No, doctors don’t hate me.
In all seriousness, there is a simple trick you can use to beat the CAE exam. Or rather, to pass it. That trick is to set yourself up for success as best you can. Everyone has different needs, so I will just tell you what I did that helped with my own success.
I reviewed the functional area of the exam to see which I had significant experience with and which I did not know so well, and decided to take a couple courses to shore up my education. I did not have much knowledge of finance and accounting, for example, so I took ASAE’s 18-hour course on this topic. That gave me enough knowledge to be able to do well on the exam, and has also helped with my accounting and finance classes in my current MBA program. I am far from being an accountant, but at least I can talk the talk and more or less know what I am saying.
I also took the week-long Certificate Program in Association Management class. This is pitched as something for the neophyte, but a number of us had had many years in management and other fields, and our association experience ranged from a year to more than 20 years. It was a good high-level look at the basic parts of an association. This was a 27.5-hour course.
Note a pattern here. I took classes to broaden my knowledge and they also counted toward the hours needed to apply for the CAE exam.
The bit of education I found to be an invaluable resource was the three-day CAE Kickoff class. The material itself is not terribly difficult, and in fact we did not go through a lot of the material in terms of specific questions. Where this class was a big help was in learning the focus of the test, how we should approach different questions, and what the various CAE-specific terms were. Knowing these things is indispensable. For example, coming from the corporate world, I was surprised to learn that the CEO is the Chief Elected Officer, who is the chairman of the board or equivalent. In addition, the CSE is the Chief Staff Executive, or president, essentially the same as the chief executive in the corporate world. You can see how it gets dicey.
After the CAE Kickoff, I studied everything but spent most of my time on my weaker areas, such as governance models and finance, as I said before. Shortly before the exam date, I took the practice test. It didn’t go so well.
…to be continued