Most programs are developed using programming languages. These languages have specific syntax that must be used so that the program will run properly. Pseudocode is not a programming language, it is a simple way of describing a set of instructions that does not have to use specific syntax.

Common pseudocode notation

There is no strict set of standard notations for pseudocode, but some of the most widely recognised are:

  • INPUT – indicates a user will be inputting something
  • OUTPUT – indicates that an output will appear on the screen
  • WHILE – a loop (iteration that has a condition at the beginning)
  • FOR – a counting loop (iteration)
  • REPEAT – UNTIL – a loop (iteration) that has a condition at the end
  • IF – THEN – ELSE – a decision (selection) in which a choice is made
  • any instructions that occur inside a selection or iteration are usually indented

Using pseudocode

Pseudocode can be used to plan out programs. Planning a program that asks people what the best subject they take is, would look like this in pseudocode:

REPEAT OUTPUT 'What is the best subject you take?' INPUT user inputs the best subject they take STORE the user's input in the answer variable IF answer = 'Computer Science' THEN OUTPUT 'Of course it is!' ELSE OUTPUT 'Try again!' UNTIL answer = 'Computer Science'