Now that you’ve decided that association management is right for you what’s the next step? The CAE exam, of course!
Here are some tips we were given and some we learned the hard way when we sat for the CAE exam in December of 2012:
- Keep a running total of your qualifying professional development starting with your first class. Be sure to track date, title, session description, presenter, hours and credentialing provider. When you apply to take the exam, you will need to provide this list to ASAE.
- Find a friend. Reach out to those individuals in ISAE who have achieved the CAE designation. They can help you navigate the water of the CAE process.
- Let your boss/co-workers/employees know you are studying to take the exam. They will be your #1 cheerleader and offer you morale support. It will also provide them with an understanding of why you are attending so many out-of-office meetings. And, through your example, they may be inspired to increase their professional development and obtain their CAE.
- Participate in ISAE’s study sessions. Even though the reading will be done on your own, it helps to be able to talk through the questions posed in the exam to gain an understanding of why each answer is correct. Plus, study sessions count toward the total number of hours needed to sit for the exam. We went through the study sessions multiple times which we found to be really helpful. This also lets you bond with others taking the exam at the same time as you.
- Mark your exam date on your calendar. Then, work your way backward mapping out your study/reading schedule. There is a lot of material to read and process. Don’t leave it until the last minute. We found it helpful to start in mid-August to really give us time to read, comprehend and get our questions answered.
- Remove yourself from your position while studying. Forget how your association would handle a scenario. You’ll hear it many times and it’s true; you must think like you are the chief staff executive of a large, national association with 60+ employees.
- Put into practice what you learn. Apply your studying to your everyday decision making in the office. It will drive home the lessons learned in your reading.
- Be prepared the morning of the exam. Eat a good breakfast and allow yourself plenty of time to get to the test site. You aren’t able to take a snack break during the four hour exam. You may, however, have a bottle of water with you.
- During the exam – BREATHE. Take your time. Don’t worry about what others are doing in the room. You may be the first to finish and leave, or the last (we were). But either way, work at your own pace.
- Plan to take the rest of the day off after the exam. You will be exhausted. Plan to do something for YOU on the afternoon following the exam. A massage, a pedicure, going to the movie. Something that doesn’t involve studying, working or brain power!
- Don’t worry about the results. You’ve read the recommended resources, accumulated the professional development credits and studied the material. If you pass – CELEBRATE. If not, don’t give up. You have the knowledge; you just need to tweak your approach to the scenarios.
- Keep up with your professional development. It will be time to renew your CAE before you know it.
To find out more information about the CAE and the resources that are available to you through the Indiana Society of Association Executives click here.
Author: Brian Parker, CAE, Alpha Kappa Psi Professional Business Fraternity
*The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Indiana Society of Association Executives (ISAE).