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August 11, 2004

How I'm studying for the CAE exam

As you read in my previous post about how I arrived at my decision to sit for the CAE exam, I'm testing at my first opportunity. I have only five and a half years of association experience (the minimum requirement is five years) mostly at the manager level, so I feel I'm in need of some rigorous preparation for the exam. Here's a quick explanation of how I'll prepare myself for the exam.

ASAE recommends reading three books to get ready for the exam. As you can see in the sidebar of this page, as of this date I'm currently reading Professional Practices in Association Management, edited by John B. Cox, CAE. I plan to read all three recommended works at least once.

I hope to finish my reading by October 13th because I'll begin taking The Center for Association Leadership's Fall CAE Study Course on October 14th. This is a four day immersion cram course for the CAE exam that is in session over the weekend in Washington, DC. I made some calls to graduates of last year's Fall CAE Study Course, and the people I talked to highly recommended it.

However, I wrestled quite a bit with my decision on classroom preparation for the exam. A number of friends and colleagues have gone through the US Chamber of Commerce's Institute for Organization Management. It's a four year program that meets one week per year. Ideally, you go through all four years with the same group of people.

Choosing a classroom CAE prep course was difficult. I was encouraged to attend Institute, but I really wanted to take the CAE exam this year. After talking to people who had gone through the Fall CAE Study Course, I elected to go with it. It was mostly a matter of time for me. Another factor that came into play was that the Study Course provides a practice CAE exam, which as far as I can tell, Institute doesn't offer. But those who have graduated from the Institute and those who are currently in it speak very highly of it. So who knows? Maybe I'll attend Institute after I've earned my CAE.

Once I complete the Fall Study Course, I'll probably cuddle up with the recommended and suggested readings and just try to absorb as much as I can.

Here's where I hope you seasoned CAEs will chime in: leave a comment with your study tips.

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