Learn Smarter: Preparing for a Certification Exam

Most people agree that the most stressful life events revolve around work, personal relationships, finances and health. Add “studying for an important certification exam” to that mix, and the result can be downright overwhelming. Read on for some tips to reduce stress, improve study skills and achieve a passing grade on exam day.

Years Before the Exam

To lay the groundwork for future success, start preparing early — years ahead, if possible. After all, just about any bit of life experience may come in handy when sitting for an exam. So, at work, volunteer to help on projects that may be only tangential to your main duties; talk to colleagues during lunch breaks and at industry events to learn how they handled different situations; read publications that offer best practices; review award-winning programs; and scan industry magazines and Web sites for the latest tools and solutions.

Professionals select which certifications to attain through a variety of methods. Some do it based on colleagues’ advice, some review salary surveys to learn which certifications are linked to the highest salaries and bonuses and some work for enterprises that require that they hold a specific certification to qualify for the job.

For example, the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) issued Directive 8570.1, which requires DOD information assurance workers to obtain a commercial certification accredited under ISO/IEC standard 17024. Likewise, all assistant examiners employed by the U.S. Federal Reserve Banks must pass a specific certification exam before they are eligible for…



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