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6 Effective Ways to Prepare for the APR Exam

By Heather Cavanaugh, APR

You’ve decided to pursue your Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) — congratulations! — and are ready to study for the Examination. What next? Where do you begin and how can you be as prepared as possible to pass?

Recently published research by Dr. Marlene Neill, APR, Fellow PRSA and Universal Accreditation Board (UAB) member, has some answers that may help candidates prepare successfully. Neill and her team recently did a deep dive into the study processes of 48 APR candidates who recently passed the Exam. While you don’t have to adopt all of their strategies, giving a few a try may increase your own odds of passing.

1. Participate in a structured study group. If you haven’t already done so, now is the time to download the APR Study Guide and purchase at least one of the UAB-recommended textbooks. Also consider contacting your PRSA Chapter’s Accreditation Chair to discuss putting together a study group. (A list of APR chairs is posted on the PRSA website.) If there aren’t enough candidates for a study group in your Chapter, check out the APR Online Study Course and seek out a mentor who may be able to connect you with one.

2. Work with an online cohort. PRSA offers an APR Online Study Course that will prepare you for the Accreditation in Public Relations Examination. You can also seek out candidates in other communities who may want to form an online cohort.

3. Recruit a study buddy. Do you know anyone else who is also going through the Accreditation process? Ask them to study with you! Set a regular date and time to meet. Hold yourself and each other accountable to a schedule and create your own study materials, such as flashcards or practice tests.

4. Follow a structured timeline and checklist. Create a timeline for studying and a checklist of what you are going to do. For example, you might cover one of the Knowledge, Skills and Abilities (KSAs) outlined in the APR Study Guide each week for six consecutive weeks.

5. Find a mentor. Ask your Chapter APR Chair to pair you with a mentor who can give you tips, share what they did to prepare, and keep you accountable to your timeline. If your Chapter can’t connect you with a mentor, reach out to an APR you know or sign up for PRSA’s Mentor Connect program.

6. Get your supervisor’s support. Finally, if you haven’t yet, make sure your supervisor knows you’re pursuing Accreditation and ask for their support. Work together to make it a professional development goal for the year and keep them updated on your progress.

Adopt even a few of these proven prep strategies, carve out the time, stick to your schedule and you’re likely to earn those three valuable letters — APR — after your name. Good luck on your Accreditation journey!

Heather Cavanaugh, APR, is vice president, external affairs and corporate communications at Alaska Communications and a member of the Universal Accreditation Board.