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Preparing for Certification Exams
By Shawn Futterer

Test Taking Strategy

Become familiar with the test that you are about to take and have a mental plan for how you will spend your time most productively during the examination. If you follow a positive plan of action as you take the test, you will be less likely to feel helpless or to be preoccupied with anxious thoughts. Here are some useful test-taking strategies:

Listen carefully to directions. Make a point to listen closely to any test directions that are read aloud. Read through written directions at least twice before starting on a test section to ensure that you do not misinterpret them. Hint: If you are confused or unsure of the test directions, ask the teacher or test proctor to explain or clarify them. It is better to seek help to clear up any confusion that you may have than to run the risk of misunderstanding the directions and completing test items incorrectly.

Perform a brain dump at the start of the test, write down on a sheet of scrap paper any facts or key information that you are afraid that you might forget. This brain dump will help you to feel less anxious about forgetting important content. Plus, you can consult this sheet of information as a convenient reference during the test.

Preview the test. Look over the sections of the test. Think about the total amount of time that you have to complete the test. Look at the point values that you can earn on each section of the examination. Budget your total time wisely so that you dont spend too much time on test sections that contribute few points to your score.

Answer Patterns: Dont get sidetracked looking for patterns of answers. Some people claim that students can do better on multiple-choice tests if they look for patterns in the answers. For example, the advice is often given that, on questions with four possible answers, teachers most frequently choose C as the correct response. In rare cases, such patterns may actually exist–but it is never a reliable strategy to count on tricks and short cuts to do well on a test. Instead, your best bet is to study hard and rely on your own knowledge of the subject to do well.

Multiple-choice: Dont rush. On multiple-choice items, force yourself to read each possible choice carefully before selecting an answer. Remember, some choices appear correct at first glance but turn out to be wrong when you take a closer look.

When in doubt guess! If the test does not penalize guessing, be sure that you write in a response for each test item, even if you dont know the answer.
Skip difficult items until last. On timed tests, you should avoid getting bogged down on difficult items that can cause you to use up all of your time. Instead, when you find yourself stumped on a tough test item, skip it and go on to other problems. After you have finished all of the easiest test items, you can return to any skipped questions and try to answer them.

Use leftover time to check answers. If you finish a test early, use the remaining time to check your answers. On multiple choice items, check to see that you answered all questions. Reread each written response to make sure that it makes sense, uses correct grammar, and fully answers the question.

Make up flashcards. To memorize Inputs, Tools & Techniques and Outputs, write the key word or term on one side of an index card and the definition on the other side. To review, read off the word and recite the definition from memory before flipping the card over and checking your answer. Then review the cards again, this time reading the definitions and recalling the key word or term from memory. To memorize other information, copy a fact or concept on one side of the card and a test question matching the concept on the cards flip side. To review, read off each question and attempt to recall the answer before flipping the card over to check your work

Positive Self -Statements
The way we see ourselves, and the way we think/talk to ourselves controls the way we will respond in stressful situations. Each time you start thinking or saying something negative such as “I failed last time, I’ll probably fail again this time,” challenge this attitude with a strong logical, forceful self-statement: “OK, so I failed last time but that doesn’t mean I’m going to fail again this time. I’m better prepared and I’ve got new approach to my work”. Change your paralyzing stress to motivating stress. Reward yourself whenever you succeed; if you manage to halt a negative thought and turn it into a positive one, tell yourself so, if you managed to concentrate in class or get through a difficult piece of work, congratulate yourself. You’ll get to feeling good about yourself and your self-confidence will improve.

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