A Guide for Your CPLP Journey

Certified Professional in Learning and Performance (CPLP) Interactive Guide


Certified Professional in Learning and Performance (CPLP) Interactive Guide

Congratulations on your decision to explore and/or pursue your CPLP® certification! This Preparing for the CPLP: Interactive Guide is designed to provide a “one stop” resource for all the CPLP documents and information, so that you understand and can access details at every step along the way.

You should use this Interactive Guide if you are:

  • Looking for more information about becoming a CPLP
  • Already registered and want to understand every step of the process
  • Getting ready to participate in one of the ATD CPLP Preparation Programs
  • Want to put a Study Plan together for your CPLP preparation
  • Have questions about the value of the CPLP certification
  • Have questions about the knowledge exam or the Skills Application Exam (SAE)

You are taking a critical step in your professional development by exploring and investing in your CPLP certification. Successful CPLPs report that the process of studying for and getting their CPLP designation was a tremendous growth opportunity, allowed them to both learn and give back to the profession, and made a positive impact on their careers.

How Does The ATD Competency Model Align To The CPLP Certification?

The ATD Competency Model serves as the basis for the certification in that it defines the skills and knowledge required to become a CPLP. Take a minute to:

ATD Competency Model

What Is The Value Of The CPLP Certification?

Ultimately, determining the value of your CPLP certification is critical for your success. Have you talked with your employer about the value of this certification to him/her, or to your organization? Who do you know that has her CPLP, and what impact has that certification had on her career? What is driving your own interest in getting your CPLP designation? Consider the answers to those questions as you review this presentation on the Value of the CPLP Certification.

Is CPLP Right For Me?

What have you learned so far about how the CPLP might help you? All CPLP candidates must have at least five years of related work experience, pass a comprehensive knowledge exam and skills application exam. To be a good CPLP candidate you should:

  • Have a deep knowledge of and have applied the principles for enhancing employee learning and performance
  • Be doing work that includes every-day application of training and development principles
  • Have experience in your chosen Area of Expertise so that you are prepared for the SAE
  • Be willing to spend the time and resources to prepare for the CPLP

Before you move forward, review the program policies and procedures in the Certification Handbook. Most importantly, take the time to confirm the value of the CPLP certification for YOU.

Getting Started

Certified Professional in Learning and Performance (CPLP) Interactive Guide

How Do I Get Started?

Welcome to the Certified Performance and Learning Professional program! By making the decision to explore becoming a CPLP, you are joining a proud community of over 2,500 CPLPs certified since 2007.

This Interactive Guide is designed to introduce you to what it takes to become a CPLP, what steps you must take, and the resources available to you along the way. You don’t have to do this alone! ATD is proud of the people and materials resources available to you throughout your CPLP journey.

In a nutshell, to be a CPLP you must have at least five years of related TD work experience, pass a comprehensive knowledge exam and a skills application exam (SAE). Successful CPLP candidates have a deep knowledge of and are able to apply the principles of Talent Development, they have experience in multiple areas of expertise, and they have prepared thoroughly for the CPLP exams.

We hope that you will take some time to get to know the resources available to you and that you will visit the ATD LinkedIn community. There is also a new online CPLP community available to you once you register for one of our Preparing for the CPLP educational programs. And we hope that you will call or email the CPLP staff at any point along the way. Our office is always open to you.

Becoming a CPLP will be both a challenge and an adventure. Enjoy the experience, and we look forward to hearing about your professional successes in the coming years.

Did you know? You can review the CPLP FAQs at any point that you have questions.

What Is The Knowledge Exam?

The exam is the first part of your CPLP testing process and covers the breadth of knowledge from all ten AOEs in the Competency Model. You will have three (3) hours to answer 150 multiple-choice questions.

What Is The Skills Application Exam (SAE)?

The SAE is designed to test your ability to apply knowledge and concepts to real-life scenarios in one of three AOEs: Instructional Design (ID), Training Delivery (TD), or Managing Learning Programs (MLP).

For more information on the SAE, please review the CPLP Handbook, available on the Active Candidates page on the ATD website.

What Is The Testing Schedule?

It’s not too early to consider when would be the right time for you to take the knowledge exam. The exam can be taken in one of four testing windows each year. Review the CPLP Test Schedule so that you can plan appropriately.

Fact: The SAE is three hours long and consist of 100 questions based on four case studies in the chosen AOE.

CPLP Knowledge Exam

Follow these study tips to prepare for the exam.

Step 1: Assess

As you begin your preparation, the best starting point is to determine what topic areas to focus on as you study. By assessing your current knowledge of the Areas of Expertise (AOEs) you can determine your areas of strength as well as areas where you need to further build your knowledge. Then you can weave this information into a study plan that is specifically tailored to YOU.

What Is My Knowledge Level?
Take the Practice CPLP Exam: What better way to assess how you would do on the CPLP exam than by taking a practice exam? The CPLP practice exam* contains 50 questions that mirror those on the actual CPLP exam. Take the practice test so you can evaluate your strengths and weaknesses within each AOE.

