In this post we will talk about 15+ actionable study strategies, tips, and insights to help you prepare for your SAP S/4HANA Certification exam. This post will focus on the “how to study” part and less on the general / vague “just study hard and have a positive mindset”.
- Pre-study Tips / Pre-requisites
- How to Study
- Additional Information
A bit of sharing…
I would like to start off by saying that these are my personal study strategies, tips, and insights. Some strategies may seem a bit “back-to-college” or even “senior-high” but it works for me. I understand that in most cases, studying for your SAP Certification exam will be on top of your daily workload. As such, I have tweaked my study approaches and schedule to consider my consultant workload.
I am fortunate enough to understand which learning methods work for me. We all have different learning preferences. For example, some of you may prefer eLearning materials (videos, learning platforms, etc.) over standard eBooks. Some of you may even prefer a classroom setup instead of a self-study approach. In essence, it helps to know what type of material best works for you.
Following the strategies, tips, and insights below won’t guarantee you will pass the certification. This is not a secret nor a “pass your certification with little effort” scheme. This is being shared to you as additional help and guidance. This is also being shared so that you have other perspectives. If you already know what works for you, then stick to it 😊
In my case, I am just sticking to what works for me (with some tweaks to consider my work as a consultant). I have (of course) applied these strategies as preparation to the SAP S/4HANA certification I took and thankfully passed.
That being said, I hope the strategies, tips, and insights below help you towards your SAP S/4HANA certification journey.
1. Mindset Matters
Mindset matters. It is your commitment to yourself.
We will start off with something cliché but realistic. Having the right mindset does matter. You need to be able to commit to the effort you will exert to ensure you are prepared for the certification exam.
In my case, I personally decided to put in the effort because this is part of my career and development goals. This is for me and it is in line my long-term goals as well. So… when I say mindset matters, it is less about the usual “be positive” and more on “you are doing this for yourself”.
2. Stephen R. Covey’s Time Management Matrix
This is also known as The Eisenhower Matrix but I associate it to Stephen R. Covey’s book. In the book he talks about time management but in our case, I will share how I apply or utilize the time management matrix.
Every day you may have multiple tasks and it can be overwhelming to know that you have a lot of things to do. So, when I encounter that scenario, I try to file those tasks (or even activities) into one of the 4 boxes.
In general, there are 4 boxes:
I like to call them boxes but they are formally called “quadrants”.
- Box 1: Urgent + Important = Do Now
- Box 2: Not urgent + Important = Plan
- Box 3: Urgent + Not important = Delegate / Decide
- Box 4: Not urgent + Not important = Eliminate / Reduce
The images below shows these 4 boxes and how you can determine the categorization of your tasks / activities.
Another way of looking at it is:
- Box 1: Finish ASAP! = Do Now
- Box 2: Next in line priority! = Plan
- Box 3: Check priority = Delegate / Decide
- Box 4: This can wait… = Eliminate / Reduce
- Box 1: Finish ASAP! = Work Deliverables
- Box 2: Next in line priority! = Study & Long Term Strategies
- Box 3: Check priority = Interruptions
- Box 4: This can wait… = Additional Tasks
Overall, the concept here is to be able to manage what we do in a day and understand that not everything is important.
I also want you to know that this is not something I do daily. I only do this when there are too many tasks / activities in a day. If I have a few major work tasks or a few to-do items during my weekend, I don’t see the point of using this and making the day more complex than it should.
3. Be Wary of Shortcuts and Scams
Please be careful and wary of shortcuts and scams. There seem to be people online who offer 100% passing rate if you purchase their certification dump. That 100% passing rate claim can strike up some concerns.
Is this real? If I purchase this, will I regret it? How sure am I that the questions provided in the certification dump will appear in my certification exam? The exam changes, how do they update the certification dump?
Overall, it seems highly unrealistic to put trust in the certification dump and at the same time have 100% trust that I will pass the exam. I have also read statements in official SAP websites cautioning people on certification dump scams / schemes.
Earlier we talked about mindset and how I decided to put in the effort because this is part of my career goals. At the end of the day, I want to know that I was able to pass the exam with my capabilities.
If I were to go for the “shortcut”, there are 2 outcomes. It’s either I pass or fail.
- If I fail, then I wasted money on the certification dump and the money spent on the exam (you need to pay to take the exam).
- If I pass, I would end up questioning my skills in the future.
If I were to avoid the “shortcut”, there are 2 outcomes. It’s either I pass or fail.
- If I fail, then I would know that I need to improve on certain areas and the money spent for the exam is not that heavy of a load compared to just relying on the certification dump. It’s a matter of “putting the effort and failing” vs “not putting the effort and failing”.
- If I pass, I would have that peace of mind knowing that I was able to pass the exam with my own capabilities. Moving forward, I have this extra “push” knowing that I was able to overcome this challenge with my own capabilities.
