Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The CPDT-KA Exam Experience

On Monday, September 9th, two big things happened in my life. First, and most significantly, Maisy was admitted to the ICU at the University of Minnesota Veterinary Medical Center. Because of this, the second thing- taking the CPDT-KA exam- went from being the centerpiece of my week to completely unimportant.

I’m honestly glad the exam was scheduled when it was. Maisy seemed unwell Monday morning, but she was not yet critically ill. I left her at my vet’s office for testing while I took the exam, and had complete confidence that she was in good hands. Had the exam been scheduled even a single day later, I likely wouldn’t have taken it at all (it’s harder and/or more expensive to reschedule than you might think).

I can’t tell you much about the exam itself because the Code of Ethics I signed requires that I keep the contents confidential. For the most part, the exam was as I expected: computerized, 250 multiple choice questions, with the content being fairly close to what was listed in the candidate’s handbook.

The exam is computerized, which is nice because you can “flag” questions to review before finishing the exam. I flagged questions that I wasn’t 100% sure about the answer. Because I’m a worry-wart, at the end I used that to estimate my score: about 85%. I reviewed the questions, unflagging the ones I was pretty confident about, and it went up to 91%. So I think (hope!) I passed… but they don’t tell you what a passing score is, and they don't send the results until 4-6 weeks later.

It took me about 1.5 (out of the allowed 4) hours to complete. I really should have used more of my time to review the entire exam instead of just the flagged questions, but my brain was fried. Part of this is because the type on the screen was HUGE and there was no obvious way to change it; while it makes sense that they want to make it accessible to folks with all visual abilities, it was pretty distracting for me and therefore made it harder for me to concentrate. Well, that, and I was concerned about Maisy and wanted to leave so I could call my vet for news (phones aren’t allowed in the examination room).

There were a few questions that I just don’t understand how they fit into the content areas outlined in the handbook. I’m sure they do- the test is pretty rigorously reviewed- but I have no idea HOW. There were a few in the husbandry section that seemed oddly specific for a dog training exam. As expected, there were a couple where there seemed to be more than one correct answer, but there were also one or two where NONE of the answers seemed right.

I wish I had some good advice or tips for those who have yet to take the exam, but I just don’t. I guess if pressed, my advice would be: don’t schedule it for over a meal time (mine was scheduled to go from 10am to 2pm, and I was getting hungry by the end), start studying much further in advance than I did, read the questions and answers thoroughly before answering (just generally a good idea), and relax. It’s just an exam, albeit an expensive one. Trust me, there are FAR more important things in the world. My dog being alive is one of those, and just hours after the exam that was no longer a given in my life.

But Maisy is improving, and there is nothing left for me to do to prepare for the exam. So now I begin the arduous task of waiting… 

If you took the exam, what did you think? Any advice for future test takers? 


Anonymous said...

Crystal, I recently just found your blog a few days ago, and I will say this post I have found most helpful in preparation for the exam. I just need not to freak out! I have been teaching advanced nosework and scent classes for years, among other things but finally just getting around to the CPDT-KA as things always just kept getting in the way.

Now that my test date looms imminently, I also have more real life issues cropping up, but just hearing anyone say anything about the test as in that it wasn't way off topic to the guide, is very encouraging. Doesn't mean I am going to stop studying, but I wanted to let you know your post is very much appreciated.

ChampersandsTail said...

I just wanted to say I hope Maisy is recovering okay. I've been through a scary spinal injury with Champ when he was a pup, with unexplained MRI results, so I think I know what kind of agony you had/have been going through. You're both in my thoughts!

And good job, by the way, completing the test! I look forward to reading you passed! Your posts on the prep-work have been great reads.

--Chelsea and Champ