6 Cramming Tips for the AAP Exam
Are you prepared for the AAP Exam?
Exam day is just around the corner for those taking the AAP (Accredited ACH Professional) Exam. If you have committed to taking the exam this October, congratulations! A passing score will grant you those coveted letters after your name—AAP—which the National Automated Clearing House Association (NACHA) considers the “Gold Standard in Payments Accreditation”.
But here’s the reality: it’s late in the game, and you need to make the most of the limited time remaining. Here are six tips to help you from now until test day:
1. Get the AAP Flashcards (Made by EPCOR)
This is the single best resource for drilling and memorizing the exam material, especially if you are in a time crunch. Order the flashcards TODAY if you don’t have them. They are color-coded for each of the 6 major exam topics, and there are about 250 cards in total. They are super-helpful with hard-to-remember items like timeframes, technical standards, and regulatory requirements.
- Don’t try to memorize the entire deck of flashcards when you start out. Begin by concentrating on a few flashcards from one topic group (color). Gradually add in more cards, and then branch out to other topics.
- In the final days leading up to the exam, shuffle the flashcards and go through the entire deck. Drill those until you get them absolutely right.
2. Use the AAP Handbook
Another great resource, and good news: you get it FREE with your exam registration fee!
- Take the Practice Test at the end (use a separate sheet of paper). Only answer the questions you know, and skip the ones you don’t (no guessing). Look up the relevant information in the AAP Handbook or other source material for the questions you missed or skipped. Repeat as many times as needed until you can confidently answer 100% of the questions right.
3. Get ACHPro
For those that prefer a digital learning method over a paper-pencil approach, ACHPro is a good choice. It pairs nicely with the flashcards and AAP Handbook as a supplementary source of exam-style questions. ACHPro features a “Game” mode, allowing you to focus on specific ACH knowledge areas, a “Test” mode, which generates a timed mock exam, and a glossary. The software has been updated for 2017, so be sure to get the latest edition.
4. Reach Out to your Regional Payments Association
Your Regional Payments Association is there to help! They have access to training materials tailored to the AAP Exam. For example, my RPA provided me with useful worksheets for learning SEC codes, process timelines, and non-ACH payment systems.
5. Manage Webinar Time Wisely
If you are currently using a webinar-based exam prep tool, it’s critically important that you make judicious use of your remaining time this close to exam day. Skip ahead in the recording to the areas that are really causing you trouble, and concentrate on those topics rather than watching the entire presentation.
6. Stop Reading the Big Books
The NACHA Operating Rules, ACH Compliance Manual, etc. are all excellent publications, but you should not read them cover-to-cover to prepare for your exam. Instead, use them as look-up resources to clarify questions that come up while using the flashcards or AAP Handbook.
Passing the AAP Exam will show the world that you are a subject-matter expert in payments. The exam window is fast approaching, so it’s more important than ever to focus your efforts. Use the resources listed above: the flashcards, the AAP Handbook, ACHPro, and your Regional Payments Association. Avoid spending too much time slogging through books. Make sure to get a good night of sleep before the exam, and don’t stress about it too much.
About the author
Jim Whiteaker, AAP, is a Data Analytics Consultant and former Project Specialist in Research and Development at Abrigo. Prior to joining Abrigo, Jim served 3 different financial institutions in areas including back-office operations, retail banking, and commercial cash vault. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Oklahoma, and a Master’s of Science in Analytics from Texas A&M University. Jim passed the AAP Exam in October 2015 on the first attempt, thus earning the AAP designation from the National Automated Clearing House Association (NACHA).