Discouragement with the material


I have been going through the Data Analyst course for about a week now and I am feeling a bit discouraged, particularly from the practice problems given.

For the most part, I feel like I have been understanding the lessons and processing the information pretty well. When I get to the practice problems I can’t really figure any of them out. They feel so much more difficult than the lessons. I assume this is intended but i’m not sure if i’m not understanding what I learned from the course well enough or is it something else. When I look at an answer I can understand why that would solve the answer but I almost always look at the answer and tell myself ‘I would have never gotten that’. Maybe it’s the math behind some of them or just me not truly understanding the material from the lesson.

My current approach is to bookmark the practice problems (b/c that is the only way you can actually come back to them) and maybe come back to those practice problems after I’ve done more coursework. The issue I have with this approach is that I still feel like I just won’t understand more of the math behind some of the answers.

Can anyone help me with an approach? Should I go take some math classes? Should I just keep going through the course work? I just feel discouraged after feeling like I understand all of the coursework but when i get to the practice problems I’m completely stuck.

Thank you!

Firstly, try not to get too discouraged! When you’re learning a new thing it’s normal to have points where things feel hard. To get through most of the first course in a week is really great progress!

It would be helpful to understand which practice problem sets you’re having particular difficulty with, and what sort of questions. Each set of practice problems is customized to the skills you learn in a particular mission - at the end of the first mission, most of our understanding in Python is how to use mathematical operations like addition, subtraction etc, so the practice problems in this set are a bit “mathy”.

If it’s this set that you’re struggling with, then maybe some math revision at somewhere like Khan Academy might be useful to you. I find the practice problems for the later missions in the later courses to be a bit less mathy and more conceptual. If you’re struggling with these, it might be useful for you to go back and revise those missions.

I know that sometimes when I do problem sets I can sometimes have very little idea how to approach a problem, and so I end up looking at the solution. Sometimes this can be very instructive by itself —if you come out of the experience knowing how you would solve it next time, there’s certainly something to be said for that!

Lastly, if there’s a specific problem you’re stuck on, you can always reach out here in the community for help with that specific problem. To ensure you’re able to get the best help possible, explain what you understand about the problem, where you’re getting stuck, and include any code you’ve written so far (even if you know it’s wrong). Your fellow students and members of the Dataquest team are here to help you on your learning journey!

I hope this helps, I encourage you to stick with it!

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Thanks for the reply! I will definitely post some problems that i’m having issues with the on the community page.

Will their eventually be a way for us to intentionally look at practice problems? By that I mean right now I have to bookmark the URL if I want to come back to them at a later time. Will their be a way for users to just go to the ‘practice problems’ tab and look at all the practice problems from the courses?

Yes there will. You’re actually part of a test group that’s seeing a very early version of practice problems. We are working on adding practice problems to the dashboard right now, and we’re hoping to roll it out to everybody soon!

Oh cool! Can’t wait!