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How to Prepare for the CRS Examination

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1 How to Prepare for the CRS Examination
Welcome to this workshop, where we will discuss preparing for the CRS examination. My name is Maria Williams and I am the Resource Associate at United Way for Southeastern Michigan in Detroit. Our serves a 5 county metropolitan area of more than 4.5 million people, including the city of Detroit. We became a in December of 2005 and our call volume has increased significantly each year. I’ve been with United Way for almost 2 years now. I earned my CRS in October 2008 and I’m currently working toward my Master’s degree in Library and Information Science at Wayne State University in Detroit. When I was hired the expectation was that I would take the CRS exam as soon as I became eligible, in one year’s time. Being new to the field of I&R I hadn’t heard any of the horror stories about the test – yet. As the time to sign up for the exam drew nearer I began asking people about it. I head things like, “It’s impossibly difficult,” and, “I’ve taken it three times and still can’t pass it.” Naturally I panicked a little bit. I started to wonder, Is this test like the bar exam?? Additionally, there was a good amount of pressure on me to pass it on the first try since we were going through the process of AIRS accreditation and had no other CRS on staff. Now my panic was kicking into high gear, I have to pass a test on the first try that almost no one passes on the first try?? My response to the internal panic I felt was to formulate a plan. I gathered all the material I could and I studied long and hard. On the day of the exam I was the only one in a room of 30 people taking the CRS test, and when the proctor handed me the booklet she chuckled to herself and said, “Good luck!” I remember thinking that it would have been nice to have a reputation as tough as this test’s reputation when I was in middle school. But I stayed calm, trusted that the work I’d done to prepare would allow me to do my best, and when I walked out of the exam I just knew I’d passed with flying colors. I got my certificate one week before our AIRS accreditation site visit. I attribute my success almost entirely to the work I put into preparing for it. Knowing the headaches and heartaches that this test has caused for so many of my fellow resource managers, I thought I’d share what I learned and some techniques I used to prepare for the test in the hope that it will help some of you. So, I hope you enjoy today’s workshop and find it to be helpful, and I ask that you please hold your questions until the Q&A time at the end of the presentation. Maria A. Williams, CRS United Way for Southeastern Michigan Detroit, Michigan

2 Deciding to take the exam
Why should I take the exam? Demonstrates initiative, and dedication to your organization Chance to earn a professional credential There might some CA$H in it for you The AIRS Standards strongly encourage it Tests can be fun! (Yes, I’m serious.) For many resource managers it may be optional to take the CRS exam, especially if there is more than one resource manager in your organization. So why bother? Here are some reasons: It shows initiative, which your boss will probably like. Making the commitment to study for and take the exam shows that you are also committed to your profession and your employer. Don’t forget, it makes your organization look good too when you earn your CRS. Taking the test is the chance to earn a professional credential. It is a measurement of your ability in the field of I&R and will be recognized by all other I&R providers. Having this qualification will give you an advantage over other job candidates – and in this economy, who wouldn’t want a little leg-up on the competition? Plus you get to add the letters behind your name on your signature. Their might be a financial benefit - your employer might offer a bonus or a raise upon passing the exam! And even if they don’t, it’s sure to look good on your annual performance review. The AIRS Standards encourage it. In Standard 26: Staff Training of the AIRS Standards, the Quality Indicators mention the AIRS certifications several times. First in QI 5, “It is recommended that the competencies from the…Certified Resource Specialist (CRS) certification program be used as training objectives.” And again in QI 9, “I&R specialists and resource specialists seek professional certification through recognized programs at the state/provincial, regional or national level.” And lastly, tests can be fun. You may call me crazy, but it’s true. Yes, tests can be a real pain in the neck, but usually it’s the tests that you aren’t prepared for that end up being miserable. With the right preparation and dedication you can arm yourself for success on any exam. And it is downright fun to take an exam and walk out of the room knowing you did your best.

