Starting yesterday, and continuing for the next 9 days, several hundred meeting professionals around the world will be heading to testing centers to take the exam to earn the Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) designation. This is the first time that CMP candidates have a date window and over 300 testing centers to choose from. In the past, candidates had to take the exam on a specific date in about 12 specific venues around the world.
This is great progress and will allow many more people to try and pass the exam. That said there is part of me that will miss the old format. Sitting outside the ballroom, before they allowed us in the room for the test, was a great opportunity to people watch.
I took the CMP exam on a Saturday morning in July 2005 in Washington, DC with about 100 other candidates. I had hoped to take the exam back in January, but was unable to do so when a repeat client of mine scheduled a multi-level marketing workshop that weekend at the venue where I worked (someday, I may just tell the story of that client here). A few small groups of folks were spread around the lobby doing some last minute studying. One person was having an issue with hiccups. Another guy was devouring a box of donut holes that he had brought with him. Another had brought a box of No. 2 pencils and was sharpening the entire box with a battery operated pencil sharpener. Me, I brought absolutely nothing except my wallet and a mechanical pencil.
In my previous work life, I sat for the Certified Public Accountants exam with about 3,500 of my “closest personal friends” at the Maryland State Fairgrounds. I remember taking a detour into the men’s restroom on my way to my assigned seat. I saw two kinds of people in the restroom – those that were drinking milk of magnesia to calm their nerves and those that were drinking Jack Daniels to calm their nerves. This was the big time. For the last three months, I went twice a week to a 3 hour review session to prep for the CPA exam. For the last week, I took off from work and added a day class as well. It was during these sessions I learned the phrase “RTFQ – Read the Question.” I never did understand what the “F” was for….. I also remember that the review class instructor was fond of saying that the people who wrote the questions for the exam were chronic bed-wetters who were trying to get their revenge by writing very detailed and tricky questions. I never passed that exam.
We finally get led into the ballroom and choose our seats. I start thinking back to my days of the CPA exam and began to think that a bottle of Jack might not have been a bad idea after all. My mind starts to fill with thoughts that I didn’t take a review class, and how I didn’t have the study time the previous week due to having a 25,000+ person event in house that had just departed last night. I had to drive down to Washington that morning and had to take a detour due to some type of 5K race being run and managed to get lost, but still recovered in time to find the hotel.
We are given the test materials and some blank paper to make notes on. I mark “RTFQ” in large letters on the top sheet. The exam starts and I go through the exam answering the questions I feel fairly confident about. A quick count shows that I answered about 130 of the 165 questions. I start sweating as I am unsure if I had done well. 15 of the questions will not be tallied and are being used for statistical purposes, and the questions are weighted differently and they don’t tell you how. I like to use the count to determine mentally that “well, I have answered 75% of the questions on the first go-around.” I finish up the exam and turn the material in to the proctors. I am not the first one done, but probably in the first 20 people.
I remember walking out to my car in the parking garage and feeling very light-headed. I leaned against my car for a few minutes and then I threw-up. By the way, if you took the exam that day and had a blue Volvo with Virginia tags, I am very sorry about what happened….
Fast forward to September 2005 – I am at work and two letters come in the mail. One letter is from Prometrics and the other from the International Association of Exhibitions and Events. The letter from IAEE were the results to my last Certified in Exhibitions Management course exam and has the CEM letters behind my name on the envelope, so that is rather anti-climactic. I open the Prometrics letter and discovered that I had also passed the CMP exam. I spent the rest of the day in my office doing work orders while rocking out to songs such as:
To those of you lucky folks that will be taking the exam in the next 9 days, just remember these three items:
(1) Ten years from now, you will be telling everyone that it was SOOOOO much harder when you had to sit for the CMP exam.
(2) The people who write the questions are not bed-wetters, but your fellow CMP Colleagues who volunteer to write questions during the CMP Conclave.