FAQ: What’s the Inside Scoop on the APR Computer Exam?

By Ben Butler, APR

[This is the sixth post in the APR Journey Series exploring the Accreditation in Public Relations credential and the journey to getting it. Check out the introductory post here.]

The computer examination is the final step standing between you and your Accreditation in Public Relations (APR). You’ll be cleared to take it once you pass your Panel Presentation.

I get a lot of questions about the exam. How does it compare to what you might’ve taken in college? How long is it? What types of questions are asked?

Here’s the scoop on the APR computer exam:

The Format: Online, Paragraph Comprehension, Multiple Choice

The examination is entirely online, taken within an approved testing center. More on that later.

Every question presents a paragraph of information. You read it, are asked a question about that information and have a series of multiple choice answers.

The common misconception with multiple choice questions is that the answers are “super easy” and you’ll be able to wing the test. Not in this case. Even given that they’re multiple choice, you still need to command the knowledge (overviewed in the study guide).

Study at the Beginning of the Process

I mentioned it in previous posts, but I would study for the examination before even sitting for the Panel Presentation.

Studying for the exam will enhance your overall success and make the journey a lot smoother.

How to Study

The answer really comes down to your learning style. For me, I had the study guide printed and put into a binder. I’d take that — and the recommended texts — to local coffee shops and breweries and read through it until it stuck. For you, maybe it’s a study buddy, set of flashcards or all of the above.

All in all, what you need to walk away with is an understanding of what’s detailed in the study guide. You should be able to cite a certain theory, type of public relations, business models or law affecting our profession. But, you should also be able to apply that information to real-life situations.

Taking the Exam

Online examinations are facilitated by an approved list of testing centers, which will be shared by PRSA when you make it to this stage.

These are the same type of testing centers that administer graduate school examinations. Before you go into the examination room, you’re required to stash all the contents of your pockets in a locker.


Have some study questions? Get in touch with me — I’m happy to be your sherpa.


Ben Butler, APR, is the client services director for Top Hat, an award-winning marketing communications firm in Pittsburgh, and the Accreditation Director for PRSA Pittsburgh. In his past life he served as a public relations guy for a motorsports complex, director of inbound partnerships for an inbound marketing agency and head of communications for a software startup. He’s been named a Top Under 40 Communicator and is Accredited in Public Relations (APR)—a distinction held by less than 20-percent of all practitioners.

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