Train for your next exam like a Marathoner

Taking a certification exam can be daunting, try these tips for passing your next certification!
  As a marathon runner I have found that the same techniques which I use to cross the finish are also great for preparing for professional certification exams.

Professional Certification Exams are like Marathons!

When you decide to run a marathon, you put together a plan and practice.  This is the same for training for a professional certification exam.  Instead of base miles, you spend your time reading, taking courses, and learning about the examination requirements.  You also take practice exams from authorized vendors, just like running laps.  Most marathon runners put in their longest run at about 80% of the race distance; when you are getting ready for a professional certification examination like the PMP, you should be


scoring about 80% on your practice exams.

  • Have a Solid Base
  • Practice makes perfect
  • Be at 80%

The Night Before the Event
The day before a marathon I organize all of my gear, the day before a professional certification exam you need to do the same thing.  Make sure you have identification required for the test site, any vouchers you need, and any materials you are allowed to take to the test site ready to go.  Look up your test venue on a mapping tool and become familiar with the route if possible.  Eat a healthy dinner, even if                   you are nervous and not hungry.  Go to bed on time and get plenty of sleep.

The Night Before…

Just like a marathon, don’t train the night before; have confidence in your preparation and training.

  • Organize everything for the next day
  • Eat a good meal
  • Get Plenty of Sleep

The Morning of the Event

The morning of the event is not the time to experiment or try new things.  If you normally have a cup of coffee and toast, don’t try a breakfast burrito on the day of your examination or a race.  Don’t rush to your event; take your time and leave early to arrive at the test center to check in.

Morning of the Event

Take a minute to skim your material, just like a light warm up before a race.  Don’t try to read or cram for your exam.

  • Eat Breakfast
  • Allow plenty of time to get to your location
  • Skim only

During the Event
Use the same techniques to answer questions during your practice exams for the actually exam.  The exam is not the time to change techniques, have trust in your preparation.  Know how long you have for the overall exam and how

During the Event

long per question.  If you get stumped on a question, flag it and come back that question; hold a steady pace. Don’t get frustrated or give up.  You have worked hard to get to this point and maintaining your composure is a key to finishing any event.

  • Stick to your Plan
  • Keep a Steady Pace
  • Don’t give up

Post Event
After an exam or a race it is easy to second guess yourself and criticize yourself.  Only reflect on how you can improve the next time, but enjoy the fact you completed the event, even if you will have to repeat it.  Relax and enjoy the moment, you worked hard to finish, take a minute to enjoy.  There are always second chances, so if at first you

Relax – It’s over!

don’t succeed try, try again.  Each professional examination is a learning experience and even if it is costly, we can take the exam again.  Learn from your journey.

    • Don’t Beat Yourself Up
    • Relax
    • There are Always Second Chances

Life is a Project!

Apply your project management skills to your next exam preparation or your next marathon!  Good luck on your PMP, CAPM, Prince2, Lean Six Sigma, or whatever certifications you pursue.

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