Early in my safety and health career, I sat for the CIH and CSP as soon as I was qualified. After passing, I made a vow to myself that I would do whatever it takes to never have to sit for those exams again.
My five-year recertification cycle for the CSP ended in December 2015 and I assumed I would continue my practice of submitting my records for certification maintenance. Well, that wasn’t the case. At Russ Bowen’s urging, I reneged on my vow and sat for the CSP right before the holidays.
I’m happy to report, I PASSED!!!
As a Bowen EHS instructor, it’s important to know the information we are teaching. Sitting for the exam stressed the importance of knowing that material and will help me improve our courses to better prepare our clients.
There are a number of things I would like to share that I hope will be helpful to you in preparing for and taking the exam.
- I was reminded how practicing the material is important. Even as an instructor, when I have the information in front of me, it is fairly easy to explain the information or concept to clients but it is still another matter to work the problems out on the exam. I encourage clients to not only understand the material but to practice it. Not just calculations either, practice the non-calculation questions as well. It helps you begin to think like the BCSP does.
- Several days before the exam, I began to pull my information together to take to the testing center and had a bit of a heart-sinking moment. I registered for the exam with my first and last name and middle initial. When I looked at my driver’s license, I noticed that the name on my license was my full name even though my signature only had my middle initial. Having heard some testing center horror stories, I thought I had better call them to make sure my license would be acceptable. It was, but I encourage future test takers to make sure of this detail.
- I did a dry run of the testing center and I’m glad I did. Many of these testing centers are nestled inside office parks. Even using the directions from Pearson Vue, it was a little tricky to find. That would have been really frustrating on test day.
- By getting to the test center early and being the second person they processed, I was able to get a private room that I found to be very helpful. I never knew that was an option but it might be worth asking for. The Pearson Vue agent offered it because the CSP is such a long test. The testing center was very professional and thorough (and quiet!)
- The Pearson Vue representative also advised that if I needed a backup calculator they could provide one that was exactly like mine: TI 30XS. There is an on-board calculator on the computer, but I never accessed it.
- I worked all the way through the non-calculation problems and flagged the calculation problems or problems I thought would take considerable analysis and then took a brief bathroom break.
- There are a lot of questions that include a lot of information. Keeping my concentration and reading the questions thoroughly, was one of the toughest parts.
- With about 1 ½ hours left, I began to work on my flagged problems. Several of them took considerable work to get through the mechanics, and then I still had to answer the question based on the calculation. The time I had remaining was gobbled up quickly with these problems. Before I knew it, I was at the end of the exam time and I didn’t have enough time to work through several problems I was pretty sure I could do if I had more time. I used all but 15 minutes of the allotted time and it amazed me how the time seemed to fly.
- There was an abundance of safety management, risk assessment and system safety questions. For many of them, I was able to eliminate two choices quickly but then left with two, neither of which would have been my preferred choice.
- I don’t recall any questions where calculations were necessary and the formulas weren’t provided (with the question). I remember one where I thought I might need a formula, but I really didn’t.
- Our impression of an experience is often affected by our last experience so leaving the hard problems to the last, left me feeling less than confident. I wasn’t sure I had been successful.
Now that the exam is over, I believe the process was very beneficial to me both as an instructor and safety and health professional.