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ASPPA DC-2 Exam


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To date I have successfully passed the ASPPA RFP and DC-1 working toward the QKA designation.  However, I am hung up on the DC-2 test.  The odd part is I pass the practice test but not so successful on the actual test.  I have been through the materials and taken many practice test.  Not sure how to proceed at this point.  

Suggestions?  

Thanks!

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5 hours ago, Tina H. said:

To date I have successfully passed the ASPPA RFP and DC-1 working toward the QKA designation.  However, I am hung up on the DC-2 test.  The odd part is I pass the practice test but not so successful on the actual test.  I have been through the materials and taken many practice test.  Not sure how to proceed at this point.  

Suggestions?  

Thanks!

Do you feel like you know the answers while taking the test?  Or does it seem like the exam is nothing like the practice exam?  Are there certain sections that are tripping you up?  I know they have changed how they do the exams since I took them but they used to tell you if you need to improve on a certain section like distributions or testing or whatever.

Overall, the syllabus is your best friend.  it tells you what you are expected to know from each section/topic, and what percentage of the exam can be expected from that section.  

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What I do with my staff is have them identify those things that always seem to trip them up.  I then have them write down tips on those things on a sheet of paper, usually in a grid format.  For example QACA, EACA, ACA across the top and things like vesting, auto esclation, etc. down the side.  I have them do that writeup over and over again until they can do it from memory.  On the day of the exam, the testing center will give you blank paper and a pencil.  Before they start the exam, the candidate writes up their tips/grid on the blank paper.  Then when you get to those questions, you have something in writing to look at to help keep things clear in your mind.  

Do the practice exams over and over again, as some of the questions from those will appear on the final exam.  Also, is there anyone else in your office that you can sit down with?  For example, I have my ERPAs do training sessions with my QKA candidates on things they needed some additional guidance on.

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@Pam Shoup suggestion above is great.  It needs to be done by hand rather than typed on a computer.  Studies have shown that doing it by hand increases memory retention significantly.  When I was in law school I took all my lecture notes by hand and I did my outlines by hand before I put them into a word document.  I do the same thing whenever I study for a  designation or read a new proposed rule or law change.

For actual studying I do something like this

Week 1 Read Ch1 (or part 1, section 1, whatever), then outline Ch1 on the second read

Week 2 Read Ch2 , then outline Ch2 on the second read, study Ch1-2 outline

Week 3 Read Ch3 , then outline Ch3 on the second read, study Ch1-3 outline

Do this until you have outlined all of the required material.  The outline should mainly focus on the learning objectives from the syllabus unless there are new things there that you also feel are important.  Since different sections are weighted more or less on the exam, you can substitute Ch1 above for whatever section is going to be used more on the exam, that way you read that outline each week and should know it well before the exam.  There is no point in doing a 5 page outline on plan loans and a 1 page outline on testing if you are going to get one loan question and 10 testing questions...

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I agree with RBG above.  When I read my study materials, I outline them, in a notebook, by hand.  I then answer the questions in the study guide, and find that my hand written notes usually have covered all of the study guide answers.  (If not, then I missed something important that I need to go back over.)  Before I take my exams, I read and re-read my hand written notes, go through the sample questions and then do the sample tests.  It really does make a difference to write it all down!

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Thank you and these are all great suggestions.  It seems like the actual test has questions/topics that were not covered in the sample tests.  I honestly believe my biggest issue is not the knowledge but how to "take" the test and read the questions.  It was also suggestion by my husband who is FINRA certified to use the scrap paper and create an outline or chart of the topics.  That is something that I have not used in the past and will help when it gets garbled in my head.  

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The sample test shouldn't tell you what questions/topics will be on the exam.  The purpose of the sample test is to give you an idea of how the test is structured, what kind of questions will be on the exam, and to give you an idea of how to answer the questions and how much time to spend on each question, etc.

For what questions/topics will be on the actual test, study the syllabus.  Generally, the tests will follow the learning objectives and exam weighting pretty closely.

The sample tests should help you with how to read the questions and take the test. 

- read the question closely and look for qualifiers (always, never, not, etc)

- don't just pick the "right" answer, eliminate the wrong answers. The qualifiers will almost always eliminate a few answers for you

- If you get stuck on a question, mark it and move along.  When you are done, go back to your marked unanswered or toss up questions

- Some people like to read the answers before the question, but it doesn't work for everyone. Try it on the practice exams.  By knowing your options for answers, you may be able to eliminate one or two options as you read the question.

