infoTECH Feature

August 01, 2019

5 Tips to Help You Pass IT Certification Exams

Helpful Advice for Passing Intimidating Certification Exams

Believe it or not, one of the most intimidating aspects of being in the IT field has nothing to do with the actual responsibilities of the job. For many professionals, it’s the fear that comes with IT certification exams and other related tests.

The Role of IT Certifications

The IT industry is one of the fastest growing fields in the business world. And while you don’t need much experience or formal education to get your foot in the door, there are numerous ways you can expand your knowledge and set yourself apart from your peers once in the industry. IT certifications are a great place to start.

There are dozens of IT certifications with specialized focus on a variety of topics, subject matters, and technologies. At the moment, some of the top in-demand IT certifications include Google Certified Professional Cloud Architect, PMP, Certified ScrumMaster, AWS Certified Solutions Architect, AWS Certified Developer, Microsoft (News - Alert) Certified Solutions Expert, ITIL Foundation, CISM, CRISC, CISSP, CEH, CCA-V, CompTIA Security+, CompTIA Network+, and CCNP. Naturally, these are also the highest-paying certifications.

According to ITCareerFinder, IT certifications benefit both the individuals receiving the certifications and the businesses that hire these qualified professionals. In terms of the advantages they yield, here are some interesting points:

  • 40 percent of certified IT professionals credit their certifications for helping them land a job or promotion.
  • Certified tech professionals earn higher salaries than non-certified peers.
  • Certain companies and employment sectors – such as government cyber security – only hire certified IT professionals.
  • 95 percent of IT managers believe certifications provide significant value to their organizations.
  • 66 percent of IT managers believe certifications enhance the overall level of service and support they provide to their clients and customers.

Unless you’re content with staying in the same job and earning the same salary for the rest of your career, you need to think about certifications and how they can help you advance your career. They represent the clearest path to success in this industry.

5 Tips or Passing Your Exams

The reason IT certifications are so well respected and relied upon as a seal of approval is that they’re rigorous, thorough, and challenging. If you want to earn an IT certification, you’ll have to work for it. This means studying for and passing arduous exams.

There’s no magic pill or secret bullet to help you pass IT certification exams. There are, however, some proven concepts and methods that you can use to increase your odds of success.

1. Develop a Study Schedule/Plan

An IT certification exam isn’t like a 9th grade English exam. You can’t cram the night before and expect to pass. In fact, you can’t start studying a week before the exam and expect to do well. You need a systematic study schedule with concrete goals and objectives that thoroughly prepares you for the exam. Carving out specific study hours and putting them into your weekly planner/calendar will keep you accountable.

2. Get Over Your Fear of Exams

Are you fearful of tests? Does the idea of taking a big exam scare you into considering all of the worst-case scenarios? It’s time to change your viewpoint and look at exams as exciting opportunities, rather than immovable obstacles.

“Once you begin to change your view of exams, you can begin to tackle the finer aspects of your anxiety,” explains COMQUEST. “Is it a fear of not knowing what they will ask? Is it concern that you studied the wrong material? Is it fear that you will freeze up and forget? While there are many possible causes of anxiety, an understanding of these three will often get most students through their anxiety.”

When the anxiety disappears, your energy can shift away from negative thoughts and toward productivity. Suddenly studying feels like an opportunity to take a big step forward, rather than a massive trap that’s designed to swallow you up whole.

3. Take an Exam Prep Course

While some certifications include official training as a basic requirement of passing, it’s not mandatory for others. Regardless, it’s recommended that you take a prep course as part of your studying process.

Prep courses – especially those that are officially sanctioned by the certifying authority – are developed with the actual exam in mind. They expose you to the topics that matter most and provide helpful insights that aren’t always available elsewhere.

4. Take Practice Exams

In tandem with prep courses, take advantage of any opportunities to take practice exams. They’ll help you get a feel for how questions are structured, which subject matter is the focal point, and how the exam ebbs and flows.

“The idea is not to memorize every question. This may seem an easy way to deal with a certification, but most exams have thousands of questions in their official banks,” information security expert Claudio Dodt writes. “Instead, try to use practice exams as an opportunity to discover your strengths and weaknesses. If you consistently have a top score in a specific subject, you may divert study time to reinforce areas in which you did not do as well.”

5. Have an Exam Day Strategy

By the time exam day rolls around, you shouldn’t have to wake up at the crack of dawn and feverishly flip through flash cards and review endless pages of notes. By this point, you should feel like you have a pretty good grasp on the content. This allows you to focus on preparing your mind and body for the exam. Here are a few exam day pointers:

  • Get at least eight hours of sleep the night before.
  • Have a morning routine set ahead of time. This may look like preparing breakfast, reviewing a couple of topics, taking a shower, and packing your bag.
  • Arrive to the exam with plenty of time to spare. You never want to feel rushed.
  • Never panic. Remaining calm before and during the exam will allow your mind to focus.

A purposeful preparation plan combined with a thorough exam day strategy will give you every chance of being successful.

Propel Your Career Forward

It’s nearly impossible to move in a positive direction in the IT industry without adding some certifications to your resume. Not only do they expand your knowledge and skillset, but they also impress employers and expose you to new opportunities. By tackling some of the challenges that come with the exam portion of IT certifications, you can make better use of your time and get more out of your investment.


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