Good way: get the study guide, read it thoroughly, practice the skills, book the exam when you're confident of your skills, then take the exam after a good night's sleep.
* Buy study guide, leave on "to read" pile for a couple of months, reading a few pages now and then.
* Decide that an incentive is needed, so book exam for a week away - "this will force me to read the book before that!"
* Get to evening before exam, realise that I'm only on chapter 2. This requires caffeine...
* 4am: Finished chapter 4. So very tired. "I'll just sleep for an hour or so" - set alarm for 5:30.
* 7:15: Wake up. Gah! How can it be 7:15?! Stupid alarm.
* 10am: Exam starts.
* 10:15: Wake up. Gah! How can it be 10:15?! Phone exam centre, grovel, arrange to arrive late. Dash out, read some of chapter 5 on train.
Ah well, I made it there for 11:30, but I finished an hour early, so only overran by half an hour. (It's a multiple choice computer exam, like the driving theory test, so the only issue is whether someone else has booked the PC for the next slot.) And I passed, so I can now add MCDST to my alphabet soup :)
Next up, MCAD, then MCSD (I've already got that, but not with VB.NET exams), MCDBA, MCSA, MCSE. I figure I can complete the whole set by the end of 2005 if I apply myself. I'll try to fit in the MOS exams somewhere along the line too.
On a less Evil note, I've also been doing some first aid training recently. I did a one-day Emergency Aid course with St John's Ambulance when I was an undergrad (back in 1993), but that certificate has long since expired. At work, one of our appointed persons left the company recently, so I volunteered to take his place, and I'll be going off on a similar one-day course in a fortnight. Meanwhile, I've been going along to the Croydon branch of St John's Ambulance for the last few weeks. I'm not actually a member yet (I need to do an induction day, and get a background check run on me), but I'm certainly intending to be. The plan is that I'll do various qualifications with them, starting with ECS (Emergency Care Skills, e.g. CPR) in a couple of weeks, so that I can go out on duty to cover events (supervised). Then more advanced skills later, including AED (using defribulator pads to jump start someone's circulation) and maybe ambulance driving (I've already got a full car licence, so there's just a few variations for this, e.g. the rules about jumping red lights when sirens are on). I think this is something that's worthwhile, and it will hopefully give me the opportunity to make a difference.