It was the fall of 2016 when I decided to take the plunge to pursue my Certified Professional in Learning and Performance (CPLP) certification. I wanted a certification that was widely recognized in the industry not only for the accreditation, but also for the learning experience. The CPLP was the only certification that consistently stood out to me as the gold standard in my field. It wasn’t a difficult choice, but I knew that earning the CPLP wasn’t going to be easy. To be honest, it seemed daunting to take on studying while balancing being a mom of two very active little ones and a challenging job that usually comes home with me. But I found the support I needed to calm my nerves on TD.org, in articles like this one. The next nine months held a range of emotions that I could not have expected before I started on this journey, but looking back it stands out as one of the best learning experiences I have had—not only on a professional level, but also as proof of my personal capability.
So how did I do it? I wish I could tell you that I reviewed the materials for a few weeks, took the practice exams, and then passed with flying colors. The truth is, the exam is extensive; so for those of you pursuing the CPLP I recommend committing yourself to studying the competencies and how to apply them. My preparation for both exams took about seven months. I found the website incredibly helpful as a guide, but here are few additional tips that helped me in earning my CPLP.
1. Set your goals. Writing down small goals for myself so that I could cross tasks off made it feel less overwhelming.
- Choose dates to set everything up, review the CPLP handbook, order your guide, plan your exam period, and so on.
- Choose the date you will start to study.
- Determine how long it will take you to read a section and take the assessments.
- Choose a date to take your first practice test.
2. Make a plan. Choosing my studying method was exciting and fun. I am always developing for others and it was great to do this for myself.
- Choose what works best for you and your life. Is it the printed documents, the online version, study groups, attending courses, or something else?
- Have fun getting what you need to make it a great learning environment—colored pens, tabs, highlighters, or fun manipulatives to play with.
- Plan how to make your learning manageable; for example, placing a section that you are studying into a smaller binder, and making and color coding your flashcards.
- Commit to study at least 30 minutes a day for four to six months for the knowledge exam—although I often studied for over an hour because I would end up digging deeper into the materials and trying to apply it to my work.
3. Get to work and create a routine. For me, I found studying after I put the kids to bed each night worked best, but I would also find myself using my flashcards on the elliptical, waiting for my kids at their karate practice, or while they were playing in the backyard.
- Pick a time that works for your schedule and stick to it.
- Pick a place and how you will set up your workstation to keep your attention and stay comfortable.
- Use the chapter quizzes, pre-tests, and study guides.
- Set criteria and expectations for your learning; for example, how many questions you will allow yourself to miss in the chapter assessments before you have to review the material again?
- Create flash cards! It was much better to condense the information onto a card and have the ability to carry it around.
4. Teach or use the skills you are using as you are studying. I had the opportunity to use the materials on a daily basis, either through work or in mentoring.
- Work through or map out a process or training session by using one of the new methods that you learned.
- Train your team or lead a training session on a concept that you want deeper knowledge of; it will force you to learn the material.
- If you can’t use it at work, try to find someone that you can have weekly discussions with to review the materials.
In closing, be confident and don’t stress yourself out. If you plan it out, your current level of expertise and the amazing resources will get you through this experience. Best of luck in becoming a Certified Professional in Learning and Performance.
Learn more about the CPLP certification.