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Test Prep and Practice Tests: Your Pathway to Certification

Are you pursuing professional certification in teaching, healthcare, or another field that requires a certification exam? Test prep can help you improve your test readiness and achieve your professional goals.

What is Test Prep?

Test prep, short for test preparation, is the practice of preparing yourself for an assessment. Distinct from learning or studying, test prep entails a wide range of strategies, activities, and tools that help get you ready to take a test and earn a successful score

Why is Test Prep Important?

Whatever kind of exam you are preparing for, test prep is critical - it goes beyond rereading lesson material or making flashcards (though those tactics can be helpful!). Test prep is a broader strategy that aims to solidify your knowledge and strengthen your recall skills so you can perform at your highest level on an exam.

According to recent research from the National Institute of Health, two key factors play significant roles in predicting which test-takers succeed on professional credentialing exams:

  • Grit, the powerful combination of perseverance and passion applied to a long-term goal.
  • Deliberate practice, a specific, substantial effort towards improving skills through structured, intentional practice.

If you are exploring test prep strategies and crafting a plan to earn a credential in your industry, chances are you possess some grit already. And an effective test prep strategy involves deliberate practice to increase your content mastery, competence, and confidence for test day.

What are the Benefits of Test Prep?

Test prep has a litany of benefits:

  • Getting to know the exam: Knowledge is power! By researching the format of the exam, the types of questions you will be asked, and the content you will be tested on, you can eliminate surprises on test day.
  • Dealing with test anxiety: The fear of the unknown, as well as performance anxiety, can be powerful detractors from your test performance. Thorough exam prep can solidify both your skills and your self-assuredness, so you walk into the test calm and focused.
  • Building test-taking skills: Your subject matter expertise is not the only factor that determines your test score. Practice your pacing, stamina, and test-taking mindset for stronger performance on test day.

Who can Benefit from Test Prep?

Anyone planning to take a test of any kind can benefit from thoughtful preparation. Whether you are a new joiner to the labor force, a seasoned professional seeking further certification in your field, or an employee pursuing a promotion or raise, professional certification tests can be an impactful part of your professional journey.

Read on to learn more about creating a winning test prep strategy, including the importance of practice tests and other test-taking strategies.

What does Effective Test Prep Look Like?

The Importance of Practice Tests

An effective test preparation journey includes regular practice tests: pit-stops to check your skills and determine where to focus next.

Practice exams assess your knowledge of the subject matter, but they are also an opportunity to practice your ability to retrieve information from your memory on demand. Studies in educational and cognitive science have consistently supported the value and impact of robust practice-testing. Just like doing repetitions will build the muscles required for a particular exercise, taking practice tests will build your recall muscles and ensure they are in top shape for the real exam.

If you are exploring certification exams to earn a professional credential, you likely already have hands-on experience in your field. Think of practice exams as a way to get hands-on experience with the test-taking and the exam itself.

Other Test Prep Strategies

Follow these 5 steps for effective test prep:

  1. Plan
    • Take a prep test to get your baseline - something to measure growth against. This will help you to get a sense of where your strengths and weaknesses already lie.
    • Register for your test - choose a time of day when you tend to be the most alert and choose a date that allows enough time to study without losing steam.
  2. Organize
    • Gather your study materials and make a timeline for your certification test prep.
    • Consider study techniques that best suit your learning style and incorporate practice tests at regular intervals to check your progress.
    • Avoid cramming! Instead, set aside the time each week to chip away at your study plan. Research shows that spacing your studies is ultimately more beneficial for information retention than cramming all at once.
  3. Rehearse
    • Periodically use practice tests to simulate the experience of test day. Use your scores to chart your areas of improvement and to target areas for improvement.
  4. Practice
    • Spend extra time on the topics or question types that need more attention. Review the practice questions you answered incorrectly and the explanations of each answer.
  5. Evaluate
    • Assess how your test prep strategy is working and make adjustments as needed.
    • Take a final practice exam and compare your performance against your initial benchmark and your target score.

Exam Plan are you ready

What Are Some Test-Taking Strategies?

