A: The computer-based Examination for Accreditation in Public Relations is in a multiple-choice question format and takes three hours and forty-five minutes to complete. It tests what public relations professionals do in the 21st century and maintains a high level of quality, is credible and relevant to today's practitioner, and employs current best practices in professional certification testing.
Candidates can take the Examination at their convenience at more than 300 Prometric Testing Centers in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. Strict confidentiality procedures are enforced, and feedback and results are available quickly. A Readiness Review prior to the candidate taking the computer-based portion includes a portfolio review and assessment of the candidate's readiness to take the Examination. The local Readiness Review panel (comprising of three Accredited members) coaches each candidate to determine his or her areas of weakness and helps identify specific areas of the body of knowledge in which the candidate should focus further study. Candidates may not take the computer-based Examination until they Advance from the Readiness Review.
Q: Can a multiple-choice examination accurately test knowledge, skills and abilities?
A: Yes. Multiple-choice examinations eliminate subjectivity in scoring and achieve consistency with best practices in certification examinations. The Examination for Accreditation in Public Relations has been developed according to the best practices in professional certification testing. Content is directly tied to the Professional Practice Analysis conducted in 2000. The Examination is reliable and valid and can differentiate those candidates who have attained professional mastery from those who have not.
According to Educational Testing and Measurement by Kubiszyn & Borich, with the multiple-choice format:
- Higher-level knowledge can be tested with well-written multiple-choice items.
- Since writing is minimized, a substantial amount of material can be evaluated in a short period.
- Scoring is highly objective, which allows for more reliable results.
- Cost of evaluating the examination is significantly reduced.
- Efficiency of evaluating the examination and reporting scores increases.
Q: Are there other organizations that rely on multiple-choice examinations for their certification process?
A: Yes. Many professional organizations base their certification process on multiple-choice testing, including the Graduate Record Examination, the Graduate Management Admission Test, the American College, American Institute of CPAs, the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists, Institute for Certification of Management Accountants, Project Management Institute, Information Technology Certification Tests, Microsoft, Novell, CompTIA, the Test of English as a Foreign Language and Excelsior College.
Q: How does the Examination test what public relations professionals do today?
A: In developing the Examination, the Universal Accreditation Board (UAB) used a complex, multi-year scientific process to ensure that the Examination measures the appropriate knowledge, skills and abilities public relations professionals must have today. Following the Professional Practice Analysis, the UAB recruited subject-matter experts to review the data from the Practice Analysis and organize it into more refined categories for the public relations profession. As a result, the UAB identified a final list of 60 competencies that a public relations professional must possess to perform his or her work effectively.
Q: Not every PR practitioner does the same thing on the job. How does the Examination account for that?
A: The UAB recognized that not all 60 knowledge, skills and abilities (KSAs) contribute equally to effective job performance. It was important to determine differences in the frequency, criticality, and importance of the competencies to job performance in order to develop an accurate certification examination. This was accomplished with the Practice Analysis and an additional survey of subject matter experts. The Examination only tests competencies that the experts say are required in the five-to-seven-year range. Following are the 10 areas of professional practice the Examination will cover:
- Research, planning, implementing and evaluating programs - 30 percent
- Ethics and law - 15 percent
- Communication models and theories - 15 percent
- Business literacy - 10 percent
- Management skills and issues - 10 percent
- Crisis communication management - 10 percent
- Media relations - 5 percent
- History of and current issues in public relations - 2 percent
- Using information technology efficiently - 2 percent
- Advanced communication skills - 1 percent