3 Deciding to take the exam
Now it’s time to prepare! Has it been a while? Who has taken an important exam (other than the CRS or CIRS) in the last: 2 years? 5 years? 10 years? A good plan is the best defense against a tough test! So, all that said, if you’re sitting here in this workshop it’s probably because you’ve already decided to take the CRS exam – or maybe your manager decided that for you. Either way, it’s time to prepare. Many professional adults haven’t had to take an exam in a long time, so preparing for a test as important and difficult as the CRS can be daunting. Who has taken an important exam, other than the CRS/CIRS, in the last 2 years? The last 5 years? The last 10 years? Not since high school or college? The CRS exam covers a broad amount of information. Some of this you might already know and feel comfortable with from the practical application of the Taxonomy and the record development you do every day, and some of it may be a bit foggier – like the AIRS Standards. With the right study plan and methods you’ll be able to put your best foot forward when exam time comes. Keep in mind that this exam is difficult, and while this workshop is intended to help everyone pass it on the first try (or the first try after attending this workshop!), I can’t guarantee your success. Only you can do that! It’s also not meant to teach you all the content for the exam in 90 minutes, but rather strategies for how to connect with the content and learn it so that you feel comfortable and confident come exam time. Remember, a good plan is the best defense against a tough test. Let’s get started.

4 Knowledge areas Inclusion/Exclusion Criteria 10%
Record Structure/Data Elements 25% Indexing Principles 25% Classification System/Taxonomy 10% Database Maintenance 10% Service-Specific Questions 15% Indexing/Proofing Scenarios 5% AIRS official website, has a wealth of information about the CRS exam and suggested study materials. One helpful tool is this outline of the composition of the exam, and the approximate percentage of exam questions for each topic. By looking at this list, we can see that 50% of the exam is likely to be comprised of questions about record structure and data elements, and indexing principles. It’s a good idea to prioritize your studying based on this list. Spend more time working on the areas that are of greater importance, and less time working on the areas of less importance. Something else that you should consider are your own strengths and weaknesses. Take a few moments when working out your test plan to determine which of these areas you feel most comfortable with, and which ones are a little scary. You’ll want to concentrate more on your trouble areas. If you know the Taxonomy like the back of your hand, it’s OK to trust your knowledge! I would also like to emphasize the importance of knowing and understanding the AIRS Standards, particularly those that apply to the Resource Database. The Resource Database standards speak to many of the expected competencies for the CRS exam. Learn them!

5 Test format Multiple choice True or false Short answer
Indexing/Proofing Scenarios The test is mostly comprised of multiple choice questions with 4-5 options each and some true/false questions. We’ll cover tips for taking multiple choice tests later in this session. The indexing/proofing scenarios are more like short answer questions. At the end of the test you will turn in a scantron sheet and the exam booklet. You cannot take any notes into the exam. You’ll be issued scrap paper to use during the test and you’ll turn that in with your exam booklet at the end.

6 Key preparation materials
There are many existing resources available Articles Websites Listservs CEQuick training courses Training sessions National Local Almost all of the tools that you need to succeed on examination day are available on the web. By using Articles from the AIRS Journal, websites, list-servs, CEQuick Learnings, and national and local training sessions, you’ll gather an impressive amount of information. Now you have to organize it, determine what’s most useful for you, and what’s not. The Power Point file for this workshop has active links to the referenced articles that are available online, and I’ve also embedded some other files into the presentation. It’s my understanding that the conference materials are being made available for free to participants this year, so I encourage you to retrieve the digital copy of this presentation when you’re able to. For those of you who prefer not to wait, I’ve included a bibliography at the end.

7 Articles The ABCs of I&R
The foundation of training for all I&R and Resource Specialists Learning objectives Introductory exercises Summary of key points Test questions! Use the 2006 or later editions. The 6.0 AIRS Standards are included in the 2009 edition. Pay particular attention to the sections dedicated to the resource database The official AIRS website has information about studying for each of the certification exams and links to some suggested articles for each. There are also resources available from the Taxonomy website. Over the next few slides, I’m going to highlight and summarize the most important articles for you to help you decide what you need to read, what you need to read twice, and what you can just scan. The first item on our list, is the ABCs of I&R. It’s basically the Bible of I&R and serves as the foundation of training for all I&R and Resource staff. Each section has learning objectives (goals!), introductory exercises to get you thinking, a helpful summary of key points, and test questions at the end to see if you accomplished the section’s learning objectives. We’re going to answer some of the test questions later in this workshop. Make sure you are using a version from 2006 or later. The newest 2009 edition includes version 6.0 of the AIRS Standards. We’ll talk more about the AIRS Standards in a little while, but if you have an older version of the ABCs of I&R don’t worry, the standards can be downloaded for free from the AIRS website.

8 Articles The ABCs of I&R Sections 19-24: Resource Database – Overview
Resource Database – Inclusion and Exclusion Policy Resource Database – Data Structure Resource Database – Classification Systems and Taxonomy Indexing Resource Database – Database Maintenance Resource Database – Disaster and the Resource Specialist In the 2008 edition of the ABC’s of I&R the sections dealing with the Resource Database are listed here. <<Read slide text.>> In fact, does this list look familiar…?

