I had the date marked on my calendar for quite a while—August 18. My first Certified Employee Benefit Specialist® (CEBS®) exam was scheduled, and I have to say I was nervous. I’ve been out of school for a while, and the idea of taking an exam was a little intimidating. I wavered between confidence and uncertainty.

My GBA 1 Learning Guide three-ring binder was my constant companion. Waiting for my sons at football practice. Late at night when the kids had fallen asleep. Early in the morning on the weekends, when the house was still quiet. You would find me with my binder reading and rereading the materials. What are the features of HMOs? How does consumerism affect health care? What are the methods for handling risk?


As my exam date approached, I focused on taking the practice exam. With it loaded on my laptop, I must have taken the exam at least six times. Each time, I narrowed down the subject areas that I needed to reread so that I didn’t struggle on exam day. After each practice exam, I watched my score climb a little higher. My confidence grew a little each time, knowing that I was on the right track.The night before exam day, I debated to either stay up and study until the wee hours of the morning or get a good night’s sleep. To be honest, the good night’s sleep won out. But that morning, I was up and ready to go by 6:00 a.m. I drove to the testing center and was in the parking lot by 7:15 a.m. I pulled out my tattered three-ring binder and reread two of the sections that were more difficult for me. I watched as others pulled in to the lot of the testing center, each person focused on their own task at hand and hoping for success.

The time had come to head inside and take my exam. All the prep work had led me to this point, and I was as ready as I felt I could be. I checked in at the desk, presented my ID, put my purse in a locker and waited for my number to be called. After checking in and being escorted to my assigned testing station, I was ready to get started. The next two hours went by in the blink of an eye. I went through each question, answering those I was sure of and marking the others to return to later. Returning to the questions I was unsure of, I used the process of elimination to narrow down the options and decide on my answer.Quote I Did It

Six minutes left—That was all the time I had when I was ready to submit my exam for evaluation. This was it. I clicked on the box to submit my exam, and the butterflies were going crazy in my stomach. As I answered the survey questions that appeared next on the screen, I wondered with each click of the mouse if my exam results would be appearing next on the screen. And there it was—“Congratulations on passing this examination . . . ” Wait, I reread it just to make sure—“Congratulations on passing this examination . . . ” And, breathe. I took a long, deep breath and held in my overwhelming urge to shout “I did it!”

I left the testing center and drove to work relieved, exhausted and proud. I did it. Despite my crazy, hectic schedule each and every day, I did it. Believe me, if I can do it so can you. And what a great feeling of personal accomplishment I had as I looked back on the entire experience.

In case you are wondering, I’ve already signed up for my next class, GBA 2, and I’ve received my new three-ring binder. With one class in the books, I’m on a roll . . .

Create your future by enrolling in the CEBS program or signing up for your next exam. Visit www.cebs.org to learn more and take the next step.


Rachel Oliver
Marketing Specialist, CEBS at the International Foundation


Rachel Oliver

Marketing Specialist, CEBS

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