Saturday, September 23, 2006

OA Prep Group

I recently had the opportunity to get together with a few (err, all) of our local Group Members to have a sort of stop-and-go OA prep session. This year's cycle marks the first time any of us will have been able to progress on to the OA, and, since we are about 600 miles from the nearest DIR, attending an official Prep Session would have been difficult, if not downright impossible.

We used one of the preparation materials posted to the Group alongside the OA Summary information available on the SD's career site. The material is not there to be representative or actual OA material, nor is it an attempt to reconstruct the OA. No one wants to risk their candidacy on something so immensely stupid as violating the NDA. Rather, the sample materials are available to give the candidate an idea as to the style and type of material that may be encountered.

There is some question as to how beneficial the ad hoc prep groups can be, and the sample materials from the Group were nowhere near the volume or detail purported to be found during the OA itself, but I found the experience to be extremely useful, as it allowed me to try out my understanding of how the GE, CM and SI sections of the OA were to be addressed. I didn't take away any earth-shattering insights, but it did underscore the need to be especially attentive to detail--and to the passage of time.

The OA itself is reportedly grueling, but for the six hours or so that we remained focused on the materials, the task at hand went by quickly, almost pleasantly. But then again, it was quite a relief to be able to focus on a task for thirty or sixty minutes without interruption or distraction. My present job is essentially hours and hours of continuous interruptions, divided by brief periods of refocusing, reallocating and reprioritizing. :D

I doubt that repeating the experience would help me to prepare any more than it already has. There was never any question in my mind as to the types of information I would be facing--rather it was just good to have the opportunity to observe myself "going through the motions" and to debrief myself, looking for ways to finetune my observeable performance.

Whether this actually benefits me, or whether it has simply lulled me into having a false sense of security remains to be seen, as my OA is still several weeks off.

But the rest of the group: S, V, C, and D--you guys are awesome; thank you for putting it all together!

Best of luck at your own OA's!