Feel I am hacking my way through some of the JS course rather than fully understanding. Is this normal?

Hey guys,

So I am currently working my way through the JS section of FCC. Got to the Counting Cards problem and figured it out rather quickly. Past that point I can feel my full understanding of the concepts slowing down. For some of the problems I will take a considerable amount of time looking back through examples and hacking my way through the code step by step until I get the correct answer.

Once I have the code down and working I can explain to myself why it works and it makes sense but if I delete the code and do it again it is still difficult to get everything working properly. Is this normal when learning the idiosyncrasies of JS? Before moving on to the more complex problem questions should I really step back and make sure I know the ins and outs of all the Objects and Arrays functionality before moving on to new topics or is it something like HTML and CSS with the more you just do it, things get easier.

Are there any outside resources you guys recommend for this. I have been reading the firs Up & Going JS book when I get some time but focusing more time on here to understand things.


If it helps any…I totally feel you. Im just now learning JS myself here, and I was feeling the exact same way, just hackign my way through, half the time kinda accidentally getting the answer right and moving on with no idea how or why it worked…and when Id go back to clear my answer and see what I did, I had no idea where to even start to do it again.

I kept plunking along though til I got to Basic Algorithm Scripting part and thats about the point where I could literally feel my brain leaking out of my ears…literally…grey matter…everywhere :laughing:

Okay, maybe not literally, but I decided it was time to stop and really try to figure out what Im doing. First I took the JS course on codeacadamy, took me about 2 days and I finished it this morning, but its a lot more indepth and I was finally able to grasp the concept of what Im doing here (btw, if you do it, do the old course, the new one they keep trying to direct to has waaay less lessons and practice projects).

I also discovered the Job Ready outline on here, which starts with reading the YDKJS books… So I got started on that yesterday and finished the first book. Since Im already so deep in with the Front End Dev course, Im going to keep doing that, but really have to say…between codeAcadamy and Im sure with the YDKJS books, Ill be able to get through the rest of these scripting challenges with most of my brain matter intact… :slight_smile:

But yeah…you’re not alone at all…its kicking my butt. Which is good, cause before I started, I didnt think I could ever learn it, and now Im at least able to be on the right track or have a good idea of what to search for to find what I need to solve it. But I did need to take pause to delve deeper into JS…cause hacking away wasnt cutting it in the althorthms section.


Hm… To some extend yes. It is difficult to get the right answer again once you erase it. However, you usually get a better answer the 2nd time around. :slight_smile:

Understanding code and able to solve problems doesn’t mean you can write out the solution in lightning speed. If that’s what you are asking.

Even if you do understand it well, you will have moments where codes just don’t want to work for you.

The only thing I know about programming is variable, loops, logic and concept. And variation of understanding in these 4 category in combination brings me the solution.

Stuff like memorizing Array method and properties. No. You’ll know where to look when you can come up with a solution in your mind.


Hi, not too long ago I used to feel the way you did about js. I disliked the hit and miss results of the challenges. Some days I would zip through really fast through as much as 4 challenges. Then stay on one challenge for days. My solution has been to look around for tutorials. I listened to the 30 minute youtube javascript tutorial of Derek Banas. This is video talks about the essentials of javascript. I took it and broke it down - it helped enormously to ground me in the principles (if that’s the right way to describe the syntax and methods that comprise JS.
Another resource I’ve used is w3schools - the js tutorials and the quizes are a great help. But the one newest on line tutorial that I would recommend you listen to is Quentin Watt’s js tutorials. He goes over the methods, arrays etc. one by one. These are more or less 8-9 minute videos that you can review. I would highly recommend that you supplement tackling the freecodecamp challenges with youtube videos as well as other resources. And thanks for expressing so accurately how I’ve been feeling about tackling the challenges here.


completely normal, i’ve even gone to the extent (in the past) to delete all progress and go through challenges again. hack reactor prep helped build ‘muscle-memory’ too because its a ton of problems; most of which essentially the same but you just do a few things different.

