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5 Tips on the Hack Reactor Admissions Process

Owen Poindexter

5 Tips on the Hack Reactor Admissions Process's Image

We recently did a Q&A with Course Report on our admissions process to demystify things for prospective applicants. While we discussed preparing for the admissions test and technical interview in that interview, we wanted to go a little deeper on that topic, so that our applicants can focus their preparation.

1. Know what you’re getting into

Take a few minutes getting to know our admissions process. This will help you focus your energy, and also keep you from doing excessive and unnecessary preparation. If you are familiar with core JavaScript concepts, such as objects, arrays and functions, there is no need to delay taking our admissions challenge. This is a straightforward test with no time limit. An experienced coder could do it in under ten minutes. Even better, failing it will not count against you in any way. You will be unable to move to the next step, the technical interview, until you do pass the test, but you may try as many times as you like until you get it.

The technical interview is more involved. Here, you will work through a more advanced coding challenge with a Hack Reactor staff member. We don’t need to see you ace the material. We’re just as curious about how you work with a partner, deal with uncertainty and learn on the fly. After the technical interview, you will typically receive a decision within ten days.

2. Think about why you want to go to Hack Reactor

Why is this important? Hack Reactor is a very intense course, and having a clear sense of your motivations will help you before and during the program. That doesn’t mean your thoughts on this topic can’t change--change is the norm at Hack Reactor--but you’ll still want to get a sense of what you’re getting into. Hack Reactor requires its students to be present, learning and coding 11 hours a day, 6 days a week. None of those 66 hours will be spent on repetitive tasks or rote memorization. In short, it is a more demanding and powerful experience than the vast majority of jobs or educational offerings. Knowing why you’re jumping in will help you be successful.

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3. Try a short project of your own design

If you’re looking for a place to learn JavaScript basics, there are a number of good free, online resources such as Codecademy’s JavaScript track or Eloquent JavaScript. If you want to take an extra step, one path is to come up with a short project, and build it from scratch. Common examples are building a to-do app or a tic-tac-toe game. We won’t need to see it for your application--in fact we never look at portfolios, resumes or academic record.

The value in doing an exercise like this is to put yourself in a context quite common for software engineers: you will have a task with any number of ways you might solve it, and thousands of resources available to you through internet searches. This will engage your skills in research, discernment and problem solving.

“We’re not just looking for people who can memorize how to do things, we’re looking for problem solvers,” explains alum Charlie Depman, who interviewed applicants in our graduate apprenticeship program.

This is a great exercise, but don’t fret too much about leaving with a perfect product. Encounter roadblocks, learn a few tricks, and move on when you’ve gotten what you can out of the experience.

4. Consider taking our Prep course

The best precursor to our 12-week immersive program is Reactor Prep. This is a month-long course for beginners. Over 56 hours, it quickly ramps up your feel for and ability to use JavaScript. We offer prep programs at all of our locations and online.

5. Go for it

One regret we sometimes hear from students is that they wish they had applied earlier. Many applicants delay their technical interview for a long time because they want to do everything they possibly can before jumping in. If you feel like you might be ready, our recommendation is to give it a try. The worst that can happen is that you will be asked to reapply later after some additional study (and the upside is that you’ve just taken the best possible step to accelerate your career as a software developer). Furthermore, the interview itself will help you understand where to concentrate your efforts.

“I would say to make sure you're prepared with a good foundational knowledge of Javascript but not to overdo it,” says alum Austen Talbot. “I probably should have applied months before I actually did, but I spent a lot of time trying to learn as much as possible on my own. The biggest benefit is getting to Hack Reactor as soon as possible because you'll learn so much better and faster here than you can by yourself.”

Ready to make your move? Take the admissions challenge.

Read more:

Student’s Advice to Anyone on the Fence about Applying to Hack Reactor: Just Go For It

This is the Most Important Skill a Software Engineer Can Know

Which Hack Reactor Course is Right for You? Here’s How to Find Out