Top 7 Strategies for a Successful Exam Day

by Bill Heller
Top 7 Strategies for a Successful Exam Day

Whether it’s your first or 50th certification exam, it’s easy to get caught up in a mixture of nerves and anxiety when the time comes to walk into the testing center and sit for a certification exam. After all, you’ve spent a lot of time and energy investing in your professional future by preparing for this day. With that in mind, here are seven classic exam day tips to help your day go smoothly:

Have The Right Documents

Before you leave your house or hotel room, make sure that you have the proper documents required to enter the test facility. Do you need a passport or will a driver’s license suffice? Do you need to show a form or voucher in order to sit for the certification, too? Take some time to understand which documents you need to get in the door before the day of your exam. In fact, it’s probably a good idea to put your paperwork next to your keys so that you can’t misplace them the morning of the big day.

Dress For Success

You can’t always predict whether a testing center will be hot or cold, so consider dressing in layers if at all possible. It’s hard to concentrate if you’re overwhelmed by the sensation of chattering teeth (due to an arctic blast of air conditioning) or sweating buckets (from nerves or an overactive heating system). Giving yourself the ability to remove or add a layer according to how you feel can help you feel your best.

The Devil s In The (Exam Center) Details

You’ve spent a lot of time preparing for this, so don’t throw away your chance at certification glory by showing up late. You might not be allowed to sit for the certification if you’re tardy. In fact, do yourself a favor and make a point of arriving at least 15 minutes early in case of traffic, overcrowded elevators, or a few wrong turns. An early arrival will give you a chance to get situated, take a few deep breaths, and put on your game face. Don’t underestimate the power of being calm, cool, and collected when it’s time to quite literally put your knowledge to the test.

Haste Makes Waste

Certification exams are not races; there are no winners or losers based on who finishes first. This is simply about your ability to recall the proper information. One of the best things you can do for yourself is not to get caught up in the clock. Sure, you should be aware of how much time has passed and how much time is remaining in order to answer as many questions as possible. However, if you can read each question slowly and carefully the first time, you’re more likely to provide the correct answer because you didn’t overlook a crucial detail. Pay close attention to how questions are worded to avoid mistakes. Keep an eye on the clock so that you can work efficiently, but don’t let the clock cause you to become anxious.

Go With Your Gut

You know that timeless adage, “Trust your instincts”? It’s true. Don’t second-guess yourself on today of all days. You chose your training provider for a reason: they’re the best. Don’t bet against your preparation now due to exam day nerves. If some lingering doubt is nagging at you, give yourself the time to review the question, but don’t dwell on it. After you review a question for a second time and commit to an answer, let it go and move on. There are other questions that need your attention, and now is not the time to run down the clock.

Check Your Work

Since you’ve been paying attention to the clock, you know how much time is left. If possible, check your work. If scratch paper is allowed, revisit any numbers you’ve flagged for yourself to reconsider. Don’t sweat it if you don’t have time to check your work. (Some tests don’t penalize wrong answers!) Because you took the time to read each question carefully, you set yourself up for selecting the correct answer the first time due to your keen attention to detail.

Celebrate Your Accomplishment

When time is called or your test is submitted, take pride in knowing you attempted something difficult. Certifications are so highly valued because they’re tough. You gave it your best whether or not you passed. Pat yourself on the back, celebrate your hard effort, and think about what worked and what didn’t, so that you’re even better prepared for you next certification journey from signing up for a preparation course to exam day.

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