Competing in Development Challenges

Competing Successfully in a Development Challenge

There are many types of coding challenges found within the Development track. Here are the primary challenge types, each with interesting problems to solve:



First2Finish (F2F)

UI Prototype


Something for Everyone

Some challenges feel like second nature, while others push your limits. Some last only a few hours, while others run for a few weeks. And some require a single file to be uploaded, while others require detailed documentation and your participation through multiple phases. We know you’re sure to find something to suit your interests!

Keys to Success:

  • Read every challenge carefully and understand submission requirements
  • Ask questions in the challenge forum
  • Understand how winners are chosen / how submissions are scored
  • Register and submit within the deadlines

The Phases of a Development Challenge

Many development challenges follow some variation of this structure:

1. Challenge Registration

2. Q&A and Solution

3. Submission

4. Review & Winner Selection

5. Final Fixes

How to Compete

Here’s a step-by-step guide to a typical development challenge:

1. Register for the Challenge

When registering for a challenge, you’ll need to agree to some Terms (learn about Terms and documentation here) before you can view and download challenge files. Once registered, you’re ready to compete!


In many Development challenges, the registration window closes before the submission deadline, so register early! Also, some challenges have a “reliability bonus” and failing to submit could impact your reliability rating. But don’t worry, you can also un-register for a challenge within a certain timeframe if you cannot commit to submitting by the deadline.

2. Bullet-proof Your Solution

Read the requirements and associated forum posts carefully. You should also familiarize yourself with and the type of review your challenge will have and the screening and reviewing scorecards (linked on the challenge page) so you know what your solution will be judged against.

3. Get Familiar with Online Review

Online Review is a tool you can use to manage all of your registered challenges. When you login to Online Review (also known as “OR”), you can see all of the challenges you are registered for. In some challenges, you may be participating in a Topcoder Review process (described below) through this tool. This is also where reviewers will perform reviews and submit their scorecards.

4. Get Questions Answered

Each challenge has detailed information within the challenge page that you should follow. If you can’t find your answers there, you can visit that challenge’s forum and ask questions. Your fellow members, challenge copilot and the client will do their best to help clarify anything you need. It’s great to ask questions!

5. Submit Your Solution

You will submit your solution via the challenge page. Plan to submit a couple of hours before the actual deadline to allow yourself ample time to complete the upload to Topcoder’s servers in case any unforeseen issues arise.


Double-check your work. Finding small issues before you upload will save you valuable placement points later in the review process. Check your directory structure and be sure to provide all documentation required.

6. Participate in the Review Process

Submissions undergo either a Topcoder Review (with a peer review board) or a client-based review in order to determine winners. As a submitter, your job is not done once you upload… you oftentimes must also participate in the Review process. The phase of Topcoder Review and an overview of the process are described here. Expect to spend some time reviewing your scorecards and possibly clarifying your work through appeals. Topcoder’s review process helps keep submission quality high, but it’s also a great way to learn from your mistakes and successes.

7. Win! Provide Final Fixes & Get Paid

After you’ve been chosen as the winner of the challenge, you will almost always have “final fixes” to complete. These are usually small pieces of your solution that were either not correct or missing and they are detailed in the scorecard. You must complete your final fixes within a short timeframe in order to be eligible to receive your entire payment. You will receive 75% of your prize after completing the fixes within the scorecard. The remaining 25% is paid 30 days later, after supporting your code/fixing any additional bugs that may arise during the 30 day support period. Payments are posted to your Payments page, where you may then choose to have your payment sent to you via different payment methods. Learn more about getting paid here.