Last year I was planning to take the Flex 3 exam and spent a little time preparing for it, but never ended up going. So in keeping with my 2011 initiatives, I decided to take the Flex 4 w/AIR exam (# 9A0-129) to become an Adobe Certified Expert. I’m proud to say that I passed the exam on March 31, 2011, with an 89% score. That said, I wanted to share a few of my thoughts and recommended resources…
Why I took the exam
I’ve never really been one to think that a piece of paper with your name on it makes you a better or smarter person. It really wasn’t about anything more than taking on a new challenge and self advancement. My day to day is spent working between Flex 3, PHP and more recently Groovy on Grails, but I haven’t been able to regularly tinker with any Flex 4 stuff, so that was my challenge. As for the self advancement, I have probably spent more time actually reading through the LiveDocs in the last month than I have in the last two years. In a world where you can google a quick solution to just about everything, it takes some level of commitment to read the fine print.
How I feel now
Amazing!!! Without sounding like a cheesy infomercial, I feel a bit more confident. The feedback I have received from management has been extremely rewarding. Currently I am the only Adobe Certified Expert at the office, but I think it’s raised the level of expectation for the team. Any time you set a goal and achieve it, there are good things to come. I’m looking forward to seeing what’s in store!
How I studied
Adobe LiveDocs – This will become your best friend. Be sure to read the overview of the exam and grab a copy of the study guide pdf from here. Use the study guide to stay on track and cover the right material. I found myself over studying in certain areas, and got back on track when I reviewed the topics on the study guide. I literally went line by line and checked off each topic once I had a good understanding of it.
Attest – Pay the $20 for the full version. Overall I’d say this is probably the only practical testing resource available for you to practice your test taking with. I had issues with a couple of the questions, but the Attest team was quick to respond and had an update to the app in a couple of days. Aside from the mini and full exams, they also provide direct links to the topics from the official study guide. This was a huge time saver!
Study Buddy – Find a partner and “dosey doe”. Part of my success on the exam was due to studying with a friend. I convinced my colleague and good friend Aaron Benson to study with me. A great exercise was when we both created our own practice quiz based on material in the LiveDocs. Since we were both trying to outwit each other, there were a few pretty obscure questions. Google docs was helpful to put the tests together and share them.
Set a date – My goal was to get certified before my baby is born (which will be any day now). I started studying in late February and decided that March 31st would have to do. I think I scheduled my exam about 2 weeks beforehand, but my advice is to just schedule it when you start studying. It’s too easy to “forget” to schedule it, or to get a little scared when the time comes. I’m pretty sure the testing center I used allowed for rescheduling exams up to a day in advance, so if you aren’t totally prepared just reschedule it. The real point here is to set a deadline on this, just like you would any other project.
Performance Enhancing Drugs – Yep you heard it! The 3 key ingredients are sleep, ginko biloba, and on the day of the test have a peppermint candy. Sleeping is obvious, but be sure the last thing you read at night says something along the lines of SkinnableContainer or LayoutBase. Ginko Biloba is believed to improve memory and focus. I started taking it about 2 weeks before the exam, I guess it paid off but you don’t have to buy into it like I did. Now the peppermint is the ticket! Or at least my Wife likes to think so. She literally gave me a peppermint in the morning and said to have it during the exam. I guess that paid off too. Aside from the peppermint, she was pretty accommodating with my study schedule, so don’t forget to thank your significant other for their patience while you are spending the night at the library or a cafe!
Good luck on your exam!!!