Photo of a review of Codewars as a software engineer interview prep tool

A review of Codewars as a software engineer technical prep tool

Hi, I’m Brian, a former senior software engineer and now software engineering advisor at Pathrise. I work with hundreds of software engineers to help them land their dream job.

What does Codewars do?

Codewars is a community-created online platform to practice code challenges, which they refer to as “kata” (a term that usually denotes “a system of individual training exercises for practitioners of karate and other martial arts”). The kata have all been written by users who author kata to teach various techniques, solve kata with solutions that enlighten others, and comment with constructive feedback. The leaders moderate the content and community.

Challenges are in 20 different languages and 12 languages are currently in beta. Users can solve directly in their browsers. Kata are ranked to approximate difficulty. As users complete higher ranked kata, they progress through the ranks and they are matched with more relevant challenges to their skills. There is also an opportunity to compare solutions with others and discuss optimal solutions or ask questions to the community. Finally, users can create their own kata based on their interests and experience levels, which the community members can solve and give feedback on.

Who is Codewars for?

There are 2 audiences for Codewars. Software engineers who have a strong interest in specific languages and some experience will find that the kata on Codewars help them advance their skills and learn new ways to optimize their solutions. The community is strong, so they can find smart people to discuss their issues and make changes to their code.

The second audience is companies who are looking to assess software engineering candidates in pair programming sessions. Codewars is attached to Qualified.io, which can be used for coding assignments and live coding sessions by hiring managers.  

What does Codewars cost? How much work is involved?

Users who want to join the Codewars community have to “prove their skills” by solving a challenge in the language of their choice. Once they do that, they can start solving and creating kata, increasing their rank and honor.

Ratings and reviews

Users in the Codewars community seem to enjoy the challenges, ranking system, and opportunities to gain honor. One of their biggest positives is the ability to compare your solution to others as well as review more optimal solutions from experts in the space. Reviews from beginners report that they started out frustrated but they learned quickly and advanced their skills.

There are some reviews about the difficulty of having community-created problems. There is more of a chance that the problems will be incorrectly coded, solutions will be marked incorrect, or the challenges will be ranked inconsistently because they are done by members of the community rather than experts. They have moderators, who are the highest ranked members, but it is not the same as a platform like Leetcode, where everything is pre-tested.

Alternatives to Codewars

There are other websites that compile software engineering questions, similar to Codewars, but not written by community members. Leetcode is probably the most well known of these. Their questions are geared towards the work one might see in a software engineering job and are often better practice for technical interviews. Similarly, people use HackerRank to prepare for technical interviews because it is often the platform that companies use to test their candidates.

Codesignal is another platform that employers use to assess candidates. They also offer practice technical questions and the opportunity for users to connect with hiring managers by applying to jobs through the challenges.

Coderbyte is a platform that has over 300 questions, but requires the user to pay a membership fee. Becoming a member gives access to step-by-step solution guides, which is not found on CodinGame, which is a gamified alternative.

How does Codewars compare to Pathrise?

Codewars is a good tool for software engineers of all levels to use to advance their language skills, interact with other software engineers, and discuss solutions. Beginner engineers need some experience in the language in order to join the program. Continuing to advance technical skills is an important part of a software engineer’s job search.

At Pathrise, we are focused on helping our fellows with the entire job search. We recommend that software engineers practice problems, especially in data structures and algorithms, in preparation for technical interviews so they can go into their interviews with confidence. 

This means there is a good opportunity for people to use Codewars in conjunction with Pathrise, as Codewars can help with technical advancement and Pathrise can help with everything else needed to find the best possible job for a software engineer.

Pathrise is a career accelerator that works with students and young professionals 1-on-1 so they can land their dream job in tech. With our tips and guidance, we’ve seen our fellows interview performance scores double.

If you want to work with any of our advisors 1-on-1 to get help with your software engineer interviews or with any other aspect of the job search, become a Pathrise fellow. 

Apply today.

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