9 ABCs of I&R Exam Content
Overview Inclusion and Exclusion Policy Data Structure Classification Systems and Taxonomy Indexing Database Maintenance Disaster and the Resource Specialist Inclusion/Exclusion Criteria Record Structure/Data Elements Indexing Principles Classification System/Taxonomy Database Maintenance Service-Specific Questions Indexing/Proofing Scenarios Coincidence? I think not. The ABCs of I&R directly reinforce the exam content areas. Use it! If your agency is not an AIRS member, a copy of the ABC’s of I&R can be purchased for $450. The only way that this 560-page publication is available is by becoming an AIRS member at the Premium or Enhanced levels, through which your agency will automatically be sent a free single copy and an electronic copy every year, or buy purchasing it on your own. It only costs $500 to become a member at the Enhanced level, so if you’re going to spend $450 on a copy you might as well become a member. You can get more information about purchasing a copy of the ABCs of I&R or becoming an AIRS member on the AIRS website,

10 AIRS Recommended Articles
CRS Performance Based Competencies for Certification What it covers: A detailed outline and description of the knowledge, skills, attitudes and work related behaviors an I&R practitioner must demonstrate in order to perform their job effectively. Covers general knowledge/skills, skills and abilities specifically related to resource database maintenance, and also has a section on work-related attitudes. How it helps: This is a good document to read once or twice, to gain a clear understanding of what’s expected of a Certified Resource Specialist on the job. No need to memorize. The AIRS website also suggests a number of other articles for those preparing for the exam. Let’s examine some of them. <<Read slide text.>>

11 AIRS Recommended Articles
Setting Inclusion/Exclusion Criteria: Determining the Scope of a Resource File by Dick Manikowski What it covers: Everything you’ve ever wanted to know – and everything you never knew you wanted to know – about developing an inclusion/exclusion statement for your database. How it helps: The be all end all of articles about inclusion/exclusion statements, this article is incredibly important. Read it multiple times, take notes. Then read it a few more times. <<Read slide text first.>> Perhaps some people were fortunate enough to attend the intensive workshop that Dick Manikowski and Jennifer Pollak presented yesterday, or one of the many presentations that Dick has given at past AIRS Conferences. Aside from being knowledgeable, he is also very friendly and helpful. Even if you’ve never attended one of his trainings, Dick’s always willing to help. So if you see him around the conference in the next few days, don’t hesitate to ask him questions.

12 AIRS Recommended Articles
Indexing with the AIRS/INFO LINE Taxonomy of Human Services by Margaret Bruni What it covers: The design features of the Taxonomy, the benefits of hierarchical design, types of terms, basic indexing principles, customizing the Taxonomy, and keeping your Taxonomy current. How it helps: Extremely helpful article for learning about why the Taxonomy is structured the way it is. Read this article several times and take notes.

13 AIRS Recommended Articles
Taxonomy Supplements: How to Keep the AIRS/INFO LINE Taxonomy Updated for Your Resource File by Georgia Sales What it covers: Discussion of the continuous evolvement of the Taxonomy and the various ways in which updates to the Taxonomy occur, and of tools to maintain the currency of an agency’s Taxonomy. How it helps: Useful article for understanding the Taxonomy, recommend to read it through once or twice. <<Read slide text first.>> In case any of you in the audience are new to I&R, Georgia Sales is the creator and editor of the Taxonomy. The Taxonomy Guru if you will. Her knowledge and expertise make our work better every day.

14 Articles From the website: An Orientation to the Structure and Contents of the AIRS/211 LA County Taxonomy by Georgia Sales What it covers: A comprehensive overview of the Taxonomy, its structure, service categories, target populations, and comments on local customization written by the Taxonomy guru herself. How it helps: This is an important article, especially for Taxonomy newbies. Although it’s a bit longer than the others, at 33 pages, it’s worth reading at least once or twice. Take good notes. The Taxonomy website has a library section (located on the Resources page) that has several additional articles that will be helpful during your test preparation. Hopefully your agency maintains a current subscription to the Taxonomy, but even if they don’t, the library section of the Taxonomy website is available to the public. There are many additional features of the Taxonomy website that are only available to subscribers. If your organization does not maintain a subscription, I high encourage you to urge your organization to purchase one. <<Read slide text.>>

15 Articles Structure and Contents of the Taxonomy
From the website: Structure and Contents of the Taxonomy by Georgia Sales What it covers: A quick outline of the structure and contents of the Taxonomy, this is an excellent summary. How it helps: This is a good article for more experienced users of the Taxonomy to brush up with.

