The Secret to Passing an Online Coding Test

Here’s a question from a member of the Dice Community:

I thought I was a pretty good developer until I received a low score on a test where you solve a series of problems by creating and submitting code over the Internet. Is there a secret to taking these types of tests? Thanks.

Deciphering and solving complex problems on your own within a specified timeframe can be difficult. Here’s a list of developers’ best practices.

  • Take Practice Tests: Take several practice tests so you’re comfortable with the interface, the problems, the IDE and the time constraints before you take an actual exam. Find a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed, lay out a time table and track your progress as you take the test. Most professionals allocate 10 to 30 percent of their time to understanding the problem and developing a strategy, 20 percent of their time to writing code and the rest to testing.
  • Raise Your Score: Refresh your algorithm knowledge and seek input from fellow professionals by posting your code on question and answer sites. Another option is to study the problems and solutions posted by other developers. Retake the practice exam until you boost your score and your confidence.
  • Understand the Task and the Problem: Make sure you understand the task and the problem before you attempt to solve it. Create custom test cases so you can test, verify and correct your code before you hit submit.
  • Develop a Strategy: Once you understand the problem, develop a plan to attack it. Two common ways of planning the solution are to draw a flowchart or to write pseudo-code, or possibly both. If your problem-solving skills are rusty, veteran coders suggest that you go back and review problem-solving with data structures and algorithms.
  • Verify Against Different Test Cases: Test methodically using normal, extreme and exceptional data before hitting submit.

Have you passed an online coding test? Tell us how you did it.

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One Response to “The Secret to Passing an Online Coding Test”

  1. There is, I believe, a myth that ALL of IT involved solving complex problems. That is not true. There is a considerable amount of processing data in a non-complex manner. If you are seeking work with FB, Google, et al you might need to be a solver of complex problems. Otherwise you simply need to write solid code which will last the test of time and produce consistent results.