What does the CIPP/US exam look like? How to pass?
The CIPP/US exam consists of 90 multiple-choice questions. With each question, you will be required to choose the correct answer from a list of four options. In total, you have to score between 300 to 500 points. How the points are calculated is not known to the public.
About five scenarios are presented per exam. These are short cases based on which various questions are asked. These scenarios generally relate to subjects that weigh heavily in the examination blueprint. You can think of a case about privacy in the workplace, a case about marketing, and the Do-Not-Call Registry, a question about privacy policies and measures that a company can take, the various parties involved in a business, obligations between those parties, and reporting data breaches.
You have 2.5 hours (150 minutes) to answer the 90 questions. That is more than enough time for even most non-native speakers. You should go through the scenario text a little slower; these contain many details, and it is vital to read through carefully. The normal questions go a lot faster. All in all, the average candidate can answer the questions in about half the time. You then have enough time to review previous questions.
You have the option to flag answers during the exam. You can easily view these after going through all the questions. You can also check to ensure that you have not omitted any questions. So far you have enough time, you can recheck previous questions as many times as possible.
The questions vary from very superficial to very detailed. An example of a superficial question is the selection of the correct description of a definition, such as consent decree. An example of a more detailed question is, for example, “what is not a recommendation in the 2012 FTC report” where you have to choose from a number of answers. They vary from very simple to very complicated. For example, You may be asked a simple question like ‘what is the purpose of the CAN-SPAM Act.’ For complicated questions, the answers are very similar but will only differ in accent. You should also know that many questions may require you to choose the most correct answer from a list of correct answers.
Some questions will require you to provide a more detailed answer. Some students expect the questions to be about the main lines of the book, not details from any of the chapters. However, a lot of questions are about the details. For example, in the case of privacy legislation of a certain state. In each exam, one or two questions are asked about a privacy law of a certain state. That is not exactly the essence of the matter, and you can easily look it up in practice. Anyway, the curriculum can be found in the official IAPP CIPP/US textbook, US Private Sector Privacy.
In this blog post, you can find and download CIPP/US sample questions for free: CIPP/US Practice Questions (Sample Questions).
Due to the design of the exam, I think it is not possible to answer all the questions correctly; to do this, you must have a photographic memory and a great eye for detail. By learning smartly and concentrating on the core, it is quite possible to pass the exam. You do not have to answer all the detailed questions correctly before you pass the exam. However, if you dedicate your time and effort to prepare adequately for the exam, you will excel.
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