and authentication mechanisms.


Network Architectures

Network architectures define the layout, structure, and organization of computer networks.

They specify the hardware, software, protocols, and communication standards to establish connections and facilitate data exchange between network devices.


Data Communications

Data communications involve transmitting and receiving digital data between computers and devices over a network.

It encompasses the processes of encoding, transmitting, receiving, and decoding data using various communication technologies and protocols.


Safety and Security

Safety and security measures are essential to protect computer networks, systems, and data from unauthorized access, breaches, and malicious attacks.

Security programs and protocols, such as firewalls, encryption, antivirus software, and intrusion detection systems, help safeguard against cyber threats and ensure information confidentiality, integrity, and availability.


Mobile Networks

Mobile networks provide wireless communication services over geographical areas divided into cells.

These networks enable mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets, to connect to the internet and communicate with other devices wirelessly, allowing users to access data, applications, and services while on the go.


5. Software Development

Male reviewing software code on screen.
Software Development (9% - 11%)

Software Life Cycle

The software life cycle involves developing, deploying, and maintaining software applications.

It typically includes the following phases:

1. Requirement Gathering and Analysis: This phase involves gathering and analyzing user requirements to understand what the software should accomplish.

2. Design: In this phase, the software architecture, system components, and user interface are designed based on the requirements identified in the previous phase.

3. Implementation or Coding: The actual coding or programming of the software takes place in this phase, where developers write the source code based on the design specifications.

4. Testing: The software is rigorously tested in this phase to identify and fix defects or issues before user deployment.

5. Deployment: Once the software has been thoroughly tested and approved, it is deployed or released to users.

6. Maintenance: The software is continuously maintained and updated to address bugs, add new features, or adapt to user requirements or technology changes.


Programming Methodology

Programming methodology refers to the language, processes, and techniques of software development.

It encompasses various approaches to organizing and structuring code, managing dependencies, and ensuring the reliability and maintainability of software systems.


Data Types and Algorithms

Data types and algorithms are fundamental concepts in computer science and programming.

Data types define the kind of data that can be stored and manipulated in a program, while algorithms are step-by-step procedures or rules for solving a particular problem or performing a task.


Program Constructs

Program constructs are programming languages' essential elements, commands, and statements to build software applications.

These include control structures (e.g., loops, conditionals), data structures (e.g., arrays, lists), functions, classes, and modules.


Logic Concepts

Logic concepts in programming encompass various theories and principles used to reason about and analyze software systems.

This includes computability theory, which explores what can and cannot be computed by algorithms, modal logic, which deals with reasoning about necessity and possibility, and category theory, which provides a framework for understanding and categorizing different structures in mathematics and computer science.


Software Development Tools

Software development tools are programs or utilities used by developers to aid in the development, maintenance, and debugging of software.

These tools include integrated development environments (IDEs), version control systems, debuggers, profilers, and build automation tools.

They help streamline the development process and improve productivity.


DSST Computing and Information Technology Trivia Question # 426


6. Social Impact and History

Four team members on virtual call.
Social Impact and History (19% – 21%)

History: Major Developments and Influential Figures

The history of computer science and information technology is marked by significant developments and influential figures that have shaped the field.

From the invention of the first programmable computer by Charles Babbage to the development of the internet and modern-day computing technologies, key milestones and innovators have propelled the industry forward.


Ethical/Legal Issues: Ethical and Legal Use of Computers and Systems

As technology advances, ethical and legal considerations in using computers and systems have become increasingly important.

Issues such as data privacy, intellectual property rights, cybersecurity, and algorithmic bias raise complex ethical and legal questions that require careful consideration and regulation to ensure fair and responsible use of technology.


Safety and Security: Firewalls, Viruses, VPNs, etc.

Safety and security in computer science and information technology are critical concerns to protect systems and data from unauthorized access, malicious attacks, and data breaches.

Technologies such as firewalls, antivirus software, virtual private networks (VPNs), encryption, and multi-factor authentication play essential roles in safeguarding digital assets and maintaining cybersecurity.


Careers in Computer Science and Information: Current and Future Career Options

Computer science and information technology offer various career opportunities, from software development and cybersecurity to data analysis and artificial intelligence.

As technology evolves, new roles and specializations emerge, creating exciting prospects for individuals interested in pursuing careers in this dynamic and rapidly growing industry.


Social Issues: Environmental Concerns, Protecting Children, Workplace Issues, etc.

Beyond technical considerations, computer science and information technology intersect with various social issues, including environmental sustainability, online safety for children, and workplace diversity and inclusion.

Addressing these social challenges requires collaboration between technologists, policymakers, and society to ensure that technology benefits all individuals and communities while minimizing potential harm.


7. Conclusion: DSST Computing and Information Technology

Man working on his three screen computer.

Prepare for Success with the Computing and Information Technology DSST Exam

This comprehensive test covers essential topics such as computer organization and hardware, processing components, primary storage, peripherals, architectures, data representation, units of measurement, and much more.

Our DSST Course Library offers everything you need to succeed on this exam.

Our self-paced online courses allow you to access expertly curated study materials, interactive lessons, and practice tests designed to help you master the content and ace the exam.

Sign up for our courses today and take the first step toward achieving your academic goals.

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8. Student Resources


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