Certification Book Studying: Tips to Stay Motivated

By: Georgia Stath

You will buy yourself a certification book or two, no doubt to study - as most of us do. And you already know they are so chunky it tries the patience of even the most enthusiastic person at times to get through all the material. How do you stay enthusiastic and motivated to keep at the timeframe you set for yourself of when you will finally get your cert? We do want it as soon as possible, don't we? Having that certification in our hands is the trophy of the hard work we have put in. But having it also means we can now stop studying and enjoy other things!

Recognize reality

Some cert books are easier read than others. Those MS press books are notorious for putting you to sleep but they do contain excellent information. Recognize your level of knowledge and how difficult or easy studying for a particular subject will be. When something is harder to study, do the following tips more often. Don't feel like you have to just keep reading the certification book even if nothing is sinking in.

Don't stop studying - just take a break

When I'm studying for a new certification I set a timeframe for myself of when I want to finish it by. Usually 2-3 months of studying (depending of course on the cert and what time I have). I want to finish as soon as possible because I don't want to have it in the back of my mind. After going home from work, the last thing I really want to do is to study. And most professionals are on a tight time frame.

We have 2-3 hours a night to devote to our studies so make all those hours count. Read your book but when you feel your mind wondering, switch to another form of study. Go to youtube.com and watch what you have been studying. That way you are still allowing the information to sip in. Your mind will welcome the change and your motivation will stay with you. Then go hit the books again.

Read, take notes. Read, take notes

Become active in your reading. When we jot notes down, we tend to remember the material better. Write out full long hand notes or even points in bullet form. Mark things with pencil on the certification book even. Do something different so the material you are reading can stick in your mind.

Do hands-on labs

If the material allows it, do some physical work. Either lab work or even simulators on your computer. Learning something and then doing it, is the best form of studying.

Have fun with practice exams

Practice exams to me are like games. I love them because not only are they fun but a vital studying aid. They help reinforce the material in your mind. They help see the areas you are weak in. The questions that give you a scenario and ask you to find the solution help you see just how the material you are reading can get applied in a real world solution. Yeap they are great.

Switch books or information

No one source is good to pass your exam. Most professionals combine 2-3 study aids. Like you may buy two books or a certification book and a CBT or go to a training school but also buy a book, etc. When you get bored with one book or other study aid, then switch. Or even go to the web and see how the information is worded differently (wikipedia.org is great). Getting a new slant on the information helps a great deal in keeping you motivated to progress through the material.

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