Friday, September 19, 2014

How Did They Do It? CPLP Candidates ROCK! Exam Results from Earlier THIS Week

CPLP Practice Test
YES, it's possible to pass the CPLP Knowledge Exam...

...if you follow THIS simple plan:

Make sure you PRACTICE answering exam questions!
  1. REMEMBER! CPLP Knowledge Exam is NOT about your day job.
  2. To pass the CPLP exam, you MUST be able to translate your experience - what you know and what can do - into performing well on an application-level, computerized, multiple choice exam.
  3. This is NOT the same as performing as a learning professional every day on-the-job at work.
  4. Taking an exam is a practiced skill.
  5. Most candidates find the CPLP Knowledge Exam to be unlike any they've experienced before - because it goes beyond "memorize content, then test" approach we learned at school.
  6. Exam prep means PRACTICE, and practice means building COMPETENCE and CONFIDENCE by answering multiple choice questions similar to the ones you'll face on the computerized exam.
  7. Use the ATD Practice Exam (pCPLP)* to start.
  8. BUT - don't stop there! Either leverage additional practice questions from various resources**.

* Don't make these candidate MISTAKES when using the ATD Practice Exam (pCPLP):

  • ASTD Practice Exam (pCPLP) questions are representative of question the official exam, but they are NOT the exam.
  • Candidates will NOT see the pCPLP questions on the exam.
  • pCPLP questions were RETIRED and REMOVED from the CPLP Knowledge Exam.
  • pCPLP questions are used by ATD CI as examples only, but they are NOT the test.
  • pCPLP is NOT scored the same as the actual CPLP Knowledge Exam.
  • Take your pCPLP score as a general indication of how well you're performing on questions in a particular AOE, but NOT as an indication of CPLP Knowledge Exam success.
  • pCPLP questions are static, meaning, every time you take it, you get the same 100 questions in the exact same order.
  • pCPLP does not randomize questions or answer choices; it's the same every time.

** Where can you get practice questions...written like what you'll experience on the CPLP Knowledge Exam?

Not from ASTD / ATD.

ASTD / ATD no longer sells flashcards or the practice questions CD.

ATD discontinued those study prep support tools...

...when they overhauled the ASTD Competency Model last year (2013).

...and updated all of the exam content.

If you're part of an ASTD / ATD chapter study group, they often provide practice questions.

There's also benefit to writing your own questions and creating your own flashcards.

Otherwise, candidates interested in immediate access to online, computerized practice exams, flashcards, and other resources can find free and fee based ones here:


These are the same resources candidates leveraged to their success earlier THIS week:

"Wow! I am SO RELIEVED! I passed the CPLP Knowledge Exam. While the exam is what I expected it to be, it was not easy. The test required me to know competencies and respond to real-life application questions. Despite the difficulty, I felt prepared for the exam because I studied consistently and determinedly using the materials available on The products and services offered by Owl's Ledge are wonderful, and I know I could not have passed the Knowledge Exam without them." -- Cheryle in the USA | PASSED! Sept 15

Not just American candidates, but delegates overseas are having great SUCCESS too:

"I am pleased to share with you that I have passed the CPLP Knowledge Exam. I think the products are excellent. The games and flashcards proved very beneficial. Thank you for your continuous support throughout this process. Owl's Ledge is doing an awesome job." -- Shaikh Abdul Qayyum in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia | PASSED! Sept 15


Regardless of what YOU decide to do...

...make sure you model after these two SUCCESSFUL candidates... ACTIVE in your study prep; interact with the material.

Apply / reflect on it in your work.

PASSIVELY READING: Simply consuming content as a way to prep for the CPLP Knowledge Exam is DISASTER.

Use practice questions to build your...

...COMPETENCE and CONFIDENCE... performing well on application-level multiple choice questions.

To your success!

~ trish

~ Trish Uhl, PMP, CPLP
2005 CPLP Pilot Pioneer
CEO and Founder Owl's Ledge
Creator, CPLP Mastery Series and

P.S. You've put in the study time, now put in the PRACTICE that builds your CPLP Knowledge Exam COMPETENCE and COMPETENCE!

