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How to Start with CodeChef: Competitive Programming?

Shubham Agarwal
Last Updated: Jan 4, 2023


Competitive programming has now become one of the most sought out skills in a programmer. It has ignited the sports of programming and also boosted the interest of millions of coders around the world. Among various sites which promote competitive programming, CodeChef has emerged to be one of the most popular sites. We will be discussing how you can compete in your first coding contest in CodeChef in this article.


CodeChef is an Indian origin coding platform that provides huge learning opportunities through its regular coding contests. These contests are based on data structures and algorithms and attract thousands of participants worldwide to compete and secure CodeChef laddus and winning cash rewards.

Eligibility Criteria for CodeChef 2023

Anyone with the knack for programming can participate in the contests organised by CodeChef and can win the contest. Anyone is also eligible for any prize reward too. All you need is an interest in learning and an internet connection enabled computer to participate.

Exam Pattern for CodeChef 2023

Various types of problems are held by CodeChef every month regularly and each of the contests is of a different type. Each type of contest has 3 divisions of participants which are based on ranks. These ranks are determined by the participants’ previous performance in competition. To be rated you have to participate in at least one contest.

  • Long Challenge: It starts with a long challenge where the participants get around 10 days to solve 10 questions. These questions are based on simple maths to advanced algorithmic questions. Difficulty increases as you move from lower ratings to higher ratings. This round is generally for educational purpose where you get 10 days to research an algorithm and try to solve the question based on that.
  • Cook-Off: It consists of a 2.5-hour contest that has 6-7 questions based on data structures and algorithms. This round has a penalty for each wrong submission hence, making it difficult than the Long challenges.
  • Lunch Time: This involves a three-hour programming contest that tests your skills in maths, data structure and algorithms in depth.
  • Recently another contest known as the CodeChef starters has been introduced to help the third division rated coders boost their skills and move into the higher ratings.

More contests are held by CodeChef but those vary according to different company hiring rounds or college contests etc.

Previous Asked Questions in CodeChef

It involves various in-depth concepts of data structures and algorithms. Previously asked problems include variations of prefix sum implementation, Segment trees, graph traversing algorithms, mathematical concepts of gcd, lcm, etc. Number Theory, Greedy Algorithm, Binary Search, Dynamic Programming, Divide and Conquer, Hash tables, maps, Trees, BST, BIT, Trie, Bit masking algorithms, String matching algorithms like KMP, Rabin Karp, etc and Graph algorithms like DFS, BFS, Dijkstra, MST, etc. You can check out Coding Ninjas Courses and CodeStudio for strengthening your concepts over these concepts.

Prerequisites for CodeChef 2023

CodeChef provides supports for a large number of languages which includes Java, CPP, C, Python, Golang, JavaScript, etc. So, you can pick any language and start participating anytime.

How to Register for CodeChef 2023?

You can check out the official page of CodeChef and register in any contest – https://www.codechef.com/

If you are new to CodeChef then you will be initially unrated and later according to your performance in the contests you will get the rating.

Preparation Tips for CodeChef 2023

If you are new to the world of competitive coding then you can start with choosing a language you will be comfortable with. Do not worry every language has its pros and cons. Learn data structures and libraries of that language.

For example, for C++ – arrays, strings, LinkedList, stack, queue, recursion, etc., and STL (Standard Template Library), these will help you immensely in writing shorter better understandable codes and also improve your performance.

Maintain Consistency, be patient and try to push yourself out of your comfort zone by revisiting the questions which you were not able to solve after every contest. Do them yourself again. Watch editorials, other’s solutions after the contests if you are not able to understand them. Although as a beginner do not engage more than 30 mins for a question if you are not able to find an answer.

The main aim is not to give up even if your ratings drop. Ratings are just numbers, what will help you is your understanding and logic building abilities.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is CodeChef good for beginners?

CodeChef does have a beginner division known as Division 3 which consists of fairly easy questions and are best for less experienced coders. There are other recently added contests like CodeChef starters etc.

Is CodeChef an Indian?

CodeChef is an Indian origin firm under the Indian software company Directory.

Which is better CodeChef or Codeforces?

To be honest, there is nothing called better. Both have their pros and cons, CodeChef attracts a huge number of Indian participants and also organises educational contests in various colleges by their CodeChef Campus chapter whereas Codeforces is also an internationally recognised platform for its diverse participants and is managed by ITMO University and performing good in this also provides international recognition.

How is HackerRank 30 days of code?

HackerRank 30 days of code challenge is for students and professionals who want to inculcate the habit of consistent coding. It provides a great platform and opportunity to participate in a 30 days code challenge where you can unlock a new problem and tutorial each day.

How do beginners practise coding?

Beginners can start with understanding the basic data structures and algorithms in any language and start participating in the contest, solving previous contest problems etc and being consistent.


CodeChef provides a lucrative user-friendly platform for a beginner to expert coders to participate and hone their skills in competitive coding. You can also be benefited from the hiring challenges in which in any contest the hiring partners can also contact the top performers for active software developer roles.

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Hope this article helps aspiring developers and programmer and also stay tuned for more resources from Coding Ninjas.

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