Tips for Taking a Paralegal Certification Exam

Tips for taking a paralegal certification exam

Paralegal certification is a means to recognize paralegals who meet certain standards that are considered to be above those of the average paralegal.  Various national paralegal organizations offer certification programs that allow paralegals to obtain professional recognition for meeting a higher level of criteria.  These certification programs are voluntary as there are no federal requirements for paralegal certification.  However, paralegals who have obtained their certification demonstrate their dedication and ability to provide outstanding paralegal services.

Top paralegal certification or credentialing programs:

Each of the above organizations has different qualifications and criteria for awarding its paralegal certification.  However, the common element is that each group has chosen to recognize paralegals who exhibit a higher degree of knowledge and experience.

paralegal certification exam

Tips for Taking a Paralegal Certification Exam

Taking the paralegal certification exam

Just when you thought school had ended, you decide to apply for paralegal certification through one of national paralegal associations.  Then it is back to books, all night study sessions and cramming the night before the exam.  Just as there are tips for surviving paralegal school, there are tips for taking the paralegal certification exam.  In fact, you should not expect to simply survive the exam but excel.  In order to do that, continue reading through the tips and suggestions below for taking the paralegal certification exam.

  • Take the exam right after paralegal school – Some parts of the paralegal exam deal with general education courses in addition to general court rules and procedures.  By taking the exam soon after you graduate, you will have recently studied this material.  Rather than studying material that you may have not looked at in years, you will only need to refresh your memory on material you recently mastered.  Furthermore, you are already in the habit of studying so it is easy to continue this habit when preparing for the paralegal certification exam.
  • Study groups – Independent study is vital to passing a paralegal certification exam; however, you should not dismiss the benefit of study groups.  Study groups are usually organized at a local level – – check with local paralegal associations for information.  Study groups provide more than simply a way to study for the exam, they also provide a source of support that is invaluable when preparing for the exam.
  • Resource material – Before searching for study material from any other source, use the materials recommended by the specific organization that is giving the exam.  These materials are based on the exam and are the best sources of study material you can find for the exam.  The practice tests are very helpful in targeting areas that you are weak so that you can concentrate more study time to that particular portion of the exam.  In addition to these study materials, you will need study materials for the substantive law areas that will be on the exam.
  • Online classes and videos – In addition to written materials, you can access online videos and study aids provided by the national associations.  Check each website for a list of classes, videos and online study aids.  These are excellent ways to study and prepare for the exams.
  • Exam prep classes – Some colleges that have paralegal programs offer classes in certification preparation.  These classes are designed to help you prepare for the exam.  In addition to providing study materials, these classes are a means of support.  Studying for the certification exam can be overwhelming and, at times, you may feel like giving up.  However, having others to share this with and garner support from can help you overcome negative feelings that will hamper your studies.
  • Choose the best exam date for you – Exams are given several times a year; however, not all of those dates may work for your schedule.  When choosing a date, consider what other commitments and obligations you will have in the months prior to the exam date.  In order to be successful, you will need to commit a significant amount of time to prepare.  Having too many other commitments competing for your time in the months prior to the exam will decrease the amount of time you have to study for the exam.
  • Design a time line – It helps if you prepare a time line for the months and weeks prior to the certification exam.  Divide the amount of time prior to the test into segments and assign each segment a study topic.  For example, if you are weak on a particular subject area on the exam, you can delegate additional time to that particular subject.  Having a firm plan will keep you on schedule.

After months of studying, the night before the exam should be restful.  As with preparing for any exam, the key to passing the test is preparing months in advance.  Cramming the night before only makes you tense and exhausted.  However, eating a good dinner, enjoying the company of family and going to bed early will help you to be in a good frame of mind for your exam.

The morning of the exam, you should have a good breakfast and arrive at the exam site early.  This will allow you to find your seat and relax for a few minutes before the exam.  Rushing through traffic and arriving just in time to throw yourself into a chair is not a good way to begin the exam.


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About Tonya P.

Tonya has a BS in Political Science in addition to her paralegal degree. During her 23 years as a paralegal, she has worked in the areas of family law, real estate, probate law and bankruptcy law. For the past 15 years, she has worked solely for bankruptcy attorneys including her time working for a bankruptcy trustee.

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