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Were those sample tests, or old exams?  From time to time topics and their weights change over time.  So, what you are practicing may not exactly match the exam.

Be sure to download the correct syllabus for your sitting.  Go through the topics.  See anything on there you have trouble with?  Bone up on that.

As far as I know, they will not test on material that is not released on the syllabus.

I don't know if they do it any more, but they used to put, like, 5 probationary questions on the exams that are not part of your grade.  They are there to assess the difficulty (too easy?/too hard?/just right?) of the questions for future exams.

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A tip that works for me (I think!), is before I start the exam, I write down the #'s of the questions.  1-50, or 1-75 or whatever.

As I take the exam, I put a symbol next to each question # as I do them.  I put a check mark next to a question I am nearly 100% certain I got correct. (can you ever really be 100% certain?).

I put a circle next to a question I'm pretty sure on, but I may have some doubts, or that I want to re-read it to make sure I didn't miss anything.  And I put an X next to a question I don't know how to do, or I'm guessing at.  I also put the letter of my answer.

Them when I'm done, I revisit the X's first.  Sometimes later questions will give you a hint or reminder on how to solve it.  (Oh, question 33 mentioned 415 limits, I should take that into consideration for question 14).  Sometimes just setting something aside for a little while will appear easier upon re-inspection.

Then I work on the O's.  Re-read.  Re-calculate. Re-affirm.

If you have time, go through all the questions making sure they are all answered (I think the computer tells you if something is unanswered) and answered with your choice.  I've come across some answers I initially clicked 'B' when I really meant 'C'.

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Very good points above.  Yes, these practice exams are purchased from the website and the final exam seems more down in the "weeds" or more detailed that the practice.  I have never taken a credentialing exam before so this has been a learning curve.  I do wish ASPPA would offer additional aids to studying for the exams...maybe some video or in person classes.  For some, online learning can be a challenge.  Thank you for your feedback!

 

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1 minute ago, BG5150 said:

A tip that works for me (I think!), is before I start the exam, I write down the #'s of the questions.  1-50, or 1-75 or whatever.

As I take the exam, I put a symbol next to each question # as I do them.  I put a check mark next to a question I am nearly 100% certain I got correct. (can you ever really be 100% certain?).

I put a circle next to a question I'm pretty sure on, but I may have some doubts, or that I want to re-read it to make sure I didn't miss anything.  And I put an X next to a question I don't know how to do, or I'm guessing at.  I also put the letter of my answer.

Them when I'm done, I revisit the X's first.  Sometimes later questions will give you a hint or reminder on how to solve it.  (Oh, question 33 mentioned 415 limits, I should take that into consideration for question 14).  Sometimes just setting something aside for a little while will appear easier upon re-inspection.

Then I work on the O's.  Re-read.  Re-calculate. Re-affirm.

If you have time, go through all the questions making sure they are all answered (I think the computer tells you if something is unanswered) and answered with your choice.  I've come across some answers I initially clicked 'B' when I really meant 'C'.

Thanks...very helpful.  On the test they have a strikeout and flag feature that I didn't use but will on the next exam.

 

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@BG5150  Yes, there are still questions on the exam that get thrown out for grading purposes.  I volunteer with the Retirement Plan Academy of ASPPA and they put out a call for questions for the exam that are throwaway questions.  I have also helped to edit some of the chapters for the exams so ASPPA really does try to make sure that everything is clear and up to date in the material.  @Tina H., is there anyone else in your office that you can talk to about the exam materials?  Maybe you need to sit down with someone and have them review a chapter.  Also, reading and digesting the study guide answers can be quite helpful, in addition to reading the materials, outlining them and doing the practice exams.

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  • 8 months later...

 RBG's suggestion - "Don't just pick the "right" answer, eliminate the wrong answers. The qualifiers will almost always eliminate a few answers for you " may be the best suggestion here on a multiple choice test. You know more than you think you do, and if you can eliminate a couple of answers, even your "guesses" will get you a much higher percentage correct than you would get from random guessing on the same remaining options.

I took those tests more years ago than I care to contemplate, but if they haven't changed, it is easy to get tripped up on the format even when you do, in fact, know the correct answer. Things like, All of the following are true (or false) EXCEPT - make SURE you are picking the false (or true) answer - if you do it in a hurry, you can pick the first true (or false) answer you see, rather than correctly looking for the opposite. I seem to recall some double negatives, but they may not do those any longer, or maybe my memory is just faulty.

Good luck.

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  • 1 year later...

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