This is Part 2 of a three-part series on understanding how CPLP can boost your career.
Not everyone is good at taking tests. The CPLP credentialing team realized this when they designed the program. When I delved into what it would take to earn my Certified Professional in Learning and Performance designation, I was impressed. Please note that impressing me is not an easy task. Things that impress me include Alaskan glaciers, the Aurora Borealis, and my husband.
The credentialing team also put a lot of thought into what was required to pass. While I can only speculate, the team must have looked at other types of designations, including PHR and PMP, to see what their pass/fail rate was. They probably looked at how many people were getting the certifications and how fast.
The credentialing team understood there had to be a delicate balance between making the credential hard enough to give the CPLP value, but not so easy that anyone could achieve it. The CPLP experience is not designed to be a training tool. There is no debrief if you fail so you can learn from your mistakes. You don’t get a copy of your incorrect questions. It is pass or fail. End of story.
Luckily, I am a good test taker. I knew if I studied long and hard enough, I would pass. However, the work product eluded me. So I decided not to concern myself too much with that; I wouldn't need to if I didn't pass the exam. At the time I was living in Fort Myers, Florida, and was isolated. I couldn’t find any virtual study groups and my local ASTD chapter was small and in a state of flux. If there had been people to study with, I would have.
I embarked on learning all 1,400 pages of the ATD Learning System, and also read an additional 118 articles and four books. Once, I even called in sick to study because I was on a roll. I had my family quiz me every waking moment, wrote an allegory for Gagne's Nine Events, and created countless mnemonics.
There was one thing I was missing though: a study plan. I just kept absorbing material, piling it on, and never felt ready enough. It would be the most important exam I ever took and I wanted to pass the first time. Plus, I would have to travel to Miami to take the exam. Fort Myers didn't have a testing center where I could take it!
Eventually, I hit information overload and couldn't tell what was important and what wasn't. I became too granular and distracted. I skipped the first testing window I aimed for. I wasn't ready. I couldn't remember Kirkpatrick's Levels of Evaluation in order. My math was off when conducting ROI. How many of Gardener's multiple intelligences would I see on the exam? So I stopped. I completely ceased all reading, reciting, and practicing questions. After studying for two months, I took a breather. No studying for three weeks.
Stopping was a good idea. Now it was time for reflection. I began to look at everything around me—at how it was made—and wondered, how did the person who assembled/made/designed/created this learn how to do it? Then, very much like Prezi, my world zoomed out and everything came into focus. Everything fell into place. Everything made sense.
I got it.
Then it was just a matter of booking a hotel room in Miami, registering for the exam, and paying for everything. I was ready. The drive to Miami was excruciating, but I knew I wouldn’t be late to the exam if I arrived the day before. I checked into the hotel as early as possible and took practice quizzes the rest of the day. I was confident.
Alas, my confidence almost cost me my exam slot. After all that planning, I didn’t know that CompUSA had moved their testing center, and I barely made it in time to the other facility in time to take the exam. Looking back it is kind of funny. Wait, I change my mind. It’s not funny; it’s horrifying. I didn’t need that sort of pressure when I was already hyped up about the exam. The CompUSA people were great, though, and I managed to get where I needed to be on time.
I took the exam and was gratified I had spent so much time studying. The questions were not foreign to me, which was not surprising, and I completed the exam with eight minutes to spare. Before I hit the submit button, I took the exam backward (starting at 150 and going back to one). It was good thing I did—I caught three wrong answers. The difference between the words “tacit” and “explicit” barely escaped me. Once I clicked submit, my score appeared.
Needless to say, I passed. I left the facility, walked to my car, put my head down on the steering wheel, and cried.