16 Articles AIRS Standards for Professional Information & Referral and Quality Indicators You should be familiar with all of the AIRS Standards, but you’ll want to pay particular attention to the standards that deal with the Resource Database: Standard 7: Inclusion/Exclusion Criteria Standard 8: Data Elements Standard 9: Classification System/Taxonomy Standard 10: Content Management and Indexing Standard 11: Database Search Methods Standard 12: Database Maintenance <<Read slide text first.>> In fact, does this list of the Resource Database standards remind us of another list….?

17 AIRS Standards Exam Content
7: Inclusion/Exclusion Criteria 8: Data Elements 9:Classification System/Taxonomy 10: Content Management and Indexing 11: Database Search Methods 12: Database Maintenance Inclusion/Exclusion Criteria Record Structure/Data Elements Indexing Principles Classification System/Taxonomy Database Maintenance Service-Specific Questions Indexing/Proofing Scenarios Coincidence? Probably not. Again, we see the correlation between the exam content areas and the AIRS Standards. Like the ABCs of I&R, the AIRS Standards regarding the resource database are directly related to the subject areas on the test. Learn them! I cannot emphasize enough the importance of learning the AIRS Standards to do well on this examination. Learn the definitions, learn the criteria/quality indicators. You don’t need to know the text of the standards verbatim, but you need to be very familiar with them.

18 Websites and listservs
Your state’s AIRS affiliate site Training documents from local trainings AIRS I&R Networker Listserv AIRS Taxonomy Listserv Both listservs provide discussion forums for the I&R community. It’s an outlet for you to ask questions and get help. There are three important websites you’ll want to use. First, the AIRS website should be bookmarked in your web browser while you are preparing for the CRS exam. You’ll find links to the articles mentioned in this training, the AIRS Standards, instructions for joining the AIRS Networker and more. Recently revamped, the AIRS website is easy to navigate and has a ton of helpful information on it. Second, the Taxonomy website also has useful information on it. The Resources tab is home to many helpful materials, including instructions for joining the Taxonomy listserv, some of the articles mentioned in this training, and more. Third, check out your state’s AIRS affiliate site. Depending on the state it may be more or less helpful, but it’s better to have and not need than to need and not have. So what’s a listserv exactly? A listserv is an electronic mailing list that allows for the widespread distribution of information to many users via . You can “post” to the listserv and all the listserv users will see the post. If you reply to the post, all the listserv users will see the reply. A good etiquette tip for listserv users is NOT to reply to the post with something that you really only intend to send to the poster. Like, “Hey Joe, how’s your wife and kids?” A note about listservs: If you’re inbox is anything like mine, probably the last thing you want to do is join another listserv, but if you don’t already belong to these two groups, you need to. Especially important for solo resource managers, the listservs provide a platform for discussion on a national level about important issues in I&R – and sometimes not-so-important issues – but it’s worth the extra when there’s a discussion about resource management.

19 CEQuick What is CEQuick?
CEQuick is an online training tool that allows you to pay a nominal fee to take a training course and have the opportunity to earn CE (Continuing Education) credits Fees range from $5-$35 per course Suggested courses for CRS test prep: AIRS: An Overview for Resource Specialists ($20) AIRS: Database Maintenance ($20) AIRS: Introduction to Taxonomy and Indexing ($30) AIRS: Resource Database Style ($25) Total cost = $95 **Check out the Unlimited $99/year package if you plan to take all four courses. CEQuick: online training tool that allows you to pay a nominal fee to take a training course and have the opportunity to earn CE (Continuing Education) credits Once you achieve your CRS you will be required to complete 10 continuing education units over the next two years in order to be re-certified. Schedules are getting busier and budgets are getting smaller and the opportunities to attend in-person training sessions are fewer and farther in between, becoming familiar with CEQuick now will not only help to prepare for the exam, but it will help you when it comes time to apply for re-certification. The cost of a training session ranges from $5-$35 per course, in proportion to the credit hours you’ll earn upon successful completion of the training. CEQuick offers an unlimited package for $99/year. If you plan to take these courses to prepare for the exam but others look interesting too, consider signing up for the unlimited package. Remember you’ll need some CEUs in the 2 years after you earn your CRS in order to apply for recertification, and you’ll probably be able to use a few more CEQuick trainings after the exam to start accumulating credit hours. <<Click the CEQuick link to demonstrate what the course list looks like.>>

