Hack Reactor in San Francisco is often considered the “Harvard of Coding Bootcamps,” but what does it really take to be admitted to this top code school? The admissions team from Hack Reactor has given us a behind-the-scenes look at the school’s application and interview process. Here they explain how to prepare for the JavaScript coding challenge, the technical interview, and their selection process. You’ll also learn about how many times you can apply, international student admissions, and the possibility of applying for multiple schools in the Reactor Core network.


How long does the Hack Reactor application typically take? What are the steps applicants should expect?

The process is quick and relatively simple. Applicants first take a simple coding challenge to show that they have command of basic concepts. Once that is completed, they move on to a technical interview. And that’s it! Applicants typically receive a decision within 10 days of the technical interview.

Admissions Coding Challenge

Does everyone take the same coding challenge? Can you give us a sample question?

Yes, it’s the same challenge for everyone. It’s quite short, and you can take a look at it here. Applicants will want to be familiar with the basic JavaScript building blocks: objects, arrays, functions and variables.

How long should it take? Is there a time limit?

A coder with some comfort with JavaScript concepts can finish in under 10 minutes. There is no time limit. Applicants won’t be able to schedule a technical interview until they complete the challenge, but they can spend as long as they want on it without penalty.

Can an applicant complete the coding challenge in any programming language or does it have to be in JavaScript?

Only JavaScript. There are a number of unique syntactic elements of JavaScript, so other languages don’t necessarily “translate” well. Furthermore, JavaScript has cemented itself as the dominant programming language of today on the front-end, back-end and increasingly in mobile apps. We want students to show they can work with JavaScript logic.

How should a beginner prepare for the admissions challenge? Who is the right candidate for Hack Reactor Fulcrum vs. preparing on their own?

The best way to prepare is our Reactor Prep and Fulcrum courses. Prep is built for coders who have dabbled, but don’t feel comfortable building apps or interactive web pages. Many Prep students have gone on to be admitted into our 12-week program.

Fulcrum is for intermediate coders who want to get to the next level and have the optimal preparation for our immersive course. Fulcrum students are invited to a technical interview after completing the course, and may subtract their Fulcrum tuition from their immersive tuition.

While self-study can be a good way to introduce yourself to basic programming concepts, we’ve found that many people get lost in the resources and need more structured guidance in order to reach their software engineering goals.

What goes into the written application? Does Hack Reactor require a video submission?

Neither, actually. Students need only complete the coding challenge and technical interview.


Will interviewees need to walk through a technical problem during the interview?

Yes, the interviewer and interviewee will work on a technical problem together. The interview is not just a test, but a chance to learn and experience the Hack Reactor teaching method. Applicants are encouraged to examine the underlying logic of their code.

How do you evaluate an applicant’s future potential? What qualities are you looking for?

We look for students who respond well to challenge and uncertainty, and who are clear, empathic communicators. Some coding ability is important, but we are more concerned with students’ willingness and ability to learn, than with what they already know. Identifying these qualities has been a key element to our students successes.

Can applicants do the Hack Reactor interview in-person or are all interviews conducted online?

Applicants can do whichever is more convenient for them. Our online program, Hack Reactor Remote Beta, does online interviews. Like with the entire immersive course experience, Hack Reactor Remote Beta brings the full coding interview to an online format.


Are students accepted on a rolling basis?


What is the current acceptance rate at Hack Reactor? Is a low acceptance rate important to Hack Reactor?

A low admissions rate is an arbitrary benchmark, and is not important to us. What’s important is a high and consistent quality standard. We are exclusive, but not for exclusiveness’ sake: we require our students be hardworking, growth-oriented, and curious learners.

What types of backgrounds have successful Hack Reactor students had? Does everyone come from a technical background?

One comment we often get from employers is how refreshing it is that our candidates are from diverse backgrounds – culturally, academically, and in terms of work experience. Many students have technical backgrounds, but we also have many career-changers, and others who have been coding for weeks or months, not years. This is a result of our admissions process: we screen for communication skills and growth mentality as much as, or more than, coding chops.

Does Hack Reactor accept international students? Do international students get student visas/tourist visas to do the program?

We do accept international students. While we don’t offer official advice on visas, many students have made it work, and have found employment in the Bay Area or back in their home country.

If a student is accepted into Hack Reactor, are they automatically accepted into Reactor Core schools like MakerSquare, Telegraph Academy, Operation Spark, or Mobile Makers?

It’s easy to apply to multiple schools at once, but each school makes their own decision. Applicants that apply to multiple schools have a better chance of getting into at least one program. However, we suggest that students do the research about the various schools in the network to choose two to three that fit their personal goals and learning style.

Can rejected applicants reapply? If so, how many times?

It is rare that we fully reject anyone. Generally, the worst case scenario is that we ask you to reinterview after more study. It is not uncommon for applicants to get in on their second or third try, sometimes after taking our Prep or Fulcrum courses.

Find out more and read reviews on the Hack Reactor Course Report page. Or check out the Hack Reactor website.

About The Author

Liz pic

Liz is the cofounder of Course Report, the most complete resource for students researching coding bootcamps. Her research has been cited in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, TechCrunch, and more. She loves breakfast tacos and spending time getting to know bootcamp alumni and founders all over the world. Check out Liz & Course Report on Twitter, Quora, and YouTube!

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