Do you have a big test coming up? It’s normal to feel nervous. After all, if test taking were a breeze, they wouldn’t call it a “test.” However, there are ways to increase your confidence… and your chances of scoring a good grade. The best part is that these ideas aren’t difficult to implement at all. Embrace the challenge ahead of you and seek to ace the next exam by following these 6 tips.

STUDY TIPS

1.       Take short breaks regularly. Don’t overload your brain with too much information – cramming is not an effective technique if you want to ace a test. The secret to a successful test? Learn the information – and truly know the material. The only way to do so is to allow yourself time to process properly, which means you must account for regular breaks in between studying. Focus for 30 minutes, take a 10 minute break, and then repeat this pattern.

2.       That being said, don’t take too many unnecessary breaks. The mistake many make when giving themselves time for breaks is that it’s tempting to schedule breaks TOO often. Taking a break shouldn’t be an excuse to get away from the material, but rather to let it soak in and give yourself a moment to reflect. Breaks should be calm and connected to the study session – so, no video games and TV shows.

3.       Eat and hydrate. By now, you’re probably very familiar with the technical study tips for memorization (creating acronyms for terms, for example); however, this is only one piece of the puzzle. The biggest piece is to take care of yourself – eat a snack, drink water. Keep your mind in tip-top shape so you can feel good enough to learn and understand the material.

TEST TAKING TIPS

1.       If you don’t know an answer to a question, skip it and come back to it. This advice is tried and true; however, there is a very important exception to keep in mind. If you’re just skipping a question because you think you don’t know it, but haven’t taken the appropriate amount of to work the problem, you’re simply breaking your focus on a question you may have been able to solve. So, only skip a problem if you really don’t know it, rather than trying to find all of the easy questions first.

2.       Read every question and (if applicable) every possible solution in its entirety. This seems obvious, but – in the moment – it’s a tip that many neglect. Knowing what you’re getting into BEFORE you start attempting to solve the problem will help ensure you don’t have to redo a question after you thought you figured it out correctly.

3.       Implement self-care strategies to ease anxiety. Taking a test is a challenge – it’s meant to assess how much you have learned and retained. Along with these difficult questions comes a heaping amount of anxiety, even for the most confident test taker. Therefore, successful test taking comes down to the ability to calm yourself enough to remember what you already know. Find what works for you. Some examples include taking deep breaths, relaxing all muscles, rolling your shoulders and thinking positively.

The next time you have an exam on the horizon, don’t fret. Instead, take action. Study effectively, take care of yourself and keep calm through the process. With these tips as your guide, you’ll be well on your way to claiming an “A” on the test.

We’ve discussed the endless possibilities that arise from learning to code, and how fun it is to learn.  You’ve probably seen the power of coding every day on the internet, in the video games you play, and in the technology segments that play during the news, but maybe you’re still not quite clear of one thing.

What is coding, exactly?

To understand coding, you must first understand that computers don’t speak English, at least they haven’t always been able to. There was a time before Alexa and NPCs in a video game spoke directly to you, and it was a dark time.

Literally, electricity hadn’t even been invented yet.

It was 1843 when Ada Lovelace wrote the first official computer program for a machine invented by Charles Babbage called the “Analytical Engine.” That’s right, over 150 years ago coding was introduced into our world. The first official coding meant to give instructions to computers were wrote during the 1950s, mostly used for application in weapons and space technology. The onset of many of the languages we use today were developed in the 1960s and 70s, coinciding with the explosion of computational language efforts in universities and companies with government contracts.

Coding began to take form into what we recognize today as popular programming languages in the 1980s, and this led to companies like Microsoft and Apple introducing the power of the computer into homes around the world. Since then, programmers and computer enthusiasts have fully utilized the power of source code.

