When you were a kid, you hated the “pop quiz” right? But if the teacher allowed you to use your notes and textbooks, you felt like you at least had a fighting chance. I’ve taken both proctored and “open book” certification exams, and I’ve always felt that open-book exams more accurately reflected how most of us retrieve and use information. Most of us can’t possibly commit everything we need to know to memory, but if we know where to go to get the information, we have a fighting chance of finding the right answer.
That’s exactly how it is with an audit or examination. In my position I assist many many customers with audits and examinations. I see a lot of folks treat the pre-exam experience as a “pop-quiz”, with associated high anxiety levels. They dread the unpredictability of both the “test questions” and the correct answers. “What are they going to ask…and how should I respond?” But in reality, all IT examinations are actually open-book, and the books are the FFIEC IT Examination Handbooks. And the best part is that the Handbooks contain both the questions and the answers!
In the back of every single one of the 12 Handbooks is a section titled “Appendix A – Examination Procedures”. All of your examiners’ questionnaires and work papers are drawn from these sections. Granted, most of the examinations use only a small sub-set of the items in Appendix A, but if you use this section as a quick checklist at least you’ll know how prepared you are. In the past couple months, I’ve heard two different FDIC IT examiners make the same statement when asked “how do we know that we’re compliant…?”, and the answer was “easy, because we give you the answers up front!”
So there’s one more thing to be thankful for tomorrow!
I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!