CPP Exam Reflections by Mike Dorman

CPP Exam Reflections by Mike Dorman
Director of Security at Bellevue School District

I recently completed the CPP exam and am pleased to report I passed it on the first attempt. Michael Delamere asked me to share a few thoughts and observations regarding the exam and the process in the hope it will be helpful to those who are preparing to take the exam. In the interest of brevity I’ll share my perspective under two general headings, i.e. pros and cons.


  • The certification exam is not difficult. If you’ve made a reasonable effort to study AND have practical experience in security management business environments you will be fine.
  • The time allotted to complete the exam is more than enough; be patient and DON’T rush.
  • The question format on the exam is essentially the same as the questions presented in the study material.

Suggestions for taking multiple choice exams, especially this one:

  • Focus, read the whole question and understand it. My impression is the people who wrote the exam tried to make it unnecessarily complicated. Read the WHOLE question.
  • Read all of the answers and understand them.
  • Eliminate the obviously incorrect answers.
  • Rely on your book knowledge and professional experience.
  • Don’t go back and forth between questions and change answers; read it, understand it, answer it and move on.
  • Relax, it’ll be OK.

The exam questions were representative of all eight content areas. In my case, very few of the physical security centric questions were technical in nature. Those that were, had to do primarily with lighting; specifically lumens, types of lamps, starting and restrike time, optimal applications and their respective effect on color rendition as it applies to the human eye and also video systems.

Content in the version of the exam I took emphasized security assessment and planning processes, risk assessment, countermeasures and information security fundamentals.


  • Personal opinion: The testing center enforces draconian check in, search, exam proctoring and check out procedures. This was definitely annoying and a source of distraction. Leave all of your 4th amendment expectations in your vehicle along with all of your belongings. Arrive mentally prepared for a TSA like experience when you are lucky enough to have been selected for additional screening at the airport.
  • In my opinion some of the correct i.e. “best” answers are out of date and are essentially for testing purposes only. You’ll recognize these questions when you see them so choose the “best” answer to get the points and pass the exam.
  • The exam becomes tedious at about question number 50 or so. Don’t lose focus.
  • Deciphering several of the exam questions was challenging because they were vague and had considerable grammar and punctuation errors and even a few typos. The only advice I have for this is to pick apart the question and take your best shot.