UIL Computer Applications – Phasing Out the Contest

UIL Computer Applications – Phasing Out the Contest

Published by Beth Bryant on 20th Mar 2023

For those of you who have not heard the news, the Computer Applications Contest will be ending in May 2024. There is no doubt the value that the contest provides, and we've received numerous positive responses from coaches and students in favor of the competition.

Quotes from our Coaches

  • CompApps is probably one of the most fulfilling and demanding contests in UIL. The name is deceptive; there's a lot more to it than just typing a letter. These are the skills that millions of people who use spreadsheet and database programs utilize daily in their jobs, whether as an employee or a business owner. And it's these same skills that CompApps students leave the contest with year in and year out. They've got a step up on their peers as they enter college or the workforce. They have advanced knowledge of the software, and they have developed critical thinking skills.
  • I feel passionately about computer classes that we offer. My Computer Apps students, especially, thrive in college and at their jobs because of the knowledge gained through this contest.I just cannot imagine a more important or pertinent contest for our students in this day and age. I always say that there isn’t a more difficult contest than this, but it is so worth it. The knowledge received takes students so far in life and in their careers.
  • In reading many posts on a Coordinators Facebook page I was disappointed and heartbroken.I would like to give you my thoughts on a possible phase out of Computer Apps.This is a valuable contest.It does prepare students for using and integrating various applications that are actually used in the real world.I do see the expense in equipment/software, but I do not think that is so much the problem. All schools receive money for CTE programs.

Quotes from our Students

  • Computer Apps definitely played a major role in college for me. Knowing the basics of operating Microsoft applications was very crucial for typing an essay or manipulating numeric data or actually understanding databases for my criminal justice classes.
  • The skills I gained from competing in Computer Applications in high school helped build a foundation for me to further those skills in college and beyond. Having a proficiency in word processing, spreadsheets, and databases is now a requirement for many job positions; competing in Computer Applications helped me and undoubtedly has helped a plethora of other students gain practical skills for their future careers. Now, as a data librarian, I am putting these skills to use every day—spreadsheets and databases are integral to doing this work, and I can honestly say my experience competing in Computer Applications ignited my interest in my current field and gave me an edge in my undergraduate and postgraduate programs.
  • Not only does it look good on paper on your resume, but a lot of jobs like for you to be knowledgeable on basic computer skills, and I’ve seen some jobs where they ask for certain Microsoft skills like Excel for spreadsheets and Access which learned during Computer Apps.
  • I own a landscape company, and I use computer applications a lot. I also do my own invoices and quote sheets using Excel and take notes using Word.

Linda Tarrant, the Computer Applications director of 20+ years, stated the following:

"You all know that I believe this is one of the most useful academic contests offered by UIL. Spelling and Ready Writing hone your language skills, and Social Studies, Number Sense, Math, and Science hone skills in their respective areas. In turn, Computer Applications offers a better way to present reports and projects during your academic career in addition to skills that are invaluable to employers in the job market.

Almost every job uses a database of some kind. Even retail stores use databases to store sales, customer, and pricing information, all of which will require manipulating, updating, and analyzing data. Many students that participate in this contest find jobs as business analysts, software engineers or developers, data administrators, accountants, economists, sales managers, digital marketers, IT specialists, and other tech and research jobs. These careers are in high demand, and students proficient in Excel and a database such as Access have the advantage … I regret that our state removed courses that cover this material from the required curriculum. This is probably a reflection of thinking that everyone understands computers because they use them in their phones, watches, TV, games, etc. Understanding how computers are actually employed in the business world is entirely different. To be frank, the state's elimination of these classes is the primary reason why I believe this contest is so valuable."

As you prepare for the last year, remember the following:

  • Templates: You can create your own file of Word document templates modeling those found in the UIL Computer Applications Handbook, or you might also consider purchasing a Hexco Computer Apps Templates CDasit has all the work done for you.
  • Resources: Several resources are obtainable from the Computer Applications page on the UIL website. You can download the handbook, starter files, and several lesson plans. There are two instructional videos, including a walkthrough of the grading process.
  • Study material: UIL offers the Computer Applications Study Packet that contains a copy of the prior year's UIL tests for District, Region, and State Meets. Hexco offers Region and State Practice Packets and instructional videos. Spring Practice Packets are also some of Hexco's more challenging test material, specifically tests E and F in each packet (require Starter Files).
  • Starter files: These Access files are required for Region and State. Make sure you have downloaded this year's starter files found on the contest page on the UIL website.

We are sad to see the contest go but are so appreciative of what it has done for students who have competed throughout the years. Best of luck, and we hope to see you at State!