8 Steps to Prepare for Certification Exams

A normal test can be one thing, but a state certification exam can be quite another. 

When I was working on my teaching certification, I had to sign up for and take five different Praxis Exams.

It’s really intimidating to work so hard in school (or grad school) and then to feel like one test could make or break you.  

First of all, congratulations on finishing (or almost finishing) school! 

I remember how daunting those certification exams were! 

Here are some of the strategies I used for studying for certifications exams:

Study Guide: 
I could find some sort of study guide for most of my tests on Amazon… even the most obscure-sounding ones. If you’re having a hard time finding one, check the company’s website who gives the test. Most likely, they’ve put out a resource or can recommend one!

Practice Test: 
Once you get your study guide, don’t study it! Flip straight to the practice test (there should be about three). Take the first one “cold” so you can see your strongest and weakest areas. That’s what you’re going to use to build your study plan!

Strengths & Weaknesses: 
Obviously, you’ll want to spend the most time studying areas that you scored the lowest in. You may need to teach/reteach yourself the content. Use your favorite study strategies to learn as much as you can here! Skim through your strength areas review-style. 

Top Priority: 
Make studying for this exam your top priority! Since it’s more intimidating than other tests you’ve taken in the past, it can be easy to procrastinate. Stay conscious of the fact that you might be scared and take the opposite stance! Spend 1-2 hours a everyday studying for it!

Retake the Test: 
Set checkpoints (like one week before the test, and a halfway point between here and there) to retake the practice tests. This will show you which areas you’ve made improvement in, and which areas you still need to focus on. 

Make sure that all of the logistics of your test day are taken care of well in advance. Actual exam days can be stressful and can negatively impact your performance on the test. Make sure you know exactly what you need, where to park, which building it’s in, etc. 

Night Before:
Take care of any logistical details. You’ll probably have to show an ID. Have that and anything else you need read to go. Map out the route you’ll take to the testing center. Lay out all of your clothes/materials the night before. Relax and go to bed early! 

Stay Relaxed: 
On test day, wake up and actively stay calm! No decisions! Eat a breakfast that’s high in protein. Stay in the zone! No phone calls, emails, etc. Leave early! Listen to zen or classical music on your way to the testing location and stay positive!! 

If you’d like to see this in a timeline format, here it is: Standardized Test Study Timeline

I know you’ll do great, so don’t stress (too much)! 🙂 

What tips do you have for taking certification exams?

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