In this blog we’ll first examine the reasons why you should get yourself SAP Certified, and then run through a list of top tips from people who have recently passed the test. We hope you enjoy it, learn something, and get certified!
1. Should I do a SAP Certification exam?
In our opinion, yes. They are expensive and no doubt a very nice earner for SAP Inc. but they are worth it. The next time you apply for a job you may be competing with a lot of other very experienced people. If SAP Certification gives you the edge, then it will pay for itself many, many times over. As someone who is often involved in the hiring process, I can confirm that SAP certification does indeed make a difference.
Can’t afford it? Ask around at your work. If you are a full-time employee there is a chance that your boss will pay all or some of the exam costs – usually around USD $500.
Apart from the monetary aspects, taking an exam is a good impetus for you to know your stuff, and forces you to read that thick book gathering dust on your desk.
2. Should I do the Associate or the Professional Exam?
For me, the main objective was to get a SAP certification – any certification. So I would recommend the Associate exam. And it goes without saying: pick an area you are very familiar with: not some trendy new HanaCloudBigData stuff.
3. What if I fail? Should I be afraid?
I have seen top-notch SAP consultants with over a decade’s experience hyperventilating before a certification exam. And I can understand why. Sure, you might know your stuff, but do you knowtheir stuff?
The questions may have been dreamed up by some pedanticEggkopf in Walldorf who hasn’t consulted in years. For example, they might ask you to list the 5 ways to do ‘X’, when you’ve only ever done it one way.
Thankfully SAP is now looking to crowd-source the exam questions, so they should become more practical and true-to-life.
4. How do I pass the exam?
Disclaimer: these exam tips are based on the SAP Certification exam experiences of this author and his acquaintances. The details may or may not be useful to you for your particular exam or country. Please let me know if something was very different when you eventually do take that exam.
Tip 1: Study, study, study. The very best preparation is to take the relevant SAP course(s) (as can be found on the SAP Certification website) and add to that (at least) a good few months of experience. The course notes are very useful, so if you did not take the course then try to borrow them from someone who has.
Tip 2: Gather as much information as you can about the exam itself from the SAP Training website (see above). Namely:
- the topics covered and the weight given to each
- the sample questions
- the pass mark (“Cut Score”)
- the number of questions and the time allowed
From this information you can build a section-by-section breakdown of the questions. For example, you can estimate that there will be 8 questions on Data Dictionary, but only 2 on Data Modeller.
Tip 3: Do not waste money on websites that claim to provide you with exam questions. The questions are useless – often out of date and sometimes downright misleading. Respect yourself: as a SAP consultant, do you really need to stoop to this level to pass the exam?.
Tip 4: Know what to expect at the exam centre. Exams can be held at third-party sites where the person sitting next to you could be doing a Microsoft exam. Some of these sites are open on the weekend, check for that. You may be required to hand over everything in your possession for safeguarding in a locker. You will be provided with a pen and paper (or other writing material) but you have to leave the paper behind. Assume you will be under constant observation, so no funny business. Try not to drink beforehand so that you don’t have to waste time with a (fully supervised!) bathroom break. Don’t bother asking the supervisor any SAP questions – they don’t know anything, and wouldn’t tell you if they did.
Tip 5: Use ALL of the allotted time. The standard SAP exam seems to be 80 questions in 180 minutes. That is more than enough time, but you should still avoid the temptation to leave early. Check, double check, triple check and then check your answers again. A countdown is displayed on the screen so you will know when it’s time to go.
Tip 6: Read each question twice very carefully BEFORE you look at the options. I often find I miss a small detail (like the word “not”) on the first reading. Try to think what the answer is before looking at the options. Also take into consideration that many questions are translated from German, so they might sound a bit odd. For example I’ve seen cases where the Teutonic word ‘book’ was used instead of the word ‘save’ )
Tip 7: Check carefully: Does the question require one or more than one answer? This can be seen in the text but also by the use of radio buttons versus checkboxes. The exam application will alert you to questions for which you have placed 0 answers but it WILL NOT alert you if you have answered too few or too many. Pay special attention to this when going through the questions a second time.
If a question requires two answers but you only give one (even if it’s correct), then you get zero points.
Tip 8: The exam tool allows you to ‘bookmark’ questions. Use this feature to mark any question that you’re not 100% sure of. When you come back to it you may not even remember that you had spotted a problem. However, do not concentrate solely on the bookmarked questions; make sure you check ALL questions again. My approach is to only check the bookmarks on the second reading, and then checkall of the questions again on the third pass.
Tip 9: The exam tool, surprisingly, does not tell you how far into the exam you are (e.g. question 57 of 80). It only keeps count of how far along you are in the current section. Use your writing implements to note down how many questions there are in each section so that you always know exactly where you are – handy for that nervous last read-through just before the final countdown.
Tip 10: Don’t waste precious exam time trying to memorize some of the questions to share with friends and colleagues later. You are there to maximize your own score, not somebody else’s! Handing out free questions to others also devalues the certification you just paid big bucks for.
When the exam is over you will receive the result immediately, often from a printer, with a breakdown of how you did in each section. Congratulations! If you have read this far then you will most likely pass. This is good news as you have just increased your market value; there’s also a persistent rumour that SAP Inc only hires SAP-certified contractors as consultants. You can try contacting SAP for a shiny new “SAP certified” logo for the next incarnation of your CV.