Whether or not you choose to take the “shortcut”, there would be 2 outcomes: pass or fail. It is up to you to decide whether the results of the “shortcut” will benefit you in the future.
4. Decide on the Certification & Be Aware of the Exam Coverage
You need to decide on the certification you will take and research more about the exam coverage. If this is your first time to take the certification exam, I would suggest you consider the following as basis:
- Consider your current skillset. Are you already working with hands on experience in SAP?
- Are you trying to steer your career towards SAP and a certain SAP capability?
You can check out several SAP Learning Journeys that you can use as basis for your certification journey. You do not need a user id to look at the learning journeys. For example, here is a link to the SAP Learning Journey for SAP S/4HANA Finance – Financial Accounting.
You will notice in the learning journey that you will start off with the overview and work your way towards becoming competent in customizing, configuration, etc.
The screenshot below shows an example where I hover over the certification tile. You will see links to certification details and even sample questions you can refer to for free.
Please make sure that you focus on the latest release. If you click on the certification details link, you will get an overview of the exam coverage.
At this point, you should know:
- What SAP Certification you are aiming for (ensure it is the latest release).
- The corresponding Learning Journey that will help you obtain the SAP Certification.
- The topics you should be learning / studying.
- The SAP Certification exam coverage.
- Sample questions for the SAP Certification exam you will be taking.
Now that you are aware of these things, you can pattern the learning journey to your study plan – which we will discuss later on.
5. Fix Your Study Area
Because I planned to take the certification exam at home, I made sure to study frequently (if not all the time) in the same study area. It is the same environment I expect to take the exam in. There is less clutter, items, and even mimics the area on the actual exam day.
In a way, this conditions me to be used to the environment I am in so there is less of a disruption during exam day.
Make sure to read the FAQs on pre-exam, during exam, and post-exam PDFs linked in the exam overview to know more about the requirements when taking the exam.
6. Create Your Study Plan (Worksheet)
I create my study plan which is patterned after the Learning Journey linked to the certification I plan to take. It is like my “one stop shop” for certification details, outlines, dates, links, etc.
It contains the following:
- My study schedules.
- My study outlines.
- How I divide the studying into chunks (because I am a full time SAP consultant and need to balance my time).
- What I take note of.
- How I map out the duration.
This is my personal worksheet and if you are interested to download the template and know more about how I utilize the worksheet, you can head over to this link.
I plan to launch a mini-course soon to show how the actual worksheet looks like and how I use it for different certifications.
7. Decide on the Learning Material and/or Method
You know what learning material or method you prefer. You could opt for a book, an eBook, sit-down class, videos, etc. It depends on your preference.
In my case, I prefer online self-learning compared to an actual sit-down class or an online class where you follow a weekly schedule. The reason why I prefer the online self-learning method is because I want to take as much time as I can on certain topics, and I have to juggle the studying on top of my current workload.
Fortunately, I was given access to SAP Learning Hub and was able to utilize eLearning videos, eBooks, and even SAP environments for hands on exercises at my own pace. Others are able to pass the exam by reading SAP books (or eBooks) etc.
HOW TO STUDY
8. Map Learning Modules / Topics to your Study Plan
In consideration to the learning method you opt to take, it helps to map out the learning modules to your study plan so that you are aware of what you are studying. It gives you a high-level overview on what you will study and what you will study for a certain week (for example).
If you are using an eBook, skim through the table of contents, within chapters (if preferred), so you get a gist of what to expect. In my case, I used the eLearning videos on SAP Learning Hub in consideration the SAP Learning Journey to map out my study plan.
Again, if you are interested in downloading my study worksheet, please refer to this link.
9. Go Through Each Topic Thoroughly
Now that you have mapped the modules to your study plan, you need to put in the work to learn each of those modules. This is the part where you go through everything. Pay extra attention to emphasized statements and of course consider your study plans for the week/day/month – however you planned it to be.
As much as possible, do not skip any module or topic. If we go back to the exam coverage, it covers all modules.
10. Apply the Pomodoro Technique
The concept here is to take study breaks and allow your brain to consume information in short study sessions. You can read more about this technique here.
It doesn’t work for me to study for 5 straight hours. I usually take 5 – 15 – 30 minute breaks in between.
Try to relax your brain and don’t forget to have balance. Cramming isn’t really my best friend. It just hurts my head.
Now, you can utilize the Pomodoro Technique which consists of 25 to 30-minute study sessions and 5 to 10-minute study breaks. I use this technique but with a slight revision. You can refer to the image below.
I have 10 study sessions or more depending on my load or eagerness to study. You will notice that every after 25 minutes, I have a 5-minute break in between. I will just stare blankly into space, look at my phone, eat a cookie, or even laugh at memes. It is your choice—just don’t study during that 5-minute break.
