Planning on taking the AHIP Medicare training test for the first time? You don’t have to stress! We’ve put together a list of tips and tricks for passing AHIP that will help you, and even more experienced agents, improve your chances of getting AHIP certified on the first try!

In order to sell Medicare products, you must complete government-required training, including your AHIP training and certification. You can read more about what AHIP is and why you need it here. Today, we’re providing you with AHIP help on how to best prepare for the exam and how to set yourself up for success while taking it.

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Put in the Preparation (STUDY!)

We fully believe that the best resources for passing the AHIP final exam are the training modules and AHIP practice quizzes. Think back to when you were in school. What was the best way to pass an exam back then? (Hint: The answer probably isn’t putting your textbook under your pillow and hoping for the diffusion of knowledge, while you slept the night before the test!) It was studying the material from the textbook.

So, before you dive into the test, don’t wing it! Go through the AHIP training modules at least once, review them for a second time or third time if they’re new to you. Take your time going through the information; don’t rush to get through the modules. Let the details on each slide sink in, especially if it will be your first time taking this exam. If you’re recertifying, you may only be required to take parts four and five, but we recommend taking all the parts to refresh your memory and get you ready for all the different questions you’ll encounter on the final test.

In the past, some of the questions from the AHIP practice quizzes have appeared on the AHIP final exam, so it’s important that you’re comfortable answering all of these questions and any potential variations.

Practice quizzes are placed throughout the training modules. Complete them and retake them as many times as you’d like. In the past, some of the questions from the AHIP practice quizzes have appeared on the AHIP final exam, so it’s important that you’re comfortable answering all of these questions and any potential variations. If you get a question wrong on one of these quizzes, try to find or work out the correct answer within the modules. Then, write the down question with the answer or at least jot down the topic giving you trouble and reference the modules as a resource. This brings us to our next tip…

Take as Many Notes as You Need to

While reviewing the modules or taking the practice quizzes, if you have trouble remembering something from a slide, make note of it and where to find the correct information. Take notes — lots of notes if you’d like. Then, study them and keep them handy for the test. Spoiler alert: The AHIP test is an on open-book test, so you can actually refer to your notes (and the modules themselves) while taking the test!

If you can, print a physical copy of the modules or at least the modules you had more trouble with. But, be warned: There are five different modules and some modules have more than 112 pages. If you’re on your second or third attempt and have a lot of renewals and future income on the line, we think it may still be worth it to print them all! You can also download the modules and save them to your computer if you want to save on paper and ink. If you do print the modules don’t be afraid to highlight specific sections — just don’t go overboard and highlight everything “because everything’s important!”

Pro Tip: Take all of your notes in a Microsoft Word document if you can! Then, during the test, you can have the Word document open and use a tool we’ll talk about a little later, when we discuss how technology can make searching for specific notes easier.

While taking the test for the first time, quickly write down the questions or topics you’re struggling with and why. If you don’t pass the test on the first try (it happens!), take a really good look at these questions, and think about why your answers may have been wrong and what could be the right answer. Make note of where to find these answers in the modules. Study those parts of the modules a little harder before trying again or try to take more notes to help you during the exam, even if they’re just to say, “Look at [insert number or description here] slide for this answer!”

Remember: AHIP Is an Open-Book Test, But Timed

AHIP is an open-book test. Use that to your advantage! This means you can (and should!) refer to the materials AHIP gives you, as well as any additional notes you take, during the test.

Before you start the test, make sure to download the slides and save them to your computer or print them. Also, keep in mind that “Put in the Preparation” was one of our tips and tricks for a reason. Just because the test is open book, doesn’t mean you can skip studying. Being familiar with the material you’re tested on is always a good idea, especially for open-book exams. Why? You don’t want to spend all your time searching for answers. You just want to be able to find answers if you can’t remember something or if you encounter a more difficult question!

To complete the test, you must be able to get through 50 questions in two hours. That gives you two to two and a half minutes for each question.

To complete the test, you must be able to get through 50 questions in two hours. Sounds easy enough, right? But, remember you can only spend about two to two and half minutes on each question, especially if you want time to review your answers afterwards or go back to any hard questions. Also, keep in mind that if you have to retake the test, the questions are randomly selected and you could get different ones each time!

New this year: The only way an “attempt” will officially count as an attempt, is if you hit the “Submit” button or if the timer for the test runs out. You no longer have to worry about a refresh of your screen counting as an attempt.

Make Technology Your Best Friend

The fact that AHIP is timed makes it super important that you use your time and resources as efficiently as possible. You don’t want to waste valuable seconds and minutes constantly flipping through pages or scrolling through the modules on your computer.

Maximize (or “Minimize”) Your Computer Screen(s)

One way you can save time is by making half of your computer screen show the AHIP exam and the other half show the modules you downloaded. (This is also known as “split-screening.”) You can do this by opening the internet window you’ll be taking the exam in and then sizing it to fit half of your screen. Then, open the AHIP training modules you downloaded and saved and size them to fit the other half of your screen. If the pages are too hard to read or this method just isn’t working out, it may be easier to have each file take up the whole screen and just flip between them.

