Tips for taking the Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) exam
by: Liz Carden
The National Commission for Health Education Credentialing (NCHEC) aims to enhance the professional practice of Health Education by promoting and sustaining a credentialed body of Health Education Specialists through the CHES or MCHES certification. The CHES and MCHES designation after a health educator's name is one indication of professional competency and commitment to continued professional development (http://www.nchec.org).
To ascertain these certifications, the NCHEC conducts semi-annual paper-based exams that consists of a written exam of 165 multiple choice questions. The passing score varies by the version of the exam. The passing point is determined by using a variety of statistical techniques (A modification of the Angoff method and equating), which takes difficulty in account (http://www.nchec.org/exam/chesfaq/ches).
If you're still unsure about the value that the certification will provide, check out, What is a Certified Health Education Specialist and a Master Certified Health Education Specialist.
Although this test can seem intimidating, if you prepare ahead you will do just fine, as do the hundreds of professionals that sit in for exam every year.
Tips for taking the CHES exam
Here are a few tips that might be helpful to you, as you prepare to take the exam:
If possible, try to take the exam as close to graduation as possible. A good portion of the test focuses on items covered during the public health/health education program. The fresher the material is in your head, the better off you will be.
Join a study group or get a study buddy. If you don't know anyone in your area who is planning on sitting in for the exam, NCHEC offers study groups by state. Contact the group leaders for dates, times and costs.
Get the NCHEC study guide. Although might be pricey, it provides a really good overview of what will be asked during the exam, and also has sample questions. These will show you exactly the types of questions they will ask during the actual exam, and will give you an opportunity to practice which will be invaluable. Additionally, NCHEC offers a few free study guides that can be found through the NCHEC website. You can also find a few free sample questions there too.
If finances allow, look into getting CHES exam related books. One I have hear good things about is CHES Exam Secrets Study Guide: CHES Test Review for the Certified Health Education Specialist Exam. It offers great tips to help you prepare for the exam.
Focus a good portion of your studying on program planning and evaluation. Several of the people I spoke to about their experience with the exam mentioned that the ins and outs of developing programs and how to evaluate them were a heavy focus of the CHES exam questions, and it was definitely a focus when I took the exam too. Be sure to brush up on that if it's been a while.
Refresh yourself on basic test taking skills. If it's been a while since you have sat in on a lenghty exam such as this one, it is a good idea to remind yourself best ways to
Join the Official NCHEC group on LinkedIn. There are quite a few conversations on there about the exam, so you can learn from others' experiences. It's also a great place to network with other CHES/MCHES professionals.
Relax! As long as you spend time preparing you will do fine, so try not to stress.The night before, be sure to get a lot of rest so you are refreshed and ready to go.