now i always look at some code on stack or wherever, remember as much as possible and just hack it out from my short-term, if its wrong the console will tell you, and you can go back and forth. it’ll take a little more time, but build stronger connections in your brain


It’d better be normal because I’m experiencing the exact same thing. :smile: The YDKJS books–I’m about to start the third–have been really helpful in getting a better grasp on the concepts and theory, but there’s still that gap between understanding some of the theory and knowing how to put it into practice with any facility. I think breaking it down step by step like you’re doing and going over it all repeatedly (or should I say recursively) is the only way to make it become instinctive. At least that’s what I’m doing, because so much of the JS syntax is so counterintuitive to me that I have to approach it like the foreign language it is. And I have the same thing where I really do understand why a piece of code works, but still struggle to reproduce it and have to go back to the concepts multiple times.

Along with the YDKJS books, Eloquent Javascript (also free online) I’ve found helpful (though even the easier exercises in it are still mind-bending for me), and the Mozilla Foundation tutorials.


Thanks for the advice. I actually just took a step back from the FCC course and right now I am doing the Code Academy courses just to get a different perspective and plan on reading through the JS books I have.

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Thanks everyone for all the advice! Good to know I am not alone and just gonna keep grinding away until it becomes more and more familiar!!


It’s def. normal, in fact I went through the entire freeCodeCamp (Non-beta curriculum first actually) THEN I moved into the beta form of FCC (Which IMO is MUCH MUCH more thorough).

Algorithms really stumped me the first time around, and instead of using the array methods (like filter/reduce/map/etc…) I really didn’t take the time to spend to understand how they worked, so even when I saw other solutions using them (after I had hacked together my own) I still didn’t understand them as much as I should.

So going back through beta FCC after going through normal FCC front-end was SUPER helpful, because as I rewrote them…i was rewriting them SO much better. Really going through the core array prototype methods for example was really useful. So now map/filter/etc… makes 1000x more sense.

Also I think I struggled a bit with objects on the first time around. 2nd time around on Beta FCC i really dove into what properties of a javascript object area/etc… so that made it 100x easier.

I guess what im saying is, things get easier as you understand your tools. It’s like hitting a nail with the handle of a hammer…yeah it’ll eventually work, but your making yourself do so much more than you need than if you understood how the hammer (JS functions/methods/tools) work :slight_smile:

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Did you use the codecademy’s pro version or free version??

The free version… and I did this course :https://www.codecademy.com/learn/javascript

For this course, the only thing pro offers are quizzes and a final project. The most important part to me was the course itself so wasnt worth getting pro. Also though thats why I say do this version and not the new one they are upgrading to…I kept getting a pop up to use the new one instead, but I checked it out and not only are there fewer courses, you need to pay for pro to access all of them.

I didn’t reached that part yet in here although i am pretty eager to get to it, but i was trying to learn JS and NodeJS from youtube videos and google searches aswell as W3Schools but i found the W3Schools not so easy or well explained in JS as it is in HTML and CSS… The best resource i got to learning both JS and NodeJS was this youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/shiffman/playlists

That guy, Daniel Shiffman explains the basics in an easy and funny way with short and intuitive videos, i used to watch the videos, then tried by myself alone and when i get stuck i used to go back to the video that explained it and review it, when this didn’t worked, google and stackoverflow, now i have also this amazing forum aswell as the help chat to help me going hehehe

I started in here 2 days ago and i decided to follow the whole curriculum from top to botttom, and i finished the Tribute Page Project and i will do Portfolio one when i wake up since it’s pretty late right now and i need to head to bed soon… My hope is to start with the JS tutorials tomorrow by the end of the afternoon and eat it all up since i know how to do a lot of stuff already due to Daniel Shiffman’s videos and a lot of more research i have been doing in the last month wich was when i first started to learn my way up through, HTML, CSS, JS, JQuery, NodeJS and APIs/JSONs… Once i finish the FCC course i will need to find some good information in MySQL and other SQL DBs and after that i will feal like a hero LOL… I know it will take a while but i am confident i can learn all this in about 1 year so i’m forcing my way up to it?!

Good luck with your plan and i hope the youtube videos help you with your issues?!