How to Study for the CEcD Exam

With a 33% pass rate, saying that the Economic Development Certification exam is intimidating would be an understatement. Countless economic developers have stressed that you cannot rely on your professional experience alone to pass this exam. These CEcDs emphasize the importance of dedicating months of study time in order to prepare. Most people that I’ve spoken to have suggested consistently studying for at least the 6 months leading up to the exam.

So what do they suggest in terms of study material?

1. Know the IEDC Training Manuals

First and foremost, read the IEDC training manuals. At every IEDC class that I’ve attended, the instructors have stressed that solely attending the classes will not prepare you for the exam. In fact, reading, re-reading, and knowing the manuals cover to cover seems like an absolute MUST when preparing for the exam. Better yet, take notes while reading the manual and read those several times, as well.

2. Memorize the Glossary Terms

Every training manual contains a Glossary in the back of the book. You will need to know these terms. People that have been on the 123 CEcD podcast have suggested making flashcards of all Glossary terms. Feeling tech-y? Some people have even used Quizlet to create flash cards for terms, phrases, equations, etc. One person that I interviewed on the podcast suggested recording yourself reading the flashcards and playing it in the car whenever you drive somewhere in order to really nail down those terms.

3. Practice Short Answer and Essay Questions

Another study tactic that has been advised many, many times is practicing short answer and essay questions. Countless CEcD’s have attested that the essay portion of the exam is the most challenging. Some say because the art of writing is more challenging to retain once completing school. Others have said that simply organizing one’s thoughts so the essay flows nicely is difficult. Still others have said that the sheer amount of knowledge needed to answer the questions makes the essays more challenging. In any case, practicing this particular section of the exam is vital. So, how do you find practice short answer and essay questions?

4. Work through Case Studies

I’d suggest reviewing the case studies that the instructors distribute at each class. Several instructors have advised studying these as potential short answer and essay questions.

5. Attend the OU EDI CEcD Exam Prep Course

The Oklahoma University Economic Development Institute (OU EDI) offers a “CEcD Exam Prep Course” that is very popular among professionals preparing for the exam. In fact, many economic developers who take the IEDC classes rather than OU EDI still prioritize this prep course when preparing for the exam. People have mentioned that this is a great way to practice the short answer, essay, and oral portions of the exam. Attending this class will also put you in contact with others preparing for the exam. I’d recommend forming a study group of your peers to divide up preparing study materials and also to encourage each other along the journey.

6. Find a Mentor

Lastly, and this I cannot stress enough: find some mentors who have already passed the exam. What better way to prepare than by listening to what others have already found to be effective study methods and learning what aspects of the exam surprised them and what their advice is for you as you study. On the 123CEcD podcast, I invite each guest to share all of these aspects of their exam preparation and more. I’d recommend that you check out a couple of episodes just to hear real accounts of people’s experiences with the exam.

I know there are countless study methods out there, but I hope one or more of these suggestions helps inspire you to begin (or even continue) your exam preparation.

Have you passed the exam already? How did you study? Let me know at [email protected]. I’d love to continue adding your various study methods to this blog post.