After receiving feedback on my second time taking the RB109 written assessment, I had to take a step back and figure out how to use my time during an exam more efficiently. First of all, let’s dive into a little of Launch School’s philosophy and how I got into my “not yet” situation in the first place.
To start with, the Launch School approach is the antithesis of learning “just enough”. I’ve built my lifelong educational career on this very principle: “learning just enough to get by”. It is an awful principle, but I’ve managed to come far in my educational journey. During my undergrad as a biology major, I had completed several rigorous exams in hard sciences, before I changed my career to nursing. My undergraduate chemistry exams felt like running a marathon. They were usually graded on a curve, so if I didn’t get 25% of the problems correct, I would somehow get an A. I even had one organic chemistry professor where the average exam scores in his class were 60%. I scored right ahead of the curve and got an A. It doesn’t make any sense, but it’s a practice I’ve grown accustomed to.
Learning to study like this “just to get by” approach is the ultimate contrast to Launch School’s core philosophy which is Mastery based. I’ve attended most of the peer-led seminars of “Learning how to Learn” set up by current and former LS students. However, now just after turning 41, old habits can be hard to break. I took Leena’s advice with her talk on Bloom’s Taxonomy, Mandy Cheang’s recommendation for a markdown editor, I’ve even took Rodney Matambo’s advice on coding with others, which as an introvert with social anxiety, this was a big leap! This isn’t to say that during my both my undergrad and graduate degrees I didn’t study with others. It was actually really easy to study with peers at a traditional university, because they had in-person TA led study groups scheduled with most of my classes. You just show up to a study hall and there are TA’s and peers automatically there to help. I had almost developed a codependency with them.
On that note, with Launch School, you’re alone, and your entire educational journey (which includes assessment prep) is in your hands. This is new for me. In the past, I had always latched on to the most studious one of the whole group. I never had to fend for myself, create my own study habits or make my own disciplined regimen. But I needed to figure something out in order to thrive at LS.
I learned my lesson the hard way when I sat for the RB109 written exam for the first time. I had not heard the concepts vocalized enough times so that I deeply understood them. Before the exam, I studied in groups from the SPOT. But now, I realize that what I really needed for me personally to succeed on the exam was one-on-one guidance. After I got my “not yet”, I started asking around in Slack for anyone who would help me. This meant swallowing my pride and asking for assistance from someone who had already taken the assessment. I hated doing this, because I felt like a beggar in the street asking for money. But I was soon surprised by the support I received. Students willing to take time out of their own studies and help a stranger, run widespread in the LS community. (Thank you Leena, Alfonso, Lucas and Carolina) Now, in retrospect, after having passed my second time taking the RB109 written assessment, I am thankful for the “not yet”. I really needed that extra push, or as I like to call it, a “swift kick in the A**” to reshape my whole perspective on learning.