Arrive Prepared

Before test day, check with the testing agency and confirm what materials you are required to bring, such as a government-issued ID. Also be sure to check if there are items you are prohibited from bringing. For example, if you are taking the ANCC Family Nurse Practitioner exam, review the testing handbook from the ANCC.

Take A Steady Pace

After taking several practice tests, you should already know the length and format of the exam. Keeping these in mind, tackle the test at a steady pace. You can always come back later to answer tricky questions and letting them percolate in the back of your mind while you proceed with the rest of test might allow an answer to bubble up.

Answer Every Question

Most certification tests do not penalize incorrect answers. Some tests even offer partial credit for attempted answers. If this is the case for your exam, do your best to answer every question to increase your chances of a higher score.

How Exam Edge's Practice Tests Can Help You

practice test performance Exam Edge offers a large selection of practice tests for exams offered by numerous professional organizations and certifying bodies, such as the AANP and ANCC. Our tests come in both timed and untimed formats to suit a variety of study strategies: you can take a timed test to simulate the environment of test day, or an untimed test to get comfortable with the exam's format.

Practice tests from Exam Edge are a cost-effective tool for online test preparation. Our exams are available at a fraction of the cost of typical test prep courses.

Realistic Practice Questions

Our practice certification exams feature realistic questions based on the difficulty, format, and subject matter of the actual exams.

Each question on an Exam Edge practice test comes with a detailed explanation of the correct answer in addition to explanations of why the other options are incorrect. This lets you use our practice tests as not just evaluation methods, but as high-quality study materials.

Business - SHRM Exam

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At the end of the year meeting with all department heads, the Call Center Manager was singled out for having long call wait times. The Call Center Manager responded by claiming that his employees took excessively long breaks and were generally unmotivated. As the HR Director, you were then asked to research and resolve this issue at the Call Center. After the meeting, you decided to review the performance appraisals to gather more information, but the appraisals showed all call center employees were “meeting or exceeding standards” in all of the topics covered on the appraisals.

You speak to the Call Center Manager directly about the discrepancy between what he said in the meeting and the actual performance appraisals. He responds that all of his employees spoke professionally to the customers so he gave them good ratings in all of the subjects on the appraisal. What is the term for giving good ratings on all criteria because an employee performed well in one area?

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Correct answer: Halo effect

The halo effect occurs when an employee excels in one particular part of their job, and then the manager applies that excellent rating to all facets of the job. The halo effect may seem advantageous in the short term, but in the long term, it does not facilitate growth or provide a path for improvement.

High School Math

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A discrete random variable R follows the Geometric distribution if

P(R = r) = (1 – p)r – 1p for r = 1, 2, 3 ……


where p is the probability of success at each trial and 0 < p < 1


What is P(R ≥  4)?

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The Correct answer is:
(1 – p)3

The question asks for P(R ≥ 4), that is, the probability that the number of independent trials required for a successful trial is greater than or equal to 4. This is equivalent to asking the probability that the number of trials required is less than or equal to three, i.e. P(R=1), P(R=2), or P(R=3).

Since the sum of all probabilities must be 1, P(R ≥  4) = 1 – [P(R = 1) + P(R = 2) + P(R = 3)]


P(R = 1) = (1 – p)0p = p

P(R = 2) = (1 – p)1p = p – p2

P(R = 3) = (1 – p)2p = (1 - 2p + p2)p = p – 2p2 + p3

∴P(R ≥  4) = 1 – [P(R = 1) + P(R = 2) + P(R = 3)]
1 – [p + p – p2+ p – 2p2 + p3]

= 1 – 3p + 3p2– p3

= (1 – p)3

Nursing - Family Nurse Practitioner

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In terms of laboratory tests used to assess older adults, which of the following is NOT in the normal range?

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Correct Answer:
HbA1C: 10%

Normal range for  HbA1C should be between 4% and 5.6%.
Other normal ranges are:
BUN:  7 - 21 mg/dL
Glucose (fasting): 70 - 100 mg/dL
WBC:  4300 to 10,800 cells/mm3

Additional Resources

Learn more about test preparation and test-taking strategies:

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