When you work through your professional development plan, you may be required to take a few tests along the way. As with other aspects of professional development, the tests you take could vary from one person to another based on the field in which you work or your stage in your career.

Test Preparation

As you advance yourself professionally, you may be required to take a few exams along the way. Here are some suggestions for maximizing your success as you prepare for and take tests during your professional development. Study

Study is a natural first step as you prepare for any exam. Gather and review textbooks, notes, and other materials from any relevant courses you have taken. If you know how you learn and remember things best, employ those strategies during this time. Review sheets and note cards work well for many individuals. Others find they benefit best from studying with groups of people. Depending on the nature of the test you are taking, it may be an option to have tutoring or to discuss test preparation with an instructor.

Test-Taking Tips

When it’s time to take your test, start at the very beginning by reading the directions. Be certain you understand what is required of you before you start the exam. Scan the test quickly to see how long it is, and determine how much time you can spend on each question, which should help you ensure that you complete as much of the test as possible.

Go through the test, and complete the questions you can answer easily. If you are still struggling with test questions, don’t be afraid to guess. Your chances of answering a question correctly by guessing are better than not answering the question at all; you might even receive partial credit for your answer.

If you are taking an essay examination, Providence College recommends doing a ‘mind dump.’ Write down everything you know about the subject. This may help you in organizing your thoughts in essay form. By spending time organizing your thoughts before you start writing your essay, you may save yourself the time you may have had to spend revising later.

Don’t hesitate to use all of the time you are allotted for a test. If you have time to spare, go back and check your work. You might catch errors you have made and help your score by doing so.

Coping With Test Anxiety

It’s natural to feel nervous about taking an exam. If you worry that your nerves will get the best of you and negatively affect your performance, however, you should consider what you can do to help calm yourself before and during a test.

Take your studying seriously. By preparing well for a test, you can help alleviate some of the fears you may be facing. Also, employ some stress relief resources. During the time you spend preparing for your test, keep up your physical activity. While you might be tempted to sit in front of the television to relax, MIT has noted, physical activity will help you actually expel that pent-up energy and anxiety. Stretching and deep breathing are two techniques that can help you relax your body during an exam.

According to the Huffington Post, performing a writing exercise before an exam can also help you address your test anxiety. Spending ten minutes writing about your thoughts and feelings can clear your mind of those worries and allow you to devote that energy to performing well on the test. ‘We essentially got rid of this relationship between text anxiety and performance,’ Sian L. Beilock, an associate professor in psychology at the University of Chicago stated in the Huffington Post article. Beilock said she hoped people would put the information to use. People often feel considerable pressure to perform well, and a tremendous amount can be done to alleviate some of that stress.

Types of Tests

When you are hoping to advance yourself professionally, you may be required to take some tests to prove that you have the skills required to take on additional responsibilities. The testing may be mandatory at your company or in your field, or it could be something you choose to do because of the vision you have for your future.

Advanced Degrees

Your professional development may require that you earn an advanced degree. To attend graduate school, you will most likely be required to take the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) or the GRE Subject Test. Other graduate-level tests include the Law School Admission Test (LSAT), Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT), and various medical tests related to specialties in the health care profession.

Fields Requiring Testing

In 2009, Forbes Magazine posted a listing of top-paying jobs in the United States that required extensive testing and licensing before individuals could perform in those occupations. Medical professionals occupied numerous spots in the ranking, with engineers of varying specialties, scientists, technology professionals, business-oriented positions, and lawyers helping to round out the list. Wages are often a reward to those who have put in the time to earn advanced degrees and complete extensive educational requirements.

Job Applicants

You may encounter further testing if you are applying for a new job. According to the Nolo and FindLaw Web sites, job skills are often tested in preemployment exams, which help employers decide at what level to hire a job candidate. Depending on your line of work, your tests might also be physical in nature or examine your cognitive skills (ability to learn quickly, reasoning skills, reading comprehension, and other mental abilities). These tests can help a prospective employer measure how well you could likely perform on the job.

Skills tests can range from very basic typing tests ‘to something as complicated as an architectural drafting test,’ Nolo stated. These tests are legal for employers to conduct ‘as long as they genuinely test a skill necessary for the performance of a job.’

Certification Programs

Certification programs are an increasingly popular way to increase job skills and abilities in the workplace. To earn a certification, you may have to take an exam once you have completed all other preliminary requirements. You can check for available certifications in your field (or for other skills that you hope to learn) in a resource such as the Certification and Accreditation Programs Directory as a starting point.

If you have become certified in your profession or in a particular skill, it is likely that you will have to undergo a recertification process after a set time frame.

If you have chosen to earn an advanced degree as part of your training, for instance, you will likely have to take some sort of graduate admissions test. Most graduate-level programs require the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or GRE Subject Test. Students interested in studying advanced business courses will take the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT), while law programs require the Law School Admission Test (LSAT).

Outside the realm of collegiate schooling, your profession (or your own plans) may require that you earn a certification of some sort. Doctors, for example, may choose to become board certified in their professions. Earning this distinction often requires extensive peer review and testing to ensure the physician’s skills meet a set standard. Computer or technology professionals are other examples of careers that often utilize examinations and certifications as a means of allowing individuals to demonstrate and prove their abilities.

Research your profession thoroughly to learn what tests and rewards or other career-enhancing possibilities are available to those who successfully pass the right examinations. Remember to use the resources available to you, such as your employer or a career mentor, for help in directing your testing efforts in the best possible direction.