*When you click on the link above, you will be taken to the SkillTracker assessment tool. Please select ATD Practice Tests on the top menu and then choose Practice Test for CPLP from the test menu.

Tip: Consider studying the areas you know best first as a refresher and work on the areas you know less well closer to your exam date.

Step 2: Plan

How Should I Determine The Best Study Plan?
Let’s focus on the knowledge exam. Successful CPLP candidates create personalized study plans in order to pass the CPLP exam. Before putting your study plan together, take some time for the following:

  • Study the CPLP Learning System. This resource covers each Area of Expertise (AOE) plus Global Mindset in a Chapter format. Each Chapter includes several Knowledge Areas. Each Knowledge Area is a critical competency for CPLPs and is based on the ATD Competency Model.
  • Explore the different Preparing for the CPLP programs that serve as an extension of your individual preparation. Especially if there are some content areas with which you are not as familiar/comfortable, consider supplementing your study approach with these preparatory programs.
  • Think about how you typically tackle something new that you need to learn. Do you like to focus just on the areas you know the least about? Do you prefer working in groups? Do you dive into information in a deep, thorough way? Determine your learning preferences and what study options are right for you.

Use this study plan template to create your personalized study plan.

Tip: Now that you have your Study Plan drafted, are you ready to register? If so, review the CPLP Test Schedule, have your exam window in mind, and then follow the Instructions on How to Apply for your CPLP exam.

Step 3: Prepare

What Should I Consider As I Prepare For The Exam?

  • Plan on 80+ hours of study time for the Knowledge Exam
  • Plan on six-nine months for the whole process including studying, taking the knowledge and SAE exams.

What Resources Should I Review?
If you haven’t already done so, this is a great time to review the Practice CPLP Exam. And you don’t need to shoulder all the preparation by yourself! Consider any or all of the following resources as your “partners” in preparation:

  • The CPLP Learning System includes both questions that help you assess your knowledge and apply the concepts to situations and case studies. The Learning System also allows you to bookmark particular content, or write notes as you go.
  • The Preparing for the CPLP programs are designed to support your individual study plan. Choose the preparation program that works for YOU – a two-day instructor-led workshop, a synchronous online opportunity at your desk, or a self-paced course. When you register for a program, you'll get access to a private Online CPLP Community.
  • If you want to really dive into a particular AOE, consider enrolling in one of several Certificate Programs.
  • Join our CPLP Prep LinkedIn group and share resources and ideas with your peers.
  • After you complete the Study Prep program of your choice, extend your individual studying by joining a Study Group. These Study Groups are peer-facilitated and can be virtual or in-person. Many ATD Chapters offer Study Groups. Look here for a list of local chapters.
  • ATD members may also use the ATD Skill Tracker to determine what resources are available to build skills and knowledge in specific areas.

Tip: As you prepare, don’t limit your review to only your areas of weakness you need to sharpen all of your skills.

Step 4: Test

How Do I Schedule The Date For My Exam?
First, review your Study Plan so that you can plan correctly for your exam. Review your CPLP Certification Handbook for more information about the knowledge exam and skills application exam. A few key details include:

  • Determine your goal date to earn your credential.
  • When you register for the CPLP process, you choose an exam window for the knowledge exam. Once you register, you will receive an email with exam scheduling details. Keep that email.
  • The registration for a specific exam appointment opens seven weeks before your chosen exam window and you will receive an email at that time.
  • You must schedule your appointment at least 30 days in advance of the first day of the testing window to guarantee a testing seat.
  • Make sure you bring two forms of ID to the center.
  • Remember to bring your appointment confirmation email with you to the test center. Without the confirmation code in that email, you will not be able to take your exam.
  • Since the exam is electronic, you will get your scores immediately upon completion!

Where Do I Take The Exam?
ATD’s testing partner has locations across the U.S. and Canada, and in several countries internationally. See this page for a list of testing centers.

What Happens If I Fail The Exam?
Individuals who fail the exam are invited and encouraged to retake the exam during the next available testing window (a retest fee will apply).

Tip: Once you have completed your course of study and have sufficiently prepared for the exam, sit back and relax. Avoid the temptation to conduct a late-night cram session the night before the exam.

Skills Application Exam (SAE)

What to expect when you take the SAE.

Step 1: Overview

After passing the knowledge exam, CPLP candidates then take the Skills Application Exam (SAE). The SAE provides candidates the opportunity to demonstrate their ability to apply their knowledge to real world scenarios they might encounter in their work. Candidates will be expected to critically review and analyze documents and make decisions regarding the material.

Candidates will select from one of three Areas of Expertise (AOEs) upon registration for their exam:

  • Instructional Design
  • Training Delivery
  • Managing Learning Programs

All questions on the test map to the chosen AOE and an associated Key Action. All scenarios, supporting documentation, and questions will be related to the chosen AOE and approx. 25% of the items will be embedded with a global mindset in the chosen AOE.

