I have recently been lucky enough to be chosen to work with the National Recreation and Park Association’s (NRPA) Certified Playground Safety Inspector Exam Review Committee and NRPA staff member Caroline Smith. I found these people to be caring, hard-working people dedicated to our field and children’s safety. This group agonizes over trying to create and administer a fair test that will insure that the individuals that pass it are capable of correctly analyzing a playground and can help make positive changes.
But as I travel around the country, I often hear comments such as: The test is too hard; the test is full of trick questions; why aren’t my opinions as valid as the test writers? With these types of statements in mind I hope this column can provide the frustrated test takers with some actions that will result in their passing the exam.
1st Hint: Study.
Do not show up to the class or take the test without taking the time to study. There is far too much information for you to learn during the class. To pass the exam, you must have a deep understanding of the Public Playground Safety Handbook written by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (2010, November), which is available for download at no cost at http://www.cpsc.gov//PageFiles/122149/325.pdf. You can do that right now!
You must know all the information provided by the ASTM F1487, Standard Consumer Safety Performance Specification for Playground Equipment for Public Use, which can be purchased at http://www.astm.org/Standards/F1487.htm. Also available any time.
Read the Content Outline and study the areas that provide the most points. The Content Outline is available at: http://www.nrpa.org/uploadedFiles/nrpa.org/Professional_Development/Certification/CPSI/2012%20CPSI%20Exam%20Content%20Outline.pdf. Available all the time.
Read and understand the manual: Playground Safety is No Accident 5th Edition. There will be test questions from this book. It is available from the NRPA at: http://www.nrpa.org/store/detail.aspx?id=PLAYSAFEMAN02
Other playground information is available at:
2nd Hint: Learn as much as you can about a playground.
Go to other workshops on playground safety and read other books on playground safety. The more you know, the better. The NRPA, state recreation organizations, childcare associations, school groups, risk management agencies, the National Program for Playground Safety, and private companies all offer opportunities to help you understand playgrounds better.
3rd Hint: Be prepared the day of the test.
Don’t cram – for the most part it does not work. Get sleep. Eat a good breakfast. Dress comfortably (this is not the time to dress to impress). If you need to use the restroom, do so. There is plenty of time to finish the exam; you do not need to be uncomfortable. Do not wear a hat – they will make you take it off. Take your time and read each question.
I promise you that no one is trying to trick you in any way. I also promise you that without a dedicated effort on your part you are not likely to pass the exam. I hope that these hints can help you have a better understanding of the exam and assist you in passing.
To register for the CPSI certification, contact the National Recreation and Park Association (http://www.nrpa.org/CPSI/).
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