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How to conquer your CBAP exam anxiety

Any exam is always a bit nerve-racking. I personally have written possibly more than 500 exams over my entire student and professional career and luckily my success rate is above 99.9%. Even then, today writing a new exam puts a good amount of pressure on me.

Many of us may not have taken an exam for years and sometimes even for a decade. Once we are in a job, exams are not part of our daily routine. So obviously when one plans to go for CBAP, and there is already so much news about how difficult the exam is. Roughly one in three fail in the CBAP exam in the first attempt and it’s definitely a tough exam to go through. One would have put in a significant amount of effort and money in getting ready for the exam and that automatically puts a significant examination pressure.

Often participants ask me, “LN, is there some advice that you can say for the last one week of the preparation process?”. This is because that’s when exam days are really close by and one must utilize the last week effectively to make sure that one successfully completes the examination.

Some of my personal bits of advice that I would like you to follow are stated below. In fact, some of them would apply to any other exam that you are intending to take. The first set of advice is for any exam and of course for CBAP as well.

Avoid high impact sports

Some of you maybe sports enthusiasts and love to play sports but I would request you not to get into any high impact sports a month prior to the examination. It is always possible that you enjoy yourself physically and in that process, you are not able to take the examination.

Eat healthy and light

Many of us love eating out and that has become a part of many professional’s life when one is eating out at least 5 to 6 times in a week. Make sure that you eat healthy and light food and do not upset your stomach just prior to the day of the exam or during the exam. Stomach upset would make you very uncomfortable to take an exam which lasts more than half a day.

Sleep at least 7 hours

I am blessed to have a fantastic sleep and almost days I sleep almost 8 hours comfortably. Many of us may not be that lucky, you may be having a rough project and on top of it, the exam pressure makes you feel that you need to save time to study. Frankly, if you are not in a perfect state during the exam, you are going to lose the battle. So at least a week prior to the exam, try getting into a better sleep habit and sleep a minimum of 7 to 8 hours a day depending on your personal requirements. Do not try to compromise on your sleep trying to study for the exam.

Stop worrying that your preparation is inadequate

This is again a feeling which many professionals have, and they always feel that they have not prepared enough for the examination. No amount of preparation is adequate if you feel so. Keep such thoughts out, if you have prepared for 80+ hours, you are well prepared.

No amount of preparation will be adequate if you feel so.

Do not over pressurize yourself to study a lot during the last week of the preparation. Too much exam pressure is not going to make you feel better during the exam.

Now let me give you a suggested day-wise plan which you, of course, can modify. Please use this as more like a starting point than a final truth.

7 Days prior

  1. Keep all official documents ready.
  2. Visit your exam center.  6 Days prior
  1. Review study guide. Adaptive mind-maps are great aids.
  2. Focus on the purpose of the tasks.
  3. Understand the strengths and weaknesses of techniques.
  4. Note how techniques can be applied to tasks.

5 Days prior

  1. Revise BABoK and your notes.
  2. Do not try to completely re-read BABoK number of times. It is a huge document and you may confuse yourself more.

4 Days prior

  1. Take two simulation tests to test your timings.
  2. Do not overeat just before the test, nor have an empty stomach – Carry a few chocolates with you.
  3. Go to the restroom prior to the test.
  4. Take deep breaths once in 30 minutes during the exam.
  5. Stay cool.
  6. Analyze the answers.

3 Days prior

  1. Analyze your answers from past simulations.

2 Days prior

  1. Revise your study notes

1 Days prior

  1. Watch your favorite movie.
  2. Take adequate rest.

Day 0 – Exam Day Tips

  1. Carry 2 valid government issued ID proofs with picture, signature and expiry date.
  2. Reach exam center 90 minutes prior.
  3. Do not overeat just before the test, nor have an empty stomach – Carry fa ew chocolates with you.
  4. Go to the restroom prior to the test.
  5. Take deep breaths once in 30 minutes during the exam.
  6. Stay cool.

 

Examination Tips

  1. Initial questions can be tougher – Skip questions that you are not able to understand quickly.
  2. Mark questions for review.
  3. Observe time elapsed against progress made – Target 40 questions per hour.
  4. There will be a few bouncers. Do not feel bad that you are not able to answer a few questions. I doubt anyone can answer all CBAP questions correctly.

Managing case-based questions

In the first round

  1. Do not attempt case questions
  2. Mark “B” to all case questions, Mark the questions for review and move on
  3. Try completing all scenario-based questions in 2 hours

In second round

  1. Read the last paragraph and options
  2. Then read the case from beginning
  3. Ignore information which is provided to fill space.

Do let me know if you found any other useful tip during your CBAP preparation journey.