Accepting the challenge to test for any industry designation is a bold one that will inevitably take a lot of hard work and diligence to be successful. If you are up to the challenge and looking for heighted recognition as an association professional then earning your CAE (Certified Association Executive) is the way to go.
While there are eligibility requirements set forth by ASAE, once you have met those it really is all about preparation. I am proud to say I was successful my first time around, but not everyone is so lucky. The following are tips I believe led to my success in earning my CAE in May 2014.
- Read the required text materials. I know this sounds crazy! Who wouldn’t? Some try to skimp on the reading and I simply don’t suggest it. You need to first make sure the knowledge you are applying is what they are looking for and not just your personal experience. But reading isn’t enough; it is all about the applied knowledge, not memorized material.
- Put your experience with YOUR association on the back burner. It is harder than it sounds, but it is imperative you think like a CEO for a large international association with multiple staff. Using the frame of reference you have adapted for your group can hinder your perspective. Another reason why reading the recommended material is imperative!
- Attend ISAE study group sessions. First, they are FREE to ISAE members so why wouldn’t you attend? Second, they are the best way to get outside perspective from your peers on why or how to answer quiz questions.
- Find a study buddy. I know having a buddy I could partner up with for a few hours every other week was not only a great way to guarantee I was putting in the hours studying, but also to bounce ideas off of and hear why they answered certain questions the way they did when I got them wrong. Bonus suggestion: Make sure that if your organization doesn’t handle a lot of risk management or lobbying that you look for a buddy who does deal with those issues on a weekly basis.
- Don’t overthink it! On exam day you have done all you can do to prepare. Take a deep breath and answer the questions to the best of your ability, but don’t overthink them. It is very similar to many other standardized tests; your gut is usually right!
I can’t tell you it’s easy, but I can tell you it’s worth it! Good luck and we hope to see you at the ISAE fall study sessions that begin October 22.
CAEs, do you have any other helpful tips to prepare for the exam?