Each exam consists of four case studies related to the chosen AOE and will include the following:

  • an overview that establishes a job‐related scenario or project description
  • five (5) to six (6) pages of supporting documentation to support the scenario
  • 25 questions that are linked to the scenario and/or supporting documentation

All scenarios, related documentation, and associated questions were developed and written by learning and development professionals identified as subject matter experts (SMEs) for the certification program. Prior to questions being developed, the scenarios and related evidence are reviewed for authenticity and alignment to the AOEs. In addition, the related evidence is reviewed by an international panel for language clarity and appropriateness to the global audience.

Tip: Study your chosen AOE thoroughly and jot down ideas about how you would approach different aspects of the AOE in real-life situations.

Step 2: Plan

What Types Of Questions Are On The SAE And How Are They Scored?
All questions will be based on the scenario or related documentation; no stand‐alone knowledge based questions will be included on the skills application exam. Questions will be of the following types:

  • multiple‐choice – the most traditional item type, which includes a question, referred to as the item stem, and four response options, one of which is the correct answer.
  • short answer – candidates provide a short alphanumeric text response.
  • multi‐select – in this item type, candidates will have the opportunity to select more than one correct response.

Each question is worth one (1) point. All questions are scored as either correct or incorrect. No partial credit is given.

Did you know? Each question was written by at least one SME and then reviewed and validated by a minimum of two more SMEs to ensure that each question has an identified correct answer and is objective, clear, fair and appropriately mapped to the AOE and a Key Action.

Step 3: Prepare

How Do I Prepare For The SAE?
Use the CPLP Learning System to ensure you have the necessary content knowledge in your chosen AOE and that you understand how to apply that content based on your experience.

  • Use the “Can I Apply It?” quizzes and case studies as practice
  • Participants do not need to focus on names or dates, but rather, the key ideas, concepts, and principles.
  • We strongly recommend that candidates review their chosen AOE thoroughly plus the global mindset module in the CPLP Learning System regardless of their knowledge exam results.
  • After reading through the material, we recommend rewriting the ideas in your own words. Use text, diagrams, or concept maps to make the ideas memorable.
  • Use this SAE Study Guide for additional tips and strategies.

Sample SAE Practice Tests:

Use the practice tests below for Instructional Design (ID), Training Delivery (TD) and Managing Learning Programs (MLP) to practice. NEW Case materials, test questions and answer key with rationale now included in each file.

Instructional Design Practice Tests:

Training Delivery Practice Tests:

Managing Learning Programs Practice Tests:

How Can I Connect With Other Candidates?
Some candidates choose to reach out to CPLPs or others who are also pursuing their certification to exchange ideas as they are preparing. If you are interested in connecting with others, you can:

  • Preparing for the CPLP course participants will have access to an Online CPLP Community to enter discussion forums with others who are pursuing their CPLP
  • Reach out to others in the CPLP Candidates Preparation LinkedIn group

Am I Ready To Take The SAE?

Ask yourself:

  • Have I thoroughly read the Learning System content for my chosen AOE?
  • Do I understand the content well enough to apply it to a real-life scenario?
  • Have I tested my comprehension using quizzes and other devices to check my knowledge and ability to apply concepts?

Step 4: Test

How Do I Register For The SAE?
You'll select your preferred SAE window and your AOE at the time you register for the knowledge exam. This AOE cannot be changed. You must take and pass the knowledge exam before you can sit for the SAE. Once you pass the Knowledge Exam, ATD CI will send you a registration confirmation for your SAE.

When Do I Take The SAE?
Please visit the Test Schedule page for the current schedule of testing windows for both the knowledge exam and the SAE.

When And How Will I Be Notified Of The Results?
You will receive a score report by email approximately 10 weeks after the last testing date in the specific window.

Tip: To prepare for the SAE download the SAE Study Guide.

Become a CPTD

Certified Professional in Talent Development (CPTD) Interactive Guide

When Will I Know If I'm CPLP Certified?

To become a CPLP, you must pass both the knowledge exam and the skills application exam (SAE). The high-level steps to becoming a CPLP are as follows:

  • Register to become a CPLP, including selecting a test window
  • Complete this Interactive Guide, draft your Study Plan and determine what Preparing for the CPLP programs are right for you
  • Spend an average of 90 hours studying, in addition to your participation in any preparation program or study group
  • Take and pass the knowledge exam
  • Take and pass the SAE
  • Within 6-8 weeks of your SAE, receive notification of your status. A passing score is required to receive the CPLP certification.

Review the CPLP Program Statistics for more details on pass rates for both the exam and the work product.

Tip: Celebrate your new designation by considering how you can contribute to the profession; participate in communities and chapters and stay connected.

What's Next?

Congratulations! As a new CPLP, review these resources for credential holders for important information on logo usage, volunteer opportunities for CPLPs, and recertification guidelines. Inform important stakeholders about your new status. Share the news in your social media networks and through a press release. (Your CPLP passing notification will include a sample press release you can use.) Register in the CPLP Directory.

What About Recertification?

Review the Recertification policies now so that you have them for future planning.

Tip: Do you know someone who may want to begin their own CPLP journey? Share this Preparing for the CPLP: Interactive Guide with them.