The CIPP/US exam consists of 90 multiple choice questions. With each question, only one answer is correct. In total you have to score between 300 and 500 points. How these are calculated exactly is not clear.
About 5 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 and a question about the various parties involved in business, obligations between those parties and reporting data breaches.
You have 2.5 hours or 150 minutes to answer the 90 questions. That is more than enough time for even most non-native speakers. Don’t be put off if you go through the scenarios a little slower. These contain many details and you should therefore read them 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 see if all the questions go through again. You can do this as often as you want.
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 questions. They vary from very simple to very complicated. For example, what is simple is the purpose of the CAN-SPAM Act. Complicated are the questions in which the answers in particular are very similar and only differ in accent. You may have to get used to the fact that many questions ask for the best answer. In that case, for example, all four answers are correct, but an answer is the most correct.
This level of detail that is asked for some questions is striking. You expect in advance only questions 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 all be found in the official IAPP CIPP/US textbook, US Private Sector Privacy.
Due to the design of the exam, I think it is not possible to anwser all the questions correctly. That requires 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 have all the detailed questions right to pass the exam. The preparation nevertheless takes the necessary time and effort. The IAPP exams are not easy to pass.
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