CWAP-402 Exam Prep – Part 6 – Next Stop: The Exam – The Final Preparations…

In this final instalment of my prep for the CWAP-402 exam, I’ll be explaining the final stages of mental and physical preparation for the exam. Time to be yourself.

It’s 2 days out from the exam. At this stage, if you’ve been following my preparation steps, then there’s not very much more you can do.

You know what you know. The key now is to avoid turning things you KNOW you know into THINK you know or worse, DON’T know.

This may be a long read, but to me, it’s the most important part of the prep, so worth the read…

T minus 2: 2 days to go

Run through both practice exams, all 60 questions. Take one test in the morning, one in the evening. Pace yourself, nice and easy. You should comfortably be handling the questions by now.

Don’t refer to the study guide unless you get the sudden urge to check something. You need to let your mind tell you what it needs – listen and it will talk.

Don’t do anything stressful or crazy, try and have a quiet, relaxed day. Don’t drink alcohol, go to bed at a decent time. While trying to sleep, tell yourself your mental stories. Visualise everything that comes to mind. Take time and really make it a crazy, funny image.

T minus 1: The day before

Another stress free day – if you have to work, go to work and work as normal. (In my case, I’ll be starting work at 8am, have a full day and meetings until 7pm, so no chance of me doing anything CWAP…).

I recommend you don’t do any study the day before the exam. If you don’t know it by now, you don’t know it. If you try to cram more facts in now, there will be a problem. The problem is that new facts come at a cost. Your brain needs to drop some of the things you KNOW you know into the THINK you know, in the expectation of taking on more KNOW you know. Instead, you just add more THINK you know. Some of them may even get dropped into DON’T know – you simply erase it from memory.

Best to let your brain rest. If you need to check something, your brain will suddenly stick something in your head and you will have to check. Is AC_VI cw_min 3 or 7? Quick, check the Study Guide, look it up, put the guide down. Your brain will absorb it. If it doesn’t happen, don’t worry. It’s cooking on a low flame in the back of your mind.

Don’t drink alcohol, eat well, don’t argue with your family, don’t watch awful tv. Avoid TV altogether if you can.

I haven’t ever watched a British soap opera. Avoid garbage TV the night before an exam. The last thing you need when you are trying to remember exam facts, is to be thinking about some pointless, insignificant plot line from a trash TV show.

Go to bed at a decent time, lay back and take your mind on a journey. Run through your stories, and imagine every fact, every detail, every item from your study journey. Visualise your brain dump paper. See yourself answering questions, the way you did in the practice test.

Don’t think of passing the exam. Put it out of your mind. Instead, commit to reading and understanding every question. Feel good about the challenge. Feel good, you KNOW you know.


On the day of the Exam:

Get up, have breakfast. Be happy. Feel like a champ. Get your bits together, throw in the study guide and head off.

Arrive at the centre, half an hour before the exam. You’ll have to check in.

Once done, take a seat. If offered a drink, take it. Go to the bathroom if you need to. (I always get nervous and go to the bathroom – even now, I just do…)

Sit and breathe calmly. Don’t pick up leaflets and read them – now’s not the time to be filling your head with distractors. Just r-e-l-a-x. If any last minute messages come from the brain, you have the study guide for a quick look up. I sometimes pick up one or two questions this way.

Enter the testing room….

Sit at the table, go through the exam rules with the admin. When they leave, take a moment to make yourself comfortable.

Now, take the pen and brain dump EVERYTHING you can onto the paper.

There is no time limit for you to start the exam. You can take as much time as you want before you hit Start. Use this time to get your ideas onto the sheet. This dumps what you KNOW you know – now your brain can start concentrating on what you THINK you know. And remember, the exam is passed or failed on what you THINK you know.

The Exam

You have 120 minutes to answer 60 questions and there are no points for partially correct answers. It’s now possible to review the questions at the end of the exam, which is great news.

The questions are well written – if you know the answer you are fine, if you are dubious, there’s enough info in the question to make you doubt yourself. I don’t want to give away exam writing secrets, however it’s fair to say, there are elements of questions that appeal to the DON’T know you know. I can say that the questions are fair. If you know, you will get it right.

You WILL get some questions wrong. Accept this. If it happens early on, it can panic you – don’t let it.

Here’s a couple of things I do:

  • Keep an eye on the clock – I want to have 30 questions done in the first 45-50 minutes. If I am slower, I know I need to think about picking up pace. If I am faster, perhaps I am rushing.
  • As with the practice exams, I cover the question (with the plastic sheet) and read the answers – then read the question from the last part upwards. If I am not sure of the answer, doing it this way helps me work it out.
  • I keep a tally – a score, how many questions I KNOW I got right. If my score looks good, I am OK, if it starts to drop I spend extra time reading questions. I write the numbers from 1 to 60 across the top of my worksheet. If I know I got a question right I’ll tick it. If not sure, I’ll put a dot. If I simply don’t know, I’ll put an x. Use these marks to help you when you review the questions at the end.
  • The pass mark is 70%*, so you can get 18 questions wrong and still pass  – treat this like a budget, you are allowed up to 18 wrong answers…
  • If I really don’t know, I go for the answer that feels right. I don’t waste precious time on questions I simply can’t answer. I DON’T know. Guess and move on.

As you get towards the end of the exam, you will feel one of three things:

  • You know you are doing badly – in this case, it’s still a positive – it just means you were unprepared and need to study more. The exam will be a good experience, and tell you what you need to go back and study. People fail because they are not ready.
  • You feel you are doing OK, but not sure – keep focus, every question is precious, My heart breaks when I hear people fail by one or two questions. If you have time, focus on the questions a little longer.
  • You feel good – don’t be complacent. I have never reached the end of an exam knowing I have passed. Don’t rush the last few questions.

Once you complete the final question, review your answers. Look at your score sheet and review the questions you are not sure about – the ones with a dot. Work through them carefully. Once done, review the ones you marked with an x – if you work out an answer, change it, otherwise leave as is – your gut first guess is often correct. The danger here is that you will guess something else and turn right answers into wrong.

When you feel you are done, you are done. Resist the temptation to pick further through your answers.

Finish the test.


The result

Immediately you will know: pass or fail.

Fail ? It’s OK, it really is. Many people fail the first go at an exam. Don’t feel bad, don’t let your boss give you a hard time, and… DON’T GIVE UP. Get back on the horse.

Pass ? You’re a champ. Now you are validated. Walk tall. Take it in. Congratulate yourself. Tell the world ! Take another step forward, I’ll be waiting for you with the other CWNEs !


Thanks to Mark Edwards   and Matt Frederick   for offering correction to the exam process.


Points to note:

(*) CWNT’s need to pass the exam with 80%

There are no pictures in this post as I do not want to add any visual images to your mental inventory at this point. It’s up to you to put these tips into your brain your way…

If this series has helped you to pass a CWNP exam I would love to hear from you.


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