When Did You Last Take a Test?!

So, dear readership, when is the last time you took a test? Oh I know it; I’m laughing, too. Hold up, didn’t I finish up taking exams when I finished college (Go Vandals!)?! Not in the Healthcare IT industry! We’ve got Masters and PhDs, MDs, RNs, CPHIMSS, MS, PMP, CPC, RHIA, AHIMA, certificates, etc, etc, etc.  Whoa. That’s a lot of letters to cram on your business card. Looks cool, but doesn’t come easy.

I think the last time I took a test was in 2008 or ’09 when I was getting a certificate in employment law and practices; and before that, college exams. However, I am thinking about heading back to graduate school in the next two or three years which means taking the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) as well as loads of tests in the first years of the program.

I also work with several consultants currently pursuing Epic module and PMP certifications all of which require passing exams. A few of them just took their first tests and were rather nervous about the whole ordeal of taking a test for the first time since . . . [fill in the blank]. So, here are a few tips for studying, handling test anxiety and getting through it.

Flashcards – This is a tip compliment of yours truly. The best study method I’ve ever used is flashcards. First, just making them is going to be helpful because you’ll be re-enforcing the concepts through the physical act of writing them down. TYPING DOES NOT COUNT!! (I’m blog yelling here – blelling?) Yes, typing them out would be faster; however won’t provide the neurological connection between hand and brain through writing. Just the simple act of writing important concepts in order to make your flashcards will create memory of your test material. Flashcards tend to be ultimately convenient for the bus ride, airport, lunch hour and the like. It’s amazing what a few moments of studying in the nooks and crannies of your day will do for you.

10 Study Tips – Here is an online list of other study tips. A couple worth mentioning are Don’t Procrastinate and Start with the Most Difficult Subject First. Both of these are the complete opposite of what I have done in the past. Waiting until the last minute to study and avoiding the more difficult topics for whatever reason, avoidance or otherwise is a classic move. Not what we want here. Tackle those subjects and don’t wait!

Test Anxiety – Well, I would love to be able to give you the secret to managing all anxiety surrounding taking an exam . . . but . . . it doesn’t exist. It’s totally natural to be nervous for a test (especially when that certification is on the line). However, I believe it’s the little things that will get us all through our tests.  Sufficient preparation, a good night’s sleep the night before, trying to relax, and having a positive attitude are all going to help. My mom would tell you to have a good breakfast, too.

Celebrate – Especially as a professional adult, I think celebrating is justified for passing a test. Congratulations on those two, three, four more letters behind your name.

I used to eat yogurt raisins, too; always seemed to be good luck. Anyone else care to share their tips for successful test taking or just a funny story about a test? Both are welcome. Oh and here is one more “Go Vandals!” since I’ve thought back to college now.

About the author


Cassie Sturdevant

Cassie Sturdevant is a Senior Recruiter for Impact Advisors, a healthcare IT strategic and implementation services consulting firm just named 2013 Best in KLAS for Overall Services. She specializes in humor and follow up.


  • Great tips Cassie!

    I have two daughters in college, and literally get a knot in my stomach when they are going through finals – I certainly don’t miss those days! BTW, that’s one of the things I’ve always loved about the University of Illinois-Chicago’s online Informatics Programs’ entrance requirements – no GRE!

    I once missed a test because I thought I knew exactly what building it was in, but I was wrong. By the time I found the correct room, the professor had locked the door and wouldn’t let me take the test – F! So I’d definitely recommend mapping out your location – precisely – the day before. 🙂

    Enjoying your posts!


  • Hi Gwen,

    Good thinking on mapping out the location of your exams! I have a friend that once recommended drinking an adult beverage before a test to relax. I don’t subscribe to that method, though it is humorous.

    Yeah UIC! Great program!

    Thank you Gwen!


  • In my career, I was educational coordinator for an Epic team…and a technical college instructor…and dealt with a lot of adult-oriented test anxiety.

    One person in particular would take a week of evenings to prep for an Epic certification test….and then freeze completely! To the point that she would fail miserably and then immediately order the same test right after she was done with the one she knew she failed. She finally did pass the certification exam….after taking it SEVEN times.

    Some people can perform their job duties and show they have the skills, but are just horrid test takers! And they would do anything and everything to keep their nerves calm. But to no avail…

  • Doug,

    That is such a tough existence. It doesn’t sound like your colleague had any issues with the actual material, just the anxiety of the test. Unfortunately telling yourself to relax is much easier said than done.

    Anyone out there have this experience and what made life easier for you?! Tell us here!


  • Great post Cassie! I would offer advice/tips but I have mentally blocked tests for this lifetime 🙂

    “In my day” I was relentless at preparing for tests, but for some reason felt the need to rush through taking the test which always caused me to make one or two stupid mistakes causing me to fall just short of perfect… ughhhh…. thus the mental block!

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