Time Management Strategies for Launch School Assessments
Ironically, just after writing a post about time-related stress at Launch School I had my first time shortage during the LS181 written assessment. Though not embarrassing, the overall experience was humbling and has caused me to reflect a bit on what I could change for future assessments. Maybe some of my thoughts can help you better manage time during Launch School assessments.
What went wrong
Oddly enough, I actually completed most of the questions with about 20 minutes to spare. The real issue is the fact that I skipped two questions that were taking me more time to understand than I thought necessary. After having skipped those questions I felt like I had to go much quicker in order to have enough time at the end to complete the questions I skipped. Ultimately, the stress of going quicker led to answers that weren’t specific enough and to me overthinking straightforward questions. When I revisited the questions I skipped, I ran out of time to complete them.
Here are some other challenges I faced during this assessment:
- Spent too much time on a question I understood well. After reading a particular question, I was confused by the answer I produced. I spent lots of time rereading the question and deciding whether it was some kind of trick question. I was sure that I had gotten this question wrong, but I actually got it 100% correct.
- I was probably under-prepared. My general set of flash cards and second pass of the material likely wasn’t enough study for this assessment.
- My environment was not ideal. Normally, I take assessments on my work computer after my working hours because it’s comfortable and quiet. This time I took the assessment at home where there’s a needy one-year-old and the workstation causes lots of neck pain. To top it all off, I had just run a marathon the day before and my body was still fairly sore.
The most important part of falling short of a goal is the resolve to do better. With the hope of doing better on future assessments, I’ve listed out some time management strategies that address the challenges that I previously mentioned.
- Read all the questions before starting the assessment. I normally do this, but for whatever reason I didn’t during the 181 assessment. If I had, I would have had a good idea of what to expect and how to allocate my time appropriately. When you do this, you should just quickly read the problem. Don’t try to understand it in depth, you’ll do that when you get to the question during the assessment.
- Study the study guide thoroughly. I thought I had an excellent grasp on the assessment topic until I realized how much time I was taking for each question. When you use the study guide, don’t just make flashcards and call it good. If it says “be familiar with topic X” don’t just memorize a definition of that topic. Make sure you can write and understand multiple code examples within a reasonable amount of time.
- Create a comfortable test environment. Before starting the assessment, make sure you eliminate all possible distractions and are in a place where you can sit for a prolonged amount of time. Launch School assessments need an intense amount of focus. To achieve this level of focus you’ll need to make sure everything is just right. Use the bathroom, adjust your chair height, maybe even do a quick meditation to calm yourself down.
- Be confident with your answers. I spent too much time griping over questions I got correct. This kind of indecisiveness can get you in trouble and all it takes mitigate this issue is to go with your gut and trust your answers.
The overall message here is that to successfully complete a Launch School assessment in time, you need to be well-prepared, comfortable, and confident. Hopefully, by following these guidelines I can manage my time better during LS assessments.