How to Reduce Dropout Rates for Your Certification Candidates

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Passing a certification exam is a key milestone for many professionals. It can increase their salaries and help take thei rcareer to the next level. However, many professionals that sign up for their certification exams fail to follow through and actually take them.

Are dropout rates higher than you’d like for your certification candidates? With some effective strategies, you can reduce that number. This guide breaks down everything you need to know about how to decrease the number of candidates not finishing their certifications.

Why Do Candidates Drop Out?

Before you can cut down on certification dropout rates, you first need to know why candidates are dropping out. With a comprehensive understanding of the impediments that stand in a candidates’ way, you’re better equipped to remove those hurdles. Some common reasons candidates drop out before completing their certification exams include:


With so many reasons to drop out, it might feel like the cards are stacked against your candidates. How can you support them better to follow through more frequently with taking your certification exam? Explore some of the most effective strategies for reducing dropout rates and promoting candidate success.

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8 Surefire Strategies for Reducing Certification Candidate Dropout Rates

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1. Enable Candidates to Learn at Their Own Pace

Each candidate is different, with their own learning styles and grasp of concepts. Because one size doesn’t fit all when it comes to learning, one way to reduce dropout rates is by enabling candidates to learn at their own pace. In fact, studies from the National Centre for Education Statistics show 58% of employees prefer to learn at their own pace, showing how this certification approach is exactly what your candidates want.

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2. Provide Personalized Learning Experiences

In the same vein as the benefits of a learn-at-your-own-pace experience, a personalized learning experience is a way to prepare learners for certifications that directly meet their learning needs. It’s been found that personalized learning pathways improve learner engagement by nearly 100%. Programs that are designed to factor individual knowledge and exam performance into a certification candidate’s learning path are sure to get the best results, as learners become more engaged when material the is better tailored to their individual needs.

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3. Use Study Plans to Improve Time Management Skills

Spending just ten minutes a day on task planning can save up to two hours of wasted time, significantly enhancing the efficiency of certification training. Study plans that map out progress and remaining goals can sharpen learner focus, reducing both cramming and anxiety. Cramming for exams creates a hectic rush, often leading to heightened stress due to procrastination. To counter this, learners require a well-structured study plan. This plan should allot sufficient time for all key topics and engage learners to prevent procrastination. Digital, interactive training methods enable learners to cover material more quickly and efficiently. An effective learning program not only manages time but also maximizes long-term achievement for learners.

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4. Incorporate Gamification to Make Learning Fun

Are traditional learning programs boring your candidates and causing them to lose interest in their certification preparation? Gamification gives users a fun way to stay engaged in the learning process through features like badges and incentive programs. It also taps into users’ natural competitive instincts and leverages that “desire to win” for greater engagement. Gamification is what certification candidates want, too. About 80% of learners say they would be more productive if their work was gamified. Learning sessions of users who engage with gamified learning models are typically longer and performance improves at a faster rate. Gamifying your certification training is sure to better engage and better motivate users, resulting in reduced dropout rates.

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5. Adopt a Blended Learning Approach

Do you want to provide your candidates the benefits of digital learning, but you’re hesitant to eliminate the in-person portion of certification training? A blended learning approach is the best of both worlds. It can include webinars, pre-recorded lessons, online classroom discussion boards, and more. These materials engage learners and provide supplemental education to fill in any knowledge gaps prior to candidates taking their certification exams. They can also refresh your candidates’ memories of learning material, ensuring higher success rates. Blended learning reduces dropout rates by offering the best learning environment for any learner, whether they prefer to learn in-person or using digital devices. This approach also aids in knowledge retention, as candidates can engage with the learning style that helps them learn best, whether that’s audio, print, or visual learning.

In Cengage’s Digital Learning Pulse Survey, 68% of students are in favor of some combination
of in-person and online courses.
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6. Reduce Exam-Related Stress Through Practice Questions and Mock Exams

Too often, candidates fail to take their exams due of overwhelming stress and pressure. According to one study, 85% of students said their mental health had negatively impacted their academic performance. If you want to reduce the number of dropout rates, eliminating exam-related stress is a good place to focus your attention. Feeling unprepared is often the biggest driver of anxiety, which can lead to unmanageable stress. To ensure your candidates don’t fall victim to this issue, you need to have learning technology in place that offers the features and capabilities your candidates need to feel confident and prepared going into exam day, complete with practice exams, different question types, mock exams, and more. Provide your candidates with the ability to complete as many practice exams as they need to in order to reduce the stress around the actual exam.

completing practice exams can decrease exam anxiety, reduced anxiety increased sleep, eight hours of sleep increases performance levels
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7. Provide Remediation to Put Learners Back
 on the Right Track

If learners feel like they’re failing or not making progress, many will simplygive up and drop out before the exam. Non-personalized certification training models have no way of putting those discouraged learners back on the right course. Remediation tools help not only understand why a question was wrong, but helps channel candidates’ focus moving forward. Comprehensive and successful remediation pinpoints strengths and weaknesses. When a learner gets an answer right, they also need to understand why the answer is accurate. Remediation tools link back to lesson plans, offering explanations, providing additional questions similar to the ones missed, or connecting learners with instructors who can offer further insight.

Additionally, some learners might think they have an adequate understanding of a topic, while that’s not always the case. Providing self-assessment exams helps them see how their actual strengths and weaknesses compared to what their perception is. With these assessments, they can be placed on a more personalized and effective preparation course, which better meets learners’ needs and helps them focus on their weaknesses.
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8. Utilize Strengths and Weakness to Help Learners Prioritize the Right Topics

Trying to organize certification training on their own can be a huge challenge for many learners. When certification exams cover a lot of material and complex topics, learners often don’t know where to begin, which causes them to feel overwhelmed and is why many simply drop out. If you want to reduce the number of certification dropouts, prioritization is key. Many learners struggle to identify and properly weigh where they should spend the most time preparing for an exam. It’s tempting to focus on areas where you excel, while procrastinating in areas that present more challenges. In an LMS that prioritizes the practice experience, learners’ strengths and weaknesses are highlighted, helping them to prioritize and put more effort into areas where they struggle.

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As an organization that offers certifications and credentials, your ultimate goal is to see your certification candidates to succeed. In order for that to happen, they need a practice experience that leaves them feeling confident and ready for their high-stakes exam. When choosing a learning technology to help you reach this goal, keep in mind that not all LMSs are created equal. While one LMS may provide capabilities for an optimal customer training experience, another may prioritize the certification training experience and offer capabilities aligned with that use case. As you vet learning platform vendors, keep your use caseand key capabilities in mind to ensure you are choosing a technology that will set both your learners and your business up for success.

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About BenchPrep

BenchPrep is an award-winning learning platform built for high-stakes certification training. Our learning platform is designed to help candidates feel more confident and prepared for their credentialing and certification exams by delivering an intuitive, efficient, and engaging study experience.

BenchPrep helps organizations drive revenue by making it easy for learners to search, discover, purchase, and enroll in online study courses rich with interactive learning experiences. BenchPrep’s Data Suite unlocks valuable insights to help learning businesses make data-driven decisions on factors that affect course content, candidate sentiment, and learner behavior.

Many of the world’s leading associations and credentialing bodies trust BenchPrep to power their online learning and study programs, including ACT, AAMC, ASCM, CFA Institute, CompTIA, GMAC, ISACA, and many others. More than 10 million learners have used BenchPrep to attain academic and professional success.

Want to see how BenchPrep can help reduce drop out rates for your certification program?

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