This is an example of source code:

<li>Chrome &ndash; CTRL + U. Or you can click on the weird-looking key with three horizontal lines in the upper right hand corner. Then click on &quot;Tools&quot; and select &quot;View Source.&quot;</li>

In its purest form, coding is a set of commands and processes that perform an overall task, what that task is purely depends on the will of the programmer. In the process of writing code for a program, device, or website, a coder will act as “King” of the code, telling it where to go, how to stand, and when to speak. While attempting to get the desired result, a programmer will need to manipulate, analyze, and pinpoint errors in the source code

Don’t let the “King” title go to your head, because being a coder also makes you the guy whose job it is to clean up the kingdom. If something doesn’t look right on a website, or a robot doesn’t react the way it should to a command, you, the coding custodian, must get into the source code and clean up the mess.

But, the magic of coding lies in “the mess,” because it’s there where there is the potential for basically anything your mind can imagine. Lines of source code are meticulously assembled for a reason, and when there’s a break in the chain, it shows. This means that any problem which can arise in coding, can also be fixed.

So what is coding? Coding is the problem, and the answer. It’s the language of a world that really has no boundaries, and once you learn it, the same will be true of you.

Learning about coding will give you the tools to make a video game, but did you know playing games can teach you to code?

It’s true!

While some may simply contain stories inspired by the world of coding, others teach players how to code with problem solving, critical thinking, and of course fun. Ever since the 1984 release of Lee Kristofferson’s video game System 1500, coding students and enthusiasts alike have been playing video games that trade in hit combos for sequences.

Want to play a game that challenges your knowledge of coding? Here are 10 video games about coding that we recommend you check out.

10. Shenzhen I/O

In this 2016 video game you play as an electronics engineer who takes a new role in Shenzhen, China. Those who also enjoy the world of electronics should play this game since it doesn’t only incorporate assembly language but real-life circuitry as well.

9. Codehunt

Developed my Microsoft Research, CodeHunt challenges players to solve puzzles using both C# and Java.

8. Human Resource Machine

For a fun introduction to the world of programming, the Tomorrow Corporation’s 2017 game Human Resource Machine is the game for you. The game is also available to play on the Nintendo Switch. That’s right, you can practice coding on your Nintendo.

7. 7 Billion Humans

When you’ve finally mastered Human Resource Machine, you can move on to a tougher challenge. 7 Billion Humans contains even more levels than its predecessor and requires managing whole groups of workers as opposed to one at a time.

6. SpaceChem

A game that teaches chemistry and programming, SpaceChem puts you inside a reactor and requires players to create visual programs that keep reactors running smoothly. This is a pretty difficult game, Homer Simpson need not apply.

5. Vim Adventures

Who knew you could save the world with a text editor? But in Vim Adventures you do just that, all while learning Vim.

4. Hack ‘N’ Slash

Most video games don’t lay its pieces out on the table for players to mix, match, and customize. Hack ‘N’ Slash takes inspiration from The Legend of Zelda series but differs in the way it allows a player to change their character’s attributes by accessing the game’s source code.

3. Exapunks

In 2018, Zachtronics released a game set in the apocalyptic world of 1997, not our 1997 of course but an alternate one. Players must hack into computer systems to complete missions given to them by an unknown A.I. The game is so in-depth it allows players from all over to compete and even contains its own fictional news publication.

2. Tis-1000

Completing puzzles with coding can be difficult enough but add in a late 1970’s computer and you’ve got quite a game on your hands.

1. Hacker

While System 1500 paved the way for games about coding, it was Activision’s 1985 game Hacker that proved games about programming could hook all types of gamers. The story is something about of a 1980’s film, with secret servers, international incidents, and security breaches that keep players entertained as they work at solving complex puzzles.

The games listed above are available on a variety of platforms including the Nintendo Switch, PC (through Steam), or as open source software you can play for free. You can’t learn everything you need to know about coding from a video game, but they can test your abilities and make you better at solving problems, which only helps you get to the next level in life.

Think of your brain as a storage unit. While it grows with every day that passes, it still can only contain so much information at once. When you’re working on something difficult, a lot is required from your brain. So, while you’re struggling to figure out an error you made in a sequence, you don’t want to constantly shift your attention to the mess around you.

