Spencer Wightman
Launch School
Published in
4 min readFeb 15, 2022


This article describes the best practices I picked up during RB101, RB120, and RB130. Its purpose is to structure my learning process going forward, and to help others in the same way that many articles have helped me. For context, I’m currently in RB170 and doing well on assessments. The best practices include advice from Launch School, guidance from other students, and a few items that may be new.


  • Attend as many TA and SPOT sessions as possible. TA sessions fill up fast, so check regularly for new listings. Sign up for sessions as soon as you start a new course (even though you may relinquish your spot to someone in assessment prep). This is a great way to clarify course material and discover knowledge gaps.
  • Attend as many LS meetups as possible, virtual or otherwise. Listen to interviews with graduates (YouTube, LS podcast). Read articles written by current and former students (find them on Medium, in LS material, and linked on Slack). They provide insight into the curriculum, Capstone, and software engineering careers. This brings resolution to long-term goals, making them clearer and more achievable.
  • Find at least one good study partner. Meet every week, even if you are in different courses or don’t have much to talk about. Use this time to test each other, pair program, or to share general information and thoughts on study tools, LS, Capstone, careers, something you learned in a SPOT/TA session the other could not attend, and so on.
  • Form study groups with students preparing for the same assessment. Drill each other on core concepts, ask questions, and brainstorm. LS students are friendly and eager, so don’t hesitate to send a message.

Notes & PEDAC

  • Create a new bookmarks folder for each course. Use it to organize bookmarks of relevant LS pages and external resources (Medium, Stack Overflow, etc.)
  • Try to identify major concepts as soon as they appear in course material. Whenever they pop up, bookmark the page with an appropriate name (e.g. “polymorphism 01”) and copy relevant text to that concept’s section in your notes. Doing so organizes the core material for each concept in one place, for easy reference during the learn and internalize phase.
  • We can organize notes into two categories: raw material (quotes and code snippets written by others) and new material (your own words and code). Raw material informs, while new material is the result of processing and transforming raw material input. That transformation is an act of learning, a test of understanding. New material is an expression or measurement of that understanding.
  • Use the discussion forums to better understand concepts. There are many threads that explain concepts in detail and provide code examples.
  • PEDAC is like a new pair of shoes: the more we use it, the more comfortable it becomes. Create a PEDAC version that works best for you (mine is currently P(GR)U(MA)SC). Use it to dissect a problem and lay its components on the table.


  • For both written and live assessment prep, practice explaining concepts extemporaneously, verbally and in simple code snippets. Answers should be fluent, not grasping to recall a quote. This is a great way to determine whether or not we know the material cold. It is also an intuitive and fast way to learn.
  • Prepare a fresh coffee before a written assessment. Notes should be organized and at hand (for quick reference, not as items to paste in). With pen and paper, write the start time and end time. Set a timer to go off 10 minutes before the deadline. Write a blank numbered list, so we can easily mark questions to circle back to before the end, to finish them or to add more detail. If there is no progress on an answer within 30 seconds, move on (I learned this from an article by another student — please comment or message me on Slack if you know which one!) Try to answer it partially, then return to it later.
  • Answer written assessment questions as thoroughly as possible, while staying within the scope of the question and key concept. Each question is an opportunity to demonstrate knowledge about a concept, or a relationship between concepts. Answers should also be concise.
  • Before every assessment, eat enough to have energy, but not enough to slow down. Also be well rested.
  • Don’t be quick to assume a problem type. It can be easy to think, ‘oh, it’s XYZ type of problem — I know how to solve this’, and then go down the wrong path. Explore different solution paths at a high level before committing to one.
  • Try to build a professional, enthusiastic state of mind before an assessment, especially a live assessment (use a ‘happy tunes’ or ‘pump up’ playlist, for example). It bolsters and expresses confidence, whereas stress and fear inhibit problem solving (fear is the mind-killer). Ideally, we are brimming with energy and eager to demonstrate our skill and knowledge.
  • Solving a problem is only one aspect of a live assessment. Communicate clearly and confidently, so the interviewer follows the logic flow and understands key decisions. How we approach a problem (including an unexpected output), in terms of PEDAC and also attitude, is extremely important.



Spencer Wightman
Launch School

Launch School Student & TA