Wednesday, December 03, 2014

What To Do If You Fail the ATD CPLP Practice Exam (pCPLP)

Hi all -

Email from a panicked candidate who "failed" the ATD pCPLP prompted me to write the following response to him in email.

Usually candidates who don't perform as well as they'd like on the ATD pCPLP are experiencing one or both of the following issues:

1. Wrong study methods
2. Poor exam performance
3. Both


Here’s how you diagnose and fix them:

1. Wrong study methods – how do you know? You keep reading the same material over and over again and it doesn’t stick. It’s not sinking in. Two options: 1) try interacting with the material in a new way (e.g. instead of just reading, create a mind map, or your own flash cards, etc), and/or 2) consider your information processing and learning styles – is your best reading something? Or do you need to see it? do it? hear it? apply it? talk it out? before you really grasp something.

2. Poor exam performance – EXACTLY what it sounds like. How well do you test? Are you a speed racer, racing through reading the questions and missing keywords? Do you stop at the first “correct” answer, or do you consider all of the possible options to determine the BEST answer? Try slowing down; really read the question. Force yourself to consider ALL the responses; read from bottom to top (D to A) instead of “normal” top to bottom (A to D). It feels uncomfortable, so it slows you down.

Testing well is also often a matter of Practice, Practice, Practice in addition to studying.

Studying gives you confidence on the exam; practice improves your exam competence. 

Building confidence and competence for taking the CPLP Knowledge Exam are skills, like any other.
Now, consider the disconnects in the materials you’re studying with.

What do I mean?

First, if you have an older version of the ATD Learning System (especially the books!), you need to look at the ATD Learning System Errata page to make corrections to your materials.

Second, you also need to look at the ATD Learning System Updates page to make updates to your materials.

Does NOT matter how new your materials are; at minimum, your books do NOT contain the Social Learning PDF on the Updates page - and the subject matter in that PDF is tested HEAVILY on the current version of the exam.


Third, the end-of-chapter questions in the books do NOT reflect what the exam is like; the questions are not written in the same format as the CPLP Knowledge Exam (all multiple choice) or at the same level (book questions are largely recall; exam is mostly application).

What you experienced on the ATD pCPLP is more in keeping with what your CPLP Knowledge Exam experience will be like.

Options –

LOTS of candidates on LinkedIn have posted details about resources they've used and found to be effective.

Some have benefited from the self study materials on (our Basic or Premium membership) or the facilitated online courses and in-classroom, in-country.

Several candidates hundred have downloaded the Kindle edition of my "Mastering the CPLP: How to Successfully Prepare for - and PASS! - the CPLP Knowledge Exam" book from

Others have done well accessing local ATD Chapter resources (which are vastly different study prep offerings than what ATD National offers).

There are also candidate created materials out there.

Like I said, first thing to do is to update your Learning System and diagnose root cause(s) to your performance gaps.

Last, sometimes folks get into the program and discover they are not qualified, despite meeting eligibility requirements. 

"Qualified" means the candidate has the appropriate education, experience, and exposure to the critical competencies in the ATD Competency Model.

Some folks simply haven't got enough "under their belts" yet to truly be ready for CPLP certification.

Bottom Line: Conduct your own personal performance gap analysis and be honest with yourself about the gaps - and root cause(s) - you discover. Be realistic about what you need to close them to be successful in the CPLP certification process.

After that, you'll be in a MUCH better position to select the appropriate solution(s) to help you be successful on the CPLP Knowledge Exam - now or in the future!

To your success!

~ trish

No comments: