We know that probably the most scary and nerve wracking part of your online training course is the exam. We get it, you want to pass with flying colours and prove to yourself and everyone else that it was all worth it.
That’s why our StudentCare team are revealing their top exam tips and tricks to help you make the most of your course and prepare for that all important exam. So here goes...
1. Revision starts on day one
Some of the courses we offer involve memorising a fair amount of information, you may start to turn into a human Spongebob trying to soak up all the key information. But it’s ok, by taking note of a few simple tricks from the outset, you’ll reduce the amount of revision time you need to put in right at the end after you’ve completed your training modules. Take a look…
- Plan your study time in advance
If you’re able to stick to a schedule then you’re already halfway to success. You’ll complete the training far more quickly if you plan what you’re going to cover each day, plus it’ll mean less time to forget what you learned early on. Make sure you factor in at least 3 - 4 weeks for revision between the completion of the modules and the exam.
You definitely don’t want to be learning fresh information right up to the wire and find you’ve got no time to refresh yourself on all the stuff you’ve learnt in previous weeks!
- Save off the transcripts as you go
When you’ve completed a section of training, reading through the accompanying transcript offline is a fab way of cementing this information. Get your highlighter at the ready to pick out the key pieces of info you’ll need to remember later.
Printing off the relevant transcripts as you go also means you can cut down the amount of notes you need to take as you work through the videos. That scrawly note taking handwriting is never easy to read.
- Revisit the individual module tests from time to time
You shouldn’t forget about those early modules and the valuable information they taught you. Revisiting is an excellent way to make sure you’re actually retaining the information from earlier units as you progress through the training.
Say goodbye to being greeted with a sea of unfamiliar information at the end of your course, and hello to more free time to calmly go over what you know.
- Save off any ‘job aids’ available
If a course or module contains job aids, snap them up there and then, as they are a perfect accompaniment to your notes, they help you get more of a practical and workplace based understanding of the skills the courses teaches you. Plus they contain key pieces of information and present them in an easily digestible way - they’re ideal for whacking up on your fridge as a visual revision aid.
2. Test prep
Most of the courses we offer contain an area on the portal for test prep to get you as ready as possible for the exam. They’re basically mock exams you can use to test your knowledge of the entire course content.
Here's how to maximise the benefits of the test prep…
- Use the appropriate test mode
The first time you take the test, run it in study mode. It takes away the pressure of having to complete the test within a certain time limit - this can be a bit nerve racking initially. Study mode gives you instant feedback on the answers you give, so it’s a real confidence boost.
Certification mode is brilliant too, but should be used once you’re feeling a little bit more confident with the content as it creates more ‘exam’ type conditions - eek.
- Don’t stress about the score you get the first time you take the test
You’re not expected to remember everything you’ve learned throughout the course in one go. The test prep will feed back on the areas that are stronger and weaker. You can use these results to see which modules would benefit from being relooked at. It’s best to know early on what you’re lacking the knowledge in so you have enough time to clean up your act and do something about it!
Ideally, by the time you sit your exam, you want to be in a position where you can dip into any module test, as well as the test prep itself, and be confident of achieving near enough top marks.
- Avoid the temptation to overuse the test prep
Although you can take the test as many times as you like, there are only so many questions available in the bank.
The trick is to achieve a good score by taking it the least amount of times necessary. This means less time you need to put aside to run the test as well as avoiding the danger of simply memorising the answers to particular questions.
As good as it is to have the ability to remember the answers - it’s not going be much help when it comes to the actual exam as the questions won’t be identical - you need to really learn and understand the subject area.
Don’t forget that the individual modules can contain up to 200 questions that do not appear in the test prep. These can and should be utilised.
Some courses include mentoring. The mentors are experts in the course content and have all been there, done that, got the t shirt a.k.a. successfully sat and passed the exam you are preparing for. This makes them probably the most helpful resource you can use - you’d be silly not to soak up all of their experience to give yourself the best possible chance of passing.
These tips will help you make the most out of this awesome service.
- Your question is not ‘stupid’
Whatever your current level of understanding, if you don’t know the answer to something make sure you ask the question. They don’t bite.
