Posted by: Ian Ross | April 10, 2008

Surviving the APR process

Last year, I decided to take a leap of faith and apply for my APR (accreditation in public relations) through the Canadian Public Relations Society.

I knew it wasn’t going to be easy with other work and personal priorities bearing down at me at the same time. But I wrote countless exams during two university degrees while partying and holding down a few part-time jobs.

So how hard could it be to prep for one oral and one written exam? Turns out, a little harder than I thought at the beginning.

In the end, I survived to tell the tale. I achieved my APR last winter.

On reflection, I thought I would share a few tips for any APR candidates hitting the books this year.

  1. Research, ethics and evaluation are covered year and year, so make sure you are an expert on those topics.
  2. Write the past exams (2006, 2005, 2004) with the clock ticking. That will give you a real measure of how long you can spend on each section.
  3. Review the grader guidelines to get a clear idea of what they are really looking for in a good answer.
  4. Take a recent successful APR candidate out for a beer (hint, hint) and ask tons of questions about what worked and what didn’t for them.
  5. Set a reading schedule in April and stick to it throughout the summer. I did the schedule, didn’t stick to it, then crammed painfully for the month leading up to the exam.
  6. Establish a study group with peers and set out clear expectations right away.
  7. Bring a good comm plate template with you to the written exam and type it into the computer before you start to answer the question. This will ensure you hit on the major components and stay on track.
  8. Start reading about news topics that you normally skim at least two months before the oral exam. You don’t have to be an expert on every issue, but a general understanding of the major players and issues will go a long way.
  9. Don’t expect to use the 20 pound binder that you bring to the exam. There isn’t time. Think of it as more of a comforting stuffed animal than a life saving device.
  10. Use social media if you want to reach out to candidates outside of your city.


  1. Thanks for posting this. I won’t be able to get my APR for several more years, but it is definitely something I am interested in working towards.

    Do you have any suggestions for current students or young professionals on working towards an APR?

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