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Take Your &!#$ Exam

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 take the exam. Here are a few things that we know.

The most successful people are those who take the exam within the first 10 days after the class.
Once upon a time students took their exam at the end of class or at the end of a semester. They knew ahead of time when they were going to have to take the exam and prepared accordingly. Today, courses often come with vouchers that enable learners to take the exam at a date and time of their choosing.

There are pros and cons to this. A pro is that if you are a night owl and want to take your exam at 2 a.m., you can. A BIG con is that you can put off taking the exam.

What we see statistically is that the further away from the end of class we get, the lower the scores, and the less likely it is that people will ever take the exam at all.

You are never in the zone more than you are in the days immediately following class.

Research has shown that people tend to quickly forget newly learned information. Within the first hours and days after class there is typically a steep decline in retention, especially if the content is not being reinforced or applied.

There is a difference between needing more time to study and taking the time to study.

One of the most common things that we hear from learners is that they believe they need more time to study. What very often happens, however, is that life gets in the way. We dive back into working on that big project, or we get busy doing other things and the forgetting curve kicks in.

How quickly people forget what they have learned after taking a class can vary based on factors such as the individual, the topic, and how the information was learned and reinforced. What we know for sure, however, is that if you are not constantly reinforcing what you learned, it is leaking out of your ears.

The longer you wait, the harder it gets.

In the days following class, what you learned is still fresh in your mind, making it easier to recall and apply. Yes, you may need to devote a little time to studying but that will typically involve filling any gaps in knowledge that you may have (sample exams and study aids can help) and reviewing the topics that are likely to have the most significant impact on your exam score (based on the syllabus for the course).

If days or weeks go by without refreshing that knowledge, getting back into the zone can be challenging. You will need to take the time to (1) find your materials, (2) assess how well you remember what you learned and (3) develop a strategy for reviewing the topics or concepts you have forgotten. Because you have likely forgotten more than you would have in the days immediately following class, you will likely need to allocate even more time to studying.
Feel the fear and do it anyway.

We appreciate that some learners have valid reasons for putting off taking an exam. If those reasons, however, are rooted in feelings such as fear of failure or perfectionist tendencies (guilty as charged) we encourage you to fight through them.

We also appreciate that test anxiety is a real and often overwhelming condition, and that anxiety can increase as the date and time of your exam approaches. Your brain may perceive the exam as a threat and your ‘flight’ mechanism starts to kick in, impacting both your body and brain.

So how can we activate a productive ‘fight’ response that will allow us to focus on doing what we need to do to get that exam behind us, rather than letting the overwhelm or anxiety or tendency to procrastinate win.

In our blog Study Smarter, Not Harder we describe five steps you can follow to prepare for a low-stress exam experience:
  1. Prepare for class
  2. Participate actively in class
  3. Study effectively as you go
  4. Assess and review
  5. Prepare for the exam
Click here to learn the specifics of each step.

Building confidence for an exam involves a combination of preparation, active participation, and effective study strategies. Remember, the longer you wait, the harder it gets. Do the best you can to prepare and then please… just take your &!#$ exam.

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



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