A fair question, and without trying to brag, I'd like to say that I can learn a lot in three months. It just takes some dedicated time and hard work. I spent six days in class (Programming 1 in March and Programming 2 in May), wrote lots of programs, and studied for ten hours/week for five weeks. It reminds me of my college days where terms were ten week quarters rather than the traditional collegiate semester.
So, might I have any advice for someone preparing for SAS Base Certification? I'm glad you asked:
1) Study within the exam objectives. The exam objectives define the content that will be tested. You may be a very good programmer and proficient in PROC SQL and macros, but if you can't read a raw text file or know the difference between a Do While and Do Until loop, you will struggle with the base certification exam. Focus your preparation on the exam objectives.
2) Understand SAS code. The base exam covers a lot of content, and you have to know it well to complete the exam within the 2-hour time limit. For me, this meant I had to write flash cards from the course content. Writing down the syntax helped a lot, and then I could discard topics that I mastered and focus on the topics that caused me grief.
3) Understand the concepts. Code is important, but so is knowing what occurs when a program runs. What happens at compile time? What happens at execution time? How is the PDV populated? You will see snippets of code during the exam and must understand what will happen when it runs.
4) Program, Program, Program! Learn by doing. Hopefully your day-job provides you opportunity to write programs. In addition, there are a ton of exercises in Prog 1 & 2 courses, try working through all of them without referring to the course notes. Another good learning technique is what my friend Elizabeth calls "what if...." programming: take a working program and change it. Re-order the statements. Use a Select Group in place of a subsetting if statement. Add a syntax error and see what happens in the log file. Mistakes and errors can be the best teacher.
5) Check the calendar. I decided to prepare for certification during both the NHL and NBA playoffs, and I missed many games while studying at the dining room table...poor me. Well, at least I finished in time for the FIFA World Cup.
So, do you have any advice for technical people who need to earn SAS Certification credentials? What worked for you during your preparations?