Monday, October 11, 2010

This Has Been My Life

For the past six months at least....
Although I wear many hats, a lot of people in my life know me as a geologist. I've been working as an environmental geologist for 8 years, since graduating from the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, with a geology degree.

I finally took the next step in my career as a geologist, and sat for the ASBOG National Geology Examination on October 1, in order to become a licensed Professional Geologist (P.G.). I began studying for this exam six months ago, and although there were times this summer when we were so busy that I didn't get a lot of time for studying, I was fairly diligent about sitting down a couple times a week to study.

Starting about 2 months ago, my preparation for the test stepped up in intensity. By the time the end of September rolled around, I was studying about 30 hours a week (on top of working fulltime). It was very hard for me to be away from Brian and Sadie so much, and it was especially hard for me to get my butt out of bed by 5:15 a.m. to get to my office and study for 2 hours before work every day. I made sure to keep nights for myself so that I could spend time with Sadie before she went to bed, and time with my husband relaxing before going to sleep early every night.

On the day before the test, I said goodbye to Brian and Sadie and had a beautiful, leisurely drive to Laramie, Wyoming. I checked into a nice hotel, and studied for about 3 final hours. Around 5:30 p.m., I put my books away and headed into town for dinner. After a delicious meal at Anong's Thai in downtown Laramie, I drove around getting a feel for the town after not visiting Laramie for more than a decade. I also made sure I knew where to go for the test and where to park the next morning. I stopped at the store to pack a lunch for myself the next day, grabbed some celebrity gossip magazines and chocolate, and headed back to the hotel. After a relaxing bath, I went to bed at a decent hour and tried to not even think about the test the next morning. Of course, being the insomniac that I am, I didn't sleep a wink that night! So frustrating....

Although I felt exhausted when my alarm went off the next morning, I pushed the exhaustion aside and told myself that I've become very good at functioning on little to no sleep and that I wasn't going to let that affect my performance on the exam. I was expecting that adrenaline would keep the exhaustion at bay until after the test.

I ate a good, healthy, protein filled breakfast, showered and dressed, packed up, and spent about 20 minutes stretching and meditating. As I climbed into my truck, I gave myself a pep talk and tried to feel excited about the test.

My nerves started to be pretty noticeable as I headed towards the test location. I focused on breathing deeply and didn't allow my head to clutter with equations. I could tell that running through equations and conversion factors at that point was actually going to confuse me, and I just had to trust that they were in my head somewhere after all these months, and I would be able to recall them if I needed to.

After checking in, finding a seat in the room that "felt right", and getting all my materials out (calculator, colored pencils, scale, protractor, etc) it was finally time to take the exam!!!

After 4 full hours of test taking, the first half was over. I went to a nearby park and tried to maximize the few minutes I had before starting the second half. I ate a good healthy lunch, checked in with Brian, stretched, and basked in the sun. I felt like I had given the first half of the test everything I had, but somehow had to dig deep, and find the motivation to do it all over again! And I was anticipating that the second half of the exam would be more difficult for me.

Four hours later, I turned in my test and walked out of the building for the last time ever, hopefully! I couldn't even see straight, stand, or think about driving for a while. My entire body hurt from being tense for so many hours. I took some time to relax and reorient before heading home around 5 p.m. After a long three hour drive, what a treat it was to FINALLY be home and see Sadie and Brian sitting on the couch reading a book...waiting for mama to come home. I nursed Sadie and put her to bed, and then enjoyed dessert and champagne with my thoughtful husband.

The next morning, it finally started to hit me that I was done! After SO many months studying for this exam, after having it in the back of my mind at all times, it has definitely taken me a while to decompress and let go of that stress. It feels like such an accomplishment just to have taken this exam. I feel very confident that I did everything I possibly could have to prepare...I absolutely could not have fit any more information in my head! I am confident in my memorization and test-taking abilities; I think I kept a good pace during the test; I double and triple checked every answer; I stayed calm and focused and took breaks when I could tell I needed it.

And now I wait. For 60-75 days. Seriously. Just in time for the holidays, I'll get a letter in the mail from the Wyoming Board of Professional Geologists telling me if I passed one or both parts of the exam. I'm trying to be patient and confident. I'm feeling cautiously optimistic. But I also know the statistics. I know that lots of people take this exam more than once before passing it. I know that this is a very tough professional licensing exam. I know that the candidate scores of those who do pass the exam are barely above the passing score. I know that it's known as being a poorly written, unfair exam.

But I'm hopeful.....and crossing my fingers.


Gratefulmom said...

That is awesome! Good for you for doing it while Sadie is little because it gets harder the older you get and the more kids you have...... it seems like the longer I was out of school the harder it was to go back and finish things up. Good luck and I am sure you will do awesome!

Anonymous said...

Did you pass? I just took the test this month and am driving myself nuts waiting for the results.

Rachel said...

I did...good luck on yours! I found out right after Thanksgiving (which was a bit sooner than I expected). I also hated having to wait that long.