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February 23, 2005

Tip #3: Back to Basics

Here's tip #3 in the series of 13 to help you prepare for the CAE exam. Tell a friend about this tip.

If you're studying for the CAE exam you might feel tempted to study up on some current association management topics in Association Management magazine or the Journal of Association Leadership. You'll be a better professional for doing so, but it probably won't help you in passing the CAE exam. Personally, I did read up on a few topics outside of the traditional recommended reading, and I might have gotten another 5-10 questions right -- at the most -- by reviewing some recent articles on the field (I'll post a list of articles along with some other study aids in a future tip). If you choose to read some recent literature, consider the following:

Conventional wisdom would suggest that the most recent material you'll find tested on the exam is at least one year old because of the lead time necessary to get questions written, tested by the psychometician and accepted by the CAE commission. With that said, if you have the time to read recent literature, I would concentrate on diversity issues, knowledge based organizations, Sarbanes-Oxley and privacy issues. I was surprised that there wasn't a HIPAA question on the exam.

But you should really stick to the basics if you want maximum effective studying time.

  1. Association Law Handbook
  2. Professional Practices in Association Management
  3. Principles of Association Management

If you read these three books carefully twice, I don't think you could possibly fail. Don't waste your time reading about the latest business fads that associations are adopting, especially if you're in a crunch for time.

Perhaps because of its sleight physical stature, another temptation you might be feeling is to skip the Ernstthal book, Principles of Association Management. Don't do it. Do yourself a favor and read it cover to cover. It's not that long, but I can think of at least two questions from the exam that you'll be able to hit out of the park because they come directly out of that book.

A sidebar on memorization. Most of the CAE exam questions are not straight definitions, but some are. My strategy for the exam was to nail the questions asking for the "black and white" definition type questions, because I knew I could answer them with a great deal of confidence. Based on taking some practice tests, I knew the situational questions were more subjective and would be tougher to answer with 100% certainty. Also, knowing the definitions for key terms will help you indirectly on the scenario questions.

In summary, stick to the three books bulleted above to make the best use of your preparatory time and memorize key terms.


Karen KellyThomas said...

Thanks for the tip. At this hour. this is too many steps for this old woman to try this blog thing...ah well.

Pressing on to the exam in a few hours.

Sarah Lawler said...

thanks for this info on the CAE certification. I am in the process of gathering up enough credits to apply. I think I saw something in an email about a session at the upcoming ASAE meeting.

Sarah Lawler
American Association of Community Colleges