Time Tips for Certification Exams

As I peruse the tome of articles that I wrote over the past ten years that were never published on this site, I am finding some articles that are timeless, including this one originally written for CertGuard, on Exam Time Management. -M

<May, 2007>It is a common misconception that information such as the number of questions on a given cert exam is protected by the Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA), and it has been repeated so many times by so many people that some people are surprised when I answer the question. That being said, this is not a History test, it is a test of your skills. If you are concerned by time, I suggest the following:

  • When you go into the testing room you will be told how much time you have to complete the test. When you begin your test you will know the number of questions. Pace yourself accordingly.
  • Make sure you are not parked at a parking meter with a time limit of 60 or 120 minutes because chances are you will need more time, and you will not be allowed out to feed the meter.
  • When you schedule your test reserve a morning or an afternoon for it. As late as last year I would never schedule two exams in a half day, though now I generally book them (when doubling up) 90 minutes apart… that is me, and I am a very fast test taker, and have taken enough cert exams to know how long they will take me. Forgetting other tests, don’t book a doctor’s appointment two hours after your exam. If you take the exam at 8:30am, don’t schedule anything before noon, for example.
  • Don’t go into the exam hungry, figuring you’ll be out quick. You might be, but you might not be, and most exam centers will not allow you to bring food or drink in.
  • Visit the restroom for all bodily functions before the exam. No joke, I had an employee who failed an exam because her bladder was going to busrt so she just pressed ‘END’ and did not finish. (To the best of my understanding she is no longer in the IT field)
  • If you are sick and do not think that you will be able to sit still for three hours, reschedule. True story: I once woke up with a 102 degree fever on the day I wanted to take an exam, and I figured it was an easy exam so it wouldn’t matter. I called Pearson/Vue to schedule it for later that morning. The next thing I remember is waking up on the floor of my home office several hours later, the battery of my cordless phone dead, a pool of drool under my mouth, and a headache from where I smashed my head. Fortunately I was on hold and did not finish the registration process 🙂
  • If you are dyslexic, or if English is not your first language, call the test provider and ask for extra time. Some people just read slowly, and they understand that. The truth is that with most Microsoft exams if you don’t know the answer now then you won’t know it any better in two hours unless you look it up. Because of that although there are time limits, they can be flexible if arranged ahead of time.
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