You can avoid the hassles of a messy workspace by practicing good habits and putting in place a routine that works for you.

Get started on cleaning your workspace with these seven simple workspace organization tips.

Ditch the Sticky Notes

Sticky notes are bright so they can catch our eye and remind us of something important. Their strength, unfortunately, is also their weakness.

Sticky notes can be distracting, especially when they’re piled one on top of the other around the edges of the screen, only after they’ve fallen for the fiftieth time and are covered in the dog’s hair and dirt — you get the point.

Most computers offer some sort of notepad for your desktop that allows you to constantly display reminders off to the side, no paper needed.

Keep Necessary Items Close

The things you use for most for work should never be far enough that you give yourself excuses to not put them away.

Get a Paper Shredder

Since we’re on the topic of paper, you should get yourself a paper shredder. You can get one for as low as $20 in most places and they really help you get rid of excess, unnecessary paper. Plus, it’s just really satisfying to shred paper, trust us.

Adopt Hobby Methods

The same methods that have kept baseball and Pokemon cards of the world in mint condition can also be used for your work or school materials. If you have any literature or things like documents, manuals, or reviews, they should be kept in some sort of plastic sleeve or folder at least.

Take Note of Your Snack’s Packaging

There are times when you’ll get hungry while working on something, and you should always have a snack nearby for this reason. Make sure the snacks you eat don’t have excessive packaging and that you don’t eat a bunch of small snacks with individual wrappers. Also, chocolate can get everywhere, which brings us to our next point…

Clean Your Screen

If you’re working on a project for work or school, constantly noticing dirt and smudge marks on your screen will get on your nerves after a while. If you have a tablet or a laptop with touch screen capabilities a dirty screen will seriously slow down your work. Your websites and coding creations will look much better on a clean screen.

Time to Delete

As a coder, the mess inside your computer is just as important as the area around it. Every week or so make it a habit to clean up your unnecessary files and empty out your Recycle Bin. This cleans up your computer, makes it run faster, and reduces the risks of viruses and malware.

With a clean workspace, you can focus on the task at hand and not worry about a slow computer or roaches using your keyboard as a labyrinth.

The moment you begin your journey into the world of coding, you learn that the computer you use is your best friend. Sure, it can act up sometimes, and the occasional bug or two might make life hard for you, but programming languages are nothing without the machines we need to talk to.

That’s why you should treat your computer with the same attention as you would a pet. You don’t have to walk it, of course, but you do need to keep it clean.

Cleaning your computer is easy, and we’ve provided a few hacks to help make it even easier.

1. Purging Files

Duplicate and unnecessary files can slow down your computer, which in turn, slows down your work. Instead of sifting through every single file looking for ones to delete, you should utilize a trusted file cleanup program or the Windows Disk Cleanup already installed on Windows OS.

2. Cleaning Your Keyboard

It’s all too common for people to chow down at their computer, and there’s really no issue unless it gets in the way of your work. There shouldn’t be crumbs so big that they’re making it impossible to press the “F” key on your keyboard.

Compressed air cans work best, but you can use a small fan or hair dryer as well. If you really want to get creative, you can put the end of a condiment bottle on top of a vacuum hose and get the crumbs out that way.

After removing the crumbs from your keyboard, it’s a good idea to clean the keys with a Q-tip and rubbing alcohol. If you don’t have rubbing alcohol you can also use mouthwash.

3. DIY Screen Cleaner

Keeping your screen clean will make it easier to see your work and prevents you from getting distracted by dark smudges. You could buy screen cleaner or just make your own using one-half white vinegar and one-half water.

4. Wipes That Won’t Scratch

Once you have your solution, you’ll want to use a something to wipes your screen that isn’t too coarse since that can leave scratches. A coffee filter or dryer sheet can get the job done.

5. Cleaning Your Mousepad

A dirty mousepad slows down your mouse and can get gross looking after a while. You can hand wash it with soap but there’s an even easier solution: throw it in with your laundry. As long as it’s washed in cold water and left to air dry it will be fine.

