Five Characteristics of an Effective Exam Prep Curriculum

Have you ever purchased an online course in some sector of industry thinking, “THIS will be a game-changer!”? I have. I thought that newly learned knowledge would make my job more interesting or put me in a higher salary range, or give me a fresh start in a new, more exciting career. Can you also relate to purchasing the course, studying it for a bit and getting sidetracked either with boredom or confusion or technological difficulties, etc? Then the money paid for the course, along with the aspirations and excitement, go into some earthly black hole? Me too. And like me, you probably blamed yourself, considering yourself a “non-finisher,” a failure, or some other mean-spirited, shame-riddled adjective you would never attribute to anyone else. The probable reality is you didn’t fail. Your course did. Next time you are purchasing an online course, consider the following five factors. Examples are taken from the insurance sector, but the information is applicable to all online courses.


Participating in an insurance pre-licensing course is not a requirement in the state of Utah, but a well-designed curriculum will dramatically improve an examinee’s chances of passing an exam. That is the purpose of purchasing an exam prep course. So, what does a well-designed curriculum look like? Read on!


What is the goal of the curriculum? For example, insurance deals with many complicated concepts and difficult terminology. Some courses are very extensive, surpassing mere necessary exam preparation and delving into all those difficult concepts and terms. Other courses, such as Mountain CE‘s, are created solely to get students over the hurdle of passing the exam. This type of curriculum tends to limit complicated concepts to only what is necessary to pass. This assumes licensees will delve more deeply into their respective lines after getting licensed. A course should align with the student’s pre-licensing goals.


Most courses will vary, providing some, or all, of the following: webinars, live classes, online courses, flashcards, practice quizzes and exams, study manuals and tutoring. The more tools available, the better prepared a student will be (IF the tools are used). Programs typically get more expensive as more tools are provided. If money is a factor, students can cut out most of the tools but should find at least the money for a good online course.


Courses written so the student can easily see the subject and its correlating concept within the curriculum create order in the chaos of learning something new. This is especially important in complicated subjects like insurance. The curriculum should also provide education on all subjects that may be on the related exam. Some curricula are designed from a generic, nationwide perspective. If a student is preparing for a state exam, will a national curriculum pare down the information to the state-specific level? (Keep in mind, no education provider should know specific questions on proctored exams, but should teach the information necessary to answer any potential questions.) If possible, students should know what general information will be on the exam. Many testing centers, such as Prometric, contain detailed outlines a student can take a look at before going in to test. These outlines are an objective standard by which to judge a curriculum’s appropriateness for the exam the student is studying for.


Educators should provide support for students who may encounter problems. Issues related to content, technology, and registration are common. Good companies are as interested in the success of their customers as they are in the bottom line. Those are the companies which will provide student support before, during, and after the course. So, take a moment to complete their survey if they send one to you. It is quite likely you received a better product than someone prior to you because that earlier student gave the company good feedback. Why not pay it forward?