20 Training sessions Be on the lookout for in-person training sessions
National Local Benefits of in-person training Get immediate answers to your questions Networking Printed training resources Taxonomy Training Curriculum ABCs of I&R In-person trainings are a golden opportunity to expand your knowledge and prepare for the CRS exam. Hopefully some of you had the opportunity to attend yesterday’s Resource Specialist 101 intensive training, but even if you didn’t there are other workshops at the conference this year, including Dick Manikowski’s Indexing workshops (Parts 1 & 2!) tomorrow morning. Your state’s AIRS affiliate (or a neighboring state) may also offer training sessions that are both closer to home and more affordable. If they don’t, consider encouraging that one be scheduled. Create some demand and perhaps they’ll supply a training. Also consider training sessions in a neighboring state. In Michigan we’ve had people travel from Ohio and Indiana to attend training sessions on several occasions. In person training sessions can be extremely beneficial for those of us that are social learners, sometimes it’s hard to teach yourself! You have the opportunity to ask questions, not only of the trainer, but of the other attendees. It’s also a networking opportunity. Get the phone number and address of others who are also preparing for the exam. Even if they don’t live near you, you can still work together to help one another prepare, which we’ll talk more about later. In addition to in-person training sessions, many I&R’s have created training manuals for their staff, and some include helpful exercises that you can do yourself for practice. Also, don’t forget about the test questions at the end of each section of the ABCs of I&R. It’s important to note here that AIRS does not endorse any sample exams or questions related to the CIRS, the CRS, or the CIRS-A tests. Any questions provided in a training session or workshop are not based on an actual exam; nor should they be presented as accurately reflecting any AIRS exam questions. That said, there is a link to a Taxonomy training with several handouts and exercises (and the correct answers) that will be helpful when preparing for the test. Here are some sample questions from that training, the ABCs of I&R, as well as some I’ve formulated, let’s see how we do.

21 Training sessions Which of the following best describes a hierarchical classification system? An alphabetical listing of keywords that would occur to most people A structured set of concepts that illustrates the relationships between listings A computer system that searches for any and all strings of words A collection of detailed definitions of various human services Which is the correct answer? Answer B.

22 Training sessions Of the following, which is not a required data element? Unique record identification number Geographic area served Federal Employer Identification Number Date the information was last verified Which is the correct answer? Answer C.

23 Training sessions Which of the following represents a Taxonomy branch?
BD, BH, BM, BR, BT B Basic Needs, D Consumer Services, F Criminal Justice and Legal Services, H Education J, JD, JD-1500, JD , JD FP-0500 Advocacy, TL Arms Control Advocacy Programs, TD Education Advocacy Groups Which is the correct answer? Answer C.

24 Training sessions The inclusion/exclusion criteria for the resource database should be: Told to everyone who contacts the I&R agency Published in relevant documents that are shared with the public Known only to the Board of Directors to ensure confidentiality Flexible so that the Resource Specialist can use discretion Which is the correct answer? Answer B.

25 Training sessions What are the main advantages of a style guide?
Defines inclusion/exclusion criteria Documents indexing decisions Documents rules for consistent data entry Supervises Resource Specialist staff Which is the correct answer? Answer C.

26 Training sessions When should an I&R resource database be comprehensively updated? Two months before the publication of a new directory Annually Monthly Continuously Which is the correct answer? Answer B.

27 Training sessions What is a “Use Reference”?
A term that has the exact opposite meaning of the given term A term that has a very close meaning to the given term A term that has the same coding as the given term A term that suggests a related yet distinct concept to the given term Which is the correct answer? Answer B. Other questions like these and their answers can be found in the ABCs of I&R and the Taxonomy training, accessible from the Taxonomy website’s library. See pages 21 and 49 of that training for more of the multiple choice question exercises. If your state’s local AIRS affiliate offers training sessions or has its own listserv, I recommend inquiring – either by or by a listserv post – about other training manuals that may have been developed for local use. They may contain additional exercises that you can do for practice. Even if these questions seemed very simple, I still encourage you to try some type of written exercise like this. Having to solve actual questions and choose from a list of answers is much different than having the practical knowledge to do your job. If you’ve been a resource manager for ten years and never done exercises like these, make sure you get your hands on some before exam time.

28 Study strategies and methods
Don’t count on short-term memorization Too much information Too complex Too important For an exam on this magnitude, don’t count on short-term memorization. There is simply too much information that is too complex to expect your poor brain to remember it all, especially under pressure. This is an important step for your career, you don’t want to leave it to chance. In order to succeed, you actually need to learn the material.

