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Study Smarter, Not Harder

You have signed up for a certification class. What that tells us is that you want to pass the exam. But first, you have to study for the exam. Here are a few strategies you can use to stay calm and focused and build the confidence needed to crush that exam.

1. Prepare for class
In a perfect world, you start preparing to take the exam before you enter the classroom. For each of our certification classes we provide pre-class assignments that are designed to introduce many of the key vocabulary terms and concepts you need to know for the exam. Completing these assignments will enable you to become familiar with the content, making it easier to follow along and participate in class. You will also be more likely to remember and retain the information as it will be reinforced in class.

We also encourage you to block out time on your calendar for 1 to 2 hours of homework, in addition to the class itself. This time before or after class each day is essential to reinforcing what you have learned and improving retention.

2. Participate actively in class
At the start of class each day, set your status (IM, email, etc.) to ‘OOO’ or ‘Please DnD’ so that you can avoid distractions.

On the first day of class, schedule your exam (if being given a voucher). Scheduling your exam is a great way to put a stake in the ground and let your mind know that this is the date and time you are going to tackle that exam.

While in class, stay fully engaged.
  • Pay attention when the class syllabus is being introduced
  •  Participate in discussions and assignments
  • Take notes and highlight key concepts
  • Apply what you are learning to what or how you do things
    • What’s different?
    • What’s the same?
  • Share your insights and experiences with others
  • Ask questions
We can’t tell you how often someone asks a question and other people comment that they were wondering the same thing. Don’t be shy!

Perhaps most importantly, create a Personal Action Plan. Our motto here at ITSM Academy is ‘Educate and Inspire.’ We believe that applying what you have learned in class is just as important as passing the exam (if not more).

What is one action, even if a small one, you can take within 48 business hours of taking class. What other ideas can you carry forward and execute in the short and long term?

3. Study effectively as you go
Learners often tell us that they do not have time to do homework. While we appreciate that at times that may be the case, we also know definitively that if you can carve out even a little bit of time either after class each day or prior to class each morning it will serve you well.

Studying for an exam involves an ebb and flow between learning new content and reviewing what has already been learned.
  • The initial learning phase occurs both before and during class when you are being introduced to new material. Completing the pre-class assignments (step 1) and actively engaging in class (step 2) allows you to grasp the fundamental concepts.
  • Performing an immediate review of that material (e.g., by completing study aids, sample exam questions and games) helps you to solidify your understanding and improve retention.
  • As class progresses, strive to connect new content to what was previously learned.
  • At the same time, reinforce what was previously learned by reviewing your notes and reference materials and by revisiting material that proved challenging
Try to relax and enjoy class. If you forget things along the way, it’s ok. Forgetting things is an expected part of the learning process. By studying as you go and repeatedly circling back to reinforce what you’ve learned you can enhance your memory and understanding of the content.

4. Assess and review
Whether you have just finished class and are preparing to take the exam right away (go for it!) or it has been a while and you need to regain your focus, start by assessing your readiness to take the exam. Resources such as study aids and sample exams can help.

Prioritize. Make sure you understand the syllabus for the course so that you can focus on the most critical concepts and topics that are likely to appear on the exam. Focus also on those areas that you personally find challenging.

Find a comfortable space, put your head down, and study. Not for hours on end. That doesn’t work. Research shows that after 25 to 45 minutes you are likely to lose focus or experience cognitive decline. Everyone is different and you may be able to study longer. The key is to balance focused study time with short breaks that give your brain a break so that it can digest and better retain what you are studying.

5. Prepare for the exam
How you prepare for the exam itself will vary based on factors such as the type of exam (e.g., open or closed book) and the environment in which you will be taking the exam (e.g., paper-based or online). Each comes with its own set of challenges and stressors and your instructor will provide insights into how you can prepare for each.

Your physical and mental well-being also need attention. Maintain a positive mindset. Prioritize sleep, particularly the night before you take the exam. Pay attention to what you eat the day of the exam. Stay hydrated. Try to resist foods that can cause brain fog such as sugary, high-fat, or heavy meals.

Practice stress-reduction techniques like deep breathing or meditation. Visualize how excited you will be when you are able to add that new certification to your resume or simply feel the satisfaction that comes with doing your best.

Exam success is all about adopting the right strategies and mindset. Devoting time to pre-class preparation, participating actively in class, leveraging effective study techniques, and paying attention to your physical and mental well-being can all help you build confidence going into your exam.

Now, all you need to do is take your exam. Check out our blog Take Your &!#$ Exam and learn why the most successful people are those who take the exam within the first 10 days after the class.

With diligence and a positive outlook, you will be well-prepared to achieve your certification and reap the rewards of your hard work. Stay focused and believe in your abilities. We do!

To learn more about ITSM Academy’s portfolio of certification courses check out:


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