Problem-solving skills are one of the most important skills a programmer should focus on. Many beginner programmers find it difficult. Today, we’ll discuss how you can improve your problem-solving skills and master competitive programming. So, let’s get started.
Most big companies don’t really care about what technologies you’ve worked with. They are more interested in testing your problem-solving skills. That’s the reason why Google has so many Coding interview rounds in their hiring process. Thus, we are left with a clear conclusion that good problem-solving skills are a must to crack coding interviews as the interviewers will not ask you to add two numbers.
Many beginner programmers or programming students find it difficult to improve their problem-solving skills. I also went through the same. It felt like these questions are too hard to be solved. I hardly solved any question in my early days. But eventually, I got better and better at solving those questions.
Here are some important points that can help you improve your problem-solving skills.
Start with a beginner-friendly platform
If you are a beginner, make sure you start competitive programming with a beginner-friendly platform and move on to a more advanced platform later. You can read our last article “Best websites to practice programming“. It would help you select the best platform for competitive programming.
Have some patience
As I said earlier, I couldn’t do much in my early days. I could hardly solve any problem. But I got better eventually. The thing is, you can’t be good at anything overnight. Things take time. It’s similar to body-building. If you’ll be consistent and dedicated, you’ll definitely see the results. But you can’t get the results overnight.
Also, exercising too much can cause cramps. Same is the case for programming. If you’ll start solving more and more problems without taking proper breaks, you’ll get tired. And if you get stuck at a question you’ll get irritated. So, don’t rush things. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Be patient.
Now, this point can be a bit controversial. The definition of cheating in competitive programming is a bit complicated. Let’s understand it using an example.
Suppose there’s a boy named Zeffy. Zeffy is a beginner programmer and he got stuck in solving a coding-problem. He tried solving it in every possible way he can think of. But he’s unable to solve it. So, he looks at the discussion forum of that problem. He finds that someone has posted his solution there.
Now, Zeffy is a good boy, he would read that code carefully and try to figure out what that person did. And when Zeffy eventually figures out the logic behind solving the problem, he would write the code himself. And that’s not cheating. That’s is considered as teaching yourself by reading other people’s code.
But don’t do this a lot. Try to figure out the logic yourself first.
However, If Zeffy would’ve been a bad boy, he would just copy that code and submit it and move on to the next question. That’s cheating. You should never do this.
But Zeffy is a good boy. Be like Zeffy.
Study about Data Structures and Algorithms
In the beginning, you wouldn’t get that many hard problems. But as you move ahead, you can’t do much without Data Structures and algorithms. It doesn’t which language you use for programming, Data structures are very important. They can help you a lot in solving complicated problems in easy steps.
You can watch some video tutorials on Data Structures. I’ve enrolled in Data Structures and Algorithms specialization on Coursera and it’s an amazing course. If you can invest some money, I would recommend it. However, you can also get a cheaper course on Udemy or watch some YouTube videos instead.
COMPETE! COMPETE! COMPETE!
Well, that’s what competitive programming is all about. Participate in as many contests as you can. Give your best shot at these contests. They’ll help you get a higher rating too. That makes your coding profile stand out. Websites like CodeChef and codeforces host a lot of coding contests.
So, that was all for today. I hope this article was helpful to you. We’ll be back with another article soon.
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