Take an absolutely free practice exam right now:

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

What's the Fastest Way to Fail the CPLP Knowledge Exam? Part II

In my last post, I talked about CPLP candidates making the oftentimes fatal mistake of diving straight into consuming content and mistakenly calling that "studying."

I explained that the consequences of "studying" this way often takes candidates off-course.

Instead of focusing on the core essentials of the ASTD Competency Model that provide the foundation for the CPLP Knowledge Exam, they get distracted by a bunch of random minutiae that robs them of their attention, time, energy, and effort (all precious resources in limited supply).

Worse, it causes what Dr. Ruth Clark - and other learning luminaries and psychologists - refer to as "cognitive overload" where the steady stream of irrelevant content so completely short-circuits short-term memory that nothing "sticks" - retention is limited (if at all); comprehension is virtually non-existent (which is terrible when preparing for an application-level exam); and, because what they're consuming doesn't transfer into long-term memory, candidates find they can't recall any of it when they appear for the exam.

At best, cognitive overload slows down your study progress, wears you down, and tires you out; at worst, it so completely overwhelms you that you find yourself sitting in the exam center on Exam Day anxious, exhausted, and ill-prepared for the task at hand --  unnecessarily challenged in your attempt to pass the CPLP Knowledge Exam.

I know - Old habits die hard.

This need to rush past planning and straight to "consuming content" is something many of us learned - and practiced - in our academic careers where we were often able to "cram" for school exams and rewarded for our ability to regurgitate content.

Perhaps that worked on tests that didn't assess you higher than basic recall / remembrance and required no more than rote memorization; but the research shows (here's what the American Psychological Association experts say) it does not work for application-level exams - like the CPLP.

HINT! CPLP Knowledge Exam primarily consists of  questions at the level of "Application"

So - what to do about it? 

How do you avoid cognitive overload and Exam Day disaster?

You assess your readiness and dial-in your focus.


As I stated before, I've written and published a whole book, courses, and workshops on a collection of these comprehensive study prep strategies - but the one I want to share with you here is one of my favourites!

Quick, easy, insightful. :-D

What you Need: 

A printed copy of the CPLP Certification Handbook, Part 2, Appendix F: Detailed Outline from the ATD CI Web site.

Have your copy handy?

Review the competencies in the first three Areas of Expertise listed in Appendix F:

  1. Instructional Design
  2. Training Delivery
  3. Performance Improvement

Check off the items you feel most familiar with; leave the items you're unsure about unchecked.


Good. Go back and look over those three AOEs. 

Based on the items checked and unchecked in each - in general (just off the top of your head) how would you rate your readiness in each? 

Informal "In General" Readiness Scale
  • Ready (Green)
  • Kinda Ready (Yellow)
  • Not at All Ready (Red)
Rate yourself in each AOE like the examples below:

Here's the thing: Those three Areas of Expertise alone represent almost half (48%) of the CPLP Knowledge Exam.

What should this quick readiness assessment tell you?

If you have little to no experience or exposure in 1 out of the 3; you should know right from the start that you're at risk (before you even look at the other SEVEN areas) and will need to work extra hard to overcome that one major gap.

If you have little to no experience or exposure in 2 out of the 3, then it's like a three-legged stool - you're at HIGH RISK with barely a leg to stand on (and, again, you haven't even considered the other SEVEN areas yet). 


Do you see how people miss conducting this type of upfront readiness assessment and fall into the "content consumption" and "cognitive overload" trap, spend months "studying," then go on to FAIL the exam? (According to ASTD CI, on average, 25% of candidates fail the exam - that's 1 person in every 4.)

Missing 2 out of 3 often requires an intervention out of scope for study prep - meaning, you're not ready for CPLP.

You need training or coaching in the missing Areas of Expertise - with some time devoted to putting them into practice before becoming a CPLP candidate.


CPLP is an assessment of your current competencies; it's not meant as an educational or enrichment program - and neither is study prep.

There is not a single study prep resource that can replace the breadth and depth of experience and exposure you are required to have - across the vast competencies in the ASTD Competency Model - before entering the CPLP program and attempting the exam.

(And let's say you ignore this, plunge ahead anyway, and pass the exam - how will you obviously demonstrate mastery of skills you do not have on Work Product? It's like showing up at DMV the day of your Road Test, but you've never actually driven a car. #justsayin)

Study preparation is review; it means you've seen / done it before - have experience putting the competencies into practice - and just need a refresher and some practice translating what you already can do on-the-job to your performance on an exam.

