Pass the exam! Certification study tips…

passExamWe place significant value on industry certifications and actively look for engineers that have various quality related designations.

I recently volunteered to assist others during a local ASQ certification exam study session and noted the following tips to help ensure success:

Take the pre-test. Assess your strengths and weaknesses ASAP.

Most certification exam study guides offer example tests. Taking this as early as possible provides a realistic assessment of what you know and don’t know. It’s easy to be overconfident about how much you think you know, or get caught in the trap of focusing your studies on what you’re comfortable with.

Work out a study schedule to take you through to the exam date.  Set reminders in your calendar.

Most times, trying to “fit” studying in doesn’t work for people who already have a busy schedule.  But, setting appointments for yourself to study and organizing all of your efforts through to the exam will alleviate some of the anxiety caused by not being able to make time.  Use the exam’s body of knowledge and your pre-test results to organize your efforts.

Organize your study materials.  

Many exams allow you to use study materials during testing.  This can be a weakness to some who feel it will be an easier test.  Rather than highlighting and putting tabs on too many things, only make standout a few key areas where you know you’ll need help.  Also, remove the index.  Putting this next to you during the exam will save time and frustration from flipping back and forth.

Spend time reviewing the information with others.  Organize a study session.

Studying with others is beneficial for many reasons.  A big one is that it’s a motivator.  That alone is worth it.  But, also allowing yourself to openly discuss the body of knowledge for the exam and go over example questions requires work from more areas of your brain, which ultimately helps with understanding and retention. Organize a study group with your coworkers that may also be taking the exam, through the local association section/chapter, or even LinkedIn.

Review sample exam questions during scheduled periods of time.  

Don’t use all of your allocated study time to read the study guides.  Spend more time answering example questions so you can understand how they are asking the question and how they determine what the right answer is.  Many industry certification exams require much more than memorizing terms.  It’s the application of the concept that’s important to understand.

Take care of yourself.

It may sound obvious, but it’s easy to get caught up in the stress of things and cram the few nights before the exam or skip a meal here and there right before.  Exercise, sleep, and nutrition play a critical role in the brain’s ability to do its job.  Research supports that even 20 minutes of exercise right before an exam can boost your score.

Have fun.

It’s all about perspective.  And, it can be said that perspective does play a role in the result.

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