Exam preparation – less equals more?

Exam preparation – less equals more?

One of the more surprising findings from my recent examination experience survey (thanks again to all that participated!) is that there doesn’t seem to be a direct relationship between the amount of time spent preparing, and examination results. I’ll elaborate in a moment, but first, here are the final survey demographics:

  • There were 80 total respondents
  • FDIC was the most prominent regulator (80%), but institutions representing all the others PFR’s (OTS, OCC, Federal Reserve and NCUA) also responded.
  • Institutions from 20 different states responded, resulting in a pretty good geographic cross-section.
  • The majority of respondents were under $500M, but we also got a handful >$1B.
  • 25% were DeNovo (less than 5 years old).

So what we found was that most institutions spent quite a bit of time preparing for their last IT examination.  57% of you spent more than 5 hours, but interestingly enough, it really didn’t translate into better results.  Although 73% of those felt they were very prepared for the exam, less than half felt that the exam went pretty much as expected, with 9% describing their last examination as a “nightmare”!  By contrast, only 5% of those who spent less than 5 hours preparing felt the same way.  But perhaps the most significant statistic is the average IT composite score.  Those who spent more than 5 hours preparing averaged a score of 1.85 as opposed to a 1.76 for those that spent less than 5 hours.  So is the conclusion that as far as preparation goes, less equals more?  I think a better way to interpret the data is that it’s better to work smarter than harder. Consider this:  Those of you who used an outside consultant to assist with the pre-examination questionnaire seemed to have a much more favorable experience overall.  90% of you felt that the examination experience was either not bad, or pretty much as expected.  But more significantly, those who used outside help also got better IT composite scores, averaging a 1.69 versus 1.82 for all respondents!

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Tom Hinkel
As author of the Compliance Guru website, Hinkel shares easy to digest information security tidbits with financial institutions across the country. With almost twenty years’ experience, Hinkel’s areas of expertise spans the entire spectrum of information technology. He is also the VP of Compliance Services at Safe Systems, a community banking tech company, where he ensures that their services incorporate the appropriate financial industry regulations and best practices.

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