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FAQs

General Procedures:

1. Do I have to travel to Salt Lake City to take the exam?

No. Arrangements may be made to take the exam at a location near you. Contact the Testing Secretary (testing.secretary@icapgen.org) who will put you in touch with the Offsite Testing Coordinator to make offsite arrangements (requires an additional fee).

2. Can the Family History Library answer my questions about accreditation?

Please do not call the Family History Library for answers to your testing questions. While we use the library for testing, we are not affiliated with the library and they are not familiar with our testing procedures. Direct all questions to the testing secretary at
testing.secretary@icapgen.org. She will either answer your questions directly or find the answers for you.

3. How do I choose an area for Accreditation?

Think of an area in which you enjoy doing research. It must be a place in which you have had extensive research experience. You must have 1,000 hours of research experience and education to qualify for testing. At least 500 of these hours should be in the region of interest.

4. Why the regional focus?

The regional focus allows you to demonstrate your depth of knowledge of the key records, history, geography, and language of the region of interest in measurable ways.

5. If I don’t pass a section of the exam, do I have to start over at the beginning?

No. You do not have to start at the beginning of the process again. Retakes are given on the section of the exam for which you did not pass with 90% or better.

6. How do we record localities when political jurisdiction changed over time?

Record the political jurisdiction that existed at the time of the event (e.g. born 1800, Union District, South Carolina). However, when quoting a source that uses a different format, quote the jurisdiction as it appears in the source and include a bracketed note that clarifies the applicable jurisdiction (e.g. “. . .he was born in 1838 in Simcoe, Lincoln County, Ontario, Canada” [at the time it would have been Simcoe, Upper Canada]).

6. When do I pay the fees for Levels 2 & 3?

It is recommended that you pay your Level 2 & 3 fees two weeks before the respective scheduled test. Fees are good for one year and if your plans change we want to make sure you have sufficient time to test and not lose your fees.

7. Why are testers assigned proctors during the exams?

Each test taker is assigned a proctor whose responsibilities include the following:

  • Review the directions at the beginning of each section of the test.
  • Time each section of the test. If questions arise during the test, they will stop the clock and consult with the Level 2 or Level 3 testing chair.
  • Assist in uploading any templates or reference guides to a folder on the desktop.
  • Give notice of time remaining at points during the testing.

8. How are the Level 2 & 3 exams given?

You will be testing in one of the computer labs at the Family History Library (or at an offsite location you have arranged through the Offsite Testing Coordinator (see #1 above)). Each test taker will be given access to two computers. One will be used for the research and one for the writing of the report, research logs, etc.

Each computer is equipped with Microsoft Word for word processing or you may use Google docs and sheets for your report and research log. Each computer also has Rootsmagic, Ancestral Quest, Legacy and PAF for your genealogical software.

At the beginning of each section of the test, the test taker will be given the appropriate paper work.

The test is open book meaning you may bring guides, research outlines, and materials you have assembled for reference. This also includes use of the Internet. The material you bring may be in binders, flash drive, or a cloud account such as Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, etc. If your materials are on a flash drive, it will be copied to a folder on the desktop of the research computer before the test begins. At the conclusion of the test the material will be erased from the computer.

9. What are the accreditation renewal requirements?

  • Renewal every five years
  • Annual fees are current
  • Renewal application form
  • Verifiable active participation in research and education specific to the region of accreditation
  • Current research report
  • Signed Professional Ethics Agreement
  • One must be an Accredited Genealogist® professional and logged in to view the specific requirements on the “Renew Your Credentials”

10. If I have a CG® credential or an AG® credential in another region am I expected to meet the same requirements as someone without any credential?

ICAPGen recognizes that a person with a genealogy credential has demonstrated a high level of genealogical research ability. ICAPGen offers genealogists with either a CG® or an AG® credential the opportunity to apply for a second credential with reduced (by half) experience hours.

11. How do you evaluate a candidate’s understanding of the Genealogical Proof Standard?

ICAPGen exams are designed to measure the skills needed for a professional genealogist to solve a client’s research problem as quickly and cost effectively as possible. ICAPGen exams assess the depth and breadth of a professional’s knowledge of the key records, history, geography, and language of their region of interest, along with their skills in research planning, evidence analysis, methodology, and report writing. Professional genealogical research standards, including the Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS), are used in the evaluation of the submitted four-generation project and ICAPGen exams. Information about the GPS can be found on the Board for Certification of Genealogists website.