Yes - sometimes people are eligible to enter the program, but not qualified for CPLP success.

Be smart about where YOU are, what YOU need, and how YOU need to get there.

Be intentional. 

This part of what it means to think and act as a professional.

I hope you've enjoyed this blog series!

It is always my pleasure to demonstrate to you, my peers, strategies you can use for your  success!

The last CPLP Knowledge Exam test window is only a few months away, so after today, my attention needs to shift to addressing the needs of our candidates.

Like you, my summer break is over - and I must turn my attention to my commitments.

If you find that you're ready for CPLP, you're looking for more efficient and effective study preparation strategies and tools like this, and you'd like to work with me and my team --

Consider joining our upcoming -- CPLP Mastery Series: Knowledge Exam - Online Course

It's our last course offering to help candidates test and achieve CPLP Knowledge Exam success in 2014!

If not, I wish you well in your future endeavors and looking forward to running into you again at some future point in time. :)

To your success!

~ trish


Monday, September 01, 2014

What's the Fastest Way to Fail CPLP Knowledge Exam? Part I

Let's get straight to the heart of it:

Trying to study it all is the fastest way to fail the CPLP Knowledge Exam.

Many candidates who fail the exam make the mistake of equating "studying" to memorizing massive amounts of material (like a 700+ page PDF).

That's not studying; that's cognitive overload.

And cognitive overload marks the path to CPLP Knowledge Exam failure.

What is "cognitive overload"?

In a nutshell, "cognitive overload" happens when you flood your short-term memory (your working memory) with extraneous information that - gets "stuck" - and doesn't transfer to long-term memory.

This "non-relevant" extraneous information not only takes up critical "space" in your short-term memory (literally preventing additional study material from "getting in"), it also demands an exhaustive amount of mental processing to hang on to it - to keep it in memory.

(Because that's what temporary memory is for - temporary memory. If it won't transfer to long-term memory, it just sits in place, eating up your mental energy, and blocking meaningful information from getting in.)

It looks like this:

Most of us recognize this sensation as "feeling overwhelmed."

Feeling overwhelmed from cognitive overload is not the only problem caused by candidates trying to cram content (and calling it "studying").

Blindly trying to stuff more material into your head also:
  • Distracts your focus. You study all the wrong things, instead of being focused on the right things (the things that matter).
  • Zaps your energy (and motivation). Studying begins to weigh heavy on you, so you spend less and less time studying, which you know won't be to your advantage on the exam.
  • Gives you a false sense of exam readiness. You think just because you read the material that you're ready for the exam. Wrong. How well does that approach work for your learners? (or your kids on their homework?)
  • Wastes your time. You waste most (if not all) your time micro focused on the minute details, and not on the practical application of the essential concepts. You miss the Big Picture - which may be okay for an exam that's based on rote memorization and recall, but that's not the nature of the CPLP Knowledge Exam. The CPLP exam is based on real-world application, where you must filter what you know through your experience to arrive at the correct answer.

Trying to study everything is the path to exam disaster.

You know better; so do better!

Just because you read it doesn't mean you can apply it... and certainly doesn't mean you can put it into practice answering application-level (scenario-based) questions on an exam (like the CPLP).

Here's an example --

You may or may not get a question like this one - featuring one of the hundreds of obscure theories seemingly randomly referenced in the ATD materials --

but you will FOR SURE get questions (several, in fact) on the Kirkpatrick 4 Levels of Evaluation - like this one --

Get the answers! Visit:

Where do you want to spend your study time?

Trying to memorize obscure terms and definitions from 700+ pages of content in the ATD Learning System PDF?

Or --

FOCUS your study efforts on the CORE subject matter -- the material CENTRAL to the Competency Model and to the CPLP exam?

What's the path to success?

Triage. Prioritize. Pay attention to what's important.

Do this by developing a personal Study Plan that is:

Deliberate. Strategic. Targeted. Focused. Intentional.

How do you know what's CORE? What's CENTRAL to the exam?

It's easier than you think!

I've written a book, workshops, and online courses about it -- but 

-- I'll show you in my next blog post!

To your success!

~ trish