29 Study strategies and methods
Take notes When reading articles When attending training sessions Right now! That said, there are some tools that can help you to remember the trickier items and help you to organize your thoughts. First of all, take notes of some kind. The level of detail you go into is up to you, but it’s a good idea to take notes when reading articles or websites, or during training sessions, even if they’re minimal. Maybe you’ll do fine with something like the PowerPoint outline provided at this training, or maybe you need something with more detail. Consider the topics the exam covers and try organizing your notes that way. Outlining a 33 page article and condensing it into 3 pages of bulleted notes makes harnessing the information more manageable.

30 Mnemonic devices Memory/learning aid Acronym mnemonics use a word
H.O.M.E.S. Huron Ontario Michigan Erie Superior Mnemonic devices have been around for years and can be very very helpful when trying to remember a group of associated items, particularly lists. They rely on easy-to-remember constructs that can be related back to the data that you are trying to remember. The two most popular types of Mnemonic devices are first-letter mnemonics – where you take the first letter of each item you need to remember – and either create an acronym or an acrostic to help remember it. As an elementary student in Michigan, we were taught to remember the names of the five Great Lakes with the word, “HOMES,” which stands for Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie and Superior. Many years later, that’s still how I remember them. This is an example of using an acronym mnemonic device– an actual word in which each letter is also the first letter of one of the items you need to remember.

31 Mnemonic devices Acrostic mnemonics use a phrase
Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally Every Good Boy Does Fine King Penguins Congregate On Frozen Ground Sometimes An acrostic mnemonic uses an actual phrase, in which each word starts with the first letter of one of the list items you need to remember. Who remembers Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally? To help remember the order of arithmetic operations (Parentheses, Exponent, Multiply, Divide, Add, Subtract). What about Every Good Boy Does Fine? Used by music students to remember the order of notes on the treble clef (E, G, B, D, F). Or the Zoology mnemonic? King Penguins Congregate On Frozen Ground Sometimes Used to memorize the scientific classifications applied in zoology – which I learned in high school biology. Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species

32 Mnemonic devices There are some mnemonic makers online, but most of the user friendly ones end up spitting out mnemonics that are meant for people with vocabularies worthy of national spelling bee champions. They’re often used in fields of study that are high technical and require that many lists of items be remembered in particular order – like astrophysics or engineering. However, you need not be a rocket scientist to use and create a mnemonic device. The most effective mnemonics are usually a little bit funny – and sometimes a little bit raunchy. Most people remember a good joke better than they remember a moving poem. Also, they’re grammatically correct sentences (for the most part) that make sense! They aren’t just a random list of words. Lets all take about 5-7 minutes and try to create a mnemonic device (rated PG please!) to remember the top level categories of the Taxonomy (which I highly suggest you know for the test). There aren’t really “rules”, so you can even create two phrases and put them together since there are 11 categories. You can work in teams if you want to. BDFHJLNPRTY Who will volunteer to share their mnemonic device with the group? (3-5 minutes for sharing)

33 Mnemonic devices What else could you use a mnemonic device for?
AIRS standards? Inclusion/Exclusion Criteria Data Elements Classification System/Taxonomy Content Management and Indexing Database Search Methods Database Maintenance Required vs. recommended vs. optional data elements? Think about other items you’ll be studying and what might lend itself to a mnemonic device. Even just the act of trying to create a mnemonic will help you learn the material. Maybe a mnemonic could help you to remember the names of the standards? Or the data elements that are required?

34 Flash cards An oldie but a goodie
Can be used to help learn a wide variety of material, including items that are highly content-driven (AIRS Standards) Another person can quiz you without also having to know the material A classic study tool, they aren’t just so your kids can learn their Spanish vocabulary words or the elements of the Periodic Table. Flash cards can be a great tool for learning content-rich material. You are prompted by the term/phrase on the front, and have to remember the associated information on the reverse. Even the act of creating the flash cards will help you learn the material. They’re portable and discrete. Carry them in your bag and flip through while waiting in line to get your prescription filled, or in the few minutes before a meeting starts, or while you’re waiting for a fresh pot of coffee to brew. You can have anyone help you run through your flash cards, they don’t have to know the material. You can also share them with others. I borrowed some flash cards from another resource manager in Michigan, and then added some of my own. After I took the test, I shared my bundle of flash cards with yet another Michigan resource manager. We all passed the test! This is an example of one of my own flash cards that I used to learn the AIRS standards when preparing for the exam. I paraphrased the definition at the top, and then summarized the Quality Indicators below. You may want to create two sets of flash cards for the standards, one for the definitions, one for the Quality Indicators. Or use larger index cards if you’re going to include everything on one card.

