I've lost count how many times I've heard the below comments from students who have just taken an IT exam:
“My mind went completely blank.”
“I forgot everything I’d learned.”
“I couldn't remember how to configure anything.”
“It’s all just a blur to me.”
A little bit of nerves are actually quite useful, but when they spoil our exam performance, then the results can really shake our confidence and, of course, our bank balance.
I’ve taken a large number of police, law, and IT exams over the years, and I still get nervous. If it’s important to us, then we are bound to be affected emotionally. But for many people, they can become so anxious that they never book the exam, or if they do, they suffer from lack of sleep, outbursts of anger (from built up stress), and the well-documented loss of memory manifesting in the inability to recall information you know well, as well as on the actual exam itself.
Here are a few tips that work really well:
Take Lots of Practice Exams
I tell my students this time and time again. Answering exam questions is very different from learning facts. Remember that many exam questions are designed to look similar to the others to make it harder. You must get used to answering exam-style questions so that format will never catch you by surprise in the actual exam.
Find the Testing Center
Never wait till exam day to find out where the testing center is. Many are hidden in a large office building shared with other companies. Some are in remote industrial estates with no access via public transport. Some don’t even have the office name or street number outside!
Pay a visit in advance. Work out how you will get there, and plan to arrive nice and early.
Coke, coffee, and even tea all contain caffeine. Avoid them on exam day because they will raise your anxiety levels and make you want to pee.
Use Mind Programming Tracks
I strongly believe in programming the subconscious mind for success. The subconscious mind runs our entire body as well as most of our actions, which we perform without thinking about. You can program your mind to quickly and easily recall important facts, but you need to spend a few weeks listening to audio tracks.
If you have access to www.howtonetwork.com, then I have one for the CCNA exam in the downloads area.
Most people imagine the future with bad things happening. They then get to feel the negative feelings in advance! Why not reverse engineer this and imagine good things happening? This way you get to enjoy the good feelings in advance.
Imagine yourself enjoying the exam and passing. Imagine receiving the pass sheet from the proctor and walking off to a coffee shop to celebrate. Do this every day three times per day.
Remember that It’s Just an Exam
You won’t die if you fail. In fact, nothing will change in your life. You may be out of pocket for the exam fees, but even those you can write off to taxes. I’ve failed exams many times, and I’m still alive to tell the tale.
Don’t Tell Others
Keep the fact you are sitting an exam to yourself, if possible. People try to help you by wishing you well, but it can only add to your anxiety because you have to face them all after your exam and tell them your results.
Be More Than Ready
Most people wait until they feel ready to take the exam. You need to be more than ready. You need to have done so much work that the exam seems easy when compared to your preparation regime.
The Roman army motto was “Train Hard – Fight Easy,” which is why they ended up dominating most of the world.
P.S. If you have one dollar to spare then hop over to www.howtonetwork.com and get access to over 300 hours of IT certification training via streaming video.