Validity of the language certification tests

I just attempted the C# certification test and I’m not so sure I agree with how they’re handled. I ended up getting a 47% because I ran out of time. It wasn’t a matter of how well you know C#, or if you can apply more general data structures and algorithm knowledge to solve problems in the language. I completed each of the problems I was given without an issue, up until the time ran out. This feels like it was more of a graded speed run than it was a test of utilizing a programming language.

Am I alone in thinking this?

Just to shortly add my opinion:
I think the certification test is fine and it’s normal to have a time limit to test if you’re proficient in applying your skills.

But I’m kind of interested:
What would you change? (higher time limit? no time limit?)
What do you think this certification represents? Why do you want this certification?

Being able to solve problems reasonably quickly is also an important skill. Your speed directly determines how well you can hand in your work within deadlines. Also, if you work in a team, you have to move along with the team members instead of dragging their feet.

By the way, I have experienced technical interviews with much tighter time constraints than CodinGame certification tests.

I definitely think a time limit is a valid constraint, but I think 1 hour wasn’t proportional to the number of problems expected to be answered in the test. I don’t really expect someone to dedicate much more than an hour for a quick certification test though, so I’d lean more towards giving fewer problems.
To me, I think the certification should show that you can effectively apply the language to solve the problems presented. But in my opinion, being required to do so in only a few minutes each doesn’t feel as important as being able to solve the problem.

Stay on this site, continue solving puzzles, build some more experience in problem solving.
Then retake the certification in 1-2 months.
I swear your opinion will have changed about the time constraint of this test and about it beeing a ‘speed run’.

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I was leaning to agree with the ‘graded speed run’, but…

When I joined CodinGame I was under the impression that one of the featured parts of this site, namely Clash of Code, was for speed runners. I don’t speed though things. I like to take my time thinking of an approach and all. I never considered trying. So when I originally read this I was like ‘this person is probably right and the responses are speed runners excuses’.
However, yesterday after reading a clash description (linked by someone in discord) I did a clash, then a second, and a third. It was at the very least pleasant. I was far off in terms of speed but oh well… that is just me. Then, when I saw the uncertified note in my profile I thought, ‘why not try and see if it is a graded speed run’?’ I did and it is not. Sure, it does not leave much time to think, but it is certainly doable and I am not the fast type. I wish I haven’t wasted few minutes on some mistakes. I could have used that time at the end. I was so close… In the end I got 90%. It is fine. I will try again later.

So to make my possibly unnecessarily long story short. I don’t think it is a speed run. The problems are solvable within the time limit.

Actually I intentionally tried to avoid posting comparisons to myself, or how long I took for the certification. Wouldn’t have been fair to compare to myself, as I’m working in the field for quite some time.
Interessting that the ‘speed runners excuse’ was your first take anyways. :slight_smile:

I actually redid the certification today, to have a fresh look at it and its questions. I still think its fair. Also: Completing or failing this doesn’t really mean a lot. Everyone who will interview you, will be able to determine your skill, without relying on this certification. (even if you are unable to solve a given problem in an interview, the interviewer will be able to evaluate your approach)

Failing is part of beeing a developer and even more important is not giving up.

To add more to this, i regularly tell my trainees when helping them, that I am only able to do so, because I did the same mistakes more often than them…

I think that is a good thing. I have never tried to asses someones skill, interview or select candidates so I chose not to comment on whether or not this certification holds any value.

Is it fair or not to compare to myself? I don’t know. I am a hobbyist. Never did anything remotely big (in my assessment) or worked in the field (programming, development). Then again I do this for years now, yet barely scratching the surface. So, who knows…
I am the ‘computer guy’ so… (not really) jack of all trades and master of none. Sysadmin, db guy, webmaster, graphics guy, helpdesk, hardware, and what not, yet still barely (or not even) scratching the surface.

I think it is important to enjoy it and have that drive to finding solutions and refining them. That way you will always grow. In theory at least. This may not hold true when you have wider perspective than me since there are surely many more factors to this.

True. And also speed comes with experience. The more puzzles you complete, the quicker you will handle some parts of the code. Me for example, since I begun solving puzzled some weeks ago, I always kept the solution in a txt file and from time to time I go back to those files and reuse certain functions because I remember I encountered that little issue before.

Exactly. You become familiar with certain techniques because you have already used them. Have less things to process in you head since some puzzle pieces have already fallen into place. So you only need to focus on what is left.

I use git to handle my solutions. Those are up in a private repository.

You need to be careful with reusing solutions though. Sometimes you can make it harder than it needs to be or at least less clear. Reimplementing may teach you one or two new things also. It is all about balance. Like with many things.

I really appreciate all the openminded responses to my original post and not just trash talking. As far as my original complaint, I was just surprised by the results I guess since I do have 10+ years of professional experience and believe that I’m better than average with the language in question. I see the arguments of keep solving problems on the site and you’ll get quicker answering the questions. I might’ve just been taking the test in the wrong mindset, possibly, trying to think of the most efficient and effective solution instead of trying to just meet the requirements presented.

Thanks for all the feedback, everyone. Much appreciated.

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No problem. I actually believe that it is a good mindset. You do have to mind the clock though, and thus choose the approach accordingly. It is not like you can ask the system for (time) extension.

Yes, i think that it is actually a little bit frustrating to run out of time like this. Idk if it could be corrected or like optimized by the staff :person_shrugging: