7 ways to prepare for a coding test
Many companies use algorithmic questions on coding tests to assess a candidate’s programming skills, problem-solving abilities, algorithmic knowledge, and more. Coding tests are the main way to evaluate a candidate’s ability to work in an IT company or in a development role. It’s no exaggeration to say that coding tests are now an essential part of getting a job as a developer. As a result, candidates are naturally more nervous about taking coding tests. In this article, we’ll discuss how to prepare for coding tests, which can be helpful if you’re looking for a job as a developer.
Coding tests require you to solve problems using a programming language within a given time frame. You’ll mostly solve algorithmic problems, and the difficulty and types of problems vary by company and position. Coding tests are usually taken online and involve solving a given problem within a certain amount of time and submitting your solution.
Coding tests are one of the most effective ways to assess developer skills in the IT industry. This is because coding tests allow candidates to write code and solve problems in a relatively short period of time and directly assess their logical thinking, problem-solving, and programming skills. Coding tests also provide a fair assessment because they focus on the developer skills needed for real-world tasks rather than external factors such as a developer’s education, experience, and specifications.
Coding tests aren’t just about solving lots of problems - you need good problems and a programming language that works for you. Everyone has a different programming language that they’re comfortable with, so make sure you choose one that you can use under pressure without stuttering. Once you’ve chosen your main language, study the grammar of that programming language. It’s a good idea to go over the basic syntax several times to make sure you’re comfortable with it.
Learning about algorithms and data structures is a must before preparing for a coding test. It’s best to start with a solid foundation in theory before attempting to solve algorithmic problems. Coding tests usually ask algorithmic questions that can be solved in a short amount of time. To solve them, you need to understand the underlying data structures and common algorithms and be able to apply them.
Therefore, when preparing for a coding test, it’s important to understand the algorithms and data structures used to solve the problem, not just answer the algorithmic questions correctly and move on. We also recommend trying to solve as many different types of problems as possible on coding test sites.
It’s also important to find efficient ways to solve algorithmic problems. You should consider the time complexity and space complexity of your algorithm to write code that solves the problem most efficiently. There is a way to represent the efficiency of an algorithm - its time complexity and space complexity - called Big-O Notation. Big-O Notation is most commonly used because it expresses minimum guaranteed performance, so it’s important to understand it and be able to use it in problem solving and technical interviews.
There are many coding test sites (e.g., LeetCode, Codility, Baekjun, Programmers) in Korea and abroad where you can take practice tests. Coding test sites provide algorithmic problems of various difficulty levels, and they also provide community features where users can share and discuss their solutions. This can help you identify your weaknesses and hone your skills as a developer.
My recommendation for solving problems is to work through the questions on a coding test site by topic, and only move on to other topics once you have a complete understanding of the topic. When you work through a collection of questions on the same topic, you’ll start to see patterns in the questions. Once you learn the pattern of the questions and understand how they are solved, you will get a feel for solving them.
The most effective way to prepare for a coding test is to repeatedly solve problems in an environment that resembles a real-world coding test. We recommend timing yourself when solving problems, especially on coding test sites, but if you haven’t solved a problem by the time the time is up, you should think about it for at least an hour. Trying multiple ways to solve a problem, even if you don’t find the right answer, will build your problem-solving skills.
Coding tests aren’t just about algorithmic knowledge; they’re also about real-world developer skills like problem solving, so it’s important to practice facing a variety of problems and thinking about them for a long time.
Coding tests are not just about solving problems, they’re also about the quality of your code, so you need to consider the readability and efficiency of your code to make sure it’s easy for others to understand, which is also very important when looking at developer competency. To write code that’s readable and efficient, you need to make a habit of constant feedback, such as code reviews and analyzing other people’s code. It’s also helpful to get into the habit of giving feedback on problems you’ve solved and reviewing them so you can identify your weaknesses and improve them. When giving feedback on problem solving, try to analyze the time complexity and space complexity in big-o notation, and compare it to other people’s answers to see if there’s a better solution.
Preparing for a coding test doesn’t happen in a short period of time, so it requires constant and consistent practice. It is recommended that you prepare for coding tests by solving problems at a set time every day. This preparation should not only prepare you for coding tests, but also help you to create a consistent study habit for yourself. It is often said that being a developer is a job that requires constant learning. Learning about new technologies and trends is essential not only for developers, but also for any job in the future. Therefore, it is important to create a good study habit for your future career development.
So far, we’ve summarized how to prepare for coding tests. Coding tests require more than just knowing programming, so it’s important to develop various skills such as problem-solving skills, algorithm knowledge, and code writing skills in the process of preparing for coding tests. You can prepare the basics through coding test sites, algorithm lectures, etc. If you are planning to prepare for a coding test or want to go through the basics and problems at once, you may want to take a look at Elice’s Algorithmic Coding Test Preparation Course.
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