Wanted: More Feedback on Certification Exam Results!

"Truth to tell, I usually don't care too much about exam feedback as long as I pass a particular exam. But boy, am I ever keen to know where I jumped the tracks when my results don't meet the exam's cut score."

As I've taken various certification exams from sponsors including Novell, Microsoft, CompTIA, Cisco, and others over the years, I've learned to appreciate the exam feedback that some – but not all – exam sponsors provide. Truth to tell, I usually don't care too much about exam feedback as long as I pass a particular exam. But boy, am I ever keen to know where I jumped the tracks (or missed the boat, as it were) when my results don't meet the exam's cut score. Some exam sponsors simply provide pass/fail information and don't go into much (or any) detail about performance in the various exam objective domains. I've learned to pay close attention to topics that I haven't seen before, or don't understand well, while I'm taking an exam, so I'll have at least some clue when the exam is over where my areas of weakness might be. Then, if my score isn't up to snuff, I have a pretty good idea of what to study as I prepare for my next attempt. I've learned to sit myself down right after taking the test, and write out everything I can remember about those parts of an exam where I believe I may have run into trouble. This is a good habit to get into, particularly if an exam attempt fails to produce a passing score.

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And that's where exam feedback really comes in handy. Even if all the sponsor does is to indicate major exam objective areas (the ones assigned percentage points in the exam objectives to indicate their relative weighting and extent of coverage), a judicious review of those objectives (and a practice exam or two that categorizes its questions the same way, which most of them do) will usually help me zero in on those areas where I need to focus additional study or practice to get ready for another go-round in the testing center. Then, when I do my post-mortem, I can at least record the knowledge domains where I know I encountered difficulties, or list the consoles, tools, or utilities where I didn't have the necessary speed or skill to complete the questions quickly or correctly enough.

 All information that leads to better results on a next try is good information, though, and that's why I'm strongly in favor of some feedback from exam sponsors when an exam is completed. If they want to point out specific subjects in need of further study, so much the better: it just makes my job easier as I map out my next round of study and preparation before making another attempt. Hopefully, this approach will work for you, too. Please give it a try.

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About the Author

Ed Tittel is a 30-plus-year computer industry veteran who's worked as a software developer, technical marketer, consultant, author, and researcher. Author of many books and articles, Ed also writes on certification topics for Tech Target, ComputerWorld and Win10.Guru. Check out his website at www.edtittel.com, where he also blogs daily on Windows 10 and 11 topics.