Learn Smarter: Preparing for a Certification Exam1 | 2 |
For those who are unable to travel or live too far from a study group, the self-study and Web-based materials can be a great help. Either way, it is critical to go through at least one dry run before the actual exam. Many organizations or their chapters or special interest groups organize these types of events.
Social networking sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn also provide excellent forums for open discussion and group formation.
“While there is dramatically easier access to an ever-increasing knowledge base and support network for those preparing for exams, it still requires the discipline to go through the process and gain an understanding of where you need to focus your efforts for maximum benefit,” Nicholson said.
Those who do have the opportunity to travel or attend local events should look for review sessions during industry conferences. If they aren’t already affiliated with the organization that provides the certification, they should consider becoming a member and attending chapter review events or otherwise linking up with study groups. As the saying goes, there is safety in numbers, but there are excellent educational opportunities in numbers, too.
Also, seek out co-workers who have recently gone through the exam process and ask them for advice and tips. If they are open to the idea, ask them to go through the parts of the material that are giving you difficulties.
The Day Before the Exam
If at all possible, get a lot of rest and, while this may be hard for many candidates to actually accomplish, try to relax. Trust in the knowledge and benefits gained from the previous months of intensive study. Every exam and every candidate has different needs, so everyone should find out what works best for him or her.
While Nicholson took a break from the material in the days leading up to the exam, Kadam took this time to go over the cross-reference tables he built and revised over the previous months. They provided him with a high-level overview that helped him with recall, but didn’t overload him with too much detail.
After the Exam
Depending on the certification, candidates may learn if they passed or failed the examination either very quickly or within several weeks. If further steps are needed to apply for the designation after the desired grade is received, follow the recommended actions. When the candidate officially receives the certification, he should consider adding the certification acronym to business cards, e-mail signatures and social networking profiles. His office superiors and the enterprise’s human resources department also should be alerted so records can be updated.
Letting others know about the new designation is important. Attaining a certification provides reasonable assurance that the credential holder has experience in the subject matter. The more highly respected and globally recognized the certification the better. Earning a recognized certification has helped many professionals continue in their career growth and earn increased responsibility and salaries.
No amount of preparation can take all of the stress out of taking a certification exam, but thorough study, effective preparation and an eye focused on the future make it a much more controllable and successful process.
Luis Carselle, CISA, CGEIT, is chair of ISACA’s CISA Certification Board. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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