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.