BCS Data Protection Course – How I Passed

Sarah BrowBCS Logo4ne, Information Compliance and Records Management Assistant at Greater Manchester Police, recently passed the BCS (ISEB) Certificate in Data Protection exam with Act Now. These are her top tips for passing:

  • Give up any notions of a social life for 2 months – I did it – My friends and boyfriend supported my decision, because they knew how important it was to me.
  • Let the fear guide you – How many times do you really want to do the three hour exam???  Revise hard so failure isn’t an option.
  • Speak to those in the know – I’d only worked in Data Protection for six months when I began the course, so I ran anything I was unsure about by my colleagues, boss, and of course my Act Now trainer.  The more you talk to people, the more you’ll begin to understand the tricky concepts, and how they fit into the bigger picture.
  • Get your mitts on revision materials – I lent DP books from my local library (Peter Carey, Data Protection (3rd edition), and Data Protection and Compliance in Context by BCS were invaluable).
  • You can’t get around reading the Act I’m afraid – Filter your reading.  Start with maybe a text book explanation, then Act Now notes, then crack open the Act.
  • Rewrite the Act – To remember the Sections and Subsections (and very late on in my revision when I understood everything, but needed to memorise key parts), I spent one beautiful Saturday rewriting the Data Protection Act. I summarised all the key sections as an aide-memoir to the Act itself.  From then on, I had a 6 page document with the answers to pretty much any question the exam could throw at me.
  • Flash cards – A great way to punish your friends and loved ones for all their support – make them test you!!!  (They’ll hate you, my boyfriend actually said the words “I want to die” while going through my 100+ card pile, but by the same stretch he now knows the definition of consent off by heart because I do!)
  • Work in whatever way works for you – I’m a visual and kinetic learner – I learn by seeing things and doing things, so repeated copying is well up my street.  Find out what your learning style is and work with it! (Google what is my learning style, and be amazed!)
  • Mnemonics – I had one for the principles, one for Schedule 2 conditions, one for Schedule 3 conditions, one for categories of sensitive personal data, one for register-able particulars, and many to cover the various Principle 8 options.  Get creative!  Mine included names of people I know, characteristics of them, some of them were just plain bonkers.   Just come up with something memorable.
  • Basics – It sounds really obvious, but learn your basics off by heart.  Know the exact wording of the principles and the schedule 2 and 3 conditions.  They come into everything, so get them right!
  • Read before the class – You get an itinerary, so don’t go in to the class thinking you’ll learn everything there and then.  Go into the class with a broad understanding of what will be discussed, then you can build on that knowledge in class.  Plus you’ll be ready with questions which will help you, and your comrades!
  • Do the homework – End of.
  • Revision videos – When it comes to revision time, take a look at the Act Now revision videos which are available to all Act Now delegates in their online resource lab.  They cover all the nasty areas that everyone struggles with.

And finally a word for Act Now.

My Act Now Data Protection course got me more than just a certificate.  The course has given me a wealth of knowledge of Data Protection, in general, and more confidence in my current role.  My trainer, Phil Bradshaw, has a strong background in law, and is extremely experienced in the application of the Data Protection Act.  The course leaves you well prepared for the exam, but by no means do they simply train you up to pass.  They teach you everything you need to know so that you will pass! Suffice to say, I would recommend it to any Data Protection practitioner.

For more on more on how to pass the BCS (ISEB) exam see our earlier blog posts . Feel free to try the sample test.

Our next ISEB courses start in London and Manchester in December. More Information on our website or email us.

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