Taking a certification exam can be stressful and rightfully so! You are undertaking an important step in adding to your credentials and shouldn’t be taken lightly. This may be the first test you’ve taken in years or the most challenging exam you’ve ever prepared for. Regardless of how long ago you last took a standardized test, or how comfortable you are with testing, there are things you can do to make the process less stressful.
Know what to expect. It is important to learn about your exam so that you know the basics of what to expect on test day. Some questions to get you started:
- How many questions are on the exam?
- What is the question format? i.e. multiple choice, short answer, true/false, essay.
- What can I expect in my test environment? i.e. You and a proctor, paper and pencil or computer based, multiple students testing at one time.
- How long do I have to complete the exam?
THE DAY BEFORE
- Test drive – Go for a drive and plan out how long it will take you, where to park and what traffic might be like for you on test day.
- Close the book and your eyes – Sleep is extremely important for you to successfully complete your exam. You have studied and now it is time to rest and prepare for the next day physically.
THE DAY OF
- Wake up early – Don’t hit snooze… Leave yourself plenty of time to get ready so you don’t feel rushed.
- Breakfast – Eat a balanced breakfast and take your time. No rushing this morning.
- No Cramming – Now is not the time to look through your book or class materials to study. You only add to your own anxiety by cramming the day of. You know this…go test.
- Positive talk – There is no need to add doubt into your mind about your ability to do well. Remind yourself you are awesome and you know this information.
TAKING THE TEST
- Set goals – For the SMS exam you have a maximum of 3 hours to take the exam. There are 165 questions to cover in that period of time. That means that you have about a minute to complete each question. Knowing this can allow you to track your progress and make sure that you are not unnecessarily rushing through the exam.
- Trust your gut – Most of the time your first answer is the right one. We tend to get into situations where we second guess ourselves and change our answers because we overthink the question.
- Don’t add drama – Your job it simply to read and answer the question that was asked. Don’t read into the questions or try to think of all the different possibilities. Just answer what was asked. For example: If the question is “Can Twitter be used for microblogging?” Don’t ask yourself how often you should tweet or if Facebook would be a better option; just answer the question being asked.
AFTER THE EXAM
Let everyone in your network know about your accomplishment!
- Update your LinkedIn profile with the SMS designation after your name.
- Share with your personal contacts on Facebook that you’ve accomplished this incredible personal goal.
- Post your new credential on Twitter, Instagram, or your business Facebook page so your professional contacts are aware of what you’ve accomplished.
Now that you’re prepared, rest easy, take your exam, and good luck!
Author: Jen Radke
Jennifer Radke, CEO of NISM, is a dedicated, passionate and strategic business leader with 15+ years in sales and recruitment management, leadership, coaching, development and training. Most recently, she was the owner and chief strategist at Socially Inspired, a social media training and consulting company. In addition, she is an NISM-certified Social Media Strategist (SMS), serves on the board for Women Entrepreneurs of Minnesota and can be found speaking and presenting to job seekers and businesses alike, on how to better utilize social media in the workplace. Jennifer believes that lifelong learning is the key to continued growth and your networks are the best way to expose yourself to new opportunities.