Demystifying SAS Certification (Part 3): To the finish


Demystifying certification Want to see my newly minted certified professional badge? Scroll down to take a peek. Yes, I managed to successfully complete the Base SAS Programmer certification exam… with, ahem, flying colors I might add.

Here are my tips to tackle the Base SAS certification exam:

1.  Get clear on the why

We all perform better when we have a clear goal in mind. My “why” was to write the exam in order to mimic the experience others have so that I can coach SAS users who are going to sit for the certification exam.

2.  Remember your goal

For the majority of test takers, passing the exam is the ultimate goal. Remember this goal & put it upfront and center to remind yourself when you are prepping. You are studying to clear the certification exam. With hard work and studying the next step should follow naturally. And along the way, your preparation will expand you SAS knowledge and make you a better user.

3.  Try out the sample questions

Because you are writing an exam, the best way to get your mind in gear is to repeat the process again and again, just like a top athlete. Become familiar with the way exam questions are framed. Take all the sample questions for a flavor of the real thing.

4.  Take the practice exam

The practice exam helped me identify my strengths & weaknesses. It also helped me become a little more experienced in exam writing. As I passed the practice exam, I became a little more motivated to study. Read the first blog in this series on how I overcame exam fear & wrote the practice exam

5.  Review the certification prep guide

Hands down the best tip I can provide you. The Certification Prep Guide really got my juices flowing and wanting to learn more about each technique. As an instructor, I found myself getting more curious and interested in-depth on techniques I teach in class. I was able to look at SAS tools from different angles. Read the second blog in this series for more on this tip. Watch out for my next blog post, where I will report on the benefits the 1st cohort received when they wrote the exam, with their consent, of course.

6.  Write down answers to review questions

Remember to pass the exam takes study. You’ll want to go beyond simply reading the textbook. Attempt end-of-chapter questions and write down answers to questions. When I found one of my responses was incorrect, that’s when I would dive in to research that topic further. Added benefit: Come exam time you would have the necessary skills to write the exam.

7.  Write the SAS certification exam

These are the tips I followed that helped me write the actual exam.

  • Do not make assumptions
    The human brain is super cool. It lets us read garbled words like the words on the right. How does it do it? By making assumptions of course. But please don’t rely on the assumption making portion of your brain to help you during the certification exam. The exam expects you to read the question properly before responding.If you are like me, you will likely make up your mind about the correct response when you see the question. But, hold off on checking that box just yet. Read the question again and focus on what its really asking about. If the question asks about formats don’t assume you are being asked about the length statement
  • Look at all responses
    Read all responses before you come back & check the right one E.g. if there is a coding question and all the responses look similar, look carefully, there will be 3 responses that are missing something or have an error in them. Only 1 response will be correct & you can find the correct response by looking at each letter in the responses.
  • Pay attention to detail
    The exam questions can be challenging. They are designed to test you. Remember you are getting this badge by an international certifying body called SAS Institute. You have to prove that you have what it takes to be a Base SAS certified programmer. That means minute attention to detail. Reading every question once, then reading it again and during review time, going through all responses one more time was my winning strategy.
  • Use the Mark question option
    This is a good one in the event you are not 100% sure about the correct response. It’s a little box on the top right corner of your certification exam screen. What does it do? It parks specific questions you marked for review later. So you can go back at the end of the exam & focus on the questions you were not super sure about.

When my coworkers got wind of my newly minted badge, they started sending logos my way. I have to admit these follow my other passions outside of SAS. I hope you will forgive me while I go look at my shiny new SAS badge once again!  As always, I look forward to hearing from you on any of these tips you found helpful or others you’d like to pass along.




About Author

Charu Shankar

Technical Training Specialist

Charu Shankar has been a Technical Training Specialist with SAS since 2007. She started as a programmer, and has taught computer languages, business and English Language skills. At SAS, Charu teaches the SAS language, SQL, SAS Enterprise guide and Business Intelligence. She interviews clients to recommend the right SAS training to help them meet their needs. She is helping build a center for special needs kids in this project.

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