Tuesday, October 1, 2002

The quest for re-certification in ND6

Test day

Here's how it went down. I stayed up past midnight the day before reviewing for the exam and then woke up at 6 a.m. to do a final review before taking the test. Again, like I said earlier, I always try not to underestimate the difficulty of the exams. As Zig Ziglar says, "If you're tough on yourself, life will be infinitely easier on you." I believe that this is true of certification exams as well, and if you overestimate how difficult they are and prepare accordingly, then you'll find them much easier to take and pass. Of course, keep in mind the lesson of the story I shared above and don't go overboard when preparing for an exam or delay taking it because you want to "ace" it.

With only a few hours left to prepare for the update exam, I reviewed the list of the certification objectives (which you can find at http://lotus.com/services/education.nsf/0/392b75eff0379b608525656100598e41) and wrote down any areas where I still had questions. I then focused my review on those areas. I'd highly recommend you do this, and if you see something on the list you're not familiar with, don't just think it probably won't be on the test. Odds are, it probably will. Trust me.

I arrived at the testing site about 20 minutes early and spent 15 minutes continuing to review the material I had printed out. I then went into the testing center with five minutes to spare and used the restroom so I wouldn't have any distractions during the test. When I came back out I gave my name and was told my test had not been downloaded yet. The testing center administrator set her computer to dial-up to retrieve the latest tests (and I do mean old-fashioned dial-up, I could hear the modem) and then got on the phone with the testing center to see why the test had not been downloaded yet. This had never happened to me before when taking a test, so it was mildly disconcerting. The bottom line is that it wasn't until ten minutes after the hour that I started taking the test.

I got into the testing center and went through my usual routine. What is my usual routine, you ask? Well, I make a grid to hold my certainty level of the answers I give to each of the questions. I then use this to write down how sure I am that I've answered the question correctly. I use the "NSF" method, with "N" standing for not sure, "S" standing for sure, and "F" for fairly sure. I then go through the exam in order, spending an average of one minute to answer each of the questions. This gives me around 15 minutes at the end of the exam to review my sheet and see what questions I need to go back and review again. I also take a minute at this point to count how many questions I was "sure" about and see if I have enough of those to pass the exam. Usually I do, and this helps me relax and finish my final review. I always use the full time allotted for the exam, quitting only once time has run out. This way I'm sure I gave the exam my best effort.