By Amy Post
You invest a lot of time, energy and money into preparing for your certification exam. The high-stakes nature of an exam adds a layer of stress to the event. Whether you are totally Zen or quaking in your boots at the thought of exams, the following tips can help you prepare and show up in your best form on the day of your exam.
1) Choose your gear early.
A month or two before your exam, choose the gear you will use. You should be comfortable performing all the exam tasks on this equipment. Buy new gear and get your boots fitted well in advance of the exam so you have time to get used to the changes.
2) Tune your gear, then test it out.
Get your gear tuned about a week before the exam. Then make sure your gear is performing the way you want it to before you arrive at your exam. Equipment issues the day of the exam can at best, interrupt your day, and at worst, lead to injury.
3) Train like crazy, but with focus.
It’s great to get tons of training from a variety of sources, but hone in early on trainers who help you the most. As your exam approaches, focus your training to one or two essential changes. The last week, practice the changes you’ve made so they shine through on exam day.
4) Make an arrival plan.
Getting sleep the night before an exam and arriving on time is essential to keeping a clear head. Know where you need to meet in the morning and give yourself extra time to drive and park. If you can, travel the day before your exam and stay somewhere close to the base area.
5) Don’t overdo it the day before the exam.
Take it easy the day before your exam so you aren’t tired and sore the next day. Some people like ski or ride the day before the exam to check out the terrain and snow conditions. If you do, just practice one or two things that will help you the next day. I personally like to take a rest day before the exam.
She was passing the exam while I was shadowing as an examiner-in-training.
6) Hydrate the night before the exam (i.e., don’t party).
Don’t let exam pressure lead to over imbibing the night before the exam. You’ve worked too hard to arrive at your exam out-of-sorts.
7) Pack your bag the night before.
Pack your bag, double check that you have all the essentials, and pack extra layers, socks, gloves, goggles, handwarmers, etc., just in case things don’t go according to plan. Check the forecast for the next day, but expect the unexpected.
8) Plan your meals.
Plan how you will get breakfast the morning of the exam, and don’t skip it. Pack some extra food in case the lunch line is gigantic, and conversely, bring your credit card in case getting back to your bag at lunchtime isn’t convenient. Put an easy-to-eat snack in your pocket for chair ride munchies.
9) Don’t forget your meds.
The pressure of an exam and the interruption of routine can make you forget essential things, like taking medication. Pack these things the day before and set a reminder on your phone if it’ll help you remember to take them.
10) Bring your lucky penny.
Ask yourself, what will help me stay calm and focused during the exam? Plan to do or bring something unrelated to the exam that will help you, just make sure it doesn’t interrupt the actual exam. It could be meditating in your car when you arrive, listening to your favorite song as you put on your boots, calling your mom at lunch, rubbing your lucky penny on the chairlift, doing burpees when you’re nervous, or whatever else gets you through the day.
This article first appeared in the winter 2020-2021 issue of Carve' Diem, PSIA-AASI Northern Intermountain Division's newsletter.