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11/30/2005: "Certified!"

As I noted several months ago, I’ve been wrapped up in a professional certification program that has been soaking up all the free time I was previously applying to skewering right wing pretensions and hypocrisy. And then some. My ambition to get back to the skewering suffered a setback when i recently took a day off from work to sit for the four hour exam, after exhaustive preparation, only to find out at the 3:59 point when I had submitted my answers for scoring that I had flunked! I called the instructor of my prep course from the parking lot to tell him, and he was absolutely floored, as he considered me to be the most experienced and best prepared student he’d ever had in his course. For my part, I just assumed I’d have to put some more time into it, although failing my first exam since elementary school took a bit of getting used to. I thus shelled out several hundreds of dollars for an exam simulation CD with 1,200 questions, and have been taking four hour practice exams until my eyes crossed. In addition, I’ve been doing other prep, for example spending Saturday night creating a spreadsheet of the key inputs, techniques, and outputs of the dozens of processes relevant to the certification. I had in fact just started taking one of these practice exams today when I heard those familiar words, “you’ve got mail.” The original plan had been to focus on the practice exam for its four hours, but since I had just started I decided to check out the email. It was from the certifying agency, and this is what it had to say: “Before offering the new examination, [the organization] assembled a group of volunteers to help establish the passing score. Using a method known as the “Modified Angoff Technique” (a proven exam development method), a group of global [certified people] in the summer of 2005 assessed each test question and independently evaluated the questions to determine their difficulty level. Their responses were then sent to [the organization’s] psychometric (exam development) experts and averaged. From that information, [the organization’s] psychometricians recommended that [the organization] adopt a passing point of 81 percent (141 correct questions). After the examination was introduced, [the organization] monitored candidate performance to verify the validity of the passing score. In addition to its analysis of the actual test results from over 800 candidates, [the organization] sought review by an additional volunteer team. After performing a statistical analysis of the additional data, [the organization] and its independent psychometricians were able to make conclusions about the performance of questions as well as candidate performance. This second review, initiated by [the organization] as part of standard exam development procedure, indicated that the passing score should be adjusted. Accordingly, [the organization] revised the passing score for the exam to 61 percent (106 correct questions). [the organization] then applied the new passing score to all examinations taken since 30 September 2005 by candidates who sat for the new exam. [the organization] is pleased to inform you that you have successfully passed the examination and have been awarded the [professional] credential.” I called my instructor, who told me that he had spoken with every instructor in the NY area and determined that not a single NY area student had passed the new exam! So, while I’ve always been certifiable, I’m now officially certified!

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