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ATD Blog

Resilience Is Key: Why I Didn’t Give Up on Myself to Achieve My APTD

Monday, December 31, 2018

In 2015 I attended a Certified Professional in Learning & Performance (CPLP) information session, and, while the presenter was speaking, I thought to myself, “This is like getting a mini PhD!” I was already in training and development and I facilitated training classes on a regular basis, so I didn’t think I needed a certification to validate what I was already doing. Also, I am not great at taking standardized tests, so this was not for me.

However, I love to learn, and I believe in the value of getting certified in a field you love, so I signed up to start my CPLP journey. I wanted to challenge myself for two reasons: I love the training and development field, and I was determined not to allow a test to limit my career options or growth in a field I am deeply passionate about.

I attended the study groups and online courses, and things were going great, or so I thought. Then life happened, and I had to stop pursuing my CPLP to take care of personal issues.

Let’s fast-forward to December 2016. I started my studies for a PhD in industrial and organizational psychology. Around the same time ATD introduced the Associate Professional in Talent Development (APTD). I thought to myself, “This is amazing. It can’t be as detailed as the CPLP; therefore, this will be a walk in the park.”

I was wrong.

As I stated earlier, I am not a test-taking guru, so the thought of taking another test plagued my mind. Despite being in the middle of psychology courses for my PhD, I signed up to take the APTD.

“APTD here I come,” I thought. I purchased the APTD Learning System, I joined the LinkedIn group, and I printed—yes, I printed—the entire study guide. I felt I was ready to dive right in and blow this test out of the water. However, having a paper due every week for school, working a nine-to-five job, running a business, writing a career book, and attending to personal needs left me with less than the 80 hours ATD recommends for studying.


I studied when I could, but I did not feel comfortable when the exam day came. I took the test, and I failed. I missed passing the test by 60 points! As you can imagine, I was devastated. So, after an “in your face” talk with my manager, I got my emotions together and paid to retake the test.

A Second Chance

The second time around I was invited to attend an in-person class at the ATD headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia. In March 2018 I jumped at the opportunity, and the class was a success. Based on some of the tips I received from class, I created flash cards and wrote out a study plan as if I was going to teach the material. I was ready, or so I thought.

As I entered the testing site in June 2018, I felt 70 percent positive I was going to pass. I still had some doubts in my mind. Unfortunately, I didn’t pass. I missed passing the test by 10 points. Once again, I felt devastated. I told myself, “This is it. I am not doing this again.”

Keep Going

I received an email from the ATD Certification department notifying me that I had one more chance to take the test during that cycle. I replied, “No, I am going to give up; my brain hurts.” They emailed me back and advised me to take some time to think about it because my score was so close.


After a long, hard talk with myself, I signed up to take the test a third time. I adjusted my study plan and devoted 10 hours a week to study. I revised my flash cards and studied in my car on my lunch breaks. I was determined. Then life happened again.
I was hospitalized, unexpectedly, for a few days at the end of August. As you can imagine, I didn’t have much energy to study after I got out of the hospital. However, I was able to study a few hours a week.

September 12 came, and I felt 90 percent positive this time. And I passed!

I went out to my car and wept because I had never given up on myself, my passion, and my ability to pass this test. You shouldn’t either. I feel that I can tackle the CPLP next. Why not? Life is short. I am a trainer and trainers are unstoppable. Believe in yourself!

Learn more about becoming an APTD.

About the Author

Marla Albertie is the owner and founder of the Truth Speaks Group, and her one-word philosophy is #Learn. Marla’s mantra is to #TeachTrainEducate and help the working woman to gain the confidence she needs to create the career and life she desires. Marla is also a trainer for the Wounded Warrior Project. Marla is skilled in the field of adult education and transition. She has an extreme passion to witness growth in people’s lives and careers. Marla is a certified professional, career, and life coach; trainer and instructor; author; and graduate of World Coach Institute. She has more than 20 years of business, coaching, and training experience. She is a current doctoral student in the field of industrial and organizational psychology. She holds a master’s of education in adult education and a bachelor’s of science in supervision and management. She is the author of 52 Career Tips: Action Steps to Move You Forward VOL. #1 and co-author of The Better Business Book Vol #3. She is the founder of the annual I.M.A.G.IN.E. (I’M Awesome Growing IN Excellence Women’s Empowerment) Conference held in Jacksonville, Florida. Her website is and she can be reached [email protected].

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Hi KN, your story is encouraging. I would say that this test really is difficult and I have an MA in Instructional Design (HR Development) . I took the test and failed. I am going to take it again and again until I pass it.
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Hi KN - Weaknesses are often strengths that are overused. A very honest person can be perceived as too blunt or undiplomatic. Someone who is persevering can appear pushy or stubborn. It's all a matter of degree. With practice, we can all learn to moderate some of our tendencies so that they are not as problematic. I believe that people can learn from their mistakes and improve if they try!
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