Wednesday, 29 October 2014 08:35

4 Tips for Preparing for the Radon Certification Exam

Prepare exam 3 200 x 134Over the years of teaching radon certification courses, students have asked me “What do I need to know to pass the certification exams?”  My answer has always been that it is more important to prepare for “life after exam” than to become fixated on the independent certification exam.  However, after 20 some odd years helping students succeed in the radon industry I also realize they cannot begin their radon careers until they clear the initial hurdle of passing the exam, so I thought I would share a few tips for those who want to become certified in the radon industry

There are four primary things a student can to do to improve their chances of passing either the radon measurement or radon mitigation certification exam.  These go beyond content areas and more to the mindset you should have when preparing for the exam.

Think like an exam writer

The questions are written as multiple choice questions so there should be one correct answer with three other wrong answers.  Try and write a question yourself, perhaps about the Moon. 

The moon is_____:

  1. very hot on 10% of its surface
  2. a round body orbiting the sun
  3. a spherical mass that exerts a gravitational pull on the earth
  4. made of green cheese.

There should be one correct answer and three wrong answers written as detractors.  Writing one or two detractors is fairly easy, but the fourth is tougher and typically is almost nonsensical.  In our example “d” – the “green cheese” answer is obviously an easy one to toss out.  So find the crazy one and eliminate it by crossing it off in the exam booklet, then move on to the others.  Now you are down to one out of three which isn’t bad odds.  Then look for the one that may be correct in part but not totally correct.  Yes the moon is a round or spherical object but it does not orbit around the sun.  It orbits around the earth, so answer “b” goes away.  Now we have 50/50 odds -- even better.  Now, look for an answer that actually would test your technical knowledge or perhaps have an impact on you.  That would be answer “c” regarding gravitational pull.  There you go! 

That may be an easy example, but it is typical that you can eliminate at least two answers.  Take your best guess and answer the question and come back to it after you run through all the questions.  Make a note on the inside cover of the exam so you can come back to it and reconsider your answer before turning it in. 

Questions need to have definitive and answers that can be referenced.

Exam writers want to have answers to questions that are defensible.  Therefore, questions are often written around protocols or involve numbers that are either stated or can be calculated with easy math. 

These questions are often derived from the radon protocols directly by starting with an answer and then building a question around it.  If you learn in the course that radon measurements are to be a minimum 20 inches off the floor then that is like a gold nugget for an exam writer.  Remember those when you run across them.

Also, don’t be afraid of the math.  Sure there are some math questions but they are simple (no calculus!).  Just straight elementary school math.  These are great for you, because there is only one answer and no need to interpret grey areas.  When you read the question, don’t look at the answers before you do your own calculations.  After you have your answer you will see one of the four that corresponds to your result without any need for interpretation or guesswork (in other words, no green cheese to worry about).

The best advice is to read the protocols that are included with the coursework.  The course is not a recitation of the protocols, which would be BORING but are based upon them.  Absorb and learn during the course.  Download the protocols and read them, and as you do spot the definitive areas that you would write a question around, make a note of it.

Do No Harm

Certainly proper radon measurement or mitigation practices are important, but perhaps more so is to insure there are no negative consequences of following improper procedures.

In the case of radon mitigation, you may be focused on getting the indoor radon levels below a certain guidance, level such as 4 pCi/L or 200 BQ/M3.  However, if you do it at the expense of backdrafting a combustion appliance and killing your client with carbon monoxide that is not a good thing.  So look at these possible answers from a standpoint of “doing no harm.” 

In the case of radon measurement, think of those things that would give you a false reading and cause the person to take the wrong action, such as not mitigating their house when they should, or spending money for mitigation when they don’t need to.  Many of the aspects of the Indoor Radon Abatement Act were based upon consumer protection of homeowners spending money unnecessarily due to poor testing.  So, as you go through the course think of things that would have negative results for the consumer.  In other words, think from the standpoint of a government employee or consumer advocate. 

Study on Your Own

Do not assume, regardless of the trainer that you can listen to the course material and assume that you will be able to pass the exam.  The exam is not onerous.  On the other hand, it is not trivial either.  Go back through the material and constantly ask yourself what is the impact of what is being said.  Think about it in your own terms.

In our experience, it is more productive to sit for the exam after you have had a chance to digest and review the material.  That is why after sixteen years of giving classroom courses, we went to an online course.  This provided a lot of benefits to the student.  A key one was a ton of practice questions to verify their comprehension and the ability to go back and repeat portions of the course.  This made a huge difference in both comprehension and passing rates.  The distance based format also allowed the incorporation of guest presenters to get some alternate approaches to the same issue.  And lastly, everyone’s learning rate is different so the online courses we offer allow you to learn and repeat at your own pace and there is no time limit.

So, regardless if you take advantage of our distance base courses with hands-on components and mentoring, or a classroom course, take your time and know that you have options for taking the exam when you are ready.  The NRPP exams are available at testing centers nationwide.  If possible, give yourself a few days to go through protocols; and if you are taking our course go through the review questions at least one more time.

We hope this helps a bit.  Don’t feel you are alone.  If you need some additional help on a topic in the radon certification course, just call us and we will walk you through it.  After all, we want you to succeed with the exam as well as afterwards.  We don’t teach to the exam, but we do teach what is important and the exam addresses those same issues.

To get a better idea about how the radon courses work, check this video out:  Link to "Why CERTI Training?"Why CERTI Training?"

 

Doug Kladder
Director

Read 49846 times Last modified on Tuesday, 02 February 2016 13:32
Doug Kladder

Director of Center for Environmental Research & Technology, Inc. (CERTI).