5 Big Mistakes No One Warns You About When Taking Online Courses

A few months ago, I’ve started an online content marketing course from Hubspot Academy. I was conveniently listening and watching videos from my phone, on my way to work. Videos were 15 minutes long at most, topics weren’t too difficult to comprehend. So, sooner than expected, I’ve completed the course and... you’ve guessed it: I’ve failed the certification exam!

I’m a nerdy creature by nature, so I had a hard time accepting it.

But I’ve identified five mistakes I’ve made prior to and during the certification examination and I want to share them with you. Hopefully, you can learn from them and increase your success rate right from the start!

  1. Time is not on your side

I allowed more than two weeks to pass between finishing the video content and taking the test. I was excited to have completed it in a reasonable amount of time, so, I got lazy and told myself I have plenty of time to take the exam. Procrastination is definitely an enemy of self-improvement!

2. Recap smart, not hard

I did a full recap of the course, focusing on the information written on the slides inside the videos. As it turns out, the answers were hidden in the details. So, listen and reason more, and write less. Oftentimes you can download and print the scripts if you need to, so focus on processing the info and tying things together in your brain rather than memorizing new concepts.

3. Keep your notes at hand

I did another recap, this time, scribbling everything like a maniac. However, I didn’t take the notes with me during the exam (don’t ask me why), and somehow, I thought I’d remember everything. Needless to say, relying on your visual memory is not the wisest thing to do, there is a lot of information that might and will slip away. Lesson learned!

4. Never assume you’re gonna nail it in one go

All in all, I’ve underestimated the test. I’ve been schooled in a system known for exercising a student’s ability to reproduce information rather than to interpret it. So, despite being familiar with international online courses, I took it lightly. Especially the ‘Becoming an effective writer‘ section. After all, I’m an experienced content writer, I know my stuff...or so I thought.

5. Don’t ignore tricky questions

Write down the questions you have second guesses about, during the exam (if you have the time, of course). Afterwards, look up the answers in the course material. Some of these questions might repeat themselves if you need or wish to take the test again and if so, you’ll be prepared to tackle them.


It might be a no-brainer to some, but my final advice would be to stay consistent. Don't let your mind wander, stay focused as much as possible and pause slides for a few minutes to simply assimilate the new pieces of information. No one will judge you. :-)

Thanks for reading my first Medium post and good luck with your e-learning journey! If you enjoyed the article, please hit the ❤ button. Would mean the world to me and it helps others see the message.

P. S. I’ve passed the content marketing certification test on my second attempt, yey! On to the next one. Stay hungry, guys!