Certification Essay - Third Draft and Final Submission

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By Daryl Lee Spiewak, CEM, TEM, Lead Trainer for the CEM Commission

Last month we prepared the second draft of the certification essay, ran the spelling and grammar checker, and corrected any errors it identified. We then edited the second draft and began preparing our final paper for submission. During the editing, we reviewed the second draft similar to the way the CEM Commissioners will review it. We fixed some weaknesses and had what seemed to be an essay that will earn enough points to pass. This month we will complete the editing process and prepare the final essay for submission.

Download the third draft at http://www.iaem.com/documents/Third-Draft-CEM-Essay-Example-Aug2013.pdf and the final essay for submission at http://www.iaem.com/documents/Final-Submission-CEM-Essay-Example-Aug2013.pdf. The MS Word Track Changes tool was turned on in the third edited version, so you may see the parts that we changed. The completed essay version has all the changes accepted, and the document is formatted according to the submission requirements, minus a real signature.

Third and Final Editing Process

  • The first step in the third and final editing process is to accept all the previous changes and count the words. Not including the essay’s title and the required statement/signature block, our word count is 1,838 words. It is a little over the recommended 1,000-1,500 words.
  • The second step is to tighten up the prose somewhat and reduce the word count.
  • The last step is to polish the prose and make the final essay much easier for the CEM Commissioners to read and score. Recall that the essay should read like an interview response.

During our review of the second draft, we determined that the Preparedness section was fairly detailed, so that is an area to tighten up, reducing our word count. The rest of the KSAs appeared to be solid, so no changes should be required there. Lastly, we determined the funding discussion under the Mitigation section may work better under the Financial discussion to make the prose flow better, so we will look at that section too.

We made the changes discussed above and tightened up the prose in the third draft. Much of the EOC discussion was eliminated, because it did not directly relate to solving our stated problems or achieving our objectives. The funding discussion under the Mitigation section seemed to flow better where it was, so we did not move it. The word count is now 1,628 words.

To reduce the word count further, we would have to eliminate some additional discussion. One way to do that is to change our problem statement and objectives and focus on the CEMP or the Mitigation Action Plan entirely. Since we are less than 10% outside the recommended word count range, we are not going to make any additional changes to our essay.

Preparing the Essay for Submission

We are satisfied with the result and now move on to prepare the final document for submission. All the changes were accepted from the third and final edit. We eliminated any extra lines and fixed any spacing errors due to the changes. Now we prepare our essay for submission.

The application booklet states that the essay must be prepared using “a word processing, 12-point type, with one inch/2.5 centimeters margins, double spaced.” We used MS Word to prepare the document. The font is 12-point type, and the type face is Calibri. We could have used Ariel or Times Roman, but Calibri is a bit more clean and elegant compared to the other two fonts. It is easy to read, and the Commissioners should not have difficulty reading it. The document has one-inch margins all around, and everything is double spaced. Since we didn’t indent the beginning of each paragraph, I double spaced the line between paragraphs to separate them.

The application booklet doesn’t mention anything about bold face or italics, but we used them to highlight various details. For example, the six design elements are bold and used as section headings. Some of the KSA elements were bolded to make them easy for the commissioners to find.

The last requirement is to ensure the essay contains the proper statement and is signed. The sample final essay includes the statement and a simulated signature.


Our final version of the emergency management essay is now ready for submission. We don’t expect any issues during the official review, and we expect our essay to pass. We are done. So next month, we will begin our exploration of the certification exam.

IAEM Bulletin, August 2013

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