If you’re more tech savvy and have a second computer screen available, another thing you can do is hook up that second screen, so you can have two of them side by side. On one screen, have the test open and on the other, have the modules open! If you have a laptop and a desktop monitor, adding a second screen could be as easy as plugging in a cable (like a VGA-to-HDMI adapter) that connects your screen to your laptop.

Utilize Ctrl + F to Find Specific Keywords or Phrases

Looking for a particular note you made that can help you answer a specific question? Did you take your notes in a Microsoft Word document? If so, then you don’t have to scroll through all of your notes until something looks familiar. Instead, try clicking onto your Word document, then press the Ctrl and F buttons on your keyboard at the same time to open the “Find” feature! (You can usually use the Ctrl + F “Find” feature while in a Word document, PowerPoint presentation, PDF, or web page.) Then, type in a keyword or phrase and click “Find.” The tool should allow you to quickly go to the places in the document where that word or phrase is mentioned.

When using the “Find” feature, don’t search for phrases if you can avoid doing so (i.e., don’t search for whole sentences). You’ll have better results entering one keyword, if possible, or a really short phrase (e.g., “Annual Enrollment Period”) when using the “Find” feature.

Unfortunately, this trick will no longer work for searching the modules. It’s just another reason to take really good, organized notes in the first place and take them in Microsoft Word. (This trick won’t work for notes taken via the Notepad program on your computer either.)

Utilize Carriers’ or FMOs’ AHIP Discounts or AHIP Reimbursements

AHIP certification costs $175, but did you know that many carriers, and even some FMOs, offer an AHIP discount or AHIP reimbursement? This type of discount tends to be $50 off the cost of AHIP, bringing it down to $125. Reimbursements may vary from some money back to all of it!

To get a carrier’s AHIP discount, you usually have to take the test via the carrier’s agent portal or the carrier’s designated AHIP link. The discount will not be applied if you take the exam directly through AHIP’s site. You can learn more about the carriers’ specific AHIP requirements, costs, discounts, and reimbursements in the Ritter Certification Center. (Note: You must log in with Ritter to access all this information. If you aren’t registered with Ritter’s website, you’ll have to do that first, and luckily, it’s free. Register now and gain access to all of Ritter’s tools!)

To get a carrier’s AHIP discount, you usually have to take the test via the carrier’s agent portal or the carrier’s designated AHIP link. The discount will not be applied if you take the exam directly through AHIP’s site.

Some carriers or FMOs may also offer an AHIP discount or reimbursement if you meet certain conditions. For instance, some carriers require you to submit and/or issue so many apps by a certain date. And this year, Ritter offered a special 2020 AHIP reimbursement incentive for new-to-Ritter agents who contracted with a certain carrier within seven days of attending a specific webinar! Whatever you do, just make sure you take the AHIP certification through a carrier or FMO you’re going to have ongoing communication with. Sometimes the AHIP incentives can depend on previous business submitted.

Take Steps to Proactively Ease Your Test Anxiety and Nerves

If you already suffer from test anxiety or will have butterflies in your stomach come game time, there are a few ways you can foster a calmer test-taking environment and ease your nerves. We recommend following these tips for a better test-taking experience!

  • Hunker down in a good location. Your home office, your living room, the local library. Anywhere you can find some peace and quiet, plug into at least one power outlet, and maintain a stable internet connection for several hours.

  • Minimize your exposure to disturbances. Put your cell phone on silent and silence your email notifications. Have the kids go to a friend’s house or hire a babysitter to take them out for the afternoon. Close all other programs on your computer. (Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn can wait!) Have a good pair of headphones nearby, ready for you to wear if needed (comfortable, noise-cancelling ones if possible).

  • Set the mood. Light a candle or put another wax cube in your wax warmer. Slip into your favorite pair of jeans, sweats or pajamas. Open your curtains or close them, whichever will make you happier. And, take any other necessary steps to ensure you’ll be the most comfortable in your environment.

  • Grab your favorite drink and a few snacks. Whether you like juice, coffee, soda, or water, swiss rolls, apple slices, or a good, hearty bagel — grab some foods and drinks and place them nearby. It’s always important to stay hydrated and you want to make sure you have the brain power for what’s about to come next. Plus, this step could help you minimize distractions if you’re somebody who might get a hunger pang if things get a little rough.

  • Think positive. Are you a glass-half-empty or a glass-half-full type of person? We saved this one for last, but it could arguably be one of the most important tips we want to leave you with here today. Those who are the latter, those who are more optimistic, tend to better manage stress, and that, in turn, has a whole lot of other health benefits.

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Many returning Medicare agents say AHIP is easy — once you get the hang of it. Nobody’s perfect, especially when learning something new! If you get more questions incorrect then you thought you would, or if you fail your first time taking the final AHIP exam, don’t fret. Just study up on those areas a little more. You have three chances to pass the exam, and if you follow these tips and tricks and put in the effort you need to, you should pass and may even have at least one of those chances to spare!

Have more questions? Check out our “FAQs about AHIP” post. If you’re still searching for answers, feel free to leave us a voicemail on the Agent Survival Guide Podcast Hotline at 717-562-7211 or send us a message here.