Exam Content

AABP Proficiency Exam 

Contents Handbook

(The AABP Proficiency Exam is still in beta testing. This means that we are still honing its content and when you take the exam, we would appreciate any feedback on it you are willing to provide, including exactly how long it took you to complete it and if you found any of the questions vague/ambiguous or otherwise problematic. While the exam is still in beta, a buffer of 10% is allowed in the overall result, meaning that a 70% or higher overall result will act as a pass. This is because as much as 10% of the result could potentially be attributable to deficiencies in the exam rather than deficiencies in the applicant's knowledge. There will also be no time limit on the exam while it is in beta.)

Arranging to take exam. Click here.

The AABP Proficiency Exam will function to allow candidates for Certification to demonstrate their knowledge proficiency. This handbook will lay out the books and special notes required for self study or to formalize the sources in case different sources provide different perspectives or information contained in the exam.

The invigilated exam will be 3 hours for CABC, CDBC, CPBC and CCBC, and will be a closed book exam. It will contain short essay answer, multiple choice, matching and fill in the blank questions. It will strongly emphasize the natural science of behavior and the principles of behavior and not a medical model approach involving ethological notions and diagnostic labeling. To do well on the exam, the candidate must have a strong proficiency of behaviorology (or behavior analysis). Each category of professional membership will have its own exam, corresponding to the core areas of competence for each category.

The exam requires a total of greater than 80% overall as the mean average and at least 60% mean average in each core area exam component for a pass (See red note above). Those failing the exam may retake the exam. Be advised, this is a tough exam and may require retakes even for those with a decent appreciation of the principles of behavior. These high standards may be an inconvenience or source of stress but they will also make Certification meaningful.

Here are the steps for taking the exam: The exam will be sent directly to the invigilator you arrange for, who will administer the exam and they will send it directly back to the AABP. 

  • First, identify the professional membership category you wish to attain. 
  • Second, check the core areas of competence included in that designation.
  • Third, ensure you have a strong comprehension of the topics found in the core areas of competence for it. The texts identified below can help you prepare for the exam.
  • Fourth, arrange for and take the exam when you are ready. This will involve providing AABP with a suitably qualified invigilator to supervise your exam and scheduling a time to take it. See this page for further details.

The following sections correspond to the core areas of competence. The exam will be made up of a section of exam questions from each core area required for that membership type. You will find recommendations for books that acted as the source for the exam questions and answers and special notes, particularly on any areas where the exam will differ from the contents of the books. Familiarize yourself with the books and these notes in order to prepare for the exam. It will contain short essay answer, multiple choice, matching and fill in the blank questions. 

Coaching / Instructing and Professional Relationship / Case Management

  • O'Heare, J. (2016). Problem Animal Behavior. Ontario: BehaveTech Publishing (Primary Source)

Principles of Behavior

  • O'Heare, J. (2016). Problem Animal Behavior. Ontario: BehaveTech Publishing (Primary Source)

Training Technology

  • O’Heare, J. (2015). The Science and Technology of Animal Training

Professional Ethics

Biological Context for Behavior (aka, Species Typical Behavior) (Dog)

  • Serpell, J. (Ed.). (1995). The domestic dog its evolution, behaviour and interactions with people. New York: Cambridge University Press. (Primary Source)


Brief notes on sensitive periods: Prenatal (before birth); neonatal (birth to 2 weeks), stress on the pregnant mother can negatively impact on the puppy's development; transitional (2 to 3 weeks), begins making simple associations and improved capabilities in operant and respondent conditioning and begins interacting with litter mates socially. Socialization period (2.5-3 to 9-13 weeks), development of important social relationships with mother, litter mates and humans; and Juvenile period (12 weeks to 6 months considered separate rather than combined as in Serpell and Jaogue (1995), development of various motor capabilities such as leg raised urination etc. and becomes less tolerant of novel stimuli. 

Communication behavior is social behavior just like any other behavior except that it is behavior that involves an interaction between individuals. Communication theory tends to emphasize the transmission of information from mind to mind via “signals.” A behaviorological approach rejects the communication theory constructs in favor of applying the laws and principles of behavior to these behaviors in the same way that any other behavior is exhibited.

Biological Context for Behavior (aka, Species Typical Behavior)  (Cat)

  • Turner, D. C., & Bateson, P. (Eds.). (2000). 2nd edition. The Domestic Cat The biology of its behaviour. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Biological Context for behavior (aka, Species Typical Behavior) (Parrot)

