If you are preparing for the Regulatory Affairs Certification (RAC) Exam, then I bet you are quite nervous right now! I remember that feeling.
Currently I hold three RACs - US, Global Scope, and Drugs, so I've been where you are. In this post I put together some things that have helped me through the process, because it indeed is a process from the time you start preparing for the exam to the moment you leave the exam room. I hope this list helps you as much as it helped me.
- Study Materials: There are many study tools out there, but you have to know the kind of student you are before you start investing time and money into them. I know that I am the kind of student who can teach herself, I also know that I learn best from taking practice exams. So, what worked for me was purchasing a textbook from RAPS on the particular exam, and reading and studying the textbook. I also ordered practice exams, took them repeatedly and analyzed the answers - the correct answers and the incorrect answers, then went back to the textbook and read up on any areas I was having trouble with.
- Study Plan: Write out a study plan for yourself, keeping in mind the amount of time you have until the exam, and stick with it! I had a different length of time within which to study for the different exams so I tailored my plan to the time I was able to devote to it. Do at least something every day, even if you have a particularly busy day, get at least 15 minutes in anyways because you'll want to keep the information top of mind throughout your study period.
- Discipline: Get ready for about a million things to come up to prevent you from studying. Stick to your plan! You can always make the time to study if you want to. And you do want to because it is such an amazing feeling to get that "Congratulations" notice.
- Keep It Quiet: Against my better judgement I told many people that I was preparing for the RAC exam, and the only thing that did was add to the pressure and anxiety I was already feeling. All of a sudden, I had a group of people who I would have to follow up with and notify once the results came in. And in the event I didn't pass, I would have to relive that story multiple times. The thought of that alone added unnecessary stress. So, if at all possible, try to keep this information to yourself and only tell the people who may need to know, such as an employer if they are paying for the exam or if you have to take a day from work to take the exam. But don't worry, you don't have to keep it a secret forever, you can scream it out to the whole world once you pass, and trust me, you'll want to.
- Get There Early: This might sound like a no brainer, but the last thing you want to do is rush to the exam. I got to the testing location an hour early. Sounds like overkill but better be early than add stress to an already stressful situation.
- The First Question Stumped You: What happened to me will likely happen to you. You get to the exam all ready to go, you start reading the first question and you have no idea what it's asking, never mind what the answer is. Do NOT freak out. And certainly, do not let it psych you out. Expect this to happen, remain calm, go on to the next question, and get back to it at a later point in the exam (but do remember to get back to it!). Chances are, as you go through the rest of the exam, the answer to the question will come to you.
- Mind Game: Remember that these tests, as well as any other tests we have taken in our academic careers, are as much a test of how well we can control our thoughts and emotions while being able to recall information, in a stressful situation. Remember this point and do not let any obstacle, mishap, negative thought throw you off track while you are taking the exam. Keep. Moving. Forward.
- You Will Not Feel Good About It: The RAC exam is very challenging. And at the end of it you will certainly feel unsure about your performance. If you're anything like me, with any extra time that you'll have during the exam, you will try to go through the questions and count the number of questions you are sure you got right. Let me warn you right now, the number will be loooow. Please remember that how you feel at the end of the exam and the number you count up is not an accurate reflection of how you did.
- Let It Go: At the end of the exam, you will probably feel "blah". You won't feel relieved or satisfied with how you did, a part of you will wish you could have a chance to do it over, you will be replaying all the questions and answers in your head, you will want to get to your phone so you can google the questions you weren't sure about. But the most impprtant thing you can do at that time is spend a few minutes thinking about areas that you had difficulty with and brush up on them when you get home, not for the exam but for your own knowledge. Do nothing beyond that, do not second guess or rethink anything, just Let. It. Go., trust that you put in the hard work and that it will pay off.
- You Didn't Pass, So What?: It happens. Everyone knows you're a smart, capable person, this result does not change any of that. So, what do you do now? Acknowledge what happened, identify what you could have done better, get back to the books, and do it again! This time knowing that you are far more prepared for it. But in any event, face the fear of this potential outcome right this second and then let it go so that it doesn't stand in your way.
P.S. Check out the video version below!