If you follow these simple steps on how to prepare for your exam to guarantee your success you will increase your chances of getting your certificates dramatically.
Success depends upon our previous preparations, and without such preparations there is sure to be failure. Confucius
Before you enroll
Do a thorough exam research
Answer the following questions: Is this exam valuable for my career ? Does the training provider have a good reputation ? Is the study material the best i can get ? How did others learn and prepare ? What was there experience with testcenters and the exam itself ? Download the syllabus from the exam provider and look for their study recommendations. Remember: The best exam is always the one you DON’T take if it does not bring you forward in any way.
Do a thorough material research
This is a very important part of your research. Especially valuable are book reviews and any other material that summarizes the topics you have to study. Use googles special search function (e.g. type “<your exam> cheat sheet filetype:pdf”. You are not the first one that takes this exam so there will be valuable information available if you know how to find it. Search for audioprograms and online trainings (like on Udemy or CBT nuggets) , search pinterest for infographics , attend seminars or webinars, search on youtube and don’t forget to visit your local bookstore !
Learn about learning
If you think about learning and immediately “books” comes to your mind think again. Try new techniques and new types of material your found in your research. A video course can never replace a detailed book but it gives you the nessesary overview and prepares you for the topic. This make it much easier to read any book if you know what you can expect from the material. Try new methods (e.g. the OPIR method when reading a book), create mindmaps and exam questions from the material you take in.
Review your lessons learned
Especially when you are a continuous learner like me and take many exams you should maintain a record of lessons learned. While this is a common technique in Project Management or Agile development it also should be applied in your personal life. Even if you fail an exam you need to use that experience to improve. Always ask: What did i do right ? And: What would i do differently the next time ? – Write down the answer and always review your experience.
Register in advance
Do not just start learning, book your exam first. This is a commitment and makes your decision final. This also helps you to clarify your study effort. Now the days are limited so you can plan ahead.
During your study
This is probably the most difficult part of all. Focus on what you will do with the certificate, the improvements in your life and your career and the pride when you finally hold that piece of paper that says “Passed” in your hand. I personally read all the advice I get from Brian Tracy and I dare to say he changed my life. Especially his books “Eat that frog” and “No excuses” have been a lifesaver for me and still accompany me in their audiobook version “Eat that frog” and “No excuses” on walks through the neighborhood.
Calculate your pace
As mentioned before the booking of your exam does not only define your goal but also help you to calculate your training effort. Allocate the time you need and get to work every day at the same time. Try to maintain a steady learning pace, include review sessions and make sure you always include some buffertime for unexpected events.
Create an overview
Do not just start, get an overview of what you are going to learn. You have the syllabus from your research, book summaries, watch the first chapter of your video courses, get you mind ready for the material. Ask and write down questions that you want the material to asnwer for you. What do you know already about the topic ?
I cannot emphasize this enough – take notes, mark up your material and summarize it with your OWN words. The best recommendation is to visualize the facts with a mind map. If you never tried it before this is the best advice you can get. Mind maps are incredibly powerful.
Most of the things you read are forgotten within the first 24 hours. Begin the day with a short review of yesterdays topics !
Plan your study so that you finish all the required topics at least one or two days before your exam. This gives you a feeling of security. You learned it all. You are ready. Nothing is worse than realizing 2 days before your exam that you missed a certain topic… panic is the death of any certificate !
Use the last day for review
The last day should be ONLY used for review and relaxation. Take a look at your mindmap, pin it to the wall and look through all the topics again. Take the material for a walk. Get fresh air and let the picture of your mindmap appear in front of your inner eye, walk through the material. You can alro try to recreate it from your memory and then compare the result with the original. This is a very powerful technique.
The week before
Do your exercise and take a topic for a walk
Exercise and fresh air is not something only for exams and the last week of course but within the last seven days you can use a good walk to clear your mind, to think the topic through, to identify gaps. Did you really understand the material ? Could you explain it to someone else ? Sometimes thinking it through during a walk brings you clarity, explaining it to yourself makes your realize the important facts.
Keep a steady pace
Just because it it the last week does not mean you need to create u panic learning allnighter. Keep your pace, you calculated everything so there is no need to double your daily study hours. Reasure yourself that you are where you should be with your study and keep calm.
Create a cheat sheet
This is the best preparation method ever. If you are forced to summrize everything on 1 or 2 pages you need to find what is essential about the material. You will get the big picture and how it all fits together. Take this sheet with you … i always have it with me – during preparation so i can quickly lookup a fact that i cannot remember – and though i never used it even during the exam – it somehow gives me confidence.
Visit the test site
Fear is the greatest enemy of successful exams. If you can familiarize yourself with the exam site before the exam day. Not only do you know exactly where it is and how long it takes to get there but you will feel mor calm on your big day when you arrive at a place you are familiar with.
This is a no brainer of course – delay all outings and parties … anything that disturbs your rythm – have a (big !) party AFTER you have your certificate
Make sure the last week is stress free… no important presentation or duty at your job – no visit at the dentist or any other things that will have a negative influence on your ability to concentrate on the task at hand.
The day before
The day before is best used to do a review of your summary. Do not try to bombard your mind with new information and concepts. This will only make you nervous.
Keep your rhythm
Do not change anything – go to bed at the usual time, get a good night sleep… because you have planned ahead the day before the exam is for calm review so you can go to bed with the knowledge that you have what it takes to get your certificate !
Make sure you have everything for a healthy breakfast
Buy all you need for a nutricious healthy power berakfast !
Prepare your documents
Get all your documents ready. Passport or any other ID, Exam fee or voucher, any material you are allowed to bring, print out the address and a map , a contact from the testsite and any other information you might need on that day. Recharge you phone and prepare relaxation music.
Follow these simple steps and you dramatically increase your chance to have a relaxed and successful exam experience.
What did you to to prepare for your last test ? I would love to hear your ideas