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Final-Stage Exam Prep: The Brain Dump

By  Nov 12, 2008

Topics: Certification

A-HA: I won your attention (albeit cheaply) with the reference to "brain dump" in this post title, didn't I? Well, I'm afraid that my usage of the term brain dump has no direct relation to today's unfortunate meaning of the word. Read on...

I'm going to share with you a technique that I have found to be extremely helpful both (a) as a stress reliever when taking IT certification exams; and (b) as a useful reference source while taking those selfsame test instruments. The process works like this:

If you register for your exam by using either Prometric or VUE, you will be given either a dry-erase pen and laminated sheet or an honest-to-goodness piece of paper and a pen by your testing center attendant. Please use these materials to your advantage!

After you have been escorted to your examination workstation and have been logged into your exam session, I advise you in the strongest possible terms to participate in the optional exam tutorial that the test engine provides. This action gives you 10 minutes or so to "play with" that does not count against the time allotted for your actual exam.

You should then use the extra 10 minutes not to horse around with the exam tutorial itself (unless, of course, this is your first certification exam and you actually NEED to learn how to use the computer-based exam interface).

Instead, you should leverage this time to dump your brain of everything you exerted blood, sweat, and tears to memorize in the days, weeks, and potentially months prior to your exam testing day. You know, exam-related concepts such as the following:

  • the OSI reference model
  • subnetting tables
  • project management acronyms and their definitions

Trust me—you will feel an immediate sense of relief simply knowing that, for better or for worse, you have a solid paper reference in front of you. No fear of "forgetting" that important information now that you are in the heat of the moment!

Have you violated your Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) with your exam vendor by your practicing this "brain dump" technique? Absolutely not. Most, if not all, NDAs state that you should not possess any prior knowledge of the exam's contents, nor should you share the exam's contents with anybody else.

In the late-stage exam-prep schema discussed in this blog post, you simply relieve pressure on your brain; you unleash your own knowledge onto paper to ensure you don't forget it if and when you require it.

In short, this strategy bears fruit. Let me know how it works for you, okay?