Essential Buyers Guide 

Firstly, you really do get what you pay for...

A Word to the Wise

 

Questions to ask before booking your training course

1. Are you a member of ASPECT?

  • ASPECT is the Association for the Promotion of Excellence in Consultancy and Training.
  • ASPECT's mission is to promote excellence and raise standards in the delivery of accredited training and consultancy.
  • All members of ASPECT have committed that their training and consultancy meets a set of premium standards set by industry experts. You can see these standards on the ASPECT website at www.accredited.org.uk.
  • Recommendation: Be sure to book your training course with a training provider who is a member of ASPECT.
  • Look for the ASPECT logo. You will be protected against the pitfalls 2-7 listed below if you choose an ASPECT member training provider.
ASPECT

2. What is the maximum number of people on your courses?

  • You should look for courses that cap the maximum number of delegates per course.  By keeping class sizes to between 12-16, the trainer will be assured that each delegate receives the required attention for clarifying learning points.  There is nothing worse for the delegate to have a list of questions, but no time to answer them.
  • Recommendation: 12-16 delegates maximum.

3. What is the venue like? Does it have natural light?

  • It is important to have a good learning environment.  The accredited training courses are very intense, with long days plus an hour or two evening work.  Taking your training course in a basement or poorly lit room is not conducive to good learning.
  • Recommendation: Training room with plenty of natural light.

4. Will I have a desk to sit at during the course?

  • This may seem like a strange question to ask, but some training providers do not provide a desk during the course.  With the amount of materials you will be working with, it is essential that you are comfortable during your course, and have a good size desk to work on, with at least a metre of space to yourself.
  • Recommendation: Minimum 1 metre desk with your own space to work comfortably.

5. Will you provide me with an official manual, and can I keep it after the course?

  • Be aware that some training providers do not provide you with your own copy of the official manual.
  • All accredited training courses have a requirement for the official manual to be available.  However, you really do need your own copy – not only for reference, but also for making notes, etc.  Make sure that the training provider you choose will provide you with your own manual (before you attend the course) and that it is yours to keep and do with what you wish.
  • Recommendation: Make sure you are provided with your own copy of the manual to keep
  • Recommendation: Get your official manual sent to you before the course.

6. Is there a problem with borrowing an official manual from the training provider?

  • The Practitioner Exam allows a candidate to reference just the official manual during the exam.  The manual must not have any inserts, sticky notes, etc inside it (other than for index markers), otherwise you may face disqualification from the exam.  You are allowed to have hand-written notes in your manual though, hence the reason for having your own copy, rather than a “borrowed” one from the training provider.
  • Recommendation: Make sure you are provided with your own copy of the Manual to keep .
  • Recommendation: Get your official manual sent to you before the course.

7. How long have you been providing the training?

  • Ask how long the training provider has been providing this type of training, and how long they have been accredited by APM Group.  A number of newer training providers place at lot of emphasis on the examination rather than learning the methods.  While this may appear to meet your primary objective, if you do not understand how to get the best from the methods, then you might not be able to demonstrate your new skills in the workplace. It is important to understand the need for embedding the methods.
  • Recommendation: Choose a well established training provider with at least 5 years experience of accredited training.

8. What is your Exam Pass Guarantee policy?

  • Many providers offer an "Exam Pass Guarantee". You should clarify what this actually means. Nobody can guarantee an exam pass, as it is the individual taking the exam that needs to pass it. Some providers offer a free exam resit, others offer some training and a free exam resit. Be sure to check the terms and conditions of such offers as these are often accompanied with strict attendance criteria, Foundation exam pass score criteria, and even a performance related report from the trainer as to whether the candidate should be allowed a free exam resit.
  • Recommendation: Clarify the terms of the promise of any guarantees.

9. What is you pre-course support?

  • All accredited training providers should provide pre-course training materials when you confirm your course.  This could be online or paper-based, and may include guided reading, sample exam questions, candidate guidance and the syllabus.  Pre-course materials vary greatly from provider to provider, but the official manual is a 'must have' prior to the course.  If you want to get the best from your course, and give yourself the best chance to pass the exams, then you should commit at least 10 hours pre-course study, mostly based around the official manual.
  • Recommendation: Choose a training provider who provides the official manual as part of the pre-course material.

10. What is your post course support?

  • It is always good to have some tools or reference when you have completed the training course.  As with most learning, unless you use and apply the thing that you have learnt, then you will quickly forget.  Look for a provider who supplies project templates and guidance on using the methods.  Again, a good experienced training provider is more likely to give you post-course support when needed, and often at no cost!
  • Recommendation: Choose a training provider you feel comfortable with.
  • Recommendation: Don’t be afraid to converse prior to buying.
  • Recommendation: Ask to speak to an expert or a trainer.  Good, well established training providers will be only too happy to put you though to a trainer – naturally, they love to talk about the subject!

11. How many times have you cancelled courses in this venue?

  • Ask whether the course venue being used has been cancelled previously.  Also ask how many courses have been run in this location.
  • Be aware that one or two low cost training providers advertise courses in some locations, but have no intention of running them.  They are simply used to attract your booking – you may then be moved to a different location.  When enquiring about a course, make sure that the course will run as scheduled.
  • Recommendation: Shop around and take advice.  Don’t assume the course will run just because the training provider advertises lots of dates at numerous locations.

12. What if I need to transfer the date of my course?

  • Ask about course transfer and cancellation terms.  Some providers are flexible, others aren’t.  If you are paying a “reasonable” price for your training course then you should expect some flexibility in respect of this, particularly with transfer charges if you need to postpone your course to a later date, or if you need to change the name of a delegate.  As with most purchases, if you are buying at a low price, the terms and conditions will be very strict, may be applied for changes that you have not caused, and could incur you additional expense.
  • Recommendation: Check the terms and conditions carefully before buying.

13. Can I change delay the Practitioner part of my course if I make this decision during the training?

  • Due to the format of most accredited courses, it is possible to complete the Foundation part of the course, and then return at a later date to complete the Practitioner part; or complete the entire course in the same week. Most people will make their choice when booking the course.  It is possible though to make this decision during the course.  You might get to the end of the Foundation part and then decide that you would benefit from some time before progressing onto the Practitioner part.  If you do, then some training providers will require full payment for the Practitioner part as this would be seen as a cancellation of your original booking.
  • Recommendation: A good training provider will not make any charge for deferring the Practitioner part of the course.
  • Recommendation: Check the terms and conditions carefully before buying.

 

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