At Protiviti, we value the opportunities available to further educate by obtaining certifications. To prove our sincerity in saying this, we offer some great benefits to our employees that include assistance with study materials, exam costs and other incentives for obtaining a certification in a related field.
So you’ve made the decision to get a certification as a working professional but now it’s crunch time. To help you, we’ve compiled a list of the Top 6 study habits for obtaining a certification.
PROtip #1 — Talk to someone who has obtained a certification. Sometimes the best way to learn is from someone who has already walked the road you’re about to travel. Find someone who has completed their certification journey and get their opinion on how to be successful and use them as a mentor in this process. We suggest this as step #1!
PROtip #2 — Use a study program. There are study programs for nearly every certification out there and they’ve been created to help YOU. Sure, there is a cost associated with the programs (nothing in life is free!) but most professionals will tell you it was well worth the investment. And many employers, like Protiviti, have certification support programs that help to cover costs. These programs understand your schedule and they are extremely familiar with how to successfully approach studying for a certification. So while you can absolutely be successful studying on your own, you’ll likely save yourself a lot of stress by investing in a program. As a reference, if you were set to bake an apple pie, would you follow a recipe or would you take a stab at building it from scratch? I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t take the chance of wasting my ingredients – I’m following that recipe every time! (P.S. Many programs have mobile capabilities now!)
PROtip #3 — Make a schedule…and stick to it. Develop a study schedule to manage your time upfront. Again, the review courses and programs help to do this for you. It’s important to stay on track and set your expectations. This might mean saying ‘no’ to certain activities during the week and on the weekends, but keep in mind the long-term benefits and the fact that this sacrifice is temporary. With that said, if you do fall a bit behind, do not give up! Stay focused on passing the exam and find time to catch up on anything you may have missed.
PROtip #4 — Adjust your study approach. In school, our study habits often led us to forget everything we learned post exam. When you study for an applicable certification, the approach should be very different. You are developing knowledge and skills that you will apply in practice as a business professional. These skills will help you to better serve your clients and coworkers as a trusted advisor and help you advance in your career. So don’t just memorize the material, ensure you learn it and know it well.
PROtip #5 — Take advantage of down time. Don’t knock the 20-minute window you have open throughout your day. You can get a lot more done if you take advantage of these windows of opportunity. Do you commute on public transit? Can you study at lunch? Is someone late for a meeting? Always have your study materials nearby! You may find you have more time to get small study sessions in than you initially thought.
PROtip #6 — Don’t skip the practice exams. The practice exams are your friend! Many times these practice questions were pulled from prior exams and closely mimic the wording and types of questions you can expect to see on your upcoming exam. Our suggestion: do as many practice exams as possible!
As you consider obtaining a certification, we hope that you find these tips to be useful in your study methods! Good luck!
-Amanda (Candidate for the CIA, Boston Office) & Cait (Philadelphia Office)