Goodbye Junior Phase, Hello Senior Phase!

It has been an incredibly fast-paced couple of weeks and it’s hard to believe that six weeks have already gone by! The last two weeks had been spent learning the React library and reviewing the Junior phase curriculum for the Senior checkpoint.

Throughout the first four weeks of Junior phase, our instructors and fellows had dropped hints here and there, alluding to how React will dramatically change the way we build our apps; “Don’t worry too much about Nunjucks or templates, they’ll be irrelevant once we cover React…” or “Here’s a taste of jQuery, it’s a huge pain, but you’ll see how React will help us write much less code…” After hearing our instructors talk about React, it was finally time to learn it…and I’m enjoying it a lot! At first, it took some time to wrap my head around the idea of the app and its components having a “state” and one-way data flow (passing immutable items from the state to other components as properties, or “props”).

After working with my classmates on a Spotify clone app and refactoring it several times, I started to feel more comfortable with the concepts and understand how React renders the app’s views. Building a React app feels like building puzzle pieces and fitting them together and reusing those pieces to create a different views of the puzzle. It was frustrating at times, trying to figure out how why our code was broken, but it was so satisfying when we were able to solve those problems. Those struggles helped me understand React all the better.

Juke, our Spotify clone made in React

The last week of Junior phase was mostly spent reviewing the curriculum for the Senior checkpoint. We were given practice checkpoints on Data Structures, Express, Sequelize and React to get an idea of what the actual checkpoint would be like. I completed them over the weekend and then spent the week re-doing them from scratch and doing the extra credit problems for extra practice. I find that re-doing exercises is the best way for me to solidify concepts and help me remember how to code certain aspects of an app.

Here is my strategy for preparing for a coding assessment:

  • Complete the practice problems or workshops
  • Re-do the practice problems
  • While re-doing the practice problems, create a study outline/cheatsheet for each topic. Include:
  • Tips/tricks
  • Key concepts that you struggle with
  • Code examples
  • Links to documentation
  • I use Quiver to help me keep all my notes organized. It’s a note-taking app that allows you to write text, markdown, and code.
  • Google and API documentation are your friends! Use them if you’re stuck.
  • Read the test specs carefully and understand what they’re expecting. Refer to the testing documentation if certain keywords are confusing.
  • While studying, keep a list of questions and schedule office hours with your instructor or mentor to go over that list and any other areas you might be struggling with. There’s no shame in asking for help and there’s no such thing as a stupid question!
  • Remember to take breaks! Your brain and body will thank you.

This was my study strategy and try it out if you like! Everyone has a different style of learning and if this doesn’t work for you, that’s okay! The key is to trying out different ways of studying to find the method that works best for you.

Originally published at on April 11, 2017.