Brookfield, Wisconsin, the home of the International Foundation, is a place that truly presents four seasons of weather in all of their contrasting splendor. Colorful fall is out and blustery winter is in. We had our first “polar vortex” subzero temperature plunge and several snowstorms before winter’s official start date and there are weeks of snowflakes and icicles ahead of us!
I learned in the Certified Employee Benefit Specialist (CEBS) course GBA 1 that one of the principles of risk management is avoidance—the technique I prefer to use with winter. Once it’s colder outside than the inside of nearby Pettit National Ice Center, I stay in as much as possible. Cozy pajamas are my afterwork uniform and nights out turn into nights in with hot cocoa.
This year, I’m giving winter the ultimate cold shoulder. I’m trying to finish my CEBS designation before the spring weather arrives. I’ve passed six exams so far and I’ll attempt my last two exams in the first testing quarter of 2017. I’m already a homebody in winter, so why not get something done while I’m snowed in? I’m so busy with CEBS that I’m not even catching cabin fever this year. Winter is the perfect time to CEBS!
Last summer I brought a module of my Learning Guide and my textbook to Bradford Beach on Lake Michigan without fail. If all goes well, I’ll enjoy a summer without books in my beach bag and I’ll be looking forward to attending the CEBS conferment ceremony and the 37th Annual ISCEBS Employee Benefits Symposium in Denver, Colorado.
Working on my CEBS has been a journey, that’s for sure! I’ve been creating my own study techniques and traditions as I go. Here are some of the things that have been working for me:
- Take just ten minutes a day for a more prepared you. I can almost always find ten minutes in my day to dedicate to studying for my CEBS exam. I set an alarm on my phone and concentrate only on studying. It’s surprising what I can get done in a short time when I’m fully focused! By the end of the week, I’ve made a lot of progress and prevented procrastination from creeping up on me.
- Establish your study workflow. The first time I took a CEBS exam, I wasn’t sure how to study for it. After passing a few exams, I’ve found a process for studying that works for me. Taking the online instructor-guided course keeps me moving through the materials. First, I read the assigned readings without taking any notes. I let all of the concepts flow through my mind. Then I do a deep reading of the Learning Guide and take notes, using my own words on each Key Concept. Next, I use materials from the online course site to make sure I understand everything. I read the instructor’s notes, compare them to my own and try to fill in any gaps in my knowledge. Finally, I use the online interactive games and quizzes to test myself and make sure I’ve mastered the materials. Take note of what works for you and keep doing it!
- Enlist help from your inner circle. Let’s face it—less time cooking, cleaning or shoveling snow means more time to study! Studying takes up a lot of time, especially the review process leading up to the exam. I was getting ready for GBA 3 as the holidays were approaching. This year, I let my dad and daughter decorate my house. It wasn’t just like how I deck the halls, but things were still merry and bright and it was easier on me! Delegate your dust bunnies to someone who loves you and ask for extra hugs when you’re nervous for your exam!
- Focus on what challenges you the most. There are always a few things in each module that still mystify my mind after multiple reviews. I write down the four or five terms or concepts that keep throwing me off with some notes. I briefly revisit my trouble spots in each module every day before the exam. I end up with a few sheets of paper that map out exactly what I need to focus on. I look them over one last time in the car before I walk into the testing center.
- Celebrate each success! After investing so many hours into studying, there’s no bigger adrenaline rush than clicking on the button to submit my exam at Prometric. Passing an exam requires some celebration because my CEBS support squad is just as elated as I am! My daughter and I go out to dinner whenever I pass an exam. I also take a few days off from studying to relax. Do something fun or special to reward yourself for each milestone you reach working toward your CEBS. I think you deserve it!
What’s your motivation for striving to get your CEBS? How do you get into study mode and celebrate when you pass an exam? I’d love to hear your tips—Please share in the comments below!
Are you ready to make some big progress and get the most out of your winter? Check out www.cebs.org to learn more.
Christine Vazquez, GBA
Manager, Professional Development at the International Foundation