After four 25-minute study sessions, there will be longer break. This time 10-minutes. So, if we do 2 batches of these four 25-minute study sessions, we will have a total of 4 hours and 10-minutes overall. This sort of timing corresponds to the allotted time on my study plan / worksheet.
The slight revision happens for Session 9 onwards where I take longer time frames to study. You don’t necessarily have to follow this if you find it too tedious.
If you are having troubles with the timing, you can utilize this website called Tomato-Timer to help remind you when it’s time to take a break or stop the study session.
11. Apply the Feynman Technique
The Feynman Technique sounds complex, but you would be surprised at how simple and effective it is. It was coined after this guy named Richard Feynman who is a leading theoretical physicist. He won a Nobel prize for his work on electrodynamics and the technique was derived from his studying methods.
Here are the steps:
- Pick a topic and study it (can apply to any SAP topic).
- After studying and learning about that topic, get a paper and write the topic down as if you’re teaching it to somebody. You can write and even speak as you go along.
- This part will help you realize what areas you still have troubles understanding so you can go back to studying about those areas more.
- Repeat it but use the simplest words you can…as if you’re talking to a child. You can even use graphics and / or visual analogy by make a story out of the topic.
You can modify this technique if you want by focusing on the writing part or just the speaking part. The main point is that you should be able to explain the topic you learned to someone else.
12. Associate Topics to Actual Experience
Having background is a good thing. Earlier, we talked about deciding on the certification and how it helps to have work experience in the topic you are studying.
When I want to remember a topic / concept, I try to link them to my actual work experiences. It helps me visualize and remember the topic or concept well. Why? Because I have experience in it.
If you have little to zero work experience on a certain topic, you can use the Feynman Technique and create a story out of it and even explain it in your own words.
You can also utilize the hands-on experience on practice SAP systems if you are given access to them. This is where actually doing the configurations, customizations, and even transactions help you in obtaining that “experience”.
13. Create Scenarios
It helps to create scenarios when you are studying. Remember that your goal is to understand and learn the topic rather than just memorizing. Here are some example template scenarios you can use when studying / learning:
- You will test the _ functionality. What needs to be setup before _ functionality can be used? Why is it setup beforehand?
- You have just created a new GL Account. Will you automatically see the new GL Account in the Financial Statement? Where? Why? How?
If you are able to explain and answer those scenarios in your own words, then you have a good grasp of what you are trying to learn.
14. Use Digital or Old-Fashioned Flash Cards
It is helpful to reinforce the learning by using flash cards. You can use the old-fashioned flash cards (handwritten), sticky notes, or with the help of an online tool called Quizlet.
Using flash cards (whichever the approach) requires you to extract information from your brain. You are trying to recall instead of just reading.
You can use these flash cards during your idle time: while waiting for the bus, drinking coffee, while you are waiting for your game character to respawn, etc. The trick is to go through these flash cards randomly, so you try to recall certain concepts from time to time.
This in turn helps reinforce what you have learned. Below is a screenshot of my free Quizlet account where I put sample questions and just click on the flash card to check on my answer.
15. Hands on SAP Live Access
Execute and Do the exercises in an actual SAP system. This is provided as SAP Live Access or if you have a sandbox environment you can use for learning, that can be utilized. If you are lacking in experience, this will help you visualize and do the associations. This will also help you associate the concepts and topics you learned to your hands-on experience (as mentioned in Tip #12).
For those of you who are wondering what SAP Live Access is, you can refer to this link.
What Learning Materials did you utilize for your SAP S/4HANA Certification?
For those of you who are curious, I was provided with SAP Learning Hub access where I was able to maximize the learning materials ranging from eBooks, eLearning options, Learning Rooms, etc.
Interested in the SAP Certification Study Worksheet + More Tips (Video Format)?
If you are interested in more tips / strategies like these and would like to download the SAP Certification Study Worksheet / Template I used, you may go to the link provided.
By pre-registering, you will be the first to know when you can download the worksheet and watch the video on how I use the template for different certifications.
- Downloadable file: SAP Certification Study Worksheet / Template
- Video: How I utilize the worksheet + See my actual worksheet (populated)
- Mindset Matters
- Stephen R. Covey’s Time Management Matrix
- Be Wary of Shortcuts and Scams
- Decide on the Certification & Be Aware of the Exam Coverage
- Fix Your Study Area
- Create Your Study Plan (Worksheet)
- Decide on the Learning Material and/or Method
How to Study
- Map Learning Modules / Topics to your Study Plan
- Go Through Each Topic Thoroughly
- Apply the Pomodoro Technique
- Apply the Feynman Technique
- Associate Topics to Actual Experience
- Create Scenarios
- Use Digital or Old-Fashioned Flash Cards
- Hands on SAP Live Access
I hope this helps. Good luck! 😊