|Timing Of STARSkate Tests|
|When the goal is to pass four Gold Tests- Free Skating, Interpretive, Dance and Skills before University (age 17-18) it is more efficient to commence training each branch in step-wise fashion rather than simultaneously. Delaying the start of certain branches gives skaters an opportunity to learn in concert with their natural physical and mental maturity. Activities based heavily on memory work such as learning the steps of Dances and Skating Skills and mentally and physically demanding activities such as developing complex emotional and/or artistic connections in skaters who can't yet skate well enough or aren't mature enough can be a waste of precious time. That time would be better spent learning complex free skating movement with a view to transferring that skill to the other branches at the appropriate time. Since transfer flows from the complex to the simple, learning free skating first, not entirely to its conclusion but as a first step, provides a head start on other branches without compromising progress to the Gold Free Skate test.
Figure skating is an early specialization sport. Skaters must acquire complex neural adaptations before puberty or it won't happen at all. Time is of the essence and since a Gold Free Skating test requires many, many more hours of training than a Gold Dance or Skills test, beginning work on all branches at once, especially without adequate ice time, can interfere with one's ability to learn to free skate so much that it can not only prevent a skater from achieving the Gold Free Skate test, it often causes skaters to quit in frustration long before they reach that level. By delaying the start of some branches and then transferring learning from branch to branch and test to test at the optimal time, skaters are able to learn faster and better and actually pass more tests in the long-term than if they had tried to cram learning in, earlier on, when they may not have been mature enough or skilled enough to absorb it anyway.
The chart below illustrates an efficient schedule for achieving Gold tests in all disciplines.