How to Prepare for the CRS Examination
Maria A. Williams, CRS
United Way for Southeastern Michigan
Detroit, Michigan
Deciding to take the exam
Why should I take the exam?
– Demonstrates initiative, and dedication to your organization
– Chance to earn a professional credential
– There might some CA$H in it for you
– The AIRS Standards strongly encourage it
– Tests can be fun! (Yes, I’m serious.)
2
Deciding to take the exam
•Now it’s time to prepare!
•Has it been a while?
– Who has taken an important exam (other than the CRS or
CIRS) in the last:
–2 years?
–5 years?
–10 years?
A good plan is the best defense against a tough test!
3
Knowledge areas
Inclusion/Exclusion Criteria
10%
Record Structure/Data Elements
25%
Indexing Principles
25%
Classification System/Taxonomy10%
Database Maintenance
10%
Service-Specific Questions
15%
Indexing/Proofing Scenarios
5%
4
Test format
•Multiple choice
•True or false
•Short answer
– Indexing/Proofing Scenarios
5
Key preparation materials
There are many existing resources available
– Articles
– Websites
– Listservs
– CEQuick training courses
– Training sessions
–National
–Local
6
Articles
The ABCs of I&R
– The foundation of training for all I&R and Resource Specialists
–Learning objectives
–Introductory exercises
–Summary of key points
–Test questions!
– Use the 2006 or later editions. The 6.0 AIRS Standards are
included in the 2009 edition.
– Pay particular attention to the sections dedicated to the
resource database
7
Articles
The ABCs of I&R
Sections 19-24:
Resource Database – Overview
Resource Database – Inclusion and Exclusion Policy
Resource Database – Data Structure
Resource Database – Classification Systems and Taxonomy
Indexing
Resource Database – Database Maintenance
Resource Database – Disaster and the Resource Specialist
8
ABCs of I&R
Exam Content
Overview
Inclusion/Exclusion Criteria
Inclusion and Exclusion Policy
Record Structure/Data Elements
Data Structure
Indexing Principles
Classification Systems and
Taxonomy Indexing
Classification System/Taxonomy
Database Maintenance
Disaster and the Resource Specialist
Database Maintenance
Service-Specific Questions
Indexing/Proofing Scenarios
9
AIRS Recommended Articles
CRS Performance Based Competencies for Certification
What it covers: A detailed outline and description of the knowledge,
skills, attitudes and work related behaviors an I&R practitioner must
demonstrate in order to perform their job effectively.
Covers general knowledge/skills, skills and abilities specifically related to
resource database maintenance, and also has a section on work-related
attitudes.
How it helps: This is a good document to read once or twice, to gain a
clear understanding of what’s expected of a Certified Resource Specialist
on the job. No need to memorize.
10
AIRS Recommended Articles
Setting Inclusion/Exclusion Criteria: Determining the Scope
of a Resource File
by Dick Manikowski
What it covers: Everything you’ve ever wanted to know – and
everything you never knew you wanted to know – about developing an
inclusion/exclusion statement for your database.
How it helps: The be all end all of articles about inclusion/exclusion
statements, this article is incredibly important. Read it multiple times,
take notes. Then read it a few more times.
11
AIRS Recommended Articles
Indexing with the AIRS/INFO LINE Taxonomy of Human Services
by Margaret Bruni
What it covers: The design features of the Taxonomy, the benefits of
hierarchical design, types of terms, basic indexing principles, customizing
the Taxonomy, and keeping your Taxonomy current.
How it helps: Extremely helpful article for learning about why the
Taxonomy is structured the way it is. Read this article several times and
take notes.
12
AIRS Recommended Articles
Taxonomy Supplements: How to Keep the AIRS/INFO
LINE Taxonomy Updated for Your Resource File
by Georgia Sales
What it covers: Discussion of the continuous evolvement of the
Taxonomy and the various ways in which updates to the Taxonomy
occur, and of tools to maintain the currency of an agency’s
Taxonomy.
How it helps: Useful article for understanding the Taxonomy,
recommend to read it through once or twice.
13
Articles
From the www.211taxonomy.org website:
An Orientation to the Structure and Contents of the
AIRS/211 LA County Taxonomy
by Georgia Sales
What it covers: A comprehensive overview of the Taxonomy,
its structure, service categories, target populations, and
comments on local customization written by the Taxonomy guru
herself.
How it helps: This is an important article, especially for
Taxonomy newbies. Although it’s a bit longer than the others, at
33 pages, it’s worth reading at least once or twice. Take good
notes.
