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Failed Certification Exam 2xs

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Contributor
Posts: 39

Failed Certification Exam 2xs

Please help!  I have taken the SAS Base Programming Certification Exam 2xs.  The first time I failed at around 50%.  For that test, I prepped by reading through both the Programming 1 and Programming 2 books from the in-person classes, as well as the online tutorials and anything from My Training associated with that I could get my hands on.  I also used SAS EG to practice to make sure I was understanding concepts as they were coded/programmed and submitted (not knowing that there was NO way to use the software during the test).  And as embarrassing as this is, I ended up leaving the exam midway through to throw up in the bathroom because I was so upset/stressed that it wasn't what I expected (I returned to finish but kind of lost all hope).

 

For my second attempt, I purchased the Base Programming Prep Guide, which is riddled with errors.  I failed the second attempt by 1%.  I felt more knowledgeable going into the test, but still wary.  This time, I read the prep guide from front to back, did all the quizzes, and also looked online for more sample questions.  In terms of sample tests/questions/quizzes, the questions and answers all become redundant and I do not seem to be learning anything from taking them other than memorizing those that I've seen multiple times.

 

I am so incredibly discouraged.  My brain hurts.  I'm not sure how to make the concepts absorb in my mind more than what I've done.  I honestly like using SAS for my job, find it extremely useful, and think in a short amount of time (less than a year, in which I also broke my wrist and had surgery and couldn't use my hand for ~ 2.5 months) I've become a prolific programmer.  I'm excited to see how I can progress in my ulitization and understanding of SAS for my job.  But, I just cannot seem to get around passing this exam.  Anyone who has suggestions/thoughts/advice, and anywhere I could find NEW questions and answers (not the same ones I've seen over and over), I would appreciate it more than I can express.

Super User
Super User
Posts: 7,392

Re: Failed Certification Exam 2xs

Thats a difficult one.  The only true way to learn is to practice - in my opinion.  I know how you feel, I have never been good at tests - that whole memorise a load of stuff your unlikely to ever need.  I myself took the SAS test many years back and failed, only by a small amount, and I never went back to it.  But then that is me and education in a nutshell, never worked for me.  These forums are a great way to learn various techniques and see various different approaches to coding, they provide a lot of code to show how functions and such like work.  There is a site whish I use for GTL/SGplot:

http://blogs.sas.com/content/graphicallyspeaking/

 

Lots of code on there for graphs.  Also, any paper by LexJansen tends to be quite good.  Other than that, well there are people that can train you, from memory Amadeus do SAS training.  Personally I would just practice.  And yes, its very annoying not having access to at least the SAS help for the test, I mean does anyone remember every function syntax, I know I don't, just the ones I use regularly and look up any others if I need to.  

 

Hope that helps. 

Contributor
Posts: 39

Re: Failed Certification Exam 2xs

Unfortunately there are no graph questions on cert exam (nor are they covered in the programming 1 and 2 classes. i've learned all about graphs from googling about them and sas forums)
Super User
Posts: 17,758

Re: Failed Certification Exam 2xs

If it hasn't worked before, perhaps consider changing directions.

 

You say you failed, but which component? They used to break it out by sections, is there a certain section you are better on, or a section that needs a lot of work compared to others?

 

I would suggest coding as much as possible, you can get SAS UE and then take the first e-course from SAS for free here, it should be the same as your course notes. Additionally, you can answer questions on here. It's probably one of the best ways to develop your skill.

 

Also, I'm not sure where you work, but certification has always only been a component in hiring and job advancement.  I've met certified programmers who can't code at all, because they need detailed specifications, and others, not certified who can code circles.

 

I only have my Base Certification and almost failed as well, since I rarely ever import data from text files and the exam was highly on importing raw data files.

 

 

Super User
Super User
Posts: 7,392

Re: Failed Certification Exam 2xs

Thats a very good point Reeza, the import of text files was one I had trouble with.  Am used to XML, delimited, XPTs etc. so structured data.  But some industries use it I suppose.

Contributor
Posts: 39

Re: Failed Certification Exam 2xs

I have SAS EG, but honestly, I code EVERYTHING. I started doing that when I realized the SAS Cert exam was based on coding, not user interface, and actually having to understand concepts. I have gone through all the e-training (it came as a package along with my purchase of the 2 in person classes) and am not sure which free e-course you are referring to. Do you have a link?

And my boss wants me to have the certification. It was one of his goals for me when he hired me. I already feel like a failure having broke my wrist and that take away from my functionality as an employee (it was 2 months into my job when I broke it and had surgery) and now I just feel like I have a broken brain as well and that I'm useless Smiley Sad.
Super User
Posts: 17,758

Re: Failed Certification Exam 2xs

[ Edited ]

Free training is on the right hand menu. If you've completed both the training you probably have completed the first course already.

 https://communities.sas.com/t5/SAS-Analytics-U/bd-p/sas_analytics_u

 

 

Pick a bunch of questions here, don't look at the answers and see if you can come up with solutions. If you're willing to put in the effort, write some instructional blog posts on how to do common things. 

