By Daryl Lee Spiewak, CEM, TEM, Lead Trainer for the CEM Commission
IAEM Headquarters staff often receive questions about the certification examination. These questions range from the complex (“What references should I study?”) to the simple (“How do I obtain a copy of a specific reference?”) and all manner of questions in-between.
The next series of articles will cover the certification examination and should answer many of your questions. If they do not answer your question, be sure to submit it to firstname.lastname@example.org, and I will cover it in a future article as others probably have the same question. To begin our discussion on the certification examination, we will review why it is a requirement for certification and some of its administrative procedures.
The examination is one of two parts to certification. The first part is the credential application. The second part is the examination. A new candidate must pass both parts to earn initial certification as an AEM or CEM. The credential application verifies a candidate’s qualifications for certification, while the examination verifies a candidate’s broad knowledge of comprehensive emergency management principles and practices, as well as the candidate’s ability to apply that knowledge to solving various issues faced by emergency managers.
The written examination consists of 100 multiple-choice questions. Each question has four possible responses, with one response being the correct one. The candidate must choose the best answer among those provided and answer 75 or more questions correctly.
The examination topics come from NFPA 1600. You do not need to know or study NFPA 1600 to pass the examination. The questions themselves come from the FEMA Independent Study (IS) courses, so candidates do not have to buy study references. FEMA IS courses are free for download by anyone with Internet access. Additional questions are country-specific. They come from other readily available Internet references.
Candidates do not have to download or study all of the available IS courses. Download a copy of the Exam Study Guide for a list of recommended references to study. Future articles will provide additional discussion and details on the examination topic areas and questions.
There are two types of examinations.
Taking the examination is an individual effort. That means no collaboration with others, including other candidates taking the exam. A candidate may not refer to notes, references or the Internet to select a response.
The examination has a time limit. The candidate must complete it in no more than two hours. Most candidates complete the exam within 60 minutes, so this has never been an issue.
Should a candidate correctly answer less than 75 questions, he or she has one more opportunity to take the exam at no additional cost. Coordinate with IAEM Headquarters to take a make-up examination. This make-up examination will be similar to the first examination, but will consist of different questions in the same topic areas.
A candidate may choose to take the examination before or after submitting his or her credential application packet for review by the CEM Commission. The restriction is that no more than 12 months may pass between the dates the two parts earn a passing score. Once a candidate earns the AEM or CEM, he or she does not have to take the examination again to earn recertification.
Candidates may arrange to take the examination at the IAEM Annual Conference, the IAEM-USA Mid-Year Meeting, any regional conference, or IAEM Headquarters. If these aren’t viable options, candidates may individually arrange their own test administration through a variety of secured testing methods and locations, which includes the education office at a local high school, college or university.
A representative from the education department may conduct the exam onsite. Military personnel may arrange to take the examination at a military education center. CEM Commissioners and IAEM Board members also may administer the examination. Whatever option is chosen, coordinate it with IAEM Headquarters staff at least 14 days in advance of the requested examination date, so staff may provide the proper documentation and instructions to the examination proctor.
Next month we will describe how the examinations are constructed.
IAEM Bulletin, September 2013
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