Should I pay for the exam or not?

I have a bit of a problem.

In March I signed up for the Prince2 and SixSigma packages and stumped up just shy of £1000 for them. I knew the Prince2 package came with the exams because that’s primarily why I had opted for that particular package, but I – perhaps foolishly – assumed the Six Sigma package came with the exam too. But it doesn’t.

On checking back through my original emails I’ve discovered that I have access to the educational materials and access to test exams, but not the actual exam itself. I’ll double-check with eCareers in case I’m reading the receipt in the wrong way, but for now I’m going to make the assumption that I DON’T have a pre-paid exam for it.

This opens up a little can of worms for me. The exam – according to the eCareers website – is £200. I’ve already paid almost £1000 for the two packages and that was stretching my budget. Can I really afford another £200 to do the exam?

I have to somehow appraise the extra value the exam will give. The exam is the typical end-point for education, thinking particularly of exams at school and university, but when you’re an adult doing supplementary education does it really hold the same weight?

Perhaps a weighing up of the pros and cons will help with the decision process:

Pros

  • An exam is a guarantee of a particular level of learning. It shows that the learner has reached a benchmarked standard of knowledge accepted by the awarding body
  • It’s tangible evidence of the knowledge you’ve gained; if I want/need to identify these skills elsewhere (a new job – there’s never a guarantee of job security as I learned in 2013!) it’s a more widely acceptable method of proof
  • Low initial cost versus potential gains long-term
  • Having an exam to work towards gives me motivation to study – deadlines spur me on
  • Passing an exam motivates me to continue my learning – it acts as a milestone

Cons

  • It’s additional expense I can little afford
  • If I have the knowledge and can put it into practice in my job, do I need the exam as proof?
  • There’s no guarantee I’ll pass which would incur additional cost to re-sit
  • It’s more difficult to prove autodidactic knowledge, i.e. without some formal accreditation
  • Exams prove only superficial knowledge rather than real in-depth practical application of the knowledge

The childish side of me – the one that loves certificates and still has my ‘Golden Plug Award for correctly wiring a 3 pin plug in middle school – wants to sit the exam. I want to get another certificate for the file and I want to be able to put another ‘qualification’ on the CV. But the realist side of me knows that I don’t need the certificate to prove my knowledge. I can put the knowledge into practice and use that as proof of my skill. I can pay £10 and get a course completion certificate from eCareers, granted it doesn’t have the same gravitas but it still shows I’ve done it and is a darn site cheaper than sitting the actual exam and would complement other means of exhibiting my skills.

I have some thinking to do, as well as some number crunching. The childish and greedy side of me really wants to sit the exam and get tangible proof of my newly acquired knowledge. I’m finding it hard to silence that part.

What should I do?

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One thought on “Should I pay for the exam or not?

  1. I generally ignore course attendance “certificates” … How can you differentiate yourself from someone who slept through the course and paid £10 for a the attendance badge?

    The exam shows a particular standard. Generally I would suggest you take the exam if:

    a, you are planning on focusing in this area in the future (not a flash in the pan topic)
    b, you do not already have work experience to a standard higher than the exam.
    c, this exam isn’t seen as a minimum-requirement for your job e.g. from memory Prince2 is seen as a minimum and if you don’t have it, it raises eyebrows

    I sometimes pay hundreds of pounds for exams – and not because I am flush with cash, but because a see a value in having that when compared to someone who doesn’t

    Like

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