The Paralegal Advanced Competency Exam is a professional examination that lets paralegals become certified in the field. Though not all jobs you come across will require that you have certification, that simple piece of paper may help you make more money because it shows employers that you are committed to your profession. The test consists of 200 multiple choice questions that you answer on a computer. Before scheduling a time to take the exam in your local testing center, you should make sure that you meet all the requirements and prerequisites.
To become a paralegal, you must have either a bachelor’s degree or an associate’s degree. Those who sit for the PACE exam must have a college degree from an accredited college or university. You can also use the diploma or degree you received from a college program that has approval from the American Bar Association to show that you are capable of taking this test. Even if you have a degree in another field, you may have the opportunity to sit for this test. The PACE is open to any college degree holder who has some paralegal experience.
The amount of experience that you need to take the Paralegal Advanced Competency Exam depends on the type of degree you have. According to the National Federation of Paralegal Associations, those who have an associate’s degree in paralegal studies must have a minimum of six years of experience before taking the test. Those with a bachelor’s degree will only need three years of experience in the legal profession before taking the exam. If you have a bachelor’s degree in paralegal studies, you qualify to sit for the exam after completing just two years of work experience. Those who graduated before the end of 2000 only need to have four years of experience to take the test.
While you will need to meet the prerequisites to take the PACE, you also need to meet other requirements as well. You will first need to apply to take the test, which you can do online. The test is available from a number of computer testing centers across the country, but you must select the one closest to you and pay for the cost of the test. You may need to submit proof that you have a college degree such as an official transcript from the college or a copy of your degree.
Preparing for the Exam
The PACE consists of 200 questions in five separate sections. Some of those sections are worth more points than others. For example, the section of clients is worth 30% of your score, but the section on office administration is worth less than 5% of your score. You can easily find sample tests online that include questions similar to the ones found on the actual exam. If you need additional help, consider signing up for a test prep class that will give you some tips on taking the test and let you take practice tests too.
Certified paralegals have the opportunity to make more money than their peers, and some employers may require that you have certification before accepting a job. The Paralegal Advanced Competency Exam is the test you take to obtain certification, but you must have the right combination of experience and education to take the exam.