The BBST Foundations course is a very challenging course, on many levels. For me, it was a full 4 weeks of learning how to learn, how to organize better and how to stay on top of things. This course offers you many learning opportunities and a lot of useful information. In order to benefit from this as much as you can, you’ll need to put effort not only into going through the materials and assignments but also into paying attention to some of the aspects I’m going to describe below.
A little bit of context
When I started the BBST course I was working a full-time job and also writing my dissertation paper. At first, when the registration for this class had opened, I took into account that it might be better to focus on finishing my paper instead and skip the course. I felt like everything would collapse if I tried to do both at the same time and I was certain I would fail one of them.
But this was not the first time I attempted to start this course and chose to put it on hold when, honestly, I didn’t have a good reason for it.
Now, when I actually had a good reason not to take it, I decided instead to do it. Sounds funny, right? But, in the end, I was actually very happy with my choice. I broke the rules – my rules – and challenged myself to do more. I can now say that I should have taken it sooner.
So these are my 4 takeaways on how to make the BBST Foundations course a fulfilling experience even in very hectic times like the ones that I was going through.
EXAM PREP is helpful
At first, my learning strategy was to focus only on what’s needed to be done in that current lesson. I wasn’t focusing too much on what the exam means, thinking I will still have enough time until that point.
My advice now is: don’t let time pass you by. Start preparing for the exam before the “exam prep” period comes. You might have heard this a dozen times when you were in high school or university but trust me it is not hard to take a couple of minutes each day to prep beforehand. This is something that I will definitely change when taking some of the next BBST courses or other unrelated courses. Prepare for the exam sooner rather than later. It will make your life easier!
It was not that late when I started to prepare for the exam but still, you can always start the process earlier, for example when you’re going through the lessons from the “learning” part of the course.
- information will be more fresh and structured
- you will have more time to discuss your answers with colleagues and instructors and raise questions to clarify any misunderstandings
- you will better prepare for the exam and avoid feeling overwhelmed before that
COMMUNICATION is important
Communication can be easier when you know a bit about the person that’s on the other side of your screen. I know that not everyone can be an extrovert and easily start a conversation about themselves or others but you can try to build a connection with your colleagues and instructors. When the “Meet and Greet” session takes place, that’s your best opportunity to find out more about them, what their hobbies are or what they do in their everyday lives.
Even though the course materials and the assignments are not designed to be covered or solved as a group, but rather something you’ll do individually, you will have to learn how to give and receive feedback. This is why building connections with others will help. Giving and receiving feedback is not that hard when the other person is not a total stranger to you. Another reason why connecting to other students and instructors is important is because it makes it easier to ask questions and speak your mind. It’s important to raise questions if something is unclear for you! Don’t wait until the exam. If you have questions, ask and don’t be afraid of what others might think!
KEEP UP with your colleagues
Another thing that I’ve learned taking this course is the fact that you need to keep up with your colleagues. By the time the course passes the introduction part, you’ll notice that everyone starts working at their own pace, still keeping the deadlines in mind. Some will go through the lessons faster while some will go slower. For example: you might finish your assignment just in time while other colleagues will already raise questions for the following lesson. This is why I would suggest starting to read the next lesson and the questions related to it, see if there are any aspects that are unclear and think about the next assignment. This is not a rule or something that you need to do every time but, if you can, do them beforehand.
If you are up to date with the latest announcements, assignments and conversations, you will also have time to look at the next topics and ask questions in advance where needed.
FOCUS on what’s important
Honestly, I expected to have less work to do. This is why it’s also important to take into account the maximum time that you should spend on the Assignments or Orientation exercises. A key point is also focusing on what’s important and helpful for you. Is it the videos? Or is it taking the quiz several times or only a few times? Don’t spend time on the quiz only to get a bigger grade as this should not be your purpose. Quizzes are for you to learn and realize what you don’t know or where you lack knowledge, and then revisit the subjects where you found gaps.
My mistake was to spend too much time on quizzes trying to have a “perfect grade”. I also spent more time than required on assignments which made me think that my ideas were not good enough and made me feel uncertain. This can happen when you have a strong idea or solution for your assignments. You’ve done an analysis and carefully thought about it, but spending more time led to changing your mind at the very last minute. The maximum time is specified there with a purpose: to help you not overthink some of the assignments and to also give you enough time to work. Not all of us work in the same manner and I still think it’s safe to use a little extra time if you need to but try not to overdo it. Just pay attention to how you use that extra time.
The BBST course can be a very different experience from person to person. I think it depends on your type of personality and also on the amount of time and effort you are willing to put into it. For me, the BBST course was a great learning experience given that it was the first course in this structure and it:
- helped me improve the way I organize myself while trying to achieve a goal and finish a task
- taught me how to better manage my time
- helped me improve exploratory testing skills
- helped me deepen my basic testing knowledge while also challenging me with new and surprising situations
Thinking back, I am very proud of my decision to challenge myself in doing more. From this experience, I have learned that it’s not always good to overthink your decision and that you need to trust yourself and believe that you can do more than you think. Thus, I encourage you not to waste any more time and take this course. You will not regret it 🙂