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As a professional nurse, taking a certification exam to obtain further specialization can be a very important phase in your life. After all, you’ve worked hard to reach that stage and you really want to give it your all during the exam.
There is no hard and fast rule for how you should prepare for a certification exam for nursing. However, some of these tips may help you as you sit through those literally ‘testing’ hours.
What domains are covered in the certification exam of your particular specialty? What will be the best resources to study nursing areas? Do you need to study from some nursing journals? What books will you require? Make sure you have the answers to such questions, as well as the study material you’ll need with you. You don’t want to get frantic looking for something a day before the exam.
Many credentialing bodies such as the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) organize study sessions for groups, as well as review seminars. These may be conducted at hospitals or at nursing schools, or even as a webinar or telephone conference session. Check out the schedules of these in your specialty, and try to attend as many as you can. Interaction with others preparing for the exams, as well as tips from instructors and reviewing course content can be quite invaluable.
This is the digital age and online resources are quite common these days. In fact, many others taking the exam with you or you yourself may have studied through an affordable online college for nursing. The importance of online resources cannot be underestimated. Listen to online lectures and podcasts related to your particular field of specialty, watch online videos of procedures and various nursing tasks, etc. These will really give you an edge over others.
These days, most certification exams are computer-based, administered at specialized test centers. Often, such a setting may be something totally new for some students, and they take their time adapting to the ‘newness’ of such exam-taking techniques. Ask your centre about how your exam will be conducted. Know the duration of the exam, the timings, how questions will have to be answered. Many students even visit the test center a day or two before the exam to avoid any last-minute, panicked search for the location.
It’s a great idea to practice with some sample tests and past exams if you can get them. This way, you’ll know the kind of questions that will be asked, the topics covered, areas to specially focus on, etc. It will also be a good practice in time management and in understanding the format of the test. Sample tests are also available online, and some may even be taken on the computer, similar to the actual computer-based test experience.
Follow these tips as much as you can to ensure your test goes as well as possible and you come out of the test center smiling. Best of luck!