Five ways to get ready for a Cetification Exam

June 27, 2017 | by Rodolfo Ortiz

In Microsoft Partner, Human Capital, developers

Yes, it's exam time! Knowing how to properly prepare for a certification exam is the key to avoid stress and approve it with excellent results. 

Another certification exam, another professional goal 

Preparation for exams should begin earlier than the day before the test. You can’t cram an entire unit of information into an all-nighter. Get started at least a week before the exam. There are several techniques that I use and recommend to get ready:

  • Reading
  • Hands-on experience
  • Applying logic
  • Memory tricks
  • Practice tests

Reading is perhaps the most common technique. For example, you can buy the official exam preparation book from Microsoft. If the official exam preparation book is not available yet (this was the case for me when I presented the exam for Developing ASP.NET MVC Web Applications a few years ago) you can buy similar books from Amazon. I decided to buy a couple of ASP.NET MVC books from Amazon. I usually prepare by reading for a couple of hours every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday with an additional 5 hours on Saturday and Sunday.

Hands-on experience is also important. You don't have to have a lot of experience in order to pass a certification exam, but it certainly helps. Some of the questions are really difficult and geared toward actual hands-on knowledge. I recently sat for the Designing and Deploying Microsoft Exchange Server 2016 exam, and I passed thanks to having been on a project where I had to work with Microsoft Exchange Server. I can also say that when I was in college I took the Oracle Certified Professional exam, and I came up short by a question or two. Had I had work experience in Oracle, it would have made all the difference.

Applying logic is also important. When you read a question, you can easily discard one or two answers if you apply logic. This is because some answers just don't make sense. Then you're left with three answers. It's much easier to pick the correct answer from a pool of three answers than from a pool of five answers.

Some advice from a great developer to conquer certification exams

Memory tricks help a lot, as well. When I sat for the PMP certification exam, learning the knowledge areas was incredibly important. Those are:

  1. Integration
  2. Scope
  3. Time
  4. Cost
  5. Quality
  6. HR
  7. Communications
  8. Risk
  9. Procurement
  10. Stakeholders

And you can memorize them using the following mnemonics:

  • "I Scoped Time, Cost, and Quality with HR Communications as Risk on Procurements to Stakeholders"
  • "I Saw Two Cars Quickly Hit Carl’s Rear Passenger Side"

Finally, try taking a practice exam. This will tell you how ready you are. Also, passing a practice test will give you confidence, and confidence plays a big part on all this. Where can you take a practice exam? Usually, when you buy the official exam preparation book you also get a practice exam.

One more thing to remember: if you don't pass the first time, don't let this disappoint you!  Certification exams are meant to be difficult.