Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Certified Association Executive - Bring It

I am a lucky person. I've had my share of ups and downs, but in general I'd say most of the time things go my way.

This week, people who sat for the Certified Association Executive exam in the last part of 2009 are receiving their results. The letter comes marked "confidential" from ASAE & the Center and the amount of anticipation and fear one feels when opening the letter is similar to receiving the final word from a chosen university on whether or not you'll be soon dining in their halls.

Yesterday I opened my letter and discovered I had not passed.

My good friends, Deirdre and Sandra, who took the test at the same time I did, both passed (hooray!) and the hardest part about failing the test now is not being able to celebrate with them.  The second hardest part is realizing that since I live so much of my life online, these results are something I think I have to share, as well.

Patti Digh (@pattidigh) is the author of Life is a Verb and is a fun, inspirational force in the community I run around in online. For me, and the friends others refer to as "social media gurus," Patti's book is like a Bible of sorts and you will likely find it on all of our bookshelves.  I even gave several copies away as Christmas presents this year.  I am thankful for Life is a Verb this morning when I am feeling a bit down about my results from the CAE exam.

What I've decided to do is go ahead and reapply to take the exam in May (while I am still in the CAE system). This time I will start studying earlier, avoid any attempts to study during holidays (like last time), and be more deliberate about my preparation. Patti says, "Every Day is Day One: Do It for 37 Days," so I will study and track my progress for 37 Days in a row on a separate blog, CAE 37: From Failure to Fabulous, starting today.

On a positive note, I think living online as much as I do allows me to have a bigger support network and also prohibits one from hiding away for too long...which in turn is helping me to deal with things quickly and honestly.

Also, I can honestly give the advice to people taking the exam in the future: do not think you can cram at last minute and pass. It takes more than three intense nights of studying. I'm usually a smart cookie, but this takes more than that.

Thanks to everyone who sent their words of support leading up to and following the exam. I won't let you - or myself - down (again). Also, Patti, thanks for writing your book and giving me a manual for how to pick myself up, dust myself off, and turn failure into a new WordPress blog.

If you wish to follow my progress, please feel free. I'll be posting my study habits, tips, and process along the way. Bring it on!


  1. Sorry to hear you didn't pass but what a great response. I would sulk in the corner for several weeks and beat myself up. So thanks for the inspiration! And good luck the second time around

  2. Kiki, I was heartbroken when I heard. I think you hit it on the head -- it's too much to cram for. I wouldn't have been successful without a study group and its weekly conference call and practice quizes on each domain. It's not just all the knowledge that needs digesting, it's how to take the test to and that's where the study group helped. I'll follow your CAE journey with you and will help you in any way I can.

  3. Oh, KiKi, I'm so sorry to hear that! I think you're approaching the situation in such a positive and constructive way, though. Please let me know if I can help you with anything at all. Especially Domain 10--that's my favorite one! (And how dorky was that statement?) But I'm happy to help with anything I can.

  4. You gals are the best! Thanks for the support! :)

    It was difficult to study with the baby, changing jobs, the holidays, and my makeup business on the side; but the truth is that I should have started studying earlier and with a plan.

    I'm sad, but I have to get over and on with it so I can make things better. :) Thanks for caring!

  5. Girl--don't even worry about it. Everything happens for a reason--obviously you're meant to meet some cool new study buddies this time around or something! As someone who can't even fathom all the studying that goes into the CAE process, I'm impressed not only that you studied and took it once, but that you're getting right back on the horse and going for it again. If I didn't hate anything approximating school so much, I'd take this is a sign that I should sign up to take it in May too.

  6. Kiki, this just further demonstrates my doubts about the CAE system. If you did not pass, then what sort of crazy mixed up program is this??

    Your response is the best one: get up, and keep going and try again. Remember what Thomas Edison said:

    "I did not fail 100 times to invent the light bulb. I now know 99 ways NOT to make a light bulb."

  7. Don't Worry, KiKi! You'll get it next time. Just let me know what I can do to help you on this journey!

  8. Kiki, how awesome of you to put this out there! I'm so sorry you didn't pass, and so glad you recognize why. I think it's great that you're deciding to get right back in there. It's so admirable of you to put this out there for the world to read - good luck!!!

  9. Well, you have to know I'm going to be celebrating more than anyone else assuming I pass after the next go around! :) You guys are good people for showing me your support and this makes it much easier to do what I have to do to turn things around.

  10. Kiki -

    No worries mate. I am proud of you for going back at it and being so publicly honest about it. If I can help you in any way, please let me know.

    It's just a test, not an end-all referendum on your skills or knowledge base. You needn't feel that any of us think any less of you because that is simply not true.

    You focus on the test prep, we'll focus on rooting for you!


  11. KiKi -

    You know what worked for you and what didn't. I agree with Deirdre in that you cannot cram for the CAE because of the depth and breadth of the content.

    You are already ahead of the game. You have the books and you have feedback showing areas where you are already strong. Now you just focus on those pesky other areas and kick butt in May!

    I stand at the ready to help....just call me!


  12. Hey KiKi!

    We we toast to your future success tomorrow.

    I'm really proud of you for bringing it loudly - and helping others who may be in your shoes feel better about themselves too!

    Can't wait to see you. Cyn

  13. Success - like beauty - is in the eye of the beholder ... you're a success! Happy to help you uncram this time around.

  14. good luck! are there any questions on cutting vegetables? maybe margot can help...

  15. You guys are wonderful! I've already made a strong beginning in making my study plan and beginning the reading. Now I need to just plug away...let me know if any of you have particular domains you'd like to help me with - Lisa Junker is my Domain 10 gal!

  16. Kiki, you are brilliant! Love how you are approaching this challenge. I am ready and willing to help out and support you. Whatever you need.

  17. KiKi: Most successful people fail the first time. That's because they are ambitious enough to reach a little too far. That's a good thing, as it keeps you lunging forward in the right direction. I'm sure you'll rock it on the second try. Go get em!

  18. Kiki,
    This is such a great post, and I admire the way you voiced what I was feeling myself, right up until I got my letter. I will honestly say I felt my results could have gone either way, and since I had told THE WORLD, online and otherwise, what I was doing, I had thought through how I would handle the outcome and I could only hope I could do it as articulately and graciously as you have.

    While I did pass, I found out alot about myself in the process. My old methods of learning, cramming, performing under pressure, using the adrenaline high that produces, etc. no longer work for me this many years out of college. It did not work for me to take an hour out of every day, try to change gears, go to a quiet place at the office, and study. It did NOT work for me to study in the evening after a hard day at work. There are two things that did work for me - a study group, where I was forced to talk about the parts of the material that I did not understand when I missed (multiple) practice questions, and on the weekends, where I would carve out long periodes of quiet and uninterrupted time for myself to immerse in the "mindset" of the culture of the test and the materials. Even then I had to "chunk" the material and give myself multiple breaks to keep it going. So you can imagine, for the test itself, the biggest challenge I had was focus. Two hours into it, I was "done" and had 25 questions left, and that was where I felt like I could have gone either way, because I know that was not my best work!
    So, I am sharing this for the benefit of anyone else who is going through this process that you have to find what works for you and because Kiki, I have tremendouse respect for your dedication and ability to move right through this and set such a good example!


Thanks for your comments!