20 tips for passing certification exams

If you're working toward taking a certification exam, this note from Microsoft might be useful. It's a list of 20 tips for passing certification exams, written by Peter Ty, a software developer in Hong Kong.

Ty has 10 Microsoft Certified Professional certifications under his belt and, according to Microsoft, "enjoys the thrill of taking MCP beta exams." Here, in his words, are Ty's tips for passing Microsoft certification exams:

Exam preparation:

1. Practice your stuff: Play with the product even when it is still under development, and try to apply it in practical projects.
2. Use Virtual PC or Virtual Server: Virtual PCs and servers give you the freedom to try something, undo the changes and try again.
3. Read the exam guide: Focus on what areas the exam will cover, even the areas in which you rarely work.
4. Leverage online learning resources: E-learning options allow you to pace your learning and preparation.
5. Read books online: Leverage Microsoft online documentation, which comes directly from the teams that build the products.
6. Find a book: Search the Web and product team blogs for valuable book recommendations.
7. Read blogs and forums: Utilize these references, but verify them against official documentation from Microsoft.
8. Study group: Though a group learning environment may prove quite helpful, your experience will depend on your personality.

Mental and physical readiness:

9. Check out your test center in advance: This saves you unanticipated hassles and delays on the day of the exam.
10. Find a remote test center: Find a center where you won't need to greet anyone on your way out in the event that you don't pass.
11. Sleep well before the exam: Review your materials the night before the exam, but go to bed early and be relaxed to ensure you are well rested.
12. Take the exam on a day with no pressure: Take the exam on your day off. Try not to make other plans that might create unnecessary time pressures.
13. Do not take too much stuff with you: Don't take the risk of becoming distracted during the exam about the security of your belongings.

Exam time:

14. Check the equipment and room condition in advance: Check the lighting in the room and the comfort of the chairs and mouse beforehand.
15. Do not stay with questions for too long: Unless you are positive that you can answer the question, drop it after 5 minutes.
16. Make notes on related items: Take notes on the questions of which you are unsure. Then go back and compare notes for more clues.
17. Trust your instinct, not your impulse: Eliminate the unlikely answers and trust your instinct to identify which answer is most likely correct.
18. Avoid changing answers during review: Avoid changing answers unless you are absolutely certain that the newly selected answer is correct.
19. Understand the scenario with a quick overview: Read the intro. But then skim for an overall understanding of the rest of the information.
20. Drink and eat just the right amount of water and food: This is essential but check with your exam center in advance about allowed restroom breaks.

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