From the Trenches: Certification Anxiety  

By Marcus Hammond, CF APMP

To be 100% honest with you: studying for and taking tests is not my strong suit. I start to hyperventilate when I’m sent something as simple as a “What Superhero Are You?” personality test. 

I vividly remember sitting for the GRE in college. I did all the things necessary to prep for the standardized test, I went to study groups, and I took practice exams. But on test day, I froze up, freaked out, and utterly flopped.  

Fast forward 20 glorious, test-free years. I joined APMP to improve my professional skills and surround myself with a network of professionals. But then it happened. Someone said, “You should check out APMP certification.” Cue breathing into a paper bag.  

At this point, I had been working in a mostly solo proposal management environment for six years. I knew I needed to find resources to help me establish processes… but was actively avoiding having to take tests. However, I knew if I wanted to establish credibility and grow professionally, this is what needed to happen. I already dreaded the experience. 

However, as soon as I expressed my reluctant interest, I learned that APMP offers a large network of support and options that would work with my learning style and personality. I am easily distracted and prone to procrastination when faced with discomfort. Through APMP GMC’s programs, I found people who took the time to get to know me and my style. 

In the GMC Certification Study Group, I learned and reviewed certification study materials in a way that spoke to me. I also gained confidence from my study partners. Separately, in the Mentorship Program, my mentor reinforced concepts from the study guide and gently nudged me anytime I teetered on the edge of a procrastination vortex. Overall, this network held me to my commitment to take the certification exam.  

Did I still freak out? Sure. I waited six months after the study group ended to take the test. But I had support… and when I passed, I felt pride in my career, my network, and in myself.  

While my journey and story is unique to me, the need for support and encouragement is universal. While you might not have test anxiety and look forward to achieving certification, a network of attentive, caring professionals can provide benefits you may not have even considered yet.  

No matter your level of anxiety or comfort, my advice is this: Take advantage of every single opportunity you have in front of you. Join the Certification Study Group, actively search for a network, get a mentor, and learn everything you can from these resources. 

With an amazing network of people willing to listen to what makes you anxious, proud, excited, or depressed (plus undeniably useful resources to supplement those people), you’ll ace your next APMP certification exam. 

About the Author: 

Marcus has been a proposal manager for six years. Prior to jumping head-long into a life of go/no-go conversations, Marcus taught English at several Kansas City area community colleges and wrote content for a pop-culture website. Marcus has a master’s degree in liberal arts from Baker University with an emphasis in literature and a bachelor’s degree in English and communication studies from the University of Kansas. His free time is spent sharing a love of Legos, Pokémon, and comic books with his son and traveling, reading, and creating art with his wife. You can reach him at [email protected].