Get IT Done: 8 Weeks to an IT Certification

Believe it or not, two months is more than enough time to prepare for your IT certification.
A 2019 planner with the words "You have 8 weeks to get certified this year"

Many people ask how long it will take to get certified. Well, guess what? Two months is more than enough time to prepare for your IT certification. The key is getting the planning and logistics nailed down first so you can dedicate your time to learning. Here’s how!

Step #1: Decide Which IT Certification to Get

The very first step is deciding what certification you want to pursue. If you don’t know yet, start by asking yourself these 10 questions to make sure getting an IT certification is right for you. Of course, we know that there are many certifications to choose from, and while we also know that CompTIA certifications are the best in the industry, we’re not the only ones who believe that. See what others say about CompTIA certifications.

Step #2: Schedule Your IT Certification Exam

Make it real! Schedule your exam and hold yourself accountable to that date. If you have a date on the calendar, you can work backward and create a study timeline for yourself. Before you purchase your exam voucher, see if you are eligible for a discount. When you’ve figured out the best way to purchase, buy your exam voucher here. Finally, don’t forget to schedule your exam. Here’s your step-by-step guide to scheduling.

Step #3: Make a Study Plan

Once you have an exam date on your calendar, it’s all about coming up with a game plan. Start by determining exactly how much time you have to prepare and WHEN you’ll study. Decide how many hours each week or each day you are going to dedicate to studying and write it down (or add it to your calendar). Also, determine HOW you are going to study. If time allows, you can register for a class. Creating IT Futures offers some free courses, it’s worth checking out. Or, choose the self-study option via CompTIA CertMaster. There’s a variety of training available to you – and there isn’t just one right option. Choose what works best for you and your time frame.

Step #4: Learn What’s on the IT Certification and Begin Studying

An important step in this planning process is familiarizing yourself with your exam objectives. After all, you have to know what to study! Download your exam objectives here, and print them out. Use these objectives like a study guide. Once you feel you’ve mastered one, cross it off the list. If you feel like you need more work, highlight and make notes. Your exam objectives are your home base and the key to passing your exam and earning your IT certification. There’s absolutely no substitute for doing the work. Learn how Senior Network Engineer Du’An Lightfoot uses exam objectives to prepare for IT certification exams. 

Step #5: Practice Your Hands-on Skills

With the groundwork laid, it’s time to dive into hands-on practice. If you’re in pursuit of a performance certification like CompTIA A+, CompTIA Network+ or CompTIA Security+, you’ll be required to complete performance-based questions during the exam. These questions test your hands-on skills so you can prove that you know how to do tasks related to IT jobs. Even if you already have experience, you’ll want to practice the specific tasks covered by the exam objectives so you know them well and can do them under the pressure of your exam. If you’re not getting this experience on the job, consider using CompTIA CertMaster Labs. These labs help you gain hands-on experience using a wide range of technologies in a self-paced, pre-configured browser-based environment.

Step #6: Make Your Study Time Productive

Stay on track! Earning your certification in eight weeks is entirely possible, but you have to use your time wisely. While you may be tempted to put off regular study sessions in favor of the last-minute cramming method, studying in short, frequent periods is way more effective. Make sure you’re utilizing all of the resources available to you. For example, take advantage of the free CompTIA practice tests. While you won’t see these exact questions on your exam, the practice tests will give you an idea of the type of questions you should be prepared to answer. And, when you are studying – study! Prevent distractions by turning off notifications on your computer, phone, watch, etc., and choose a study location that helps you focus. Some of us need a quiet space while others prefer music or background noise. You know you – so choose wisely.

Step #7: Get Organized the Night Before Your Exam

If you’ve done everything outlined above, very soon you’ll find yourself getting ready for your exam. The night before your exam, try and calm any nerves by planning ahead. Fill your car with gas or confirm your ride. Make sure you’re aware of the test policies and bring the appropriate form of identification. Most importantly, give yourself time. Set your alarm early enough to give you plenty of extra time for your morning coffee. Plan to leave a little bit early – you can’t do anything about traffic, and it’s always better to arrive early than late. Then, set a back-up alarm – just in case! Finally, go to bed a bit early and get some sleep.

Step #8: Start Your Exam Day Off Right

If breakfast is your thing, kick off exam day with a healthy one. If breakfast is not part of your morning routine, bring some snacks. The last thing you need to contend with on test day is a growling stomach. Then, try to relax and focus. If you’ve followed your plan – you are ready. Remember what you’ve learned and take your test with confidence.

Ready to start studying? Writing out your plan will set you up for success. Download our free training plan worksheet to help get organized and make your dream a reality.

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