14
Articles
From the www.211taxonomy.org website:
Structure and Contents of the Taxonomy
by Georgia Sales
What it covers: A quick outline of the structure and contents of
the Taxonomy, this is an excellent summary.
How it helps: This is a good article for more experienced users
of the Taxonomy to brush up with.
15
Articles
AIRS Standards for Professional Information & Referral
and Quality Indicators
You should be familiar with all of the AIRS Standards, but you’ll want
to pay particular attention to the standards that deal with the
Resource Database:
Standard 7: Inclusion/Exclusion Criteria
Standard 8: Data Elements
Standard 9: Classification System/Taxonomy
Standard 10: Content Management and Indexing
Standard 11: Database Search Methods
Standard 12: Database Maintenance
16
AIRS Standards
Exam Content
7: Inclusion/Exclusion Criteria
Inclusion/Exclusion Criteria
8: Data Elements
Record Structure/Data Elements
9:Classification
System/Taxonomy
Indexing Principles
10: Content Management and
Indexing
11: Database Search Methods
12: Database Maintenance
Classification System/Taxonomy
Database Maintenance
Service-Specific Questions
Indexing/Proofing Scenarios
17
Websites and listservs
•www.airs.org
•www.211taxonomy.org
•Your state’s AIRS affiliate site
– Training documents from local trainings
•AIRS I&R Networker Listserv
– http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/airsnetworker/
•AIRS Taxonomy Listserv
– http://www.211taxonomy.org/resources/listserv
Both listservs provide discussion forums for the I&R
community. It’s an outlet for you to ask questions and get help.
18
CEQuick
What is CEQuick?
– CEQuick is an online training tool that allows you to pay a
nominal fee to take a training course and have the opportunity
to earn CE (Continuing Education) credits
– Fees range from $5-$35 per course
– Suggested courses for CRS test prep:
– AIRS: An Overview for Resource Specialists ($20)
– AIRS: Database Maintenance ($20)
– AIRS: Introduction to Taxonomy and Indexing ($30)
– AIRS: Resource Database Style ($25)
– Total cost = $95
**Check out the Unlimited $99/year package if you plan to
take all four courses.
19
Training sessions
•Be on the lookout for in-person training sessions
– National
– Local
•Benefits of in-person training
– Get immediate answers to your questions
– Networking
•Printed training resources
– Taxonomy Training Curriculum
– ABCs of I&R
20
Training sessions
Which of the following best describes a hierarchical
classification system?
a) An alphabetical listing of keywords that would occur to
most people
b) A structured set of concepts that illustrates the
relationships between listings
c) A computer system that searches for any and all
strings of words
d) A collection of detailed definitions of various human
services
21
Training sessions
Of the following, which is not a required data element?
a) Unique record identification number
b) Geographic area served
c) Federal Employer Identification Number
d) Date the information was last verified
22
Training sessions
Which of the following represents a Taxonomy branch?
a) BD, BH, BM, BR, BT
b) B Basic Needs, D Consumer Services, F Criminal
Justice and Legal Services, H Education
c) J, JD, JD-1500, JD-1500.1800, JD-1500.1800-050
d) FP-0500 Advocacy, TL-3800.0500 Arms Control
Advocacy Programs, TD-1600.1770 Education
Advocacy Groups
23
Training sessions
The inclusion/exclusion criteria for the resource database
should be:
a) Told to everyone who contacts the I&R agency
b) Published in relevant documents that are shared with
the public
c) Known only to the Board of Directors to ensure
confidentiality
d) Flexible so that the Resource Specialist can use
discretion
24
Training sessions
What are the main advantages of a style guide?
a) Defines inclusion/exclusion criteria
b) Documents indexing decisions
c) Documents rules for consistent data entry
d) Supervises Resource Specialist staff
25
Training sessions
When should an I&R resource database be
comprehensively updated?
a) Two months before the publication of a new directory
b) Annually
c) Monthly
d) Continuously
26
Training sessions
What is a “Use Reference”?
a) A term that has the exact opposite meaning of the given
term
b) A term that has a very close meaning to the given term
c) A term that has the same coding as the given term
d) A term that suggests a related yet distinct concept to
the given term
27
Study strategies and methods
Don’t count on short-term memorization
– Too much information
– Too complex
– Too important
28
Study strategies and methods
Take notes
– When reading articles
– When attending training sessions
– Right now!
29
Mnemonic devices
Memory/learning aid
– Acronym mnemonics
use a word
• H.O.M.E.S.