- Make use of the ‘daily mentoring email’
The daily mentoring email gives you access to a stock of 50 extra questions that will not appear anywhere else in the training. This is particularly useful where you have taken the course tests so many times that you have begun to memorise the answers. It’s like a totally fresh set of revision armoury - don’t miss it!
- Ask for advice on what to expect on the day
The mentors have all sat and passed this exact exam so are extremely well placed to offer tips and advice on how to approach it. Question structure, time management and general approach are all areas they are able to help you with.
4. Practice Labs
Some of our IT courses include practice labs. The labs are a full ‘hands on’ practice environment where you can put the theory you have learned into practice.
For a lot of courses the lab exercises are mapped to the simulation questions that may come up in the exam, so our advice would be to really get used to performing these tasks unaided. It’ll certainly help prepare you for answering those kinds of questions in the exam.
Even if the exam does not contain any simulation questions, making use of the labs helps give ‘real world’ context to the theory you have learned. That’s the whole point of learning the course right? To actually use it in real life.
Some of our packages contain books, and we mean a lot of books on a wide range of subjects. Although not all books may be geared to a particular credential, you may find study guides or even practice questions for some of the available exams. Be sure to have a look at the offering and really swat up on additional reading to help you smash the exam!
Of course, it’s not essential that you read these books but all books are fully searchable if you want more information on a particular topic.
6. On the day
The exam itself can be a stressful experience but there are a few simple tips that can help make the experience as smooth as possible.
- Prepare what you need to take with you the day before
Make sure you have all required documentation ready and raring to go. This will likely include your government issued ID as well as directions and contact telephone number for the test centre.
If your exam is open book, make sure you have all acceptable manuals and notes ready to take with you. If your exam is a long one, make sure you have water with you and food as required. Your brain will be thankful for fueling its concentration. Don’t worry, your test centre will be able to let you know what you can and cannot take in with you.
Cutting added stress out from the actual exam day by getting this stuff ready the day before should help you feel calm and ready to conquer!
- Relax! You’ve done the work and you’ve done the revision
Try to get a good night’s sleep the night before your exam, or even a few early nights in the week running up to the exam - the more rested you are, the better you’re likely to perform.
- Set off in plenty of time
This may seem obvious, but it’s important to allow yourself more time than you need to travel to your test centre. There could be unexpected events that impact your journey and arriving at the last minute will only add unnecessary stress.
- Make sure you’re comfortable
Now we’re not saying come in your PJs, but some of these exams my go on for 4 – 6 hours so make sure you are wearing comfortable light fitting clothing. Also check that your seat and monitor are adjusted for maximum comfort before starting your exam.
- Double check you have everything you need
If you need a calculator, make sure you check the test centre provides you with one or at least shows you how to access one on your computer. If you need paper and pens, ask for these too.
- Pay attention to the tutorial
Think of this as your EasyJet on flight safety announcement, but for the exam you actually need to pay attention. Most computer based tests will start with a tutorial on how the test will work.
It’s essential that you pay close attention to this tutorial so that you are clear on exactly what you’re doing before the exam starts. You’ll usually be asked to agree to a non disclosure agreement too. Make sure you do this or you won’t be able to complete the exam. That would be a bit of a bummer after all that revision.
- Manage your time effectively
If a question comes up that you are not sure about, try not to spend too much time thinking and worrying about it. Mark it to come back to later and move on. Always answer the questions you are 100% sure about first and come back to anything else at the end. This is effectively ‘money in the bank’.
- Read the questions and all available answers properly
If you rush through the exam it’s very easy to misread a question and give an incorrect answer that you would otherwise have got correct.
It’s also really important to read through all of the available answer options. If the question reads ‘Which of the following statements is not true?’ and you miss the word ‘not’, without looking at all the available answers you will likely give the first incorrect answer you see.
- If all else fails, guess!
It’s important you answer every question in the test. If you really don’t know the answer then make a best guess after discounting any options that don’t make sense. Even a complete guess from all available options doesn’t have to be completely random.
If an available answer doesn’t fit grammatically with the question then you might want to discount this option. If an available answer is significantly longer than the other options then you may wish to choose this - as a correct statement will usually need more validation than an incorrect statement.
Whatever reasoning you employ for a ‘guess’ you will always have a chance at least of landing on the correct answer. If you fail to give an answer at all then you have 0% chance!
So good luck, stay calm, and believe in yourself. You can do it!