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Exam-taking Hints and Tips

Follow these hints to make your exam experience less stressful and more successful.

Before the Exam

  • Prepare a short review sheet for the exam. It should contain reference tables and information that you have trouble remembering. Shortly before you start the exam, study your notes for a last-minute review.
  • Arrive 10 to 15 minutes early, and relax for a few minutes before the exam. Take a deep breath. Look at the review sheet one last time. You will make fewer mistakes if you are not tense and rushed.
  • Before the actual exam begins, you will have the option to take an orientation exam to familiarize yourself with the actual exam program. Take the orientation before you take your first exam. The time you spend on the orientation exam does not count toward the actual test time. If you have any questions, ask the exam administrator before the exam begins. The exams are timed, so don't use any of your test time asking questions that you could have asked earlier.

During the Exam

  • When answering a question you are not sure of, eliminate the obviously incorrect answers first. Eliminating the obvious makes it easier for you to try to select the correct answer, and increases your chances of selecting the correct answer if you have to guess.
  • If you simply don't know, guess! Be sure you answer all the questions before you finish. Unanswered questions are wrong and scored as incorrect answers. If you are unsure of an answer, make an educated guess. There is no extra penalty for incorrect answers.
  • If you have time, review your answers before going on to the next question. A word of caution: be absolutely sure before you change an answer! If you are positive that your answer is wrong, change it. But if you are not sure and cannot explain to yourself why you need to change an answer, leave it. Most of the time, your first instinct is correct.

Note: Remember, with an adaptive test, you cannot skip questions or go back to review previous questions. This means you will need to take the time to thoroughly read and understand each question. However, adaptive tests are also shorter, so you do not have to worry as much about running out of time.

Use Your Scratch Paper

  • You will be given scratch paper and a pen to use during the exam. Some testing centers provide paper and a pencil. Some provide laminated paper and an erasable marker.
  • Right after you start the exam, write down anything that could be a useful reference during the exam. This is the time to remember what you studied on your review sheet. The information on the review sheet should be fresh in your mind because you just did a quick review. Write lists, reference tables, and any other vital information on the paper. (Don't spend a lot of time here--just a minute or two writing down reference material.) The list of information will save you time as you answer the questions.
  • Use the paper to draw out permissions, domain diagrams, subnet masks, and so forth. A question may be easier to answer after you see a diagram.

Case Studies

Case studies are more complex than scenario questions. With case studies, you are given a large case study and about 10 questions to answer regarding the case study. You can refer to the case study while answering questions. To help familiarize you with this type of question, applicable TestOut exams contain questions that follow this format. Here are some other tips to keep in mind.

  • Create an optimal test-taking environment. Flickering monitors, noise, and interruptions can cause you to lose concentration. Explain the nature of the test to the testing personnel and ask to be placed in the best seat possible. Be sure to use the restroom and eat before the exam. Case study exams may take nearly four hours.
  • Pace yourself. Although there are only forty questions, you will probably need the entire testing time to consult the scenarios and decide your answers.
  • Understand the way the question count works. On a 40 question exam, the question count says Question 1 of 48 and so forth. Understand that each Instructions and Case screen counts in the question total.
  • Look first for exhibits. Before wasting time trying to diagram what a case is trying to describe, look for an exhibit. There is not always an exhibit, but if there is one, you can save a lot of time.
  • Be conservative on your note taking. You could take a lot of unnecessary notes and waste a lot of time while reading a scenario. It might be better to read the scenario through, get oriented regarding where certain types of information is located, and consult the specific parts of the scenario and take more detailed notes as required to answer specific questions. That said, you should still ask for extra paper and pencils because you may need to take many notes.
  • Consider the pros and cons of reading the questions first. Reading the questions first can give you an idea of what to look for as you read the scenarios. However, depending on the computer being used, it might take up to 6 seconds per click just to move from one question to another. Clicking Next, then Back, then Next through every question can take a fair amount of time. Also, it might be a better strategy to get an overview of the scenario. Then consult specific parts of the scenario in more detail as you read and answer each question.
  • Consider the pros and cons of using the All tab. The All tab lists the content of all the other tabs and radio buttons in a single scrollable document. While it might be convenient to read everything in one place, it also might be harder to orient yourself to the structure of the scenario and relocate information when you need it. Consider becoming familiar with the other tabs and radio buttons so you can more quickly find information you are looking for (and decrease the use of the scroll bar).
  • Don't worry if the scenario lacks all the details, and in fact be grateful for it. For example, if a scenario mentions that an organization has 20 buildings but only mentions subnet IDs for three of them, it is just that much useless information you need to wade through to come up with an answer for a question. In fact, it may indicate a clue regarding what to focus on.
  • Be tolerant with ambiguity. Sometimes it's hard to figure out what Microsoft is talking about. Try to tolerate the ambiguity and give it your best guess rather than spending a lot of time trying to reason through what does not seem reasonable. That said, if there is something you need to reason through, spend the time to get it right.

Exam Retakes

  • If you do not pass the exam, use the score report on your transcript to identify areas needing further study.
  • As soon as possible, think carefully about the exam and make notes about the questions that you couldn't answer. Look up the correct answers in your study materials. You may get the same or similar questions the next time.
  • Don't wait too long to retake the exam. You already know much of the material, and you may forget what you know if you wait too long.