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We can also add methods to our classes. These methods are used either to modify the attributes of the class or to perform actions based on the attributes stored in the class. Finally, we can even use those methods to perform actions on data provided as arguments. In essence, the sky is the limit with methods in classes, so we’ll be able to do just about anything we need to do in these methods. Let’s see how we can add methods to our classes.

Adding Methods

To add a method to our class, we can simply add a function declaration inside of our class. In fact, all of the functions we’ve been creating up to this point have been inside of a class. The only difference is that we’ll now be able to remove the static keyword from our function declarations. We’ll discuss more about exactly what that keyword does later in this chapter.

So, let’s add the methods we need to our Student class:

import java.lang.Math;

public class Student{
  String name = "name";
  int age = 19;
  String student_id = "123456987";
  int credits = 0;
  double gpa = 0.0;
  void birthday(){
    this.age = this.age + 1;
  void grade(int credits, int grade_points){
    int current_points = (int)Math.round(this.gpa * this.credits);
    this.credits += credits;
    current_points += grade_points;
    this.gpa = current_points / this.credits;

The birthday() method is pretty straightforward. When that method is called, we simply increase the age of this student by 1 year. However, instead of referencing the age variable directly, we are using this.age to access the attribute age in this class. The keyword this refers to the current instance of Student, which we’ll learn how to create on the next page. Whenever we want to access an attribute in a class, it is recommended that we always use the keyword this in front of it, just to avoid any issues.

The grade() method is a bit more complex. It accepts a number of credits and the grade points earned for a class, and then must update the credits and gpa attributes with that new information. To do this, it must first calculate the current number of grade points the student has earned based on the current GPA, then update those values and recalculate the GPA. Finally, notice that we included a reference to the Math.round() method, so we’ll also need to import the java.lang.Math library at the top of our file in order to use that method.

Variable Scope

We’ve already discussed variable scope earlier in this course. Recall that variables declared inside of a block are not accessible outside of the block. Similarly, two different functions may reuse variable names, because they are in different scopes.

The same applies to classes. A class may have an attribute named age, but a method inside of the class may also declare a local variable named age. Therefore, we must be careful to make sure that we access the correct variable, usually by using the this keyword to access the attribute variable. Here’s a short example:

public class Test{
  int age = 15;
  void foo(){
    int age = 12;
    System.out.println(age);      // 12
    System.out.println(this.age); // 15
  void bar(){
    System.out.println(age); // 15

As we can see, in the method foo() we must be careful to use this.age to refer to the attribute, since there is another variable named age declared in that method. However, in the method bar() we see that age automatically references the attribute, since there is no other variable named age defined in that scope.

This can lead to some confusion in our code. So, we should always get in the habit of using this to refer to any attributes, just to avoid any unintended problems later on.

Let’s go ahead and add the promotion() method to the Teacher class as well. That method should accept a single integer as a parameter, and then add that value to the Teacher’s current salary. We won’t worry about adding methods to the Main class at this point: we’ll cover those methods in the next few pages.