Failed 1st poly with FULL disclosures

I’m thoroughly confused and looking for clarification.

I took my first ever poly yesterday and failed. However, I was wholly honest and disclosed, prior to pre-test, ALL instances of drug use (2 times in my teens and ones in my early 20s). I’ve not used any drug since then.
I was still told I was concealing something post test.

Regarding criminal activity, I have none but disclosed on one occasion driving after what I felt like would have been over the limit had I been pulled over, but only had one drink. I was still told I was concealing something post test.

On the parts I felt I would have failed due to my nervousness, she mentioned nothing of. However, the parts I fully disclosed were the parts I was told I didn’t pass. I had a feeling this would happen due to her line of questioning pre-test. Exact verbiage used by the examiner was “I was trying to conceal” “you must have been thinking about something else” “indicators reflect you’re concealing something other than what was already discussed”.

She kept harping on the importance of honesty, “flushing everything out”, how adjudicators only go off of facts/data from the poly and not the additional context I disclosed to her and she didn’t want to leave it up to chance that an adjudicator would not grant me the TS/SCI poly due to the results… so basically fess up. I was trying not to be rude but told her “I don’t know what else you’d like for me to tell you. I know you are only doing your job. However, at this point I’ve disclosed everything to you, and have nothing else to tell you. I’m not admitting to something I never did.”

I felt like the examiner was purposefully baiting me, trying to push me into admitting something I hadn’t done. She offered me a second poly request for and stated it wasn’t guaranteed that I’d get one. She told me if I got one, next time to make sure I stay very focused, eat before and don’t be distracted by anything during the test. I didn’t feel I was while answering questions… but I didn’t eat or have my normal cup of coffee in which she probably heard the rumblings of my stomach :rofl:

On the way out she was very cordial, a totally different person than in the room which further lead me to believe it was an act.

Any tips, input, opinions? Is it likely I won’t be grated due to the failure? Should I try it again or move on? I have a clearance currently. I don’t know any adjudicators to pick their brains about this. All input is appreciated.

Polygraph “testing” is a pseudoscientific fraud. The National Academy of Sciences concluded nearly two decades ago that “its accuracy in distinguishing actual or potential security violators from innocent test takers is insufficient to justify reliance on its use in employee security screening in federal agencies.”

Inexcusably, the intelligence community has ignored the science on polygraphs and actually increased its reliance on them.

Your polygraph operator’s demeanor was indeed an act. Their job is to convince you that the polygraph can read your mind and that it is in your best interest to confess all. In the process, many honest applicants and employees are baselessly accused of lying or withholding information.

Since you already hold a security clearance and haven’t made any disqualifying admission, it’s likely that you’ll be invited back for a follow-up session. Whether putting up with this nonsense is worth it is a question you’ll have to answer for yourself. To make an informed choice, it would behoove you to educate yourself further about polygraphy. We publish a free book titled The Lie Behind the Lie Detector that will be of help in this respect.


I have met more than a couple of folks who said their first poly was torture and they expected to be arrested at any moment… followed by a completely uneventful and successful second poly.


Thank you very much. I started to take a look yesterday. There are some interesting reading materials. I’m going to delve in this weekend.

Aaahhh! Well, I certainly hope I’m invited back for a second one. I was angry and irritated more than anything, but I had to check my emotions and remind myself she was only doing her job and obviously trying to get me to admit to anything additional. I should have listened to my guy quicker.

I have a feeling a second go will much much smoother and I’ll more confident now knowing the process.

I did only a CI poly and we very thoroughly went over every question, which took a couple hours. I can’t imagine going through a FS poly.

A friend failed a DHS poly last year. He’s from a small Texas town, homeschooled up to his junior year in highschool, and went to a local college where his parents are professors. He’s never even had a speeding ticket. But, he does get nervous easily and he had an energy drink before the poly. Not saying you should do this, but he ended up turning down the second poly and just went another direction.

I also failed my first poly despite being totally honest. It took 4 hours and I felt miserable after. But, the second time I took the poly, I gave the exact same answers to the exact same questions, and was done after 1.5hrs and told I passed (or “successful”, as they say).

My advice would be to first, sleep well and eat well before the exam. Second, don’t think of it as a “lie detector”, but a “guilt detector.” Even if you are telling the truth about a question, but you feel guilty about something closely related, the machine will flag you. Just stay focused on the question and don’t let your mind wander.


I’m definitely going to do it again, if offered, and with a more relaxed attitude about it all; not cocky, just a little DGAH.

Perfectly stated; I love the analogy! I’m taking this advice and running with it. Thanks so much!

Any updates - did you have a second test? @ReallyThough