As president of BCG I run into a lot of people who question why they should become board-certified, and then during the process, how to be successful. This reminds me of watching the Olympics, where you may have seen media interviews asking athletes, “Why did you do it?” and “How did you become so successful?” The old adage “because [the mountain, challenge, world record, etc.] was there” may still hold true but many talked about their passion for their sport and the thrill it gave them to be good at it.

So why would one be interested in certification? There are about a dozen two-minute audio clips on “Why Certify?” on the BCG website with added bonuses of learning how these board-certified genealogists prepared for their journey. You can listen to them at In addition, on the same webpage is Pam Sayre’s luncheon talk comparing certification to skiing, which is apropos in this post-Olympics time.

Those who decide to submit their preliminary application ( are invited to the virtual group ACTION (Aid to Certification Testing: Interactive Online Networking). A discussion on that list of “what the judges want” prompted a post by a preliminary candidate, Yvette Hoitink of Holland, who gave the following analogy:

“The whole certification process is like figure skating in the Olympics: the athletes know the types of elements to include in their programs, but the organizers are not going to tell them which music to use or teach them how to skate. Regardless, judges know a good program when they see it. A routine only consisting of triple axels isn’t going to win any medals no matter how awesome they are, since you have to show a variety of techniques and skills. But if you do decide to include an axel, you better make sure you land it properly.”

Certification is sought for a variety of reasons, but like Olympians, passion to do things well is a common theme. It is not “what the judges want” that will make your portfolio of work samples successful, but how you demonstrate your understanding of the GPS and standards.

Stay tuned for more about using the newly edited standards book.

Best wishes, Elissa