By Michael AldridgeWhen I was pregnant with my first child, my wife and I had no idea what to expect. We prepared by reading pregnancy books, researching online, attending childbirth classes, and speaking to friends who had been through it. There were some things we didn’t expect, but we were prepared for most of the situations that presented themselves.
Even though certification exams are not as stressful as having children, they can still be scary and overwhelming, especially if it is your first exam. Fortunately, I have been there many times. I decided to write a blog series about what to expect before, during, after, and after a certification exam. In this blog post, I will describe the steps leading up to exam day.
Register for the exam as soon as possible. How soon do you need register? You can usually register for an exam the same day and take it the next morning, according to my experience. I wait until I’m ready to take the exam before I register, as there are many testing centers in my region. Others prefer to set an artificial deadline and register for the exam weeks or months ahead of time, then study up until the deadline. You can reschedule your exam if you are not ready by the deadline provided you notify 24 hours in advance. I have seen people forget to schedule their exam in time and not prepare enough. Most of them are likely to have experienced the same thing.
Pearson VUE manages registration and administration for CompTIA and Cisco exams. Prometric manages registration and administration for Microsoft exams. VUE and Prometric provide exam providers. They authorize testing centers, schedule the testing center PCs, deliver exams to the testing centres, and report the results back to the certification providers (Cisco CompTIA, Microsoft).
Some training providers only allow students to use their testing facilities. Others include the cost for the certification exam in their training packages. VUE and Prometric allow those who do not use a training agency to register online. After you register, you’ll be shown a list with the closest testing centers. While some testing centers offer both Prometric and VUE exams, others only offer one. A list of start times will be displayed after you select the testing center.
After choosing your testing time, you will need payment for the exam. This is usually done by credit card or a voucher. A voucher is a pre-paid payment option that you can use for exam registration. Vouchers are often discounted from the full exam price so they are usually purchased in bulk by training providers, employers, or other organizations. Individuals can also purchase vouchers. You should ensure that you purchase your vouchers from a trusted source if you buy them online. Be aware that vouchers can have expiration dates so make sure you register before your voucher expires. You’ll lose your chance.
Get a good night’s rest before the exam. Although it may seem necessary to study at the last minute, it could do more harm than good for your score. Be honest about your study habits. If you aren’t ready, you can reschedule. However, you will need to do this at least 24 hours before the exam begins.
In my next blog post in the “What to Expect” series, I’ll talk about what happens on the day of your certification exam.