Latest APR test yields 46% pass rate, worst since ’82

NEW YORK: The divisive issue of accreditation was thrust to the forefront once again last week, as over half the candidates failed the latest Accredited in Public Relations (APR) exam.

NEW YORK: The divisive issue of accreditation was thrust to the forefront once again last week, as over half the candidates failed the latest Accredited in Public Relations (APR) exam.

NEW YORK: The divisive issue of accreditation was thrust to the

forefront once again last week, as over half the candidates failed the

latest Accredited in Public Relations (APR) exam.



The Universal Accreditation Board (UAB), which now administers the

biannual test, said that 89 out of 193 (46%) practitioners passed, tying

the record for lowest pass rate set in 1982.



Last year, after 51% passed, the UAB took steps to make preparation

easier: it returned to basing the test on one textbook and launched an

online test prep course to help local accreditation chairs (PRWeek,

March 1, 1999).



Phil Wescott, chair of the UAB, was unavailable for comment but said in

a release that ’we’re not focused on any single pass rate.’ APR

advocates such as Tom Bartikoski agree: ’There’s an overemphasis on the

pass rate. The variation is in the candidate pool, not the exam.’



People on both sides of the APR debate said that a low pass rate isn’t

necessarily bad, but also said that PR pros taking the test today (some

of whom are not in the PRSA) are not as qualified as previous

candidates.



GCI Group VP Joseph Riser suggested upping the five-year minimum

experience requirement. ’It may be a while until (other PR

organizations) are up to speed,’ said Tom Duke, who has served as

accreditation chair at two PRSA chapters.



But for many pros, the issue is not how many people pass, but that the

certification doesn’t deliver much more than personal satisfaction. ’APR

is totally meaningless outside the PR fraternity,’ said Lew Phelps, APR

and partner at Sitrick & Company. ’Most of the really good people in the

business don’t have the credential because they don’t care about

it.’



Countered Bartikoski, ’People who say it isn’t relevant are

speculating.’ He added that a PRSA job analysis survey, due out later

this year, should help make test content better reflect the daily grind

of PR.



One PR pro who passed the fall exam had mixed feelings on the

content.



’Some items, like the history of PR, seem entirely irrelevant, but I use

what I learned about preparing the case study on a daily basis in my

work with clients,’ said Nicole Sobell, a senior associate at PAN

Communications.



Andrew Edson, APR and veteran of the New York PR scene, put it bluntly:

’dollars 1.50 and an APR will get you on the subway.’ And Jo Procter,

news director at Williams College, added, ’PRSA is spinning itself to

believe that an exam will make PR smell pretty.’



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