I’ve received many requests lately for assistance with studying for various certification exams, usually the BCSP’s ASP or CSP. I passed the CSP over 10 years ago, so I’m afraid some of my specific study methods are outdated!
Everyone has a different learning and studying style. I never was much of a studier, more of a crammer. I always felt that if I attended classes, paid attention, and did assignments, that I would have no trouble passing exams. This philosophy served me well through college. As I pursued safety credentials, I had to find my study style because there were no required classes to attend. The following worked for me, and may or may not work for you.
Borrow what has worked for others
I borrowed a set of Datachem CD-Roms with study material and practice tests from a colleague. This is probably the most outdated of my study methods and has probably been replaced by an app or an online subscription-based service. I have not pursued certification in a LONG time, so I do not have any personal recommendations.
Recall what has worked for you
I used my college method of writing notes as if I were making a cheat sheet for myself, which I would obviously not be able to use! I’m apparently a kinesthetic learner, one who learns by doing, which is tough when it’s just me and some books. Writing out information has always helped me as it makes it real and I’m also able to visualize my notes later on for recall.
I made sure to write out notes and formulas that were at the top of my head as soon as I sat down for each exam on the provided scratch “paper” (a small white board). This helped me to then move on with the exam, knowing that some brain space was now open by putting the notes on the board.
Realize your weaknesses and do something about it
Studying on my own was tough. I had a full time Safety Director job at the time that had odd hours and huge challenges. My boss suggested I check out a study course, regardless of location, and GO. As an ASSE member, I looked at the Professional Safety magazine ads and found the ASP and CSP study courses by Langlois, Weigand & Associates, Inc. Mr. Langlois was a wonderful instructor and I can still hear his voice in my head when I think of some of the safety topics! I saw him in the hallway during the bustle of Safety 2017 in Denver and said “hey! I know you! THANK YOU!” which I’m sure he gets all the time.
I went to both the ASP and CSP certification prep workshops and I feel that these were key to passing both exams.
I rolled my eyes at my own sentence up there about having a full time job while studying for the exam. I am SO GLAD I took the exams before getting married and having a child! Huge props to my safety colleagues juggling all of these things and succeeding. May I suggest the ASSE certification prep course in a warm locale so you can relax a bit too?
Any time management “hack” you can think of can apply to studying for certification exams. I found that scheduling study time on my calendar, with reminders, was helpful. Schedule the exam itself and stick to the date if possible. Moving the date shreds your personal accountability and you may end up taking the exam months to a year later than you initially intended. Another key timing factor for me was scheduling the exams as close to the completion of the certification prep course as possible.
A timing tip during the exam was to plan ahead based on how many questions are on the exam and how much time you’re given. I don’t remember these specific details, but I do know that I finished the exam with plenty of time left! I started to review my answer on the CSP exam and then realized that could be dangerous as I would second guess myself and change potentially correct answers – so I stopped, and finished the exam.
My employer at the time paid for my certification prep workshop and all exam fees.
I am not paid by ASSE to mention their exam prep workshop. Heck, Datachem didn’t pay me either and I’m not sure they offer the CD-Rom format any longer!
I passed the ASP and CSP on the first try.
I don’t have any further advice for you or study materials to lend to you.