This morning, I got an email from a gentleman who’s registered to take the NFLPA exam later this month in Washington, D.C. He told me that at this point, he hadn’t “cracked the book” in preparation for the exam. His question — should he defer to 2017?

It’s a good question. Lack of proper preparation time is one reason plenty of people fail the test. I guess that’s true of any test, really, but especially the NFLPA exam. It’s even more true this year, after the test was made exceptionally harder than in previous years. With the pass rate for last year’s exam below 40 percent, it’s driven plenty of people to our practice exam, the only one on the Web. The 42 questions there are the only ones you’ll find that resemble what would-be contract advisors will see in our nation’s capital in two weeks.

When you register for the NFLPA exam, the players association sends out a copy of the CBA and source documents that make things a little easier. However, studying the entire CBA to pass the exam is a little like studying Encyclopedia Brittanica to pass your American history exam. I mean, the answers are in there, but so is a lot of stuff you don’t need. That’s why you need plenty of time to prepare. It’s also why many people take advantage of the study guide we offer. It’s not free, but reasonably priced, and gives many test-takers the tools they need to succeed. Especially if they don’t find out until a couple weeks before the test date that they’ve been approved. Which happens all the time. Literally.

Here are a couple other reasons people fail the exam.

  • Lack of humility: If there’s ever been a job that attracts people with big egos, it’s the agent world. I guess the legal profession already has plenty of people with  outsized opinions of themselves, but when you stack on the (potential) status that comes from being part of the NFL, the arrogance zooms into the stratosphere. Of course, a lot of that goes away the second the seminar starts and the pure volume of information starts flowing. It can be very humbling. I’ve heard stories of people begging the more prepared guy next to them to help when they realized what they faced.
  • Poor time management: The PA made last year’s test harder not necessarily by making the material harder, but by making the questions longer and more nuanced. The people who took it last year told me there were very few fill-in-the-blank or true/false questions. Instead, there were word problems that required nuance and comprehension. Many people go into the test figuring, ‘it’s open book, so how hard can it be?’ That’s a terrible approach. Last year, dozens of people wound up spending too much time on one answer, then found themselves scrambling to finish when the proctor called time’s up.