Today was my first USSD headquarters test - I passed and now hold the rank of Blue belt.
At United Studios, all rank tests of blue and above for SoCal students are held at the school's HQ in Lake Forest CA, down in south Orange County. Master Taylor presides there, and it is serious business. In addition to the respect we give him for his rank, he has the sort of voice where if he snaps out an order, you can't help but jump to attention at the sound of it.
Headquarters tests are large. There were, I don't know, sixty? seventy? eighty? students there. There were quite a few more of the purple and blue belts (who are testing for blue and blue/green stripe, respectively) than the blue/green and green belts (who are testing for green and green/brown stripe.) As one of the low ranks in this crowd of students, my place is the back of the room, but of course I couldn't hide out there. The various masters who run portions of the test will unerringly spot slackers and then there's hell to pay ;)
Everyone worked out together for a while, then the greens and blue/greens split off to do their thing in the small room, we blues and purples kept the large room and now have room to do our forms. When I get called up to do my katas, I am in an unlucky position next to one of Master Taylor's fu dogs (impressive Chinese statuary) and he's rather protective of them. Oh great, now he's gonna be watching me extra-close and I'm gonna have to make sure the spear-hand poke in Kata 2 doesn't hit the statue and break my fingers, LOL. I make it through without damage to myself or the fu dog.
Five hours later, the test was over, and I had passed. I am now one step closer to my goal of black belt, a goal that is going to take a long long time to accomplish. I think I've gotten to the part where these tests are harder than two-a-days in football. Whew.