Level 1:

12. What do you mean by turning in a “four-generation project?”

The research project requires a treatment of four couples in a direct lineal ancestry, e.g., child, parent, grandparent, and great-grandparent.

You may follow the male or female ancestral lines or it can be a combination of both.

The person of interest on the most recent generation must have been born on or before 1900, have a spouse and children. This means that Person #1 on the pedigree must have a birth date on or before 1900. Other children in the family may have later birth dates.

Each generation of the families you are submitting must have lived in the region for which you are applying.

The project should include the following elements:

  • A well-written four-generation project research report . Recommend length of report about 25 pages but not to exceed 40 pages.
  • Documented family group sheets for the chosen direct line ancestors.
  • Pedigree chart
  • Research log listing all sources researched
  • Digital images of up to 40 key documents mentioned in the research report that prove the generational links.

13. Do the people I submit have to be my relatives?

No, you may choose any family that you have personally researched and that meets the requirements of the project.

14. How do I find qualifying people for my project?

Here are some options:

  • If your subject was born after 1900, did he/she have a sibling born before that date? Select any sibling born on or before 1900 as the first person in the study.
  • Look for siblings of the people in generations two and three. They may have descendants born on or before 1900 in the geographical area.
  • If all else fails, choose another family entirely. One way to fulfill this requirement is to pick a family that is known to have lived in the region of interest for several generations and research and report on them.

15. How much information should be included for other children in the family (siblings of the direct line ancestor) if they have no direct bearing? Their marriages? Their military service? Probate even if it doesn’t name other siblings/the direct line ancestor? Or can I just say “they were born x date and place; maybe research them in the future.”

A complete family group sheet would include research on each of the children in the family as well as the parents. You don’t need to go into great detail but at least give names and report on completion status of the family analysis. Primary focus is on generational links. Show that you know complete research involves the entire family. You may refer the reader to “see family group sheet” unless it’s key to proving the linkages.

16. When researching a line where adoption is involved, do we need to include information on the biological family?

Information about the biological family would not be required. If you choose to trace the court-appointed parents of an adopted child, it is the same as if the child was a blood descendant. Be sure to include information in your research report to show the child was adopted or lived in a guardianship relationship.

17. I’ve been researching my family for several years, but when I began my research I didn’t keep a research log. Should I try to re-create my log or research a new family for my accreditation project?

Here are some options:

  • Treat the project as an update of previous research. Create a research log to reflect the previous research and any additional research that you do.
  • Use a recent project. You can showcase your best work in a recent project. You will not have to reconstruct anything and you will be using current resources.

18. What method of source citation should I use?

ICAPGen does not require the use of any particular source citation method, but expects that applicants will select and consistently use a method that contains all the primary source elements.

19. What if I have conflicting information about a significant event, such as a birth, marriage, or death?

Genealogists know that there are times when two or more sources give conflicting information. Be sure you have thoroughly researched as many sources as possible to resolve this conflict. In your report, provide all the information you have and where the information was found. If you believe one source is more reliable than another, give your reasons.

20. May I use the published research of other people?

Many secondary lineages contain errors, and a good researcher uses these lineages only as guides to begin the project. If you find that the secondary source is correct, you must cite the documents used to prove its accuracy. Be sure to include the secondary source on your research log to show your research process.

21. I don’t use pedigree charts and family group sheets for my client research. Why do I need to include them with my four-generation project?

Pedigree charts and family group sheets are common tools for planning, managing, and summarizing genealogical projects. It is necessary that you demonstrate your familiarity with these forms. You will also be expected to use them during the Level 3 testing.

22. Do we need a separate research log for each generation?

Most applicants use a separate log per generation but other types of research logs are accepted. Projects sometimes dictate that a research log is used for each repository, locality, or objective. Cross-reference logs as needed for clarity.

23. When some of the families lived outside the region of interest for a period of time, how much attention should be given to the research of other regions?

Summaries of research for other regions might be necessary to provide background but the main focus of the report should be on the region of interest.

Level 2:

24. What is included in the Level 2 test?

General knowledge – You will be tested on your knowledge of facts pertaining to the history 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.

Internet sources and electronic databases – You will be tested on your knowledge and content of electronic databases created by non-profit groups and commercial organizations relating to your geographical area.

