Thinking About Certification?
Thinking About Certification? Develop Your Strategy to Prepare for the Exam
Sometimes, knowing how to prepare to take an exam can be just as important as the material tested!
Congratulations! You have been approved to test for the CCM® exam. Now what? Taking the CCM Certification exam can be a nerve-racking experience. Between study materials, coursework, the cost of the exam itself – and the fact that careers may depend on performance, taking the CCM exam can be stressful and anxiety-producing.
Knowing how to take tests is often just as important as knowing the material being tested. This article highlights some testing techniques that may aid you in preparing for the exam.
The first step in maximizing your potential for success on the CCM exam is to sufficiently prepare for it. Yes, this means you should study for the exam - not a novel concept, but you'd be amazed by the number of people who say they don’t need to study for the CCM exam because they have ten (10) years or more case management experience. In fact, many veteran exam takers warn candidates - especially those who have extensive work experience - that even though they are in the real-world trenches, they still need to take time to prepare by studying.
“How should I study for the certification exam?” Each applicant is unique based on their work history and experience so a good place to start is with a self-assessment. Go to page ten (10) of the CCM Certification Guide where you can find an outline of the exam content which was developed based on evidenced based peer reviewed research. The research is conducted every five years and identifies the five major domains of essential knowledge. Additionally, each of the domains is further defined by sub-domains. Each exam question/response is tied to a case management reference and credit is given for each "correct" response. These domains are the core knowledge areas that are used by case managers across the continuum of activities and functions typically associated with case management.
Review the titles of the domains, sub-domains, and the number of questions for each domain. Use this as a guide to conduct a thorough self-assessment against each domain. Determine your strengths and consider concentrating on those areas in which you feel you have had less experience or that you do not perform on a regular basis. Select reading, research and study materials based on your individual needs. A Suggested Reference List is available on the Commission website that shows the actual books from which the exam questions were written. This list is updated periodically throughout the year. This is not meant to be a required reading list, nor should it be considered all inclusive, but it can assist you in your exam preparation.
Next, divide up the material to be studied into reasonable sized blocks that can be accomplished or completed in a single study session. Try studying in two to three hour blocks. This maximizes attention span without pushing too far towards mental exhaustion. Next, schedule out the study blocks over the time you have available between now and your examination day. Try to limit the number of study blocks to no more than two per day.
Create a personal study guide -- a collection of details from the study materials that you think are important. Your study guide should include short facts, keywords, tables, charts, drawings, etc. The ultimate purpose of your study guide is to help you memorize items that are relevant. As you complete your studies, fine-tune the guide to include just the essential details that you want to remember exactly. As an aid to memorizing, some people find it useful to re-copy study details on index cards to help remember key concepts. You can test yourself by reviewing the cards daily and removing the ones you have memorized.
Reserve the last one or two study block time periods for review and self-assessment. Review the domain list for the exam and review the issues and materials for each item from memory. If you can't remember the information, consider returning to the related resources and read the material again.
Set up a study group with other people taking the CCM exam. You may want to join a professional membership organization such as The Case Management Society of America (CMSA) or The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) to gain networking opportunities and to connect with others taking the CCM exam. In your study group, put together a study guide for each content area of the test based on the notes taken by each individual in their own study. Review the study guide together, comparing problem areas and strengths and help each other as needed. Using flashcards, notes, textbooks, and the study guide you made together, divide into two teams and play a quiz game.
The Commission also offers a Case Management Certification Workshop. This two-day educational workshop is the fastest and most cost-effective way that you can obtain state-of-the-art information about all aspects of case management and how to prepare for the exam!
Many candidates use practice exams to test their retention of the knowledge. A series of practice exams to assist in study preparation for the CCM exam are available online. These practice exams utilize actual CCM exam questions that are now retired in order to provide a true exam experience for applicants. An explanation for correct answers is provided for every exam question, to assist in your understanding of the concepts being examined. These are the only practice exams authorized by the Commission and provide candidates with an additional resource to focus their studying efforts. Please note, that there is no guarantee that performance on a practice exam will yield the same performance on the actual CCM exam.
Taking the CCM Exam
Review: Test Center Regulations
Get Rest: The night before your exam, get a good night’s sleep! You’ve likely studied long and hard for your test, so give yourself the best possible chance to succeed by getting enough sleep the night before.
Arrive Early: The day of your test, arrive at the center early, so that you have plenty of time to park, if necessary, check in and get settled before the test.
Be Prepared: Be sure to bring a government-issued ID card and your Prometric scheduling confirmation to the test center.
Examination Structure: The CCM exam is a practice-based exam. The exam structure is a total of 180 multiple choice questions. The exam is administered in one session, with no predefined breaks. You will have 3 hours to complete the content item portion of the test. There will be a brief tutorial before the actual examination items, and a brief survey, time permitting, after the examination.
Time Management: You will have 3 hours within which to take the CCM exam. The better you can manage your time when answering questions, the better you'll do overall. You should determine which method(s) work best for you.
After the Exam:
What to do after your CCM certification exam:
1. Don't forget to pick up your score report from the testing center.
2. If you passed, you owe it to yourself to celebrate your accomplishment.
3. If you did not pass, all is not lost. Many people take the exam more than once before receiving a passing score. Candidates who Do Not Pass will be allowed to re-take the exam in the next available cycle. If you do not pass this “re-take” examination, you will need to complete a new application.