Congratulations! You’ve made it to the day that you’ve spent so much time preparing for. All the late nights and early mornings you’ve dedicated to studying for this difficult exam is finally about to pay off!
For me, I knew that prepping for exam day would be just as important as studying. The ultimate goal for this day is to take away any extra stress that might cause unfavorable exam results.
Here are 5 tips that you need to help you on exam day.
1. Have a Nutritious Breakfast
You know what they say, “breakfast is the most important meal of the day” I find this to be true. Especially when facing a daunting task like sitting for four hours to take an exam. To me, it’s extremely difficult to concentrate on anything in the morning without having a bite to eat. It shouldn’t be anything heavy; something lite and nutritious like oatmeal or fruit and yogurt. If your exam is in the afternoon, which I don’t suggest, it’s still important that you eat good food that day. I went as far as researching the best foods for cognitive functions to give myself the best chance at passing on my first try.
I like morning exams better because I feel like my brain functions are the sharpest between the hours of 6am and 11am. Obviously do what works for you but definitely eat something good and nutritious on exam day. My exam started at 8am so I woke up at 6am, ate breakfast and read the pages 595-611 of the PMBOK as a refresher to the executing process group; the biggest section of the exam.
2. Arrive 30 minutes early
Plan to arrive to the exam location at least 30 minutes before your time slot. As a project manager, you should know that planning is very important; treating this certification processes like a project is essential to your success on the exam. Arriving early gives you a chance to quickly review your flash cards for a last-minute review. Also plan alternate routes in case traffic or roadblocks become an issue. I had a chance to sit in my car, listen to Willow’s new self-titled album while flipping through my flashcards.
Rushing and last-minute planning causes raised levels of anxiety that you don’t need; you’ll already have enough anxiety from the exam itself so it’s no use in adding more. Plan ahead, arrive early.
3. Take at least 1 break
This was very hard for me to do because I was trying to stay ahead of the time and unfortunately, I couldn’t. I took so long to read each question that time was really not on my side. Even still, I made a point to get up for a bathroom break and get a sip to drink. I wouldn’t advise eating anything at this point for obvious reasons that I won’t discuss here. But as always, it’s totally up to you.
I think taking a break is very important because it allows you to step away from the matter and clear your head for a few minutes. For me, it provided a bit of a recharge. When I got back to my computer station, I felt prepared to take on the 2nd half of the exam. I did 100 questions straight though, and the last 100 after my break.
How. I know, it’s such a hard thing to do sometimes. Thank God for my siblings. One thing my brother told me about a week before my exam is to not attach myself to the results. He had full faith that I would pass the exam but he could see how much worry and doubt I was having. On exam day, I remembered his words and told myself that whatever happens, it’s what was supposed to happen and there’s literally nothing I could do about it so just relax and give it my best shot. So, I relaxed as much as I could, took deep breaths when I felt anxious (sounds silly but it actually helps A LOT). And my sister said to me several times, “just imagine how you’re going to feel after you pass, who you’re going to call first and what you’re going to do to celebrate.” Trust me guys, on exam day, these simple things make all the difference.
Last but not least, celebrate. If you are crazy obsessed with passing on the first attempt as I was, you’re going to want to scream and tell the entire world about your accomplishment. Especially after hearing of all the PMP horror stories and the high fail rates for first timers. So go and celebrate, you deserve it!