Tips & Strategies for Acing Designation Exams: Boost your Study Game with Confidence

By Dustyne Bryant, MBA, CIC, CISR

Director of Risk & Insurance Education and Research

Navigating your way to earning a designation from The National Alliance for Insurance Education & Research is a journey that goes beyond attending “just a course”. 

One must pass exams to earn their sought-after credentials – and we understand this can be nerve-wracking! Common worries like “I’m not a good test taker” or “I haven’t taken a test since I left school” are all too familiar.

We’re here to help!

We’re aiming to debunk your exam fears, whether you’re required to pass a 50-question multiple choice test, like the CISR or CSRM courses, or a written exam for the CIC, CRM, or CPRM courses. We’ve got top-notch strategies to help you prep for success!

Multiple Choice Exams

For those seeking the CISR or CSRM designations, you’re tasked with a 50-question multiple-choice exam, which must be completed in 65 minutes. This will test your ability to recall specific knowledge and apply that knowledge in different contexts.

Effective Study Tips for Multiple Choice Exams:

  • Utilize Additional Resources

    Each CISR course has a dedicated Resources webpage to reinforce your learning. These resources include a study guide and other learning materials.

  • Review and Understand

    Go through each section goal and understand the learning objectives associated with each.

  • Question Everything

    Change each header or subheader into a question, then answer it. For example, Header: Comparison of Homeowners Forms. Question: How does the HO-3 (Special Form) differ from the HO-5 (Comprehensive Form)?

  • Make Flashcards

    This will help in revising policy definitions and other key terminology.

  • Guide Your Time

    Practice time management to answer questions efficiently.

  • Interpret What You See

    Review each diagram, graph, and table. Ask yourself who each relates to a specific learning objective.

Exam Taking Strategies for Multiple Choice Exams

Consider these timely tips for sitting a multiple-choice exam:

Prioritize information in the Learning Guide and provided by the instructor over specific insurance company coverage you may have learned in practice. 

Be patient in reviewing each question and identifying the underlying question being asked. Write down any key words that stand out to you.

Practice the elimination strategy to rule out incorrect answers and understand what it means to select the “best” answer.

Review your final answers if time permits.

Written Exams

Courses within the CIC, CRM, and CPRM designation programs provide a unique experience. Unlike CISR courses, only select CIC and CRM courses have a Resources web page that provides a study guide and other resources to reinforce learning. Look for a URL in your Learning Guide.

Effective Study Tips for Written Exams

Here are some additional tips to guide your studying for a written exam:

  • Listen Actively

    Adjust your listening speed to the instructor's pace. Focus on grasping "big ideas" and identify supporting facts.

  • Break Down the Concept

    Rewrite important concepts and ideas in your own words and find ways to relate the work experiences to those concepts and ideas.

  • Ask Yourself Clarifying Questions

    Think about potential questions that can be asked to evaluate your understanding of each learning objective. For example, if the Learning Objective is to Explain Risk Financing Plans, what questions might you ask yourself to assess your understanding?

Exam Taking Strategies for Written Exams

Some in-depth strategies for written exams are:

Answer the question specifically asked without straying off-topic.

Write succinct and clear responses.

Do not give answers that speak to coverage being both provided and excluded. Take a stance on a given scenario or topic.

If the question has multiple parts, ensure you answer all parts. Be sure to scroll down the test page to ensure all parts of the question have been answered.

Keep track of time and balance it well among all questions.

No matter the result of your written or multiple choice exam, give yourself a pat on the back. You DID IT! 

Use this experience to enhance your future study approach, own your potential, and continue your journey with The National Alliance for Insurance Education & Research.

Everyone has unique study and test-taking methods – adapt these tips to suit your personal style. Remember, practicing exams is as important as practicing skills in your field.

For those who didn’t pass their written CIC, CRM, or CPRM exam, don’t worry!

Exam reviews can be requested at Your journey is about learning and growing, retaking a course isn’t a step backward but a different step forward. This can be with a different instructor, learning method, or even course.

So, chin up, implement these study techniques, and prepare to own your potential!

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