ServiceNow Exams: Dealing with failure and how to win.

Author by Scott Poling

I would like to preface this blog by saying that I am no expert at exams by any means. If you are reading this blog, you probably aren’t either.  I will outline tactics and strategies that have worked for me. Everyone is different, what is shared in here may not work at all for you. I am no stranger to taking these exams and failing. It doesn’t feel too great. After numerous failures that eventually turned into wins I think I have some strategies that may help you.

The ServiceNow exams can be particularly frustrating due to a few reasons. They do not tell you how close you came to passing. This can be especially confusing to determine if you were using the right material to study, what a passing percentage is, and if you were just one or two off. You won’t know. I think I have read on the ServiceNow forums that it is close to 70% and may be higher or lower depending on the exam.  I have only taken proctored internet exams, never an in-person exam. I feel setting is a huge factor in passing these exams. You should take the exam in a place you are most comfortable. For me, that was my home office. Lucky pajamas may help as well.

I am a kinesthetic learner, which means I learn by doing and figuring things out on the way through. This can be difficult when most of the entirety of the learning materials are audio or visual. There are labs you can do which are extremely helpful, however the time requirements to do labs instead of just listening or reading is far more intense. Going off of reading material and actually opening your SN dev instance and trying to go and do what is being talked about in the material is helpful for me. ServiceNow is completely ITSM based, so if you do not know ITSM fundamentals, you will have a harder time passing the exams. If you are a kinesthetic learner and do not have years of using the platform under your belt, you will likely fail more than Visual or Auditory learners. There are some people that can even just take tests and pass without studying. This is more difficult with ServiceNow exams than it is for say—Microsoft exams or technical aptitude exams.

Let’s get more into the technical details of these exams. A little bit has changed with these in the past year for the better it would seem. This may be dependent on which exam you are taking however “Select all that apply” questions now tell you how many you should select—as in “Select four”. This is new in the terms of ServiceNow exams. Regarding using process of elimination, usually there is one correct answer, two outliers, and one totally incorrect answer. Knowing this, you can sometimes use process of elimination to figure out what the true answer is. The exams have a “Mark for later” button that you can use to go back with. You can use these in a few different ways. It is generally safe to say usually the first answer that you go with is correct, so be very careful going back and changing all the ones you aren’t sure on. It is worse to have the correct answer and switch it to an incorrect one. The only way I would recommend using this is to wait and see if you get your question answered by another question, which happens occasionally.

Quizlet is a fantastic resource for testing, the only issue is you cannot 100% verify that the material you are studying is correct. ServiceNow would recommend (and I believe it’s becoming policy) that you need to take the ServiceNow training before you can officially take the exams. This blog still applies whether you’ve had the formal training or not. I do believe the formal training is worthwhile however. We have plenty of resources available on our team share for study materials, just check with your team lead.

I do believe there is such a thing as overstudying, which would be to the point of diminishing returns. 30-60 minutes at a time is an appropriate time to study, you should fill the rest of the time with labs or hands on activities such as reading books or listening to seminars if that works for you. At some point, the words stop meaning anything. That is when you need to stop. Remember, on test day you need a full night’s sleep, this won’t happen if you are overstudying. Try not to get yourself too worked up over the exam. Don’t skip any meals close to the exam day either, nutrition is important for your brain. I like to schedule my exams later in the afternoon around 1 or 2. This ensures I am awake, have eaten, and have had time to do some exam day review of materials. Some espresso may help your situation too.

Overall, everyone can pass these exams, it just depends on how long it will take. Failing isn’t easy. Nobody wants to fail. It’s part of the learning process. You must do your best to remove the emotional aspects out of failing and take it for what it is. You will pass or fail regardless of external pressures. Sometimes that is just the way things are. Do not expect to go into these passing the first time. It has taken me 4 or 5 times to pass some of the more difficult exams. Keep at it! Take it in stride.