6. Cleaning a Laptop

Laptops are typically more fragile than desktop computers, so care should be taken to ensure their safety when cleaning them. Using nail polish remover works well for laptops with brightly colored surfaces. Magic Eraser sponges also work, but they should be used lightly and on laptops that have a more heavy-duty construction.

Remember to always unplug your desktops and monitors before you clean them to avoid any permanent damage to the devices. You don’t have to clean your computer every day, or even every week, but a good cleaning is necessary every so often.

Computers give coders the power to make their ideas and projects come to life. A clean computer is a happy one, and happy computers mean happy coders.

 

 

You see it all the time, people running outside and working out at the gym with headphones on. They don’t only want to look cool, they just know that music makes working out significantly better!

So, why wouldn’t you take the same approach when working out your mind?

Coding is the ultimate mind exercise, it involves extreme attention to detail and a whole lot of critical thinking. Listening to music can greatly help, with its ability to motivate and relax the mind, it’s the perfect companion for coding.

Next time you’re working on a coding project here are 9 songs to get you “in the zone.”

Halo Theme – Martin O’ Donnell

There are many variations of this song, but the Halo 2 menu screen is iconic. The chants in this song are especially helpful during those intense coding situations.

Techno Syndrome (Mortal Kombat) – The Immortals

The Immortals became, well, immortal, with their 1999 techno hit. Try listening to this song the next time you’re working on your video game.

Go Robot – The Red Hot Chili Peppers

Sometimes coding requires you to be one with the computer in order to find your flow.

Funkentelechy – Parliament

Bernie Worrell’s galactic synth combined with Bootsy Collins’ space blaster-like bass make this song a powerful weapon against the coding blues.

Spaceship Earth Theme

The score to this iconic EPCOT attraction evokes images of evolving technology and makes us realize our place as coders, in the history of communication.

Halcyon On and On – Orbital

This song starts off slow and eventually comes to an uplifting beat perfect for putting together long sequences. The vocal tracks have an almost soothing effect, which can help during stressful times behind the keyboard.

Derezzed from Tron Legacy Soundtrack – Daft Punk

If you’ve ever stared at the screen so long you felt like you were going to fall in, you’re probably a coder. If you’ve ever actually fallen into the computer, then you’re a member of the Flynn family.

Love Game – Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga knows how to make a catchy song, and once this beat enters your brain, you’ll be inspired to take your coding to crazy new levels of creativity.

Master of Puppets – Metallica

Whether you’re changing the layout of a website, programming a robot, or animating a sprite for a video game, one fact remains; you are the master! Master!

Music tastes vary, so of course what works with some people won’t with others. But that’s one of the great things about coding, we’re all inspired by different aspects of life to begin learning. Try listening to a wide variety of music, that way you’re guaranteed to have a full arsenal of songs for tackling any coding problems you have in the future.

 

If you hear a statistic like “58% of parents feel that coding and programming is the most beneficial skill to their child’s future,” you’d assume coding is boring. Let’s be honest, anytime we’re told something is “beneficial” to our future we think of work or something we must do.

Coding is one of the few exceptions to this line of thought, because not only is it a beneficial skill to have but also fun to use!

Coding provides the building blocks for so much of the exciting technology in our world, and when you learn how to use those building blocks you too get to take part in the excitement. Solving problems within a line of code is like putting together a difficult puzzle, and once you find all the pieces you get a sense of happiness because you know you’re the one who fixed it.

If you’re a creative individual, you will soon begin to see just how much your new knowledge of coding is helping you create things right out of your imagination. This could mean programming your very own robot, designing a new video game, or creating an awesome website that attracts thousands of subscribers.

That doesn’t mean the fun only begins once you’ve learned how to code.

In fact, you’ll find that learning to code is no longer achieved solely through textbooks and lectures but also games, activities, and experiments! You can learn to code in a variety of ways, and there’s basically something for every learning style.

Coding camps and schools like theCoderSchool use techniques that approach coding in ways that are both fun and informative, many children look forward to these lessons and classes. You also have the added advantage of learning with other students and helping one another get better at coding.