35 Goal-setting and time management
Managing your study time is likely to be one of the most difficult elements about studying for this exam.

36 Goal-setting and time management
Remember that a good plan is the best defense against a tough test How much do you need to study? How comfortable are you with the knowledge areas? How quickly do you absorb new information? Do you have a good memory? Are you a fast reader? Set realistic goals for yourself and stick to them! “I will have all of my flashcards made by Friday.” “I will spend 15 minutes with my flashcards each day.” “I will run through my mnemonic devices each morning while brushing my teeth.” It was unrealistic for me to try to plan dedicated “study time” into my regular work day. I knew I was going to need to do most of it at home, at night, and on weekends. I signed up for a test that was several months away and I planned my studying in small chunks over a long period of time. Because I traveled to a neighboring state to take the test, I also had the day before the exam to use as my final “intensive” study day. If you’re in an environment where you can schedule study time for yourself during your work day, take advantage of it. If you have to break it up over a longer period of time like I did, a plan of attack will help keep you on track over a longer timeline. You need to consider several factors when deciding how much time you need to prepare. Are you already comfortable with any of the knowledge areas? Are you starting from scratch? How quickly do you absorb new information? Do you have a great memory? If you know you soak information up like a sponge you’ll probably need less time to study. If you can never seem to remember your ATM pin number you might need more time to study. Are you a fast reader, and how well do you retain information that you’ve read? Some of the recommended articles are a little on the long side and are jam-packed with material. Can you read something once, or will you need to read, re-read, and re-read again? Be realistic. If you can’t study while you’re at work, don’t plan to. If the kids are a distraction at home, don’t plan to study at home. Don’t kid yourself! Remember that your goals don’t have to be lofty to be effective. You don’t need to memorize the Taxonomy. You don’t have to know the AIRS Standards verbatim. Try setting goals like: I will make all my flashcards by Friday. I will be comfortable with the data elements in two weeks’ time. I will flip through at least five of my flash cards every day at lunch. You can even sketch out a rough timeline at the beginning of your test preparation and check it frequently to make sure you’re staying on target.

37 Time management Traveling to take the exam Distance to travel
Time of day Time of year Effect on your performance When signing up for a test time, make sure you consider these factors. How far do you have to travel? A 30 minute drive means you can be there and back in one day. A 4 hour and 30 minute drive means you might have to spend the night. If the test is at 2:00 in the afternoon but it’s 4 hours away, do you really want to spend four hours in the car and then try to take an exam? If the test is at 9:00 AM but it’s 4 hours away, will you be at your best if it means leaving the house at 4:30 in the morning? Does your state have a season of inclement weather? If you want and need to take the exam and there are no scheduled examination times that are convenient for your schedule, consider encouraging your agency (or another one that is close by) to host an exam. Check the AIRS website for more information about hosting an exam. I actually traveled to our neighboring state of Wisconsin to take the CRS exam, and then took the rest of the week off and spent some vacation time with my family there.

38 General test-taking tips
For multiple choice tests Read all options before making a selection Eliminate the highly implausible answers Be aware of words like “always,” “never,” “only,” “must,” and “completely.” These are usually wrong answers since there are many exceptions to rules. Answer all questions without skipping or jumping around, identify doubtful answers by marking in the margin, recheck these as time permits after all of the questions are answered. Don’t linger too long on any single question Reread all questions containing negative wording like “not,” or “least.” Watch out for double or triple negatives. Your first guess is usually right! Read all of your options before making a selection Eliminate the highly implausible answers Usually multiple choice tests have at least one or two answers that are obviously wrong. Often you’ll find that you quickly narrow it down to two answers which could be correct. If you rush through the answer options without reading them all, you might pick the trick answer, instead of the real answer. Beware of words like “always,” “never,” “only,” “must,” and “completely.” These are usually wrong answers since there are many exceptions to rules. Try to think of the exceptions, it may help you find the right answer. Answer all questions in order without skipping or jumping around, identify doubtful answers by marking in the margin and recheck these as time permits after all of the questions have been answered. Some people will ask, “Well isn’t it best to skip the ones I don’t know altogether, and come back to them at the end?” No. This is a timed exam. If you skip 10 questions and leave them totally blank and then run out of time, that’s 10 questions you’ll automatically get wrong. Even if you aren’t sure of the answer, choose something. That way if you run out of time before you get to go back, you at least have a 25% chance of getting it correct. Don’t linger too long on any single question Wear a watch, and pay attention to the time remaining. The exam proctor will update it through the examination period for you. Don’t worry if the people around you are finishing before you. They may not even be taking the same test. I took the exam at the Wisconsin State AIRS conference with about 20 other people and I was the only person taking the CRS exam. Reread all questions containing negative wording such as “not,” or “least.” Watch out for double or triple negatives. Always, always, always remember that your first guess is usually right! Go with your gut. You know this!

