As we leave the exam season behind for a few months with over 50 Act Now candidates waiting on their results 2 months from now we think we’ve seen enough to offer a few words of advice.
Here are Ten Top tips and comments from candidates, certificate holders & former examiners that might help people thinking of attempting this.
- Take the big, expensive course. You knew we’d say that but there is the possibility of direct entry to the exam if you can satisfy ISEB that you have undertaken enough training but not many take the direct route. Those that do miss out on 5 or more days of networking, 5 or more days of practice questions, and many valuable tips from tutors, fellow candidates and previous candidates who have been through the process before. Some direct entry candidates have never seen an edpac sheet before, never written a practice essay, never experienced exam conditions and this takes 10% off their performance.
2. Attend every minute of every day of the course and do the Mock Exam. Experience shows that those who don’t pass often miss part of a day, don’t attend the mock exam, leave early because they have a train to catch and miss out on valuable input.
3. Do all the work. If you’re given a homework then do it. If the tutor recommends to read a report or look up a web link do it. We know and you know in your heart that “the dog ate my homework” is a lazy lie. If the question you should have done in detail turns up in the exam and you haven’t got the answer in your memory banks that’s 10% more.
4. Read the rubric. The exam paper asks you to answer section B questions with bullet points so don’t write an essay. It also asks you to answer section C questions with an essay so don’t use bullet points. It tells you which questions are compulsory and which are optional. Read the rubric. Some candidates don’t and this takes another 10% off.
5. Follow the instructions. There’s not enough room in this article to list every mistake here. Candidates are told to use the pencil to make horizontal marks in the grid to enter their candidate number. They use pens; they write the number in figures, they use diagonal lines, they also write in the date, the name of the exam (which they often get wrong), their own name etc. They’re told to put a straight line through notes and include them with their answers – the use wiggly lines, strike them out, screw them up and put them in the bin. They are told to answer 4 out of 6 questions so they answer 3. (or 5 or in extreme cases 6). In a mock exam we found a candidate who used the pencil supplied for section A to write 20 pages of longhand.
6. Don’t annoy the markers. Make your script easy to read with spaces between points or paragraphs. The last thing a marker wants is a solid block of text 10 or 15 pages long.
7. Write legibly. Always avoid alliteration. Never use a long word when a diminutive one will do. Spell proper and don’t make grammar mistakes.
8. Use some common sense. We’ve heard of candidates arriving after the exam has started or leaving before the end. Candidates who’ve attended a DP revision session and chosen to sit a FOI exam.
9. Don’t think you can get through by just attending the course. You have to put the work in. Reading and revision pays dividends.
10. Finally tales of the unexpected. We know of candidates who have been doing the job for years and doing it very well who have failed to pass even after 2 attempts. We also know of candidates who confused the subject information provisions with the duty to confirm or deny yet manage to pass. It’s not a lottery but you can improve your chances of passing by learning from others who have been through it.
Enjoy your exams. Our ISEB courses are available throughout the UK every quarter. You know where we are. Our next courses are in Birmingham starting in late February.