  • Blumstein, D.T. 2004, Avian risk assessment: effects of perching height and detectability, , vol. 110, pp. 273-285.Ethology
  • Brouwer, K., Jones, M.L., King, C.E. & Schifter, H. 2000, Longevity records for Psittaciformes in captivity, , vol. 37, pp. 299-316.International Zoo Yearbook
  • Collette, J.C., Millam, J.R., Klasing, K.C. & Wakenell, P.S. 2000, Neonatal handling of Amazon parrots alters the stress response and immune function, , vol. 66, pp. 335-349.Applied Animal Behaviour Science
  • Cornejo, J., Hilburn, J. & Gomez, J.R. 2005, Daily activity budget of captive and released Scarlet macaw at Playa San Josecito release site, Costa Rica, , vol. 39, pp. 161-168. International Zoo Yearbook
  • Diamond, J. & Bond, A.B. 2004, Social play in Kaka with comparisons to Kea, vol. 141, pp. 777-798.Behaviour
  • Field, D.A. & Thomas, R. 2000, Environmental enrichment for psittacines at Edinburgh Zoo, , vol. 37, pp. 232-237.International Zoo Yearbook
  • Fox, R.A. & Millam, J.R. 2004, The effect of early environment on neophobia in Orange-winged Amazon parrots, , vol. 89, pp. 117-129.Applied Animal Behaviour Science
  • Gajdon, G.K., Fijn, N. & Huber, L. 2004, Testing social learning in a wild mountain parrot, the Kea, , vol. 32, pp. 62-71.Learning & Behavior
  • Garner, J.P., Meehan, C.L., Thomas, R. F. & Mench, J.A. 2006, Genetic, environmental, and neighbour effects on the severity of stereotypies and feather picking in Orange-winged Amazon parrots: An epidemiological study, , vol. 96, pp. 153-168.Applied Animal Behaviour Science
  • Heinsohn, R., Murphy, S. & Legge, S. 2003, Overlap and competition for nest holes among Eclectus parrots, Palm Cockatoos and Sulphur-crested Cockatoos, , vol. 51, pp. 81-94.Australian Journal of Zoology
  • Hile, A.G., Burley, N.T., Coopersmith, C.B., Foster, V.S. & Striedter, G.F. 2005, Effects of male vocal learning on female behavior in the Budgerigar, , vol. 111, pp. 901-923.Ethology
  • King, C.E. 2000, Situation-dependant management of large parrots by manipulation of the social environment, , vol. 37, pp. 238-244.International Zoo Yearbook
  • Meehan, C.L. & Mench, J.A. 2002, Environmental enrichment affects the fear and exploratory responses to novelty of young Amazon parrots, , vol. 79, pp. 75-88.Applied Animal Behaviour Science
  • Meehan, C.L., Garner, J.P. & Mench, J.A. 2002, Isosexual pair housing improves the welfare of young Amazon parrots, , vol. 81, pp. 73-88.Applied Animal Behaviour Science
  • Meehan, C.L., Millam, J.R. & Mench, J.A. 2003, Foraging opportunity and increased physical complexity both prevent and reduce psychogenic feather picking by young Amazon parrots, , vol. 80, pp. 71-85.Applied Animal Behaviour Science
  • Meehan, C.L., Garner, J.P. & Mench, J.A. 2004, Environmental enrichment and development of cage stereotypy in Orange-winged Amazon Parrots, , vol. 44, pp. 209-218.Developmental Psychobiology
  • Mettke-Hofmann, C., Winkler, H. & Leisler, B. 2002, The significance of ecological factors for exploration and neophobia in parrots, , vol. 108, pp. 249-272.Ethology
  • Mettke-Hofmann, C., Wink, M., Winkler, H. & Leisler, B. 2005, Exploration of environmental changes relates to lifestyle, , vol. 16, no. 1, pp. 247-254.Behavioral Ecology
  • Millam, J.R. 2000, Neonatal handling, behaviour and reproduction in Orange-winged Amazons and Cockatiels, , vol. 37, pp. 220-231.International Zoo Yearbook
  • Renton, K. 2002, Seasonal variation in occurrence of macaws along a rainforest river, , vol. 73, pp. 15-19.Journal of Field Ornithology
  • Renton, K. 2004, Agonistic interactions of nesting and nonbreeding Macaws, , vol. 106, pp. 354-362.The Condor
  • Rowley, I. & Chapman, G. 1986, Cross-fostering, imprinting and learning in two sympatric species of cockatoo, , vol. 96.Behaviour
  • Seibert, L.M. & Cromwell-Davis, S.L. 2001, Gender effects on aggression, dominance rank, and affiliative behaviours in a flock of captive adult cockatiels, , vol. 71, pp. 155-170.Applied Animal Behaviour Science
  • Sheperdson, D.J. 2003, Environmental enrichment: past, present and future, , vol. 38, pp. 118-124.International Zoo Yearbook
  • Spoon, T.R., Millam, J.R. & Owings, D.H. 2007, Behavioural compatibility, extrapair copulation and mate switching in a socially monogamous parrot, , vol. 73, pp. 815-824.Animal Behaviour
  • Waugh, D.R. & Romero, G.S. 2000, Behaviour of Red-tailed Amazons during free mate choice in a communal aviary at Loro Parque Fundacion, Peurto de la Cruz, , vol. 37, pp. 206-213.International Zoo Yearbook
  • Westacott, D.A. & Cockburn, A. 1988, Flock size and vigilance in parrots, , vol. 36, pp. 335-349.Australian Journal of Zoology
  • Van Hoek, C.S. & King, C.E. 1997, Causation and influence of environmental enrichment on feather picking of the Crimson-bellied Conure, Zoo Biology, vol. 16, pp. 161-172.  

Functional Assessment

  • O'Heare, J. (2016). Problem Animal Behavior. Ontario: BehaveTech Publishing (Primary Source)

Behavior Change Procedures and Programming

  • O'Heare, J. (2016). Problem Animal Behavior. Ontario: BehaveTech Publishing (Primary Source)

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