Are you curious about the process to become an Accredited Genealogist (AG)? Maybe you’d like to get started but aren’t sure what to do next. Follow my journey and see if Accreditation is for you!
In the six months since I set a goal to become an AG, I’ve been working consistently towards that goal. I shared my experience from the Level I Study Group several weeks ago. Level 1 focused on the application for Accreditation and the Four-generation research project.
I learned so much from that initial study group, that I happily continued on to the Level 2 & 3 Study Group: Test Preparation. Our group of six accreditation candidates, two AG’s and a study group leader stayed together and we met four times during the months of June and July. Because of time constraints, we condensed the usual six sessions into four. We covered a lot of information in each study group and the assignments were more involved, so I’m going to write about each session separately.
This study group’s focus was to prepare us for the testing that takes place after passing Level 1, the Four- generation project. I had been introduced to the testing from the ICAPGen classes I attended last year at the BYU Conference on Family History and Genealogy. I had also proctored the Level 2 testing for an Accreditation candidate in May. Proctoring involved timing the candidate for each of the four testing sections. I had access to a computer and worked on my own research while she tested. This proved to be a valuable experience in that I could see first hand how the testing worked. I would highly recommend proctoring to anyone interested in Accreditation.
Level 2 & 3 Accreditation testing is broken down into specific sections and each of the four study group sessions focused on a section. We had assignments to complete for each group and an opportunity to ask questions. Here is a recap of the first session and what I learned.
First Session: Testing Overview and the Quick Reference Guide
Our first session consisted of an overview of the Level 2 & 3 testing. We went over each section of the test and learned how much time would be allotted and how to prepare. Level 2 testing is designed to test our knowledge of sources and research experience in our region. Level 3 testing focuses on research planning and our ability to carry out research in a timely fashion. I’ll go into more detail on the Level 3 testing in a future post.
The ICAPGen website provides this information on the four sections of Level 2 testing:
History, geography, methodology, records, etc.
You will be tested on your knowledge of facts pertaining to the history, geography, research methodologies, and records of your region. You may be questioned about historical events that affect research in your region or be asked about types of records available in your region – their content, availability, and coverage.
You will be tested on your ability to read a genealogical document (or documents) relative to the geographic area and time period of your area of specialty. Be prepared to transcribe and answer questions about a document written in an early time period of handwriting depending on the testing region.
If you are accrediting in a region with a language other than your native language, you will be expected to accurately translate documents of genealogical significance written in that language. Use the Language Ability Table to help you rate your own abilities in dealing with foreign-language issues and to see if you are ready to take this portion of the exam.
Potential clients might provide documents with insufficient citations, or no citations at all. You will be tested on your ability to identify important types of documents and reference sources for your area of specialty. Be familiar with a variety of documents covering a range of years for your chosen region. For suggestions of genealogical record types, see the “Important Record Type List” for your chosen region listed in “Resources, Record Types, and Strategies” for your chosen region on the ICAPGen website.
Internet Sources and Electronic Databases
You will be tested on your knowledge of the content of electronic databases created by non-profit groups and commercial organizations relating to your geographical area.
During the first session, our group leaders went over each of these areas in detail, giving us the time frame for each test, and suggestions for preparing. The first section, History, geography, methodology, records, etc. is the longest (about 2 hours 15 minutes). Fifty questions will test our knowledge of our accreditation region. Because I am accrediting in the Gulf South, I can expect questions on the United States, the Gulf South region, and my states of Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Texas. The questions will vary in nature: true/false, simple essay, fill in the table, etc.
Before you panic, know that the test is open book and the internet can be used for searching. Because of time constraints, our leaders highly recommended preparing quick reference guides so that we’ll have important information at our fingertips while testing. I’m preparing a guide for each state and record type in preparation for this segment of the testing and shared my process in my post, Create Your Own Research Guide.
We had two assignments for the next study group.
- Begin to develop our quick reference guides.
- Choose a record type from our region, discuss it’s value and formulate two questions that could be on the test, then answer the questions.
I had already been working on my research guide for Florida, so I began formulating my guide for Mississippi, the other state where I need experience. Creating these research guides has been a very valuable exercise. Not only do I learn better when I write, but I can also organize the information in a way that makes sense to me. I am using Evernote for my guides, but you could use other electronic software or a binder with your printed guides.
For my second assignment, I chose Church Records and formulated this paragraph and questions:
Because civil registration of vital records did not begin until about 1900 in most U.S. states, church records are a valuable substitute to locate birth, marriage, and death information. Familial relationships may be mentioned directly. Sponsors or witnesses listed on the records may be immediate or collateral family members and provide opportunities for further research.
What is the basic methodology for researching church records for a specific ancestor or family?
What are five different types of church records you might locate that would assist in your research of an ancestor or family?
This exercise helped me envision what kind of questions might be on the test. As I prepare my research guides for each record type, I’m going to follow a similar format: a paragraph stating the value of the record group, the basic research methodology, and types of documents that might be within that group. Because one section of the testing will be document recognition, I’m going to have a binder with printed copies of different types of documents from that record group. For example, in my Church Records section I might print a baptism record, a church membership roll, a tithes and offerings list of donors, etc.
Besides my research guides, I’m also going to continue practicing reading and transcribing documents. Since I have French and Spanish records in the colonial phase of my Gulf South states, I’ll make sure I’ve done some work with documents in those languages. My college French will finally come in handy!
This process can seem overwhelming and some days I feel that more than others. But the great thing is, I’m learning so much! Interested in Accrediting? Here are three tips to get you started:
- Choose your region and start keeping track of your education and research hours in each state or country.
- Determine the record types that are most useful for your region from the ICAPGen website and learn to use all of them in your research.
- Practice reading old documents and transcribing them.
I’ll be posting about the second session of the study group in the near future, so stay tuned.
Best of luck in all of your genealogy and family history endeavors!