By Andrew Wilson
A career online certification test is often a stressful and critical hurdle for professionals who may need it to advance in the workplace or maintain certification. Fortunately, it is possible to prepare for such a test and make sure you do well when the scores are added up.
The first ingredient in successfully preparing for career certification exams is to draft your test plan. This consists of a reasonable and relatively detailed timeline combined with the subject matter you will be reviewing. Get an exam guidebook or a reviewer that will conform to the demands of the actual test. Take note of the topics or skills that will be tested in the different sections of the test. Pay attention to the value assigned to each topic.
If the certification test is crucial to your career and you know it will cover a lot of material, pick an exam date that will allow you 4 to 6 months to prepare. Many exams begin to open registration within this time frame so registering for the exam should not be a problem. In addition, there may be early bird discounts that you can take advantage of but the best part of early registration is that the exam gives you a definite deadline which can be a great source of motivation.
• Find an exam handbook or reviewer and based on this, gather materials you need for study.
• Without doing any review, take a practice test to identify your areas of weakness. Take note of these and pay particular attention to them when you study.
• Set aside 10 hours a week in 1 to 2 hour blocks for study.
• Spend at least one week skimming all the material you have gathered.
• Using a reviewer or an exam guidebook, allocate the topics so that you cover all of them in a 10 to 12 week period.
• Take notes while you review. Create your own notes which you should arrange according to the way the test will be organized.
Planning six months ahead for an exam may seem overzealous especially to people who are already working in the field. However, even practicing professionals need to commit time to reviewing for a test which often contains material or concepts rarely used in day-to-day field work. It also helps to be familiar with the style and syntax of the test questions that will come up.
Take the best practice test you can find and do a thorough self-assessment against each content area that will be featured in the actual exam. At this point, candidates should try to at least maintain a 10 to 12 hour allocation per week to study but if they can manage it, they should bring this up to 3 hours daily, 5 to 6 days a week.
This is the time to do more practice exams and to explore all possible resources for learning – especially those that the certification provider may offer. With the career online certification test only 12 weeks away, it is time go over as many practice questions as possible. Go over your notes and make sure the areas you noted as your weaknesses have been well covered during your review.