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Newcomer II

CCSP Exam with face mask

I registered with Pearson to take the test on a weekend in August at one of the two New Jersey test sites. The testing site COVID-19 rules require the test take to wear a face mask during the three-hour test. I have no issues with wearing a face mask, and I have followed all required state and CDC COVID-19 pandemic guidelines for social distancing. 

But I suffer from anxiety/claustrophobia (trigger memory of almost drowning as a child) related to any face-covering. While I can wear a mask for a short time (about 90 minutes), panic then sets in, and I have the urge to remove the face covering.


Have you ever taken an exam under stress? Any suggestions on how I can cope during the test?

4 Replies
Community Champion

A couple of suggestions:


1. Notify the testing centre that you have this issue (ahead of time) and see if they can make any concessions for you such that you may avoid the angst.  I would do this sooner than later.  


2.  Also reach out to Member Support to determine if they might have a solution for you.  Maybe @amandavanceISC2 may be able to refer to the correct department.


Best wishes with your exam and hopefully you won't need the full ninety minutes (let alone the three hours).






Community Champion

The good thing is that there is still plenty of time for the facemask requirements to relax by August.


First thing I would do would be to get fully vaccinated by that time just in case they come up with a rule where you don't have to wear a mask if you can show you're fully vaccinated. I'd also consider waiting until the last possible day to reschedule further out into the Fall if need be. I'm not sure where ISC(2) is on taking the CCSP from home but it could be an option by then as well.

Community Champion

As someone who has experienced two near death experiences I can share this with you. Go to therapy to help get past the traumatic event. Having been to therapy after my first event helped me with my second event.


So my first one was a near drowning experience while surfing. I was kept under water and flipped over and over until I just didn't think I could hold my breath any longer. At that moment I was dumped on the ground in the shallow water near the shore. I came up and my lungs were on fire. I staggered to the beach and tried to get enough air to not pass out. I regrouped on the shore and then went home.

The next day I went back to the beach to go surfing again and I felt the anxiety swelling up inside me. I told myself "If you don't go back out there now, you will never go out there again." I faced my fear and went out. I was hyper sensitive to all that was around me and could even taste the salt in the water. Yes, I knew it was salt water before but I have never remembered actually tasting the salt in the water. I noticed colors in the sky and the water that were extremely vivid and brilliant as my senses were on ultimate overload. I was able to push through it and regain my confidence.


My second actual death experience happened when the truck I was working on fell on me and crushed the air out of my lungs. Luckily for me my neighbor who was having a party had a guest hear the truck fall and came to check on me. They were able to get the truck up off of me and I regained consciousness and was able to get out from under it. I took three  days off from work but the event kept playing over and over in my mind non-stop. As hard as I tried, I could not stop myself from thinking about it every minute of the day. I went back to work just to get my mind off of the accident and to keep my mind busy. For me, returning to work was my plan on how to get through this traumatic event.


I share these things with you so that you can help yourself get through this. If you know that 90 minutes is your limit, alert the testing staff that you will need to take a break at the 90 minute mark (if this is possible) and then take 10 minutes to regather yourself. Orient yourself to the room. You are not in the water and you are not drowning. You are safe. Take some calming breaths and look around you. Realize that your life is not in danger. Remind yourself on why you are there. You are taking an exam to better yourself. When you resume the exam you will be focused on the questions. Even if taking this little grounding break causes you to not be able to answer the last question or two, having yourself refreshed will help you do better on the bunch of questions you did answer. 


I still have days where the accident pops up in my head, but not as many as before, in fact it is rare now. I still work on cars/trucks (I just make sure not to be as lazy and careless as I was on the day of the accident). I still surf. I actually turned the truck accident into a cybersecurity presentation and called it "2 tons of complacency" and use my example to help others. I suffered several cracked ribs, had a heart attack and a bruised heart and sometimes struggle with remembering names from the truck accident but largely (and luckily) I am back to my old self. 


You can get through this and I have no doubt you will. Since you know about your issue (Step 1 Awareness) and you know what your trigger is, have a plan of how you are going to deal with it when it happens. If you have a plan then you will not have to fear it happening.


Notice I am not saying to just get over it. I am saying get THROUGH it. Have a plan. Execute the plan and you will see yourself getting better at handling this problem in the future.

Advocate II

All exams involve a level of stress and without some degree of anxiety you wouldn't perform, however it does sound as though your might benefit from some form of therapy for your condition.  Maybe your employer has an employee assistance programme that they could refer you to or you could use anonymously?