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Top tips for IPA Foundation Certificate success

Top tips for IPA Foundation Certificate success
IPA Training Officer Gwyn March gives you food for thought ahead of the Foundation Certificate exam that can boost your agency career.

Congratulations on being selected to sit The IPA Foundation Certificate exam in February 2015.

As the online tutor for many years, I have some tips on what to do to achieve the happy success of previous candidates as seen celebrating their grades at Proud nightclub this past summer above!

Here are 10 actions to take to make sure you are ahead of the game:

1) Think about how you can USE this learning to benefit your career.

94% of those who did the last Foundation Certificate rated the content highly.

Every year the FC is updated by top practitioners in our field. Clearly the Certificate has earned the awards it has won for the quality of its eLearning. So maybe, after reading a section, jot down the learning most useful to you in your day job and then impress your team!

2) Visit the exam Revision Zone.

Don’t wait until a week to go to discover that you get 10% of the marks for clarity, and that many extra marks can be gained from using relevant learning from outside the Certificate.

So yes, that brilliant case study you have on your brand or that David Ogilvy book you enjoyed may well turn out to be even more useful.

After all, a small group achieve Distinctions, and you want to be one of them.

3) Form a Study Group.

This will provide support, someone to bounce ideas off and someone to help you revise.

For example, by taking a module each and presenting its key ideas back to the group. People learn by doing and teaching others is the best way to retain and understand information.

If you are the only person in your agency, try and buddy up with friends in other agencies. Whether you are in a group or not, make time each week to talk about what you have learned with your boss.

There is even a mock exam paper in the exam revision zone, meaning you can do this to exam conditions and then discuss your answers.

Take the time to do a plan. You should have practiced writing to time like this. Section A is four questions from eight therefore five minutes to plan and 15 minutes writing for each. Section B is one essay therefore 10 minutes for a plan and 30 minutes to write it.

4) Read the Certificate once with notes then read it again, starting to make connections between the Learning Paths ahead of more notes.

There is no shortcut to just studying, make time each day to progress.

5) Tell us if you are dyspraxic or dyslexic.

You will need to provide written medical evidence to The IPA, which will enable you to have 30 minutes extra time, at least one month beforehand.

6) Contribute to the discussion boards.

This will help you to make connections, test your understanding and gain extra knowledge along with the assignments and taking the quizzes.

7) Practice your handwriting.

Ensure you take the time to dust off a pen and test your old handwriting skills (remember those!) and practice the style of the exam to time. Diagrams might be necessary too, but otherwise essay style with few bullet points.

Remember, you get points for clarity, so it helps if the examiner can actually read what you’ve said.

8) Make sure you have revised at least one of the case studies in the final module thoroughly.

We don’t let you take in a copy, therefore make sure you are completely in the know beforehand when it comes to those case studies.

There is a big clue in the words ‘at least’!

9) Get some sleep on the last weekend.

Studies have extensively proved that you should not cram late into the night - nothing will be going in and you will just exhaust yourself. Equally, make sure you are properly hydrated – even a tiny drop in hydration (2%) leads to a 20% drop in concentration.

10) In the exam, read the question and then read it again.

You can play to your strengths. For example, if you are a media planner and a question comes up about media planning there is nothing to stop you doing it, and it will allow you to bring in a wealth of outside material.

If you want to throw out a general question, put it on the discussion boards or if you want a private chat, then email me anytime at

You can track the Foundation chatter on Twitter too through #IPAFC.

Thanks for your time, and good luck!

Gwyn March is an IPA Training Officer.

Take the Search Certificate if you want to follow up the Foundation Certificate.

Explore our CPD area to see what other courses or qualifications you can take.

Last updated 10/12/2014

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