Taking a professional exam can throw you back in time to your student days. All of the old nerves and worries will come flooding back no matter how long you’ve been out of school. It’s normal to feel stress and anxiety when preparing for a test.
That’s why we have compiled some great tips and tricks to keep your confidence up and get you ready for success on your IT professional exam.
1. Go Old School…
Many of the study habits and tricks you used in school are still really useful when you’re prepping for a professional exam.
- Flashcards— You can write down keywords and phrases on pieces of paper or you can download a flashcard app. Either way, flashcards are still the best for when you need to memorize terms or formulas.
- Mnemonic Devices— Mnemonic devices are little verbal tricks that help information stick in your head. Whether it’s an acronym, a rhyme, or a song, this classic learning technique can help you improve your test performance.
- Study Guides— Back in school when your teacher handed out study guides, it wasn’t just to help you on a test. They help you organize your thoughts as you learn as well as assisting in later review. Find one online or in your textbook materials and use it. You can even make one yourself!
2. …But Keep it Fresh
While the old ways of studying still have their place in preparing for a professional exam, we live in a digital world. If you’re getting ready to take an exam today, you’d be foolish not to use all of the digital resources available now. From interactive lessons to computerized practice tests, the options for study aids are endless.
Because we each learn best in different ways, taking time to explore the many options out there is worth it. Accessibility options have changed the way materials are presented, meaning that there’s something for everyone. Don’t get stuck in the old study habits you developed in school. Be bold and try something new. You might learn something!
3. Take a Holistic View
When it comes to studying for things like professional exams, it’s hard to warn against ‘just studying for the test.’ The test is the point. But there is something to that advice even in this case. Often, when you study in order to pass a test, you can get hyper-focused on certain aspects of a subject that will be on the exam. However, when you’re learning, it’s better to take a more holistic view of a subject. This isn’t just philosophically true–it’s also practical.
The way the memory works is to integrate information into something like a mental data matrix. Individual ideas are connected with other, related ideas. Later, when you take a test, your brain accesses that data. The more connections in that data’s matrix, the better your chance of remembering information when you need it.
More simply, it’s easier to remember things when they are in a larger, coherent context than when they just are random bits of information. Approaching a subject in its totality will help build a stronger understanding of it. On-the-job performance is improved by this holistic approach to a subject and your test performance will be too.
4. Do Your Homework
When I say do your homework, I mean it in two ways. First and most obviously, you have to work hard and practice the skills on which you will be tested. There’s also more to it than that. A second important part of succeeding on a professional exam is to make sure that you know exactly what you’re in for on test day.
Just as preparation is important in your professional life, it’s a crucial part of doing well on exams. Find out what the test is like. What’s the format? What score do you need to pass? What do others who have taken it have to say about what it’s like? You can learn a lot from just a little bit of research. That knowledge might give you a leg up when it’s time to take the exam.
5. Don’t Be A Slacker
If you find yourself thinking that you can just wing it and pass a professional exam, consider this–the test you’re taking is likely designed for skilled, knowledgeable people to show their expertise in an important field.
Unlike a test in high school, which may be designed for a broad swathe of the population, professional tests presume a high level of knowledge in most or all of its participants. That means that you can’t just coast through it. Treat your exam with the gravity it deserves or you might end up taking it again.
6. Make Time and Space
When you were in school, you probably had a life that was pretty devoted to your studies. A quiet place to learn may be harder to come by as your life gets more complicated. With spouses, children, and other commitments, you might struggle to find a good study location. However, it is very important that you create a quiet zone where you can focus and really prepare.
Similarly, it’s likely that you have a busy schedule full of important family and work tasks. That makes it difficult to devote the time you need to study. Just remember, making the time to really devote yourself to your studies is crucial to your success on a professional exam. If you do it right by making plenty of time and space to properly prepare, you will improve your chances of passing the first time. In the end, it will make the process much easier and your experience less stressful if you are able to study effectively.