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How to Study for the CHES® Exam

Are you preparing to take the Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES®) examination? You are not alone. In fact, there are thousands of students and professionals sitting for this prestigious certification examination each year, at hundreds of Prometric Test Center locations across the country.

With such a inspiring community of test-takers around you, it can be quite advantageous to reach out to other people and find support. There are many others who will be sitting for the examination at the same time as you, and there are even more who have passed that are willing to share about their experience. In this blog, we'll look at what some previous test takers said about the exam and discuss:

  • What to expect during the CHES exam
  • How to prepare for the CHES exam

What to Expect During the CHES® Exam

The CHES® Exam covers all the core Competencies of the Health Education and Promotion field, which are contained within Eight Areas of Responsibility. These areas include:

  • Assessment of Needs and Capacity
  • Planning
  • Implementation
  • Evaluation and Research 
  • Advocacy
  • Communication
  • Leadership and Managment
  • Ethics and Professionalism

In the graphic above, you can see how each of these sections of the test are broken down. Since the exam covers a lot of material – 8 areas of study, 165 questions, and in 180 minutes – you have to be prepared, be nimble, and move confidently through the exam without hesitation.

Going into the exam itself, it is important to know what to expect — that’s why we turned to the CHES® network on Facebook. Here are some of the most important tips we received about what to expect during the exam:

  • Godspeed! Not going to lie, the test was pretty hard. They will give you a series of answer choices and often times multiple answers could just have to pick the one that's most correct. - Claire H.
  • Take it slow. Be confident. Celebrate after for all of your hard work! - Kai L.
  • Answer the questions you know for sure first and go back to the hard ones later. I was thinking 3 hours is a lot of time for a test BUT I used every second! Go for your first choice and don't over think! Go to the bathroom BEFORE the test and don't drink a lot of fluids!! Every second counts!! You basically have 180 minutes to answer 165 questions! - Alisha P.
  • Show up early in case there is anything that might prevent you from getting to the testing location on time. There was a marathon going on the morning that I tested and lots of roads were blocked off because of it! - Hannah A.
  • Make sure to eat and drink beforehand. Also, wear layers just in case. It was FREEZING when I took my exam and I struggled to keep warm. Also, don't overthink any of the questions- you've got this! Best of luck! - Monae B.

How to Prepare for the CHES® Exam

Leading up to test day, it is important to study hard with the right study materials. Since we all learn differently, there can be many ways that are more effective than others when it comes to exam preparation.

Candidates have reported positive outcomes through joining study groups, using the practice questions in the Health Education Specialist Companion Guide, auditing university courses, and reading additional selected textbooks. It is up to you to determine what mode of preparation is best for you. While optional, NCHEC does recommend that you prepare for the test by studying with text books, and utilizing practice questions, allowing you to test your knowledge and get your timing down for answering questions.

Although studying in this way does not guarantee passing the exam, it is a good way to practice for the exam itself. Since the study guides and books only contain sample questions, not actual questions that will be on the test, it is important for you to do extensive studying to have a better understanding of the material, beyond what is in the study guide.

NCHEC suggests keeping your studies quite broad. Since this is a national credential and is based on verified Competencies and Sub-competencies used by practicing CHES® across the country in many different job settings, you must take a deep dive into your previous studies so that you have the essential knowledge for practice as a health education specialist.

Despite the differences in how everyone studies for the exam and what methods prove successful for each person, we found that most CHES® test-takers had similar words of advice leading up to test day. Here are some great tips we received from past testers:

  • If you study, you got this! I took it in October and was terrified but don't stress yourself out too much. - Katie G.
  • Taking multiple practice tests was so beneficial! Get a good night rest today and let all that knowledge soak in. - Shellea Q.
  • My advice: Relax tonight … don’t panic … speed read because 3 hours goes so fast when taking the exam... Good luck. - Eneseo A.
  • Healthy breakfast, caffeine, and a good night rest. Good luck! - Ibel G.
  • Eat a great dinner, watch a movie, get some sleep, then go be awesome. - Roger P.

From the above advice, it is clear that there are two things to keep in mind: to study hard and to take care of yourself before exam day. It is important to stay balanced and clear-headed for the test, but to also make sure you are fed, rested, and ready to tackle the whole exam from start to finish!


Ready to Take the CHES®? Let’s Get Started.

If you are pursuing a career in the health education and promotion field, credentialing as CHES® is an excellent way to showcase your skills and ability to perform in the workplace - and in any job setting you choose.  Certification demonstrates that you have up-to-date knowledge and expertise, as well as your commitment to the profession and future professional development. Becoming CHES® or MCHES® can align you with a large network of like-minded professionals, so don’t forget to join our social media pages and stay up-to-date on industry events, news, and happenings.

To access everything you need for CHES® preparation, access NCHEC’s resources and our strong community of health education specialists! Click the button below to get started.


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