Preparing for the Associate Entry Exam
There are a number of ways you can prepare for the IEMA Associate Entry Exam. Here are some ideas to get you started, acknowledging that everyone has a different learning style, and the way candidates approach the exam varies between individuals.
Before the Exam
Put time aside to prepare yourself and to do some research. We recommend that you spend up to 80 hours refreshing your background knowledge prior to sitting the exam. The amount of time you will need will vary, and will depend on how knowledgeable and familiar you are with the IEMA Standard for Associate Membership.
Review the Standard for Associate Membership. The learning outcomes and assessment criteria provide you with the foundation for all of the questions in the exam. Reading up around each of these topics will be good preparation. The Prescribed Content will also be a useful indicator of things you need to have knowledge and understanding about. Remember, there will be a question in the exam covering each of the learning outcomes, so if there are any areas that you are less familiar with then do spend some time researching these.
Where to research? Have a look at the useful information sources listed here – it’s not exhaustive but will give you a good start.
Read the full Specification. It will provide you with a sample exam paper for you to have a practice. It will also provide you with examples of the styles of questions.
Practice! You will be given 2.5 hours in which to complete the exam, which equates to about 15 minutes for each question.
Try and get some practice of:
- 1) preparing an outline structure for your answer;
- 2) making sure you get the key points down;
- 3) developing and expanding your answer; and
- 4) final edits. In the exam, you will be able to edit your answers onscreen, and move forwards and backwards between questions.
Study Tips for the Exam
Preparation is key. Be realistic and give yourself plenty of time to study, and don’t leave it until the last minute. Set out a timetable/revision plan for your study, and organise your study so that you find a balance that is achievable. IEMA suggests that you spend up to 80 hours on self study, depending on your knowledge. Once you have registered to take the Associate Entry Exam, and have received your confirmation e-mail you will then have 28 days in which to complete it. Bear this in mind. You may want to start your studies before even registering for the exam.
Organise your study space. Make sure you are comfortable and have enough room to spread out your notes. Try and remove any distractions, but ensure that you have everything you need to hand.
What is your learning style? Make use of your learning style when you revise, do you like to summarise your notes as mindmaps, diagrams, or flow charts or do you prefer to read your notes out loud? Some people learn best by copying out notes and rewriting the key points from memory.
Practice! Make sure that you are familiar with the full Specification which will provide you with a sample exam paper. Practice answering questions and give yourself time limits, remembering to concentrate on the structure of your answer. Ensure the key points are made, and then expand your answer, finally review your answer and edit as required.
Active Revision. Check your learning by explaining your answers to others. Reduce your notes to essential points and use these to make memory aids on cards, using a separate card for each topic. Carry these cards with you, and ask friends or family to test you. If any of your colleagues are also planning to sit the Associate Entry Exam, why not study together? You may be able to use your knowledge to help them, and vice versa.
Look after yourself. Take a break, set yourself goals and reward yourself. Make sure you mark progress on your timetable/revision plan. Get some exercise which will increase your stamina, help sleep and reduce stress.
Eat! Foods such as nuts, berries and fish are brain food. Look after yourself and make sure you take time out to eat healthily. Try and keep a check on the amount of tea and coffee that you drink, too much caffeine can increase your anxiety and induce insomnia. If you are organised in your learning you will not need to cram the night before, get as much sleep as you can the night before.
During the Exam...
- Ensure that you are taking the exam where you will not be interrupted or have any distractions, turn your mobile phone off and make sure that others are aware that you need quiet and are taking the exam. Once you have started the exam, you have 2.5 hours in which to complete it. Even if you log out of the system, the timer will continue.
- Once you have started the exam, read through all of the questions and then prioritise the order that you will answer them in. You can move forwards and backwards through the answers on the screen. You may want to start on the question that you feel most confident about. If there is more than one part to the question, as you answer, the connections you make about the topic will remind you of information that relates to additional questions.
- Look at the descriptor word in the question – is it asking you to ‘outline’ or ‘explain’?
- Keep an eye on the time, and use your time well. There is no word limit on the answers. You should spend about 15 minutes on each question.
- Plan time at the end of the exam to re-read your responses and to make corrections or amendments as needed.
Finally, good luck!