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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