 

Good Luck on your future attempts.

Super Contributor
Posts: 490

Re: Failed Certification Exam 2xs

[ Edited ]

I understand all what you said. I was once working for SAS partner and yes we was forced to take the exams. I think that was good for the company profile with SAS. From my experience I advise you after carefully studying "Base Programming Prep Guide" and solve all the exercises at the end of each chapter. To spend good amount of time on the exam questions online because it will really make difference in passing the exam. I met people really understand and practiced all the topics in the exam and yet not able to pass it. And also people with years of experience in SAS and almost hardly pass the exam too. And I am sure that you figured out after solving some questions this time that it is almost the same questions you saw in the exam and even not updated from years. And sorry to say that but I met people not fully aware of the exams topics, without experience, and very hardly can write job or task in SAS. But they got > 90% in the exam, as they went through the exam dump several times and studied what the exam tricks and focus points.

Regarding it focus on reading from file or text, I cannot say this is bad thing, as this is very important in academia and research where many dataset are in this form. Even if it is not in industry. And even making practicing and testing easier and less time consuming. 

 

But the general advice _based on myself and colleges experience_ spend time on the online previous questions or take SAS Certification Practice Exam: Base Programming for SAS 9.

What I hope in the future and as SAS expand their certifications set to improve the exams and make beta versions to the test and get people feedback and maybe experienced SAS community members could be good for that.

 

Regarding SAS for real world situations i think other gave you good advices and i post about that in the future too.

 

All the best

 

Super User
Posts: 5,075

Re: Failed Certification Exam 2xs

I'm going to suggest something a little bit different.  You can try it for one or two subject areas and see if it works for you.

 

Instead of looking for more things to read, try creating your own questions.  They should be similar to problems that you have already attempted, but slightly different.  You would be responsible for determining what the choices should be.  You would have to know which answer is correct, why it is correct, and why the other choices might be selected by a test-taker.  I suspect that by creating two or three questions per subject area, the material would sink in quickly, as would your confidence in what you know.

 

Good luck.

SAS Super FREQ
Posts: 3,475

Re: Failed Certification Exam 2xs

I am also not good at taking tests, especially without a computer. In addition to the wonderful advice from others, I suggest you wait a period of time (a year?) before trying again.  Trying to cram in a lot of information is stressful and often does not "stick" in our brains.  I think reading a few pages each day and writing a few programs each week might be more productive. It will give your brain more time to absorb the concepts. 

 

A fun "practice activity" might be to try to solve some of the questions that arise on this forum.  Write your solution, and then compare it to solutions offered by others.

PROC Star
Posts: 1,229

Re: Failed Certification Exam 2xs

Agree with @Rick_SAS.  I would spend time in SAS away from the certification exam.  A year seems like a good start.

 

I can't tell how long you've been using SAS.  I think too many people think of SAS certification as something to be done in a job search when they want their first SAS job, or soon after getting their first SAS job to prove their worth (to themselves or others).

 

As I understand it, the intent of the certification(s) is to provide (potential) employers with some evidence of your experience in a domain.  If you have little experience in a domain, it's not a good idea to try to learn information in order to pass a certification test. 

 

I've passed a few of the certifications, but my memory is they were all very broad in subject range.  Even though I'd been programming for maybe 15 years when I took them, there were plenty of areas where I had little experience (e.g. reading text files), and luckily others where I was very experienced so had offsetting knowledge (e.g. macros).  As an experienced programmer, the certification tests were fun to me, and definitely reminded me of the breadth of SAS, and certainly identified areas where my knowledge is shallow.

 

I would conser telling your boss "The certification test is not designed for me because.... " [my experience level / it's multiple choice / it doesn't test the skills needed for this job/ etc]  If you are successful in your day-to-day work, your SAS knowledge will grow, and your employer should be happy with your productivity despite not passing a timed multiple choice exam.

Occasional Contributor
Posts: 14

Re: Failed Certification Exam 2xs

Hi,

When I was sitting for the Base practice exam I spent most of my time reading through forums for clues!

I had a very similar experience to you, and I finally passed on my 4th attempt with 89%.

Some of the questions are trick questions, and the best way to understand them is to find as many practice questions as possible. If your aim is to simply pass the exam (as I am sure you have excellent SAS skills anyway from working on the job) then I would recommend buying question papers on exam sites and studying those.

I also think it is frustrating that they don't give a list of the answers you scored incorrectly!! I think that would be extremely beneficial.

I wouldn't say I have plans to do an exam again, unless it is required as part of a job spec.

Good luck for your next attempt! Hope this helps.

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