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The concept of competitive coding has gained popularity for quite some time now and its known all over the world.
Competitive coding is a type of programming contest in which competitors undertake to solve problems using code. These problems can vary in difficulty, but they are basically developed to challenge a programmer’s problem-solving and coding skills. Coding competitions usually have strict time limits, so competitors will be able to write efficient code that solves the problem accurately within the given time period.
Along with this, your code must pass a certain set of test cases that the organizers have made in order to check if your solution is correct or not. If it is, then you are one step closer to winning the competition! With the internet, coding competitions can now be conducted online, which has made them more reachable to people all over the world. There are different types of coding competitions, but they can widely be categorized into two main categories: algorithmic and scripting.
Algorithmic competitions concentrates on problem-solving and need participants to write efficient code that solves the given problem. Scripting competitions concentrates on code that is written in a particular scripting language, such as Python or Ruby.
How Can You Prepare Yourself For Coding Competitions:
1. Do your research:
Before you competes in a coding competition, it’s necessary to do your research. Coding competitions can differ greatly in terms of difficulty, so you’ll want to make sure you are competing in one that is suitable for your skill level. You can often find this information on the competition’s website. In addition to finding a suitable competition, it’s also essential to read up on the rules and regulations. In addition, keeping tabs with competition news both on official sites and on social media will help you learn tips and tricks that will give you an upper hand on competition day.
2. Pick a Programming Language :
The first step to beginning any programming journey is picking a language. This is the way you will be able to communicate with their computer so it can give you the output you need. Computer languages come in all shapes and forms and they’re each suitable of performing different tasks but picking a specific language can end up being a competitive advantage. C++ for example is a highly preferred language because of its STL which cuts down on a lot of coding time. Java is another coding language that competitive programmers prefer due to its BigInteger class that allows for quick mathematical computations. At last, Python offers easy-to-learn but highly effective classes that lets that come quite handy while solving problems. All this being said, the best way to find out which coding language is best for you is by letting them try out a few and seeing which one they’re most comfortable with.
3. Find the Resources Online:
There are many resources available online that can assist you to prepare for coding competitions. If you’re not sure where to begin, a quick Google search will give a lot of options. Once you’ve found a few potential resources, it’s essential to examine them to see if they’re suitable for your skill level and learning style. Some resources may be too difficult for you, where as others may be too easy. It’s also necessary to make sure that the resources you select are up-to-date and relevant to the types of competitions you will be competing in.
4. Pick the Right Competition:
As we discussed before, coding competitions can differ greatly in terms of difficulty. It’s important to make sure you compete in a competition that is suitable for your skill level. If you compete in a competition that is too easy, you may not be challenged and may not study anything new. Additionally, it is important to find a competition that provides you some type of motivation. This could be in the form of a prize, or simply the satisfaction of knowing you did your best.
Top Tips On Competition Preparation!
1. Dissect Questions :
The main mistake made during competitive programming competitions is misinterpreting what the questions actually are. Thus, you would end up making many mistakes and wasting unnecessary time on trying to find out and fix your mistake. It is very important that when you first get a question you take your time to examine it. Make sure to look at the input and output examples to make sure that you get the format of the code right. But the most important part is making sure you know the output that your code has to make.
2. Create Skeleton Algorithms
When you begin coding, you shall notice that certain algorithms are more helpful for solving specific types of problems than others. For instance, if you had a problem with finding a certain sum versus a problem with examining a string, you have to approach both very differently. In a competitive exam trying to find out how to look into these two problems would take up more time, instead, you could spend time before the competition itself coming up with basic skeleton algorithms that can be used to solve a variety of problems.
3. Practice, Practice, Practice :
As with anything in life, practice makes perfect. Coding competitions are also the same. The more you practices, the better you will be at solving problems under pressure. There are many resources you can use to practice, like online coding challenges, practice problems from past competitions, and also creating accounts on code-solving websites. Also the key to doing great in coding competitions is being able to make efficient and optimal solutions to the problem under the given time limits. The only way to achieve this is to be able to quickly come up with creative solutions and be able to translate this into a working piece of code is only by practice.
4. Prepare early and effectively :
We all know the feeling of studying a day before the exam, it’s simply stressful and you really never end up with a final product you are actually looking for. The same goes for preparing for a competition. Rather than trying to prepare a day or a week before a competition try to prepare for 10 mins every day at least 3-5 months before competition day. Whether you are new to coding or a pro, this method lets you to take your time to practice and master the foundations of their coding language something that will greatly help them compete.
5. Practice a diverse range of problems :
You may select a specific topic of problems that you would like to practice. While their problems in themselves are inborn and highly challenging knowing the topic beforehand will give you hints to the solution that they wouldn’t have had otherwise. This allows you consider all possibilities before submitting your answer. This also exposes you to unique and different ways to solve a problem that can lead to a more suitable solution.
6. Encourage Collaboration:
Coding competitions are not only a great way for you to learn to code, but they’re also a great opportunity to know and make new friends. You have to collaborate with other participants and friends and talk to them about their strategies and solutions. Also you have to interact with the coding community, whether that’s through asking for advice or solutions from stack overflow or watching content on YouTube made by expert programmers. Collaboration is one of the easiest things you can do to not only getting new ideas but also inspire yourself to be passionate about coding and your coding community.
7. Understand the Competition Environment:
You will be given a set of problems to solve in a coding competition. To do this, you must to use your computer programming skills to write code that will produce the desired output. While this may sound easy though, it’s important to keep in mind that coding competitions are based on time. This means that you must write the code quickly and efficiently. In addition, you must debug your code on the fly in case you make any mistakes. This can be stressful for some, so it’s necessary to develop strategies beforehand to keep track of time during the competition. Using a stopwatch or timer, setting up an alarm, or using a countdown timer app on their phone can be helpful.
8. Remember to Destress :
Coding competitions can be extremely dismaying even though they are a competition. The key is not to put too much pressure on yourself. Yes, winning would be amazing, but the goal should be for you to enjoy the challenge, learn from the process, and build your confidence.
9. Use Competitions as a stepping stone :
Coding competitions are the best way for you to get started in the world of coding. They can be used as a stepping stone to other opportunities such as joining a club, taking an advanced course, or becoming involved in other extracurriculars. Coding competitions can also be a great way to begin building a portfolio and resume.
Benefits of Solving Coding Challenges
Below given are some benefits of solving coding competitions:
Develop problem-solving skills
A frequent question in tech interviews is to debug a program that has already been written. Freshers may find this task difficult because usually they are used to relying on tools to help them identify mistakes in their programs.
Coding Challenges will help you in becoming a real problem solver. You will be able to find out easily the errors present in lines of code. In addition, it writes error-free codes, empowers your technical skills, and boosts your coding mentality.
Strengthen coding fundamentals
Coding challenges also strengthen coding fundamentals such as data structures and algorithms. This is important for coding interviews, as they usually concentrate on these fundamentals and their applications.
Code faster than ever
The main limitation of a coding interview or test is the time. In a given time period, you will have to write a completely error-free program. For a fresher, it may seem nearly impossible.
When you just begin to learn to program, you will be very slow at it. You take hours to write simple codes and check them again for mistakes.
Attending in different coding challenges helps you get faster at it. You will notice a significant change in speed in your coding skill and projects.
Write better code
In programming, there are always several ways to write a single code. But, only a few of them are accurate solutions. And, this is the main factor in coding. You always have to check the efficiency of a program. For example, a code can be written on 10 lines, and the same can be written on 3 lines.
It would be best if you always go for the shorter route. It helps you get the job done quicker and cleaner.