39 General test-taking trips
Eat breakfast! (Or lunch.) Get a good night’s sleep Go to the bathroom first Bring a bottle of water and tissues with you Bring extra pencils – sharpened! Try to relax! Some no-brainers that people often forget on test day, because their nerves are up and they’re rushing to get to the exam location. Eat breakfast! (Or lunch if you’re taking the exam in the afternoon.) Do not underestimate the distraction that a rumbling tummy can cause. Get a good night’s sleep the night before you take the exam. Almost no one performs at their best when they are exhausted. Go to bed early! Go to the bathroom before the exam. If you have to get up and go in the middle of the exam you’ll risk losing your concentration. Go before and get it over with. Bring a bottle of water and some Kleenex with you. If you get thirsty or suffer a fit of sneezing you won’t need to get up and leave the room. Bring an extra pen or pencil – or two. Don’t count on having a pencil sharpener nearby, so bring at least two sharp pencils. Some scantrons will accept blue or black ink, so you can also bring a pen if you prefer pen. And last but not least, try to relax! If you’ve studied as hard as you could, you should be in good shape. Knowing you’re just going to do the best you can should help put your mind at ease.

40 Web tools for continued communication
Facebook Please join the group I created a group for us, called “AIRS Certified Resource Specialists.” Trillian IM Chat with fellow resource managers who may use AOL Instant Messenger, ICQ, MSN Messenger, Yahoo Messenger, and IRC Google Docs Collaborate online and create documents, spreadsheets, and presentations that are stored online and can be accessed from any computer with a connection to the Internet One of the most important resources to help you prepare for this exam is the person sitting next to you. Before you leave this workshop today get some names, phone numbers and addresses so that you can work together as you prepare for the exams. I suggest asking your new friends when they are taking the exam. Follow up with each other. Send a good luck the week of someone’s exam, check in after they’ve taken it to see how they felt about the exam. Trade secrets, share flashcards, quiz each other. If you’re communicating with people across a distance, web-based tools can be a great and easy way to communicate and share information. All of these examples are totally free. If you’re not already a member, join Facebook. I created a group for us that we can use to keep in touch, ask each other questions, get answers, and post updates about upcoming exams, training sessions, etc. Trillian IM is a free and easy to use Instant Messaging software that is compatible with several other IM programs. Now people who use AIM can chat with people who use MSN. Keep it work-related, and make sure you have permission to install software on your work computer. Google Docs: free web-based productivity software, including a word processing program, a spreadsheet program, a presentation (power point) program, and even a program to create dynamic forms. Is compatible with most popular file formats, including .doc (Word), .xls (Excel), and .ppt (PowerPoint). Of course, don’t forget about traditional and the handy dandy telephone.

41 Questions?

42 Thanks!

43 Bibliography The ABCs of I&R, The Alliance of Information and Referral Systems Study Guide of Performance Based Competencies for Certification: CRS, The Alliance of Information and Referral Systems, retrieved from Setting Inclusion/Exclusion Criteria: Determining the Scope of a Resource File, by Dick Manikowski. Originally published in Information and Referral, the Journal of the Alliance of Information and Referral Systems, retrieved from Indexing with the AIRS/INFO LINE Taxonomy of Human Services, by Margaret (Gillis) Bruni. Originally published in Information and Referral, the Journal of the Alliance of Information and Referral Systems, retrieved from

44 Bibliography Taxonomy Supplements: How to Keep the AIRS/INFO LINE Taxonomy Updated for Your Resource File, by Georgia Sales. Originally published in Information and Referral, the Journal of the Alliance of Information and Referral Systems, retrieved from An Orientation to the Structure and Contents of the AIRS/211 LA County Taxonomy, by Georgia Sales. Originally published in Information and Referral, the Journal of the Alliance of Information and Referral Systems, retrieved from Structure and Contents of the Taxonomy, by Georgia Sales. Retrieved from

45 Bibliography AIRS Standards for Professional Information & Referral and Quality Indicators, The Alliance of Information and Referral Systems, retrieved from

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