If you’re a student and you’re reading this, I just made you clench a little with that title, didn’t I? Well, here’s some news you can use: it never really goes away.
Ten years ago next month, I sat for the CISSP exam. Being a bit underemployed at the time, I had done little the preceding six weeks but study for it. I had to travel to NYC for the exam, which was a non-trivial financial risk, but lack of confidence has never been my issue. Even the night before in the hotel, though, I sat doing flash cards of the Legal & Regulatory elements, which was the one area I felt needed boosting. I could never get the hang of this due to its utter lack of internal logic or consistency. This is what keeps the courts in business, I suppose.
I went into the exam with a strategy of sorts. I was planning to give my brain “breaks” by doing 25 questions at a time, then reviewing those before moving on. I was never worried about the time limits. Right or wrong, I do these things quickly. I have yet to hear the words “pencils down” in a test, and that goes all the way back to the PSATs in 1972.
So there I was doing this answer 25, check 25 routine… and I started to notice something. The text of questions in the second half of the test started giving me clues to some answers I had not been so sure about in the first half. I know for a fact that there are at least three questions I would have had dead wrong on my test that I was able to fix, thanks to clues in the “givens” of later questions.
The only time-related distress I’ve experienced in a test was on the CISM exam. At that one, there’s one other CISM candidate among a gaggle of would-be CISA. For no discernible reason, the proctor seats us next to each other. We start the test at 9:00. At about 10:10, I’m on question maybe 110 of 200… and doesn’t she close her book, go up front, hand in her paper and leave?! This freaks me out in no small measure. But to this day, I have no idea if she scored 100% or “no better than random”. I just figure it has to be one of those two extremes.
This comes to mind because I have now started to hear the siren song of yet another certification exam, the CCSP. It takes the same body of knowledge from the Cloud Security Alliance that went into the CCSK exam and adds continuing CPE requirements and renewal. I have a feeling it will be better-recognized. And hey, one thing I appear to be able to do well is take multiple-choice tests, so… why not?