As you get better, you’ll not only have more fun but also be exposed to opportunities many other students won’t have.

When you think of your dream career, do you think of something fun? Ideally, you will find some sort of excitement or satisfaction in the roles you decide to take throughout life. Coding is an essential skill for some very exciting jobs out there,

Coding allows you to stand out in a crowd of job applicants all fighting for the same job, you could get picked out of the group to do the job of your dreams.

In a way, coding gives you the chance to have more fun in the future. When you get to have a job that pays well and makes you happy, you’ll understand that the future doesn’t get any more fun than that.

 

 

Popular media has given audiences the perception that coders are mega geniuses, sitting in a basement, locked away from the rest of the world as they type away furiously in a stained t-shirt.

For the most case, this isn’t true… In all reality, computer programmers and the other people who use coding on a daily basis are just like you and me. They got to where they are by taking the initial steps necessary to develop coding skills, and in the process become a smarter person.

So how does coding make you smarter?

You Get Better at Math

For students in school, math is either one of two things; the best friend your report card could ever have, or the most vile, evil force on the planet. For those who love math, they discover just how much power lies in its tech applications. Those that hate math learn that, well, he’s not such a bad guy. Over the course of your coding education, you will be exposed to many situations that require basic arithmetic. The more you practice coding, the better you’ll get at math; that’s what we call a “win-win” situation.

You Improve Your Analytical Skills

Since much of coding requires handling language that really doesn’t make sense to the average person, it will require a fair amount of attention to detail. Your ability to read a line of code and determine where there’s an error, or how to manipulate the code in your favor, says volumes about your analytical skills. Once you have practice with analyzing often confusing and nonsensical code, you’ll do better in classes like English that involve heavy reading comprehension.

You Get More Creative

You will do a lot of problem solving when you learn and work with code. In fact, many of the jobs that are performed by coding professionals involve solving problems in some way or fashion. But, as the technology we use evolves, so do the problems. Therefore, the solutions for problems that arise will not always work, and new solutions will continuously have to be developed for us to move forward. Learning new ways to solve problems makes you a more creative person, and it’s that creativity that allows coders to continue changing the world we live in.

You don’t have to be a straight-A student to learn coding, you just need to take an active interest in the material. As we’ve demonstrated, coding can have life changing benefits for those who learn to wield its power. Don’t be surprised when your new coding skills begin to have a positive effect on your grades, and you become that straight-A student after all.

Coding can be tiring.

There are moments of unmeasurable joy mixed in between moments of confusion, and as a result, feelings of fatigue. That’s why it’s important to pay attention to what you’re eating while you code — what you put in your body could mean the difference between perfect source code or a choppy line full of errors.

Give these snacks a try next time you find yourself yawning at your computer.

Jerky

Jerky contains large amounts of protein, which is mostly beneficial for physical activity but can be useful if you’re up all night on an exceptionally difficult coding project. If you want a healthy option, choose turkey jerky instead of beef.

Blueberries

Blueberries are considered a major brain food because the antioxidants they contain help keep your memory working. If you have a hard time remembering things, maybe you should eat more blueberries.

Dark Chocolate Covered Espresso Beans

It’s best to save the coffee for when you start hitting your late teens, but it doesn’t mean you can’t munch on little boosts of caffeine. Espresso beans will keep you awake, while the dark chocolate will do wonders for your memory and your mood.

Trail Mix

Trail mix is one of those snacks you don’t have to think about while you’re eating, you just keep scooping more into your hand as you stare at the screen. You can buy trail mix pre-made but you can also just customize a mix yourself by using your favorite nuts, dried fruits, and chocolate.

Peanuts

Peanuts are another snack that you can go to town on and not even realize it; but have no worries. Peanuts contain natural oils, fats, and protein your body needs so you don’t have to feel bad about overindulging.

Banana Chips

Bananas are full of vitamins and minerals essential for healthy brain function, and chips are delicious. Combine the two and what do you get? A snack that will keep you coding and full.

