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The Codewars’ Climb to 4kyu

Jacob Evans
FullStack Software Engineer @ Cloudflare | Air Force Veteran | Hardware Enthusiast | Outdoorsman | OSS Enthusiast & Contributor
・2 min read

The Advice:

  1. Editor: The code challenge sites all have their code editors, they all have some sort of UI/UX that makes them unique. I always suggest to people to take the problem into their code editor. The editor I use is VScode, and I have spent lots of time customizing it.

  2. Help: I don’t immediately ask for help even at work, but at work, I will ask after being stuck on something for 15 or 20 minutes. When it comes to code challenges, I will sometimes stay on it for days, but asking for help is important once you have felt that you sufficiently pushed yourself past your limits.

  3. Research: This should be happening all the time… Software Developers do not work in a desert with no resources available. The entire knowledge of the collective Internet is at your disposal.
    Problem Domain: If the problem seems big, break it up into smaller pieces. That should be how most functions are written anyways, each function handles one task.

The Story:

I haven’t used CodeWars for a while now, mainly because I have been working at Audea Development but occasionally I will still tackle a challenge here or there, but I get plenty of challenges at work for now. Now the question I was prompted with to write this article was, “How did you reach 4Kyu, what were your methods or strategies.” I am paraphrasing, however, that is the gist of it.
So let’s dive in, I do not have a computer science degree. I obtained my education at a coding Bootcamp. This should be a sign that computer science degrees are great. However, the degree is not necessary to reach your goal to become a proficient software developer.
I wanted to improve my problem solving and algorithm skills. So to achieve this I hit the coding challenges hard early on. The very first one I tried in CodeWars was a 5Kyu and at the time I was not syntactically strong in JavaScript yet, and none of it was making sense. So rather than be discouraged immediately I decided I would reverse engineer the syntax I didn’t understand. This included just searching on Mozilla Developers Network (MDN) everything I was unclear on. This was pure drudgery at first and imposter syndrome was creeping in quickly. The moment when all that meticulous research came together was when I went to 8kyu and it made sense! I could understand the JavaScript syntax and the problem domain.
After moving into the lower level challenges I was able to gradually acquire more completions. The solutions were starting to come faster at the 8Kyu level. It was time to move on, so of course, I tried 5Kyu again I was immediately humbled once more. The process is long and difficult, to get to the higher-level problem domains, and it’s a different pace for everyone.
Feel free to ever contact me for questions about JavaScript, Resources, Code Challenges, etc… If I don’t have an answer I will help you get one.

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