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How To Prepare For An IT Certification Exam

Updated on October 30, 2011

Exam Preparation Tips

Preparing for a certification exam can be overwhelming. Following these tips will help you prepare for you certification exam so you can be confident of success.

Review the Exam Objectives

The first step in preparing for a certification exam is to read the exam objectives to determine what the exam covers. When looking for study materials, compare the material to the certification objectives to ensure all topics are covered. All study aids have their strengths and weaknesses, so using more than one study aid can help ensure understanding of all topics on the exam.

Find a Good Study Guide

A good study guide is essential to learning the material covered on the certification exam. Even if you are fortunate enough to have classroom training, using a good study guide is important because it can fill in some of the gaps for material that may not have been covered in great detail in the classroom. If you do not attend classroom training, use more than one study guide if possible. Frequently, study guides will provide great coverage of some topics, and provide inadequate detail on other topics. Having a second study guide will also allow the material to be presented to you in a slightly different way, providing a different perspective which will increase your understanding.

Take Practice Exams

Taking practice exams tests your knowledge of exam topics and reveals areas that require further study. There are many different practice exams available. Some are expensive while others are available online for free. Be sure and time your tests so that you become accustomed to managing your time during the exam. If you run out of time during the certification exam, all unanswered questions are counted incorrect.

Get Hands on Experience

The best way to understand the material on a certification exam is to get hands on experience with the technology. If you are already in the IT field, try using the technology in the workplace if possible. Setting up a lab at home is also another option for getting hands on experience. The experience gained in the lab or on the job will reinforce what is learned in books.

Talk to People Who Have Taken the Exam

It is a good idea to talk to other people who have taken the certification exam. Ask them their impressions of the exam. Find out what study materials they used and what they recommend using. If you do not know anyone that has taken the exam, search the Internet for online forums where people discuss their experiences with certification exams. Knowing about other people’s experiences can help you avoid unpleasant surprises during the exam.

Last Minute Tips

  • Do not stay up all night studying the night before the exam. Get a full night of sleep so you will be rested and able to perform your best.
  • Allow plenty of time to get to the testing center. Plan on arriving at least 15 minutes ahead of your scheduled test time so you are not stressed about being late.
  • When you check-in at the testing center, you will be given a blank piece of paper to make notes on during the exam. Take a few minutes before you start the test to write down anything you may have trouble remembering during the exam. This will help you focus your thoughts and help you calm down if you are nervous.
  • When you have completed the exam, do not go back and change your answers. More often than not, your answers are right the first time. Changing your answers will only lower your score, so do not second guess yourself.


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    • Ms._Info profile image

      Ms._Info 6 years ago from New Jersey

      These are some great tips. I'm guessing that many of these tips would be applicable and beneficial for many other types of exams as well.