Key Takeaways

- Principles of learning science can be applied to certification exam study efforts to increase retention of exam study material.

- There are nontangible benefits to learning and retaining material covered in professional safety and health certification exam blueprints including the application of newly learned knowledge to everyday responsibilities.

- Learning science techniques used by those studying for exams can also be used for creating and delivering information in safety training classes, which can result in greater attention and retention by trainees.


Learning science is an interdisciplinary field of study that includes the neuroscience of learning, educational technology and cognitive science. It is often discussed among talent development professionals such as trainers, facilitators, instructional designers and teachers at every level, from grade school through university. The research that supports established learning science principles has shown that there are techniques to help individuals learn information better and retain it longer. Several of these techniques, such as repetition, reinforcement, spacing, retrieval practice, realistic examples, microlearning and testing, can be used by anyone studying for certification exams such as those offered by BCSP and the Board for Global EHS Credentialing to make it easier to remember and recall information when needed and long after the examination is completed.

Learning science has been studied for many years, but it is likely not commonly used by OSH professionals studying for certification exams. Many people take certification exams long after they have completed formal education, so study techniques that may have been successful while in school may have been forgotten or are simply outdated. While many professionals understand the value of achieving one or more certifications, they may struggle with how to prepare for these exams. Especially when a potential test taker has been away from formal schooling for many years, getting back into the studying and test-taking habit can seem daunting (Klein-Collins, 2018). Using research-based techniques from learning science can help make study efforts more successful regardless of the test and can help safety and health professionals become more knowledgeable.

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