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Top 3 Ways to Pass
1. Study Early, Study Often
It's no secret—studying is the key to success. Form a study group or study with a friend to help make studying a weekly habit. The earlier you begin, the more prepared you'll be when it comes time to take the test. Use the Certification Study Guides to practice test-taking skills and monitor your progress. Make sure you time yourself when you take the practice test to be sure you're working at an appropriate pace. Once you've taken a practice test, make note of your score and carefully review any errors you may have. Re-do the practice test to improve your scores until you feel ready for the real thing. Use the passages in Meeting Professional Editorial Standards for additional practice.
2. Know the Foundations
Be sure you have a solid grasp of the fundamentals of editing. Start by reviewing Part A of Professional Editorial Standards. These editorial standards apply to editing in all media and should form the foundation of your knowledge. The Chicago Manual of Style has information about the fundamentals and the editing process.
3. Prepare Mentally
It's not enough to perfect your editorial skills. You also have to prepare yourself to write an exam—something you may not have done for many years. Practise relaxation techniques, including slow, calming breaths; when you get to the test, if you begin to feel anxious, you can use these techniques to settle yourself. Breathing deeply also delivers more oxygen to your brain, so you can think clearly. Do a web search for "overcoming test anxiety" and you'll find plenty of information that will help you prepare mentally and boost your confidence and your test-taking skills.
Top 3 Ways to Fail (and How to Avoid Them)
1. Wing It
Coming to the test unprepared may be the easiest way to fail. Be sure to schedule enough time to study properly and take the practice tests to improve your chances of success. Of course, it's important to remember that little details matter, too! Make sure you know what books and resource materials you can bring to the test, as well as the test location, date and time.
2. Ignore the Test Instructions
When we edit in the real world, we often do a combination of different types of editing, doing whatever the document requires to make it better. In the certification tests, you need to separate out the different types of editing and do only what is required. For example, for the proofreading test, make sure you follow only the proofreading standards, and don't stray into copy editing or stylistic editing. Be sure to follow the instructions for the test and do only what is asked.
3. Succumb to Stress
Stress can affect you mentally and physically. Even if your editing skills are good, if you don't have a strategy for managing stress, you may fail the test. One way to avoid stress is by laying out a plan that includes study periods and breaks in the weeks and months ahead of the test. Avoid the rush to "cram" in the lead-up to the test, and make sure you get enough rest, so you'll be mentally and physically fit to take the test.
Issued on behalf of the Certification Steering Committee by the national office.