Achieving certification from Atlassian is one powerful way to create distinction for yourself among your peers and the millions of everyday users who login to Jira and Confluence daily. Interested in becoming certified? The ACP-600 and ACP-300 exams will challenge your knowledge and understanding of the Atlassian product suite. We’ve been there, done that and some of our team members actually bought the t-shirt! Our Modites shared their experiences in what worked for them in order to help others on the journey to become Atlassian Certified Professionals. We will share those insights with you throughout this article and our “How to Prepare for Atlassian Certification” series.
Study Skills Matter
If it’s been a while since you’ve taken an exam, it’s good to refresh your study skills. While preparing for these exams, we were reminded how important study technique is. Certification exams are meant to be challenging and worthwhile otherwise everyone would be certified! These certifications differentiate you from the crowds of users who may or may not think they know their stuff. When you earn an Atlassian certification, it shows the world that you undeniably have the expertise to use the products in the most effective way.
The Course Material
Do the Labs
If you have a lot of experience and you’ve mastered the course material you may pass the exam without doing the lab exercises. But the lab is available, so why not use it to better your understanding and increase your chances of passing the first attempt? The lab environment is available for 24 hours and the time limit is not extendable. So, be careful when you decide to start the lab environment. Make sure you have dedicated work time so you don’t miss your opportunity with the lab. We recommend concentrating on the exercises where you have the least experience.
Use the Resources Provided in the Course Material
The practice exercises and other resources accompany the lab exercises. Download the files, and print them if you must. Review them and mark them up with your notes and any questions. Do whatever it takes to digest the material. These resources, however, do not contain every topic and answer you need to know to pass the exam. The material requires you to think creatively and solution wisely with a blend of textbook knowledge and experience. This leads us to our next tip.
Use the Product Documentation and Atlassian Community
There will be topics you don’t understand or need more time to grasp. Use the product documentation to research answers you don’t know. This is the resource for anything you need more information on. Still not finding the answer you seek? Ask the community.
Review and Review Again
You can pause and replay any section of the courses. Review the material as many times as it takes to grasp the concepts. Take notes as you watch and listen to the courses; it helps the learning process to physically write down what you’re learning.
Strategy & Tactics
Go With What You Know
Do you know your learning style? Do you need to watch and re-watch the material? Do you need to make flashcards? Prefer studying with a group? Know yourself, your strengths and weaknesses.
Plan your Time Wisely!
Don’t try to cram a week before the exam. Give yourself the time you need. Some of us planned our time using the topic list and our calendars. Some of us just chose to dedicate an hour a day and others chose to only study on weekends. Whatever works for you. But we strongly suggest you plan your study time so you reduce distractions or the urge to put it off.
Be Your Best!
Choose the best time for you to be most alert and focused. If you’ve worked a 10 hour day and now are planning to study for the next 2…are you going to be able to concentrate? If so, great, go for it! If not, reschedule your efforts. You’ll be better for it. The time of day you study is also important. Are you an early bird? Can you squeeze in an hour when you wake up? Maybe you’re a night owl? A glass of your favorite beverage and the moonlight may be what you need.
Sleep Encourages Learning
In spite of how nice it would be if it were true, sleeping on your books (um, laptop?) will not cause learning by osmosis. However, did you know resting your brain after a learning session actually helps you retain the information better and for longer? So, sleep! Take more naps and get a full night’s sleep every night so you’ll be better prepared to face your exam.
The Benefits of the Local Coffee Shop
Move to a focused location – try the local coffee shop! No, seriously. Some people swear they get more done when they move to a place with endless coffee and the perceived pressure caused by working in a busy coffee shop. For others, simply being out of their normal environment increases drive and focus. As in, I’m here to work, so let’s do this!
Use music to reduce background noise. It seems all the popular music streaming options have stations or playlists for music themes such as: Classical for Focus or Music for Studying. Try it, it may be just what you need to drown out the world of distractions around you and quiet your mind for focus.
Go Old School
Remember when your school teachers told you to eat a good breakfast and get a full night’s sleep before exam day? That’s important for studying also. If you’re distracted by stress, hunger or fatigue you will not be able to focus and retain the information needed for the exam. Which takes us to the importance of test taking skills.
Test Taking Skills Also Matter
First and foremost, prepare for your exam experience which will either be online or at your nearest test center. When scheduling, choose the best time during the day for you to ensure you can arrive on time, physically and mentally prepared to take a multi-hour exam. Know where you’re going if you have to travel to a test center, make sure you have the correct identification with you as well as your Test Taker Authorization Code.
The Day of the Exam
Drink water and eat a good meal prior to your exam. We know it’s silly saying it, but use the bathroom before you begin your exam whether you need it or not. You don’t want to risk not finishing in time because you find yourself uncomfortable during the 3 hour exam. When it’s finally time to start your exam, remember to breathe and also remember the following tips.
Look for the Red Herring
This is a classic “gotcha” question style worded in such a way that it presents information irrelevant to the actual question. These types of questions can be especially challenging because they are misleading and require extra time to answer. Read the last line of the question first, then go back and see if there is other helpful information provided.
Read All the Answers
This is pretty basic advice but it is important to remember not to answer too quickly. Remember, the exam is designed to separate those who do and do not know the intricate details of the exam topics. Take your time and read all the answers. Reread the question as many times as you need to understand what Atlassian is asking you.
Skip It, Come Back Later
If this is your first exam with Atlassian, you should know the exam software allows you to skip any question, mark questions for review and return to the question to answer later. It’s inevitable you will get a question that leaves you baffled. It’s ok, it happens. Mark it to come back to it later. Don’t waste valuable time on any single question.
Answer All the Questions
There are no negative points or penalties for answering a question incorrectly. However, an unanswered question leaves no chance of earning credit for a correct answer and can be the difference between a pass and a fail result. You have the chance to “Review All” questions after the last question. When you are satisfied with your answers and have answered all of them, you’re ready to submit your exam and receive your pass/fail result.
Atlassian does a terrific job providing all the information you need about certification. Familiarize yourself with the provided information. For details on pricing, material to study and associated badges required to maintain your certification, refer to the respective Atlassian Certification exam and FAQs pages. Many of the frequently asked questions about the exam, the testing center policies, how to register for the exam and more is found on Atlassian’s Policies page.
Atlassian certification is challenging but worth every ounce of effort you put into it. These tips will not only help you on your ACP journey but on many other certification paths. Stay tuned for a deep dive into preparing for the ACP-600 Project Administration in Jira Server.