After a year of concentrated effort by the ACSS team and leading experts in the industry, The ACSS Team is proud to announce that the Certified Sanction Specialist (CSS) Examination has finally landed!
But what can test-takers practically expect before, during, and after the day of the Exam?
In October 2019, the Association of Certified Sanctions Specialist (ACSS) launched its Beta version of the CSS Exam to a limited amount of test takers. The results will be analyzed in order to provide an even better, more poignant exam for the wider public. In the meantime, as someone who took a ride on the maiden voyage, I thought it would be pertinent to share my experience and practical insights on what its really like to take the CSS Exam.
If you have signed up for the CSS Exam, here are a few tips on what to expect on the day. If you have not already signed up for the CSS Exam, or would like more information, please do visit our website at: https://sanctionsassociation.org/css-process/.
I’ve Signed Up for the Exam, What’s Next?
Once you sign up for the CSS Exam, the ACSS team (along with PearsonVUE) will send you a confirmation email of what to do next, along with your Candidate ID, Client Authorization ID, and Authorized Dates to take the Exam.
Within that confirmation email will be a link to register for the exam through PearsonVUE. You will need your name as well as your Candidate ID in order to register.
TIP: be sure that you use the EXACT spelling of your name from the confirmation email when you register for the Exam on PearsonVUE. Otherwise, the system will not recognize you.
Once you are registered, you will be asked to choose your Exam site based on your location.
Where Do I Go to Take the Exam?
The CSS Exam is offered in 190 different countries and more than 2,500 various cities.
I signed up for a test center in London, UK. There were about three testing centers for me to choose from, all very central, but this may differ depending on your placement in the world.
Once you choose the location and date of your Exam, you will be sent another confirmation from PearsonVUE. This includes all the details of your Exam, along with what you can/cannot bring to the testing center.
If you want to reschedule or cancel your Exam date/location, you must contact PearsonVUE at least 72 hours before the Exam time.
What May I Bring / Not Bring to the Exam?
As I descended into the testing center, I was greeted by a friendly lady who asked to me sign in. I was also asked to empty my pockets. I was then given a locker key and told to put away all materials I may have brought with me, save for my locker key and ID.
TIP: you must bring two forms of ID with you to the testing center. I brought my passport and driver’s license, but they can take many forms. Make sure at least one of the forms of ID has your picture on it.
The CSS Exam is closed-book. What that means is that you are not allowed any prep materials inside the exam room. This will include your phone, ipad, computer, or any other electronics you may bring. This includes a wristwatch.
My particular testing center in London did not have a clock on the wall, but there was a countdown clock on the computer that kept me well-aware of how much time I had left.
A locker is provided to you at the exam site for all your personal belongings and electronics, as well as pen and paper to make any notes during the exam. You will also be asked to sign in and tell them that you are there to take the “CSS Exam”.
What Does the Exam Look Like?
The CSS Exam is made up of 110 multiple-choice questions, each with 3 choices. You must choose the right, or sometimes, the best answer. Some questions are simple fact questions, such as “What are Primary Sanctions?”, and others are more in-depth case study type questions. During the last 10 minutes of the Exam, there are 4 multiple-choice questions based on one case study for you to answer.
All answers are submitted through a computer by clicking the right answer. Don’t worry! If you want to change your answer, you can go back and do so.
TIP: There is a possibility to “flag” any question you are unsure of as you go, so this can be a useful tool if you are not quite certain of the answer. These can be reviewed later at the end of the exam, or at any time during the exam by using the forward/back arrow buttons on the right/left of the screen.
You have 3 hours to complete the whole Exam. That is approximately 1½minutes per question.
When Will I Know if I Passed or Failed?
Once you have completed the Exam, you will receive your results immediately as they will pop up on your screen.
If you passed (congratulations!), you will also be mailed a Certificate of Completion confirming your new status as a Certified Sanctions Specialist (CSS).
How Do I Prep For the Exam?
The way to prepare properly for the CSS Exam is to take the CSS Exam Virtual Prep Course. This consists of 6 easy to follow 2-hour virtual classes over a six-week period.
It is also possible to take the Exam through self-study using our Study Guide and Online prep materials.