Sunflower Seeds

Sunflower seeds contain B vitamins that affect your mood and your brain’s cognitive functions. If you want to avoid the messy shells, you can also just purchase sunflower kernels.

Granola

Along with protein and vitamins, your body also needs a certain amount of carbs a day. Granola is an excellent source of both carbohydrates and fiber necessary for storing energy and keeping away sugar crashes, plus it usually comes in a variety of flavors.

Oh, and one more thing

Be sure to always hydrate before, during, and after you’re working on a coding project. Remember, even though you’re not outside, you need to stay hydrated. When a dehydrated person meets a bright screen with small letters scrolling up and down, the results are never good. You’ll also want to make sure you get 8 hours of sleep each night so that you can tackle the coding challenges that await you at the keyboard!

 

Technology has always looked good on film, since the days of D.W. Griffith’s Metropolis filmmakers have showcased their vision for the future. Up until the 1980’s, the technology shown on film was from the future, but at some point, our actual technology began to catch up to what was being shown on screen.

Pretty soon life began imitating art, and in the world of movies the opposite became the case.  Computer programming provided inspiration for new heroes on screen and also villains who would use their knowledge of technology for evil. As a result, some movies have given us a glimpse into the world of computer programming and the lives of the coders who make it happen.

GOOD: Pirates of Silicon Valley (1999)

There’s no better portrayal of computer technology than a movie about the men who gave us the computers we use to this day. This 1999 television film tells the fascinating story behind the birth of Microsoft and Apple.

GOOD: TRON (1982)

We still haven’t found a way to get transported into computers like Jeff Bridge’s character in TRON, but the film did a good job of giving seemingly abstract computer terms a face. It’s also the first film to use a large amount of computer-generated imagery (CGI) in production.

GOOD: The Matrix Reloaded (2003)

The film series that inspired a whole generation of filmmakers also inspired a new wave of computer programmers. While source code is usually portrayed unrealistically on the screen, there is a scene in the second Matrix film in which Trinity hacks into a system using a real method for SSH exploitation.

GOOD: The Social Network (2010)

Social media started off in the form of AOL Instant Messages and Myspace profiles, then Facebook entered our lives. This film takes inspiration from the story of Facebook’s creation, and the legal battles that followed.

GOOD: Office Space (1999)

Working as a computer programmer is a fun and interesting job, but sometimes it can get repetitive and mundane. No film parodies the perils of falling into a coding rut than Mike Judge’s Office Space.

As you can see, some movies get it right, and others… well, not so much.

But, it’s not entirely the writer or the director’s fault. While coding can lead to some pretty exciting things, many aspects of programming just don’t look that exciting on screen. That is why Hollywood has had to take some liberties with how computer programming is portrayed. Here are a few movies that, while they had good intentions, missed the mark when it comes to coding.

NOT-SO-GOOD: Weird Science (1985)

Coding can do some amazing things, but it can’t bring a Barbie doll to life.

NOT-SO-GOOD: Hackers (1995)

While this film is semi-inspired by some prominent events in the world of hacking, most of the things portrayed on screen are more comical than accurate.

NOT-SO-GOOD: Jurassic Park (1993)

This 1993 movie is a classic and there’s no arguing with that, but scene where John Hammond’s granddaughter hacks a Unix system is so bad that it’s inspired hundreds of memes.

NOT-SO-GOOD: Live Free or Die Hard (2007)

Kevin Smith is great, but a hacker named “The Warlock” who has access to the nation’s security systems just isn’t realistic.

NOT-SO-GOOD: Independence Day (1996)

It only took Jeff Goldblum’s character a couple of hours to figure out how to upload a computer virus into the alien’s spacecraft that would bring down the whole defense system and save the day. Welcome to Earth.

Just because a film depicts coding and programming in an unrealistic fashion, doesn’t mean they can’t be enjoyed! These films spark our imagination, and inspire many to learn the truth about coding, hacking, and computer programming.

After all, what is unrealistic today, may not be in the future.