Tips for Succeeding in FBLA

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FBLA is a gigantic student organization with hundreds of thousands of members nationwide. So how can you get onstage at State Leadership Conferences, advance to Nationals, and place at the top there?

At the 2008 National Leadership Conference, I placed 3rd in Economics, one of the most competitive competitions. And it's not that hard if you follow a few steps.

The most critical step is to find a competition you enjoy. And I mean enjoy. Realize that you will have to eventually know pretty much everything about a topic. You can find a list of subjects at FBLA Practice Tests. You can take a glance at one of their practice tests if you are unsure what the competition is about. Realize that some competitions, like Marketing, Accounting, Economics, and math competitions, are going to be more competitive by the sheer nature of their breadth and popularity. I know that I placed third while missing 2-4 of 100 questions. These are intense. New competitions, like Personal Finance, are usually easier.

The next step is finding a good textbook. You need a textbook in order to do well. Right now, it does not really matter which textbook you use. Hopefully your school will have one for you. Read this textbook and get to know it fairly well. Make sure you get one with a glossary, and memorize the glossary.

After getting a grip on your subject, you should take a few past Nationals tests. They are also available on the given website. Memorize the questions and answers you miss. The questions come up over and over again on real FBLA tests. I have taken section and state tests where I had already seen 20% of the questions. Is it fair? Probably not, but when you are standing on stage with a 1st place award, it will not really matter. Even if you never see the exact same question again, it is great learning.

When taking your Section/State tests, try to remember any questions you are unsure on. Once you leave the room, write them down, and look them answers when you get home. Next year if you see these questions again, they will be easy, and you will place higher.

This normal studying will get you placing well at State. I say normal because it is the same as any testing strategy: read a text book, memorize it, and take tons of practice tests. Be aware that competitive states like California and Georgia will be more competitive.

The hard part is placing at Nationals, and this is where experience helps. It will help if you know how National FBLA makes the tests. Yes, they recycle a few questions, but where do they get the others? They get quite a few of them from textbooks. An economics test happened to ask how much higher union wages are than nonunion wages in the last decade, a rather picky question. When I got home, I discovered the answer was in McConnel Brue 16th Edition Economics textbook. By the way, the answer is 15%. Several other questions at all levels suggest that testwriters use this textbook as one source for Economics questions. If you can find the book the writers use, you can place at Nationals. This is easier said than done, but usually there are not too many textbooks on a subject. I found an Economics book, and I guarantee there are many more Econ textbooks than for any other FBLA subject. If you recognise 20% of the questions they recycle, and another 20% of their new questions from your textbook reading, you'll have a giant leg up on your competition.

If you want to place at state, read any textbook and take all of the practice tests. But to place at Nationals, you have to be on top of your topic, read multiple textbooks, and hopefully discover a book that the writers use. Find the book and you will most likely win if you find it, but even if you don't, you'll benefit greatly from the reading. Good luck!