How to Prepare for the Certified Welding Inspector Exam, Part 5: Make a Plan (Sections 2 & 3)

This blog post is a continuation of last week’s post titled, How to Prepare for the CWI Exam, Part 5: Make a Plan. In last week’s post we covered Self- Assessment, the first section of the three part study plan recommended for potential test takers. In this post, we will review Sections 2 and 3.

Section 1: Self-Assessment
Section 2: Creating a Routine
Section 3: Adapting

Section 2: Creating a Routine

According to the Center for Disease control, only 35% of Americans adhere to a regular workout routine. A much larger percentage of American adults know that they should be working out, and many of them begin exercise regimes again and again, only to give up a few weeks into the process. Their lack of success can be attributed to three basic factors; lack of a regular routine, lack of tracking, and lack of manageable goals. Interestingly, many potential CWI test takers abandon their attempts to prepare for the CWI exam for the very same reasons.

Using the example of a workout routine, potential CWI test takers should develop a study routine based on the information gathered from the self-assessment. It is usually most effective to aside set aside a regular study time during the week. For example, you may decide to wake up one hour earlier on Tuesdays and Thursdays to put in a good hour of study time, or you might opt to study during your hour-long lunch break every Monday and Friday. The key here is consistency. You will know exactly when to begin and complete your studying for the day. This routine should follow some basic guidelines:

• Study when you can concentrate. Setting a schedule where you study every night after working 10 hours, making dinner, managing the kids etc. may not be a very good idea. You might find that after such a long day it is difficult to concentrate, and that the image of a warm bed is more appealing than reading 50 pages of text.
• Set up a good location. When setting up a routine, the location of the studying is just as important as the schedule. Your study location should be clean, quiet, well-lit, with a comfortable temperature, and away from distractions. Trying to study in a noisy lunchroom or in front of your TV may be counterproductive.
• Stick to the plan. If you know you are scheduled to study at a particular time, you can avoid scheduling other events during that time frame. Life however doesn’t stop for the CWI exam. There will be times where you have to reschedule your study time. In these cases, immediately schedule a new session to make up the missing time. Don’t allow missing sessions to pile up.

How long/ many days a week do you need to study?

The answer to this question will be based on your self-assessment. If through your self-assessment you determined that you needed 100 hours of study time to prepare for the CWI, and you have 25 weeks before your exam, then you know that you should be putting in at least 4, if not 5 hours of studying per week. There really is little difference if you do the studying at night, or in the morning, or during your lunch break. Additionally, you can do it all at once on the weekends, or a little every day. The key is that you set a regular schedule that fluctuates minimally, and that you follow the guideline above.

Setting a study routine, on its own, is not enough. The physical act of tracking sessions by writing down how long you studied, what you covered, and where you left off provides several key benefits:

• You can’t cheat yourself. The act of writing down this information makes it more difficult for you to cut corners in your own study process. It is easy to skip to the next chapter at the start of a new study session instead of finishing those two remaining pages. Writing down, and planning time to read those two pages makes this more difficult because a plan has been made and time has been allocated.
• If there is an emergency, or a significant life event that necessitates you putting the CWI studying aside for a few weeks or months, tracking your studying progress will allow you to pick up where you left off without the stress of trying to remember all the details.
• Tracking study sessions will also ensure that you have enough time remaining before the exam to cover the necessary materials. This constant analysis of what you have covered and what is left to cover will ensure you are prepared.

Section 3: Adapting

This last benefit leads us to Section 3 of developing a study plan: Adapting. The German military strategist Helmuth von Moltke famously said “No battle plan survives contact with the enemy.” Plans in almost any endeavor are absolutely crucial for success. Potential test takers that do no plan ahead when preparing for the CWI exam are placing themselves at a significant disadvantage. But plans change, circumstances change, and you change. If you can’t adapt to these changing conditions, then the plans which were advantage at the beginning of the process, can become a hindrance.

For example, imagine that you had originally allocated five hours to studying to welding symbols. When you actually started studying that section you realized you needed double that amount of time. What do you do? Do you try to breeze through the section in five hours? Do you add a study session?

Your ability to adjust to changing situations will help you adjust your plan. Remember, a plan is just a guideline. Your plans will change throughout the process. Try to be flexible. Adapt.