25. Will I be required to translate documents?

If your region of accreditation is a country that uses a language besides English, you should be able to translate a document from that language into English. You should also be able to request a record from that country in the local language. Even if your region’s main language is English, but some historic or church records have been kept in another language, such as Latin, German, French, or Spanish, you should be able to abstract the genealogically important information from documents in that language. Remember the tests are open-book tests so you can bring with you any printed aids with which you feel comfortable.

26. What documents should I be able to recognize?

It is expected that the candidate has had sufficient experience in the key documents of each region represented in their selected geographic area. In addition, they should be familiar with the key general national government records of their area, be able to recognize the document on sight, and to know the value of those documents in genealogy. Refer to our recommended record types pages.

27. How does your examination process determine how well a candidate transcribes and abstracts a sample document?

You will be given documents to transcribe and abstract. A distinction is made between a transcription and an abstraction. When the candidate is asked to “transcribe” a document, every letter is expected to be written as it appears in the original document. To be true to the original document, no updates such as spelling or grammatical changes are made. When “abstracting” a document, it is important that a test candidate captures the information that would be useful to a genealogical researcher including names, dates, relationships, or items that could prove a name, date, or relationship.

If your region’s language is not English, you will also be required to translate a document into English.

Level 3:

28. What is included in the Level 3 test?

Research planning and a research exercise. The research planning section lasts one hour. The research exercise is a three hour project. You may take a short break between the two sections if necessary.

29. What is the format of the research planning section?

For the research planning section, the problems used to create a research plan will be on a flash drive and the answers will be typed into a word document form on the testing computer.

30. What is the format of the research exercise section?

For the research exercise, the test taker will be given a paper copy and electronic copy of the research exercise problem. The test taker will also receive a blank pedigree chart, family group sheets, and a research log. You may use these paper forms or one of the genealogy software products on the computer. You may also use your own research template for the research logs. Make sure it was uploaded to the testing computer before the testing begins.

All digital documents you create during the test (research report, family group sheets, pedigree chart, research log and all supporting documents) will be saved to a file on the flash drive. Please leave time at the end of the session to make sure everything has been saved to the flash drive. All handwritten documents you create during the test (pedigree chart, family group sheets, research log, notes) should be turned in with any other paper copies you have. No points are deducted for handwritten items, so choose the method you think will save you the most time. Whichever way you choose to make your pedigree chart and family group records, make sure all paperwork you were given is returned at the end of test.

As you write your report for the research exercise, it should be saved to the flash drive. It should not at any point be saved to the computer. At the end of the testing session, the Level 3 chair or other designated testing committee person will make a backup copy of your report onto a second flash drive. It is the test takers responsibility to make sure everything is saved to the appropriate folder on the flash drive.

As you conduct your research and collect documents for the report they should be saved to a folder on the flash drive provided. There is no specific requirement about where a citation for the document is placed but in the interest of time you can label the document with a number and place the full citation on the research log. You can then use that number in your footnote in the report.

If you need to use microfilm for your research you may leave the computer lab with your proctor and find the film you need. This time is included in the three hours you have. Any image you use for your report should be saved to the flash drive with the rest of your saved documents. Leave a few extra minutes at the end to make sure all your documents are in the folder and labeled.

At the end of the testing session, all the paperwork must be turned in. All your reports, logs, documents, pedigree chart, and family group records (if not handwritten) should have been saved to the flash drive. Do this within the allotted three hour time frame. Anything left on the computer will be erased at the end of the testing session.

31. Will I be given a trick research problem? What if I can’t get everything done in the 3 hours?

The research exercise problem you will be given can be researched. Each problem will have an objective. Your research, report, and log should demonstrate your efforts to meet the objective. It is understood that everything cannot be done in a short three hour time limit. What you did not have time to research can be put in the future research section of your report. If you make sure you are approaching the problem in the most efficient and logical way, using the best sources to answer the objective, you will be successful. The experts grading your research exercise understand that the writing may not be as polished as you would like. Just be aware of misspelled words, poor grammar, writing in the first person, etc.

32. How can I prepare for the Level 3 test?

Practice, practice, practice! The successful test takers had multiple practice sessions with problems typical of their region. With practice you will learn what can reasonably be done in the time you have. For the research planning section, you might consider writing hypothetical problems, setting a timer for 15 minutes and listing 5-10 sources to search and what you expect to find in those sources. For the research exercise, write questions from the records of the region. Then time yourself and spend three hours researching the problem, writing a report, keeping a research log, collecting documents, and preparing the pedigree chart and family group records. Do this multiple times.

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