1. Why do I want this certification?
4. How often will I have to take the certification exam?
5. What certification can I choose to get a high salary and prove my knowledge?
Choosing the right certification is half the story. Keep in mind that most people in technology earn good money. Salary surveys may show that a person with certification ‘X’ may be slightly more than a ‘hotter’ certification, but most people also want to enjoy what they are doing. Happier employees are generally more enthusiastic and typically earn more money in the long run.
2. Research the Certification
Once you have decided on the certification you want to earn, dig deeper. Find out what skills are required to pass the certification, if there pre-requisites to be met, the experience required, the format of the exam, the number of questions and so on. All of this information is available on the website of the certification vendor, or from the website of a reputed, certification exam preparation company such as uCertify.
Not everyone learns the same. Formal classroom training has its advantages, but it’s not an option for many people due to price, availability, and scheduling conflicts. Self-study using books is cheaper and more flexible, but it can be monotonous and very boring. E-learning options can be a good balance. It does require a good sense of discipline and self-motivation. Much less than expensive than traditional classroom training, yet extremely flexible, the better E-learning solutions provide you the best of both worlds. An excellent choice for e-solutions is test preparation software. Many offer guided learning, study tips, pop quizzes, tests that adapt to your level of difficulty, instant feedback in a private, non-competitive setting.
Set a deadline, but be reasonable. If you are brand new to the subject and have no experience in the area, expecting to learn the subject and pass in one week, may not be the best of ideas. On the other hand, although studying at your own pace and taking the exam “when you are ready” has its merits, it doesn’t work for most people, for whose busy lives are filled with distractions. When you decide to embark on your certification journey, set a deadline for the day you want to take the exam. Again, be sure to set the time based on the amount of time you will have to study and your level of experience. Define a daily or weekly schedule, including a time-line for each exam objective, how much you will read each day, when will you start studying, setting aside time for topic-wise review, lab time, and above all, practice, practice, practice!
6. Understand the Exam – be aware of brain dumps
The idea is to learn as much as possible about the subjects covered under the certification. While there is no substitute for training, Books, blogs, and certified study guides all provide plenty of useful information. Search the internet and read as much as you can by way of articles, blogs, free practice tests and free certification advice. Good study notes are invaluable sources of learning. Articles and blogs may be used as supplementary notes to increase your knowledge of the subject.
Join forums to get advice on technical questions and/or share your knowledge. Forums can offer useful information by way of current updates or changes to your certification exam. You can share ideas and read posts from other people studying for, or experienced in the certification process. Get answers to technical problems and help others. Working through technical problems will not only help increase your confidence, but also will motivate you to fill you knowledge gaps.
10. Stay motivated
Most people start their certification journey with the best of intentions. But dedicating time every day for days at a stretch can be hard. Procrastination is much easier! If you are having a hard time staying motivated to study, you are not alone. You do have options. Get a certification buddy, a study partner or a study group. Make it as competitive as you wish it to be – maybe you can start a friendly contest to see who passes their exam first, or gets the highest score. Meet on a regular basis, and talk about exam topics and review questions.
11. Scheduling your exam
Increase your chances of success by scheduling the exam at a time of day . For most people, this is between 10am – 2pm. If you are more of an evening person, try scheduling the exam as late in the day as possible. Weekdays are typically less crowded than on Saturdays. This means less distractions during the exam. Try to give yourself a few hours of free time to run through your review questions and study sheets just before you take the test.
12. Be relaxed
On the big day, arrive about 15 minutes early, bring 2 forms of photo ID, and an additional pen if you need one. Take the spare time to clear your head, at the testing center. Some people arrange a “study sheet” of important exam concepts and review it in the parking lot just before they take the exam. Printing out practice test questions and reviewing them just before the exam can be helpful as well.
13. Before you start...
The test does not start until you start on the computer. Take blank sheets of paper and note down any tables or additional information you believe you may “draw a blank on” throughout the test. It features the different types of questions you will come across, as well as the new interactive and drag and drop questions. Be calm before you start. When you are ready to start the real exam, take a deep breath. It is simply a test.
14. Test Taking Strategy
When looking at a multiple choice questions, keep in mind to read the entire group of answers before just clicking on the first right one you come across. Vendors are looking for the “most correct” answer, and there may be 2 near correct answers. If you are confused by a question, try to eliminate the obviously wrong answers first. This will improve your probability of selecting the right answer from the remaining options.
15. If you fail, retake the test within 2 weeks
It is important to get right back if you failed by a slight margin. Observe the test as a learning experience. As soon as possible after the test, mark the questions that confused you, so you don’t forget them. Study some more, and retake the test as soon as you feel comfortable. If your performance was nowhere what you expected it to be, study and practice harder.