Truth Hurts: I'm bad at taking exams

I'm the first to admit, I am terrible with exams and auditions. My anxiety gets the better of me, and I start going down silly superstitious paths, when really the only thing that can help is how well I know the material.

Last week, I passed my Platform App Builder Certification exam! This is something I've been working towards since 2019. I first took the exam in 2019, and failed, and then put it off. But recently I've been studying and felt I was ready... except I failed it again last Tuesday. Not wanting to let my anxiety get the better of me, and knowing I was really close to passing, I decided to try again last Thursday, and I passed!

I decided to to modify my behaviour, which I know can be a challenge for anxiety sufferers, and it paid off, so I thought I'd put together a list of what worked for me and how I was able to leverage my exam failure to turn it into a pass.

There are many blog posts out there with advice on how best to pass your exam, but I figured I'd share my thoughts as someone who struggles. Before I even get into things, let me preface this by saying exam failure is inevitable, but it is ok. I doubt there's a single Salesforce certified professional out there who hasn't failed at least one exam throughout their career, but it is nothing to be ashamed of, and can be leveraged for your next attempts, which leads me into my list!

Use the Section-Level feedback
Even when you fail an exam, you're sent the Section-Level feedback. Look at how you went and how heavily each section is weighted, and then you can see where you need to focus your review time. You can also crunch some number to see approximately how close you came, which will give you an understanding of how ready you are for your next attempt (note: any number crunching is only approximate, as there's a secret sauce to how Salesforce calculate exam results, but it's better than nothing!)

Learn from your mistakes
Do you remember an of the questions you weren't sure of? If you do, see if you can research the questions so you can be better equipped for your next attempt. You likely wont get the same lot of questions, but there's bound to be some knowledge overlap, and if nothing more, you will learn something, but speaking of your next attempt...

Take the exam again soon
So you've reviewed your Section-Level feedback, researched some of the answers you weren't sure of, and if you were close to passing, take the exam again as soon as possible while it's still fresh!

You can book your second attempt 24 hours after the end time of your first attempt, and if necessary a third attempt 14 days later. If you still cant quite get there, you can start your attempts again at the next release cycle.

Use the Review feature
Now, this one seems like a no brainer, but I resisted it for a while. In each exam guide the passing rate and number of questions are listed, so with some quick maths you can figure out how many questions you need to get right to pass. For all the questions you are unsure of, mark them for review, and see if you have enough to pass. Now, obviously this doesn't take into consideration the weightings, and the aforementioned secret sauce, but it can give you an idea of any opportunities you may have to flip some questions you were unsure of with your remaining time.

Part of the reason I resisted this for so long was because I just wanted the exam to be over... which leads me to the last point.

Sit in a comfortable chair
I don't know about you, but I take my exam at my dining room table, because it is a clear table and my desk has my monitor, keyboard etc on it. For my most recent attempt, I decided to sit on a pillow instead of just my uncomfortable dining chair, and it made a huge difference in my desire to get out of my exam as quickly as possible! 

With a more comfortable caboose, and more level head, it allowed me the capacity to spend the time reviewing the questions I was unsure of instead of my regular end-of-exam go-to move of submitting my attempt asap. It seems simple, but of all the things listed here, this had the biggest impact for me.

So there you have it! This is a pretty basic list, but even some of these simple things lead to me passing my exam last week, after three long years of working towards it, and let's face it, putting it off because of how much I hate exam like situations.

Good luck out there!

Soundtrack: Truth Hurts - Lizzo


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