How to Prepare for IT Certifications

Directions-Training-Prepare-IT-Certifications-1Exams for IT certifications are designed to cover every aspect of the technology or product being tested. They are, by design, comprehensive and challenging. Therefore, your IT certification exam preparation should be equally comprehensive.

Test preparation should include these four elements:

  1. Review the Exam Objectives
  2. Take a Training Course on the Product or Technology
  3. Gain Experience with the Product or Technology
  4. Take Practice Exams

IT Certifications | Reviewing Course Objectives

It’s important to review the exam objectives to understand what will likely be tested. The exam questions that you receive when the exam is administered will contain one or more questions from each of the objectives. You’ll use these objectives to focus your exam preparation.

IT Certifications | Take a Course on the Product or Technology

Taking an approved course on the product will provide a foundational understanding of the product. When choosing a course, ensure that it covers as many of the exam objectives as possible. For many IT products there are IT certification courses written specifically to cover the exam objectives making them ideal for exam preparation. Use this course as your opportunity to learn as much as possible about each exam objective. Ask your instructor for clarification on any topic or term that is unclear or unfamiliar to you. Make sure to complete all of the practice exercises. Hands-on experience IS the best teacher.

IT Certifications | Gain Experience with the Product or Technology

Having or acquiring experience with the product is very important. Experience will solidify your knowledge of the product. More importantly, most of the text questions are written to test your management and troubleshooting skills. If you do not have “real world” experience you can get experience, in most cases, using trial versions of the software or virtual lab environments. Repeat practice or lab exercises that were offered as part of the instructor led course previously described.

IT Certifications | Take Practice Exams

Taking practice exams is the final key component to exam preparation. Well written practice exam questions will provide you with valuable insight into the format and complexity of the test questions you’ll likely see on the actual exam. Practice exams should be taken sparingly to avoid becoming too familiar with the practice test questions. Your first practice exam can be used to measure your readiness for the actual exam and to determine which test objectives you will need to review. After reviewing those objectives retake the practice exam and review the results. Repeat the practice test and review process until you achieve an overall score of at least 80%.

A few final tips regarding taking an IT certification exam:

  • Schedule your exam as soon as possible after completing the above preparation.
  • Make sure to get a full night’s sleep the night before the exam.
  • While a light review the day of the exam may be helpful, spending too much time preparing the day of the exam can lead to mental fatigue making the actual exam that much more difficult.
  • Most exams will consist of between 45 and 60 questions and it may take between 1 to 2.5 hours to complete.
  • When you arrive at the testing facility leave all of your electronic devices in your car. You’ll be required to empty your pockets and leave all items in a locker which you can lock up and retain the key during your exam.
  • During the exam you can mark any question that you’d like to review later.
  • After completing the exam you’ll be given an opportunity to review your answers. Generally, your first answer to a question is more likely to be correct than a second attempt so unless you’re absolutely certain that your initial answer is incorrect it’s best not to change them.

Once you’ve completed your review, you’ll submit the exam and within a few moments you’ll receive the results. If you’ve studied and prepared for the exam carefully your work will be rewarded with a passing score.

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