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It’s Not Just About the Answers: The Importance of Learning How to Take Safety Certification Exams

It’s Not Just About the Answers: The Importance of Learning How to Take Safety Certification Exams

It’s Not Just About the Answers: The Importance of Learning How to Take Safety Certification Exams

Anyone who is about to sit for a Board of Certified Safety Professionals (BCSP) exam is going to experience some anxiety. But as safety instructor Camille Oakes, CSP, CIT, OHST, SMS, will tell you, there’s an added layer of anxiety when it comes to passing notoriously difficult safety certification exams.

That’s why it’s so important to learn how to take these tests, not just the answers.

“When I was pursuing these certifications from the beginning of my career there were a lot of options,” she says, “SPAN Certification Exam Prep is the best of the best. I hear from so many people that they would not have passed these exams without going through these classes and learning how to sit for these exams.”

But what exactly does that mean? Oakes, who teaches the 1-3-day immersive prep workshops, discusses what sets SPAN Certification Exam Prep apart, and why there’s no substitute for learning how to take safety certification exams from a good instructor.

What does it mean to learn how to take a safety certification exam?

My classes are not just test prep in the way that you would think about it: Study the material, learn the answers, take the tests over and over again. That’s a large part of it. But so much more of what I teach students is the mental preparation that goes into what sitting for an exam is like. It’s also about understanding things like what time of day a student is going to be most ready to take a test. What does a student need to do the night before, the week before How to physically take the test. Do I go through and answer every single one? What do I do if I get to a question I don’t know? Getting people comfortable, getting students to mentally prepare, is how I teach my courses.

Why do you feel it’s so important to learn safety certification exam prep from an instructor as opposed to self-guided study?

It’s different to learn from an instructor. To get feedback in the room—whether it's virtual or in person—to have that interaction between students and between the instructor and students, you learn significantly more. We can only know so much, but to have that group of people together increases the knowledge 10-fold.

How does it involve feedback and participation?

My teaching style is incredibly relaxed. I am a facilitator, not a teacher. The people in safety have broad experience, and if we are learning together the amount that we take away becomes all the more. My teaching style involves everyone, asking questions and having other people answer. For example, if a student has experience with cranes, I’m going to ask that student to talk to the rest of the class, who may know nothing about cranes, to talk to and teach the class about cranes. Active participation is key.

Can you talk more about interactivity in your safety certification exam prep classes?

Sure. I focus on collaboration. I do a lot of breakouts, conversations, and experience sharing. I build up the group. Students leave that class as a cohesive group together and a lot of people have made longtime friends from just spending these three days together.

What are your favorite topics to teach?

Everything training related. When I sat for my CSP (Certified Safety Professional) exam 14 years ago, I thought, “I know a lot about this, I don’t need to study it.” Well, that was not the case. There’s an entire science behind it. I love talking to people and seeing them learn that because good safety training saves people’s lives. I also really enjoy teaching the ethics portion. Where we talk about situations in the life of a safety professional. Just as examples, maybe someone asked a professional to not put something on an OSHA log, or not mark something on an inspection. I really love teaching and talking about that and hearing stories from other professionals and having students discuss those together. 

What do you find safety certification students are most nervous about?

Math. It’s always math. They’re afraid of math. We try and practice the math, and at least half of my students are less nervous. Students are also nervous about their experience, and even sitting for the test. It’s almost like an impostor syndrome, where students feel like, “Do I deserve to be here? Do I know what I’m talking about. Can I really even pursue this?” I love taking them through to a place where they feel like, “Yes, I can.”

What motivates you as a safety certification instructor?

I have built my career on helping other safety professionals get better. Every time I teach a class I see the fear in people’s faces when they start. They’re worried that they’re not going to pass, worried that they’re not good enough. That their experience is too concentrated, or too broad. You see that on Day 1. But by Day 3, you see the relaxation. What motivates me is when I get the responses from students that say, “I can’t believe I did it, thank you so much. I didn’t think I could do it.” Those little moments, that happen quite frequently, is what brings me back to teach more classes.

SPAN Certification Exam Prep. Pass the BCSP Certification Exams. Study methods designed for professionals, including workshops, workbooks, and online practice tests. Click to learn more!SPAN Certification Exam Prep. Pass the BCSP Certification Exams. Study methods designed for professionals, including workshops, workbooks, and online practice tests. Click to learn more!
February 14, 2024

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