Don’t Fear the Certification, Part II

July 27, 2009 at 2:55 pm | Posted in Certification Paths, Microsoft, Study hints | Leave a comment
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…or, How I learned to stop worrying about certification and just passed the test.

Having followed the strategy outlined in Part I, you are now ready to earn a few more letters to your surname and clog up your email and snail mail with “Congratulations on passing!” messages. Before we elaborate on that eventuality, I would be amiss if I didn’t cover exam preparation. Before you reach exam day, there are many things you can do to feel confident and get in the “pass” mindset.

Trust me, you don’t want to be that frenetic woman pounding on the CPU and having to be escorted by security. Or that loudly snoring gentleman with stuff placed on his head by fellow test-takers. And please, for all of our sakes, don’t be that guy with the hangover blues who arrives five hours late and screams at the staff for a full refund.

So, a few suggestions to boost your esteem and exam passibility ratio:

  • Determine the tipping point. At some point, perhaps a few days before the exam or even sooner, you will realize that there are just some concepts you won’t understand. Runners call it “the Wall;” I call it a “tipping point.” Rather than focus on your weaknesses, move on and focus on your strengths. You have a finite amount of study time and no matter how clever, well-studied, or experienced you are in real-world scenarios, there will be some things you will not understand. At this point, and you’ll have to make the call when this point is, just move on and continue through your study plan. The last thing you want to do is to sink your entire score just because of few misunderstood concepts.
  • Take a break from studying the day before you take the exam. Go for a hike or bike ride, hunker down for a serious MMORPG marathon session, or just sit outside with your family for a while. Just don’t study. You already did the studying… it’s over. Now is the time to marinate in that knowledge so that all of those information juices are flowing on test day.
  • Get a good night of sleep. At least eight hours… no cheating. Some noxious, heart-bursting energy drink will not help you pass the exam. You will need the sleep. Trust me on this.
  • Arrive at least 30-45 minutes early. Bring a few crib sheets with key concepts, formulas, and/or key code segments, and with an inner calm, turn through them, slowly roasting your brain for a solid thirty minutes. If you get nervous easily, you may want to show up even earlier and chat up the test center staff to get your mind out of the anxiety trap.
  • Make sure you are comfortable. Before you click the start button, adjust your seat, pick a good ergonomic position, and hunker down for the next few hours. If you need a snack, eat it before you sit down. And of course, make sure you’ve hit the restroom. Although you can always flag down a proctor to take care of business, your brain power will be at its optimum if you take care of your bodily needs before you begin the exam.

Now that you’ve made it down the runway, it’s time to fly. Aviation lessons to handle exam-clouded conditions will follow in the next post!

–Joshua Hester

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