4 Hours, 145 Questions
Monday, June 19, 2017
Posted by: Mary Mack
4 Hours, 145 Questions
By Erika Kilborn
When was the last time I took a test? It’s been ages. I frequently write tests that other people take, but I haven’t needed to actually take one in a very long time. But there I was, at a location buried in Queens not too far from Citifield and my beloved Mets, ready to plunge into the CEDS exam. Yes, the dreaded test that has eDiscovery folks quaking in their boots. That one. After working in eDiscovery for over ten years, I was finally going to put myself out there. Put my money where my mouth was. Take the test and see if I can cut the mustard. Pick your favorite analogy.
Had I studied? Sure I had. But there is only so much you can study before it all starts to build to a crescendo in your brain and nothing seems clear anymore. I prepped with online webinars and training material. I combed the ACEDS site for any tidbits I might have overlooked. I pored over Michael Quartararo’s excellent book, Project Management in Electronic Discovery. I reread notes from old cases I’d run. I talked to people who had taken the test and asked for advice. The general consensus was “Trust your gut.” I’ll get back to my gut later.
But would I be able to recall all this when the time came? Could I remember all of the fine points on handling ESI? What about international rules of discovery? Sure, I’ve QC’d enough load files to float the Titanic, but have I identified and preserved enough to really call myself a CEDS?
You can see that I was close to flipping my lid, as they say in the vernacular. I did a lot of deep breathing to calm myself, but that just made me hyperventilate and feel faint.
Here’s a tip, from me to you. When going to take the CEDS exam, don’t pick a test site with bad parking. Trust me on this one. It will only make you feel like the White Rabbit: “I’m late, I’m late!” I did manage to get there with some time to spare, but I was also very glad I’d left my house hours early.
Now I’m in the little test room. I’ve signed in with the very nice young lady at the front desk. I’ve locked up my belongings in the locker she assigned me: lucky number 7, or so I’d like to believe. There are other test takers here, but they are all taking some other exam. I’m the only CEDS person at the moment. I hold my breath and click on the button that starts the test.
The questions seem endless. The little countdown clock is playing mind games with me, sometimes jumping ahead, other times slowing to a crawl. I know this is all in my head, but it does feel real.
I take full advantage of the little Review button – you can come back to questions you aren’t sure about later on. This is another really good tip for taking the test. Don’t get bogged down on a question and let it suck up a chunk of your time. Mark it for review and move on. I also see the value in going with my gut. Generally speaking, the first answer you pick will be the right one. Agonizing over it and changing it will usually result in a wrong response. So I go with my poor gut – I was too nervous to eat before the test and my stomach is making very loud growling noises – and again, I keep moving forward.
And as I do, I become more and more convinced that I will NEVER EVER pass this test. It’s useless. Why am I even trying? With every question I try to answer, I hear the recording in my head repeating in an endless loop “Forget it, you’ll never pass. Whatever made you think you could? You might as well give up now. Just get up and leave. This was stupid.” And that tape keeps playing, over and over, around and around. But somehow, I manage to keep moving through the questions, knocking them down one by one. I’m still convinced I won’t pass, but I’m stubborn and I refuse to give up. All the other people in the room have finished their tests and have left. I’m alone except for one new person who came in to take an exam.
I get to Question #145 in 2 hours and 40 minutes. I take another 20 minutes to go back and complete all the questions I marked for review the first time through.
Now I’m done and there is still an hour left on the clock. What do I do? Should I go back and review all of my answers? No, that’s not a good idea. Many studies have shown – as well as my own personal experience – that the odds are against me here. It is far more likely that I would change correct answers to wrong answers, so I figure I am safer leaving them be.
Now the terrifying Submit button looms in the lower right-hand part of the screen. If I click on that, it’s all over. My test will be scored and the result is final. But what’s the point of sitting here? I’m not going to change my answers and the eDiscovery fairy godmother is not going to make a sudden appearance to give me all the right answers. I might as well hit Submit. So I do. And for a few heart-stopping moments I get the spinning wheel of torment as the system scores my test and gets ready to pronounce the verdict. My head sags a little because I know what is coming. I know I failed.
The screen flashes and changes. Here are my results. My eyes glaze over a little and my breath catches in my throat.
And now I am so happy I do the dance of joy, all around the streets of Flushing, Queens.