Huron
Ontario
Michigan
Erie
Superior
30
Mnemonic devices
•Acrostic mnemonics use a phrase
– Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally
– Every Good Boy Does Fine
– King Penguins Congregate On Frozen
Ground Sometimes
31
Mnemonic devices
32
Mnemonic devices
•What else could you use a mnemonic device for?
– AIRS standards?
– Inclusion/Exclusion Criteria
– Data Elements
– Classification System/Taxonomy
– Content Management and Indexing
– Database Search Methods
– Database Maintenance
– Required vs. recommended vs. optional data elements?
33
Flash cards
•An oldie but a goodie
•Can be used to help learn a wide variety of material, including
items that are highly content-driven (AIRS Standards)
•Another person can quiz you without also having to know the
material
34
Goal-setting and time management
35
Goal-setting and time management
Remember that a good plan is the best defense against a tough test
•How much do you need to study?
– How comfortable are you with the knowledge areas?
– How quickly do you absorb new information?
– Do you have a good memory?
– Are you a fast reader?
•Set realistic goals for yourself and stick to them!
– “I will have all of my flashcards made by Friday.”
– “I will spend 15 minutes with my flashcards each day.”
– “I will run through my mnemonic devices each morning while brushing
my teeth.”
36
Time management
Traveling to take the exam
– Distance to travel
– Time of day
– Time of year
– Effect on your performance
37
General test-taking tips
•For multiple choice tests
– Read all options before making a selection
– Eliminate the highly implausible answers
– Be aware of words like “always,” “never,” “only,” “must,” and
“completely.” These are usually wrong answers since there are
many exceptions to rules.
– Answer all questions without skipping or jumping around, identify
doubtful answers by marking in the margin, recheck these as time
permits after all of the questions are answered.
– Don’t linger too long on any single question
– Reread all questions containing negative wording like “not,” or
“least.” Watch out for double or triple negatives.
– Your first guess is usually right!
38
General test-taking trips
•Eat breakfast! (Or lunch.)
•Get a good night’s sleep
•Go to the bathroom first
•Bring a bottle of water and tissues with you
•Bring extra pencils – sharpened!
•Try to relax!
39
Web tools for continued
communication
Facebook
– Please join the group I created a group for us, called
“AIRS Certified Resource Specialists.”
Trillian IM
– Chat with fellow resource managers who may use AOL
Instant Messenger, ICQ, MSN Messenger, Yahoo
Messenger, and IRC
Google Docs
– Collaborate online and create documents, spreadsheets,
and presentations that are stored online and can be
accessed from any computer with a connection to the
Internet
40
Questions?
41
Thanks!
42
Bibliography
The ABCs of I&R, The Alliance of Information and Referral Systems
Study Guide of Performance Based Competencies for Certification:
CRS, The Alliance of Information and Referral Systems,
retrieved from
http://www.airs.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageid=3314.
Setting Inclusion/Exclusion Criteria: Determining the Scope of a
Resource File, by Dick Manikowski. Originally published in
Information and Referral, the Journal of the Alliance of Information
and Referral Systems, retrieved from
http://www.airs.org/files/public/inclusion_exclusion.pdf.
Indexing with the AIRS/INFO LINE Taxonomy of Human Services, by
Margaret (Gillis) Bruni. Originally published in Information and
Referral, the Journal of the Alliance of Information and Referral
Systems, retrieved from
http://www.airs.org/files/public/AIRS_Taxonomy_IndexingWithTaxonomy.pdf.
43
Bibliography
Taxonomy Supplements: How to Keep the AIRS/INFO LINE Taxonomy
Updated for Your Resource File, by Georgia Sales. Originally
published in Information and Referral, the Journal of the Alliance of
Information and Referral Systems, retrieved from
http://www.airs.org/files/public/Taxonomy_Supplements.pdf.
An Orientation to the Structure and Contents of the AIRS/211 LA
County Taxonomy, by Georgia Sales. Originally published in
Information and Referral, the Journal of the Alliance of
Information and Referral Systems, retrieved from
http://www.211taxonomy.org/publicfiles/view/Taxonomy_Orientation.pdf.
Structure and Contents of the Taxonomy, by Georgia Sales. Retrieved
from
http://www.211taxonomy.org/publicfiles/view/IntroStructure_and_Contents.pdf.
44
Bibliography
AIRS Standards for Professional Information & Referral and Quality
Indicators, The Alliance of Information and Referral Systems,
retrieved from
http://www.airs.org/files/public/AIRS_Standards_6_0Final.pdf.
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How to Prepare for the CRS Examination