Business Communication (PBL)

Category: Production & Objective Test
Type: Individual


Two (2) parts: a production test administered and proctored at a designated school-site prior to the NLC and a 60-minute objective test administered onsite at NLC. Competitors must complete both parts for award eligibility.

Production Test Competencies: Production of a Written Document in Proper Business Format

Objective Test Competencies: Mechanics of Appropriate Business English; Format and Appropriateness of Business Messages; Format and Style Differences with International Communications; Listening, Oral, and Nonverbal Concepts

Skills: This event provides recognition for members who demonstrate competencies in writing, speaking, and listening concepts


Event Specific

  • Production test will constitute 50% of final event score.
  • Objective test will constitute 50% of final event score.
Production & Objective Test

Production Test Guidelines

  • Documents produced for this event must be prepared by the competitor without help from the adviser or any other person.
  • Administration of the production test is determined by the state chair/adviser.
  • No calculators are allowed to be used on the production test.
  • The production test score will be used to break a tie.
  • Tests must be uploaded online by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on the third Friday in May.
  • Desktop Publishing—the finished product must be uploaded in PDF format by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on the third Friday in May. Label all documents with the event title, competitor’s name, state, and school.

Objective Test Guidelines

  • No materials may be brought to the testing site.
  • Financial calculators may be used for accounting, finance, and analysis & decision making events; for all other events, calculators will be provided.
  • Electronic devices must be turned off and out of sight.

The general event guidelines below are applicable to all national competitive events. Please review and follow these guidelines when competing at the national level. When competing at the state level, check the state guidelines since they may differ.


  • Dues: Competitors must have paid PBL national and state dues by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on April 15 of the current school year.
  • NLC Registration: Participants must be registered for the NLC and pay the national conference registration fee in order to participate in competitive events.
  • Deadlines: The state chair, or designee, must register each state competitor on the official online entry forms by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on the second Friday in May.
  • Each state may submit three (3) individuals in all events requiring only objective tests and two (2) individuals or teams for all events that require a pre-judged or performance component.
  • Each competitor can compete in two (2) events.
  • Each competitor must compete in all parts of an event for award eligibility.
  • A team shall consist of two or three members. Exceptions are Parliamentary Procedure which must be a team of four or five members, and LifeSmarts which must be a team of two members.

Repeat Competitors

Competitors are not permitted to compete in an event more than once at the national level unless one of the following circumstances applies:

  • Modified Events: A competitor may compete in the same event when the event is modified. Note, if the only modification is a name change, competitors may not compete in the renamed event.
  • Team Events: One (1) competitor of the team may have competed in the same event at one (1) previous NLC; however, they may not compete more than twice in the event at the national level.
  • Chapter Events: Competitors may compete in a chapter event more than once (Community Service Project).
  • Individual Entry: A competitor who competed as an individual entry in a team event at the national level may compete in the same event a second time as part of a team, but not a second time as an individual.
  • Parliamentary Procedure: Two (2) competitors of the team may have competed in this event at a previous NLC; however, they may not compete more than twice at the national level.
  • Pilot Event: Competition in a pilot event does not disqualify a competitor from competing in the same event if it becomes an official competitive event. The participant may compete in another event as well as a pilot event.

Breaking Ties

  • Objective Tests: Ties are broken by comparing the correct number of answers to the last 10 questions on the exam. If a tie remains, the competitor who completed the test in a shorter amount of time will place higher. If this does not break the tie, answers to the last 20 questions will be reviewed and determine the winner.
  • Objective and Production Tests: The production test scores will be used to break a tie.
  • Objective Tests and Performances: The objective test score will be used to break a tie based on the tie-breaking criteria of objective tests.
  • Reports/Projects and Performances: The report/project scores will be used to break a tie.
  • Performances: Judges must break ties and all judges’ decisions are final.

National Deadlines

  • State chair/adviser must register all competitors for NLC competitive events online by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on the second Friday in May.
  • All prejudged components (report PDFs, resume/letter of application PDFs, and project URLs) must be received by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on the second Friday in May.
  • All URLs and PDFs for prejudged projects and reports will be submitted by the state adviser via the competitive events registration form.
  • All production tests must be received at FBLA-PBL by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on the third Friday in May.
  • Desktop Publishing—the finished product must be uploaded in PDF format by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on the third Friday in May. Label all documents with the event title, competitor’s name, state, and school.
  • All production tests must be uploaded online.
  • State chair/adviser may make name changes only (no additional entries) by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on the first Friday in June. Competitor drops are the only changes allowed after this date and onsite.

National Awards

The number of competitors will determine the number of winners. The maximum number of winners for each competitive event is 10. Only one (1) award is given to the schools competing in chapter events (Community Service Project and Local Chapter Annual Business Report).

Additional Materials

  • Financial calculators may be brought to objective testing and used for any accounting, finance, or analysis & decision making events.
  • Certain events may allow the use of additional materials. Please refer to event guidelines.

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

FBLA‑PBL meets the criteria specified in the Americans with Disabilities Act for all participants who submit a special needs form.

Recording of Presentations

No unauthorized audio or video recording devices will be allowed in any competitive event. Participants in the performance events should be aware the national association reserves the right to record any performance for use in study or training materials.

Graduate Students

Graduate students may compete in all PBL events.


General Competitive Events Tips
Sample Practice Materials

Rating Sheet

Format Guide

Website Resources
Mechanics of Appropriate Business English
1. Describe and identify the eight parts of speech in context sentences.
2. Use a verb that correctly agrees with the subject of a sentence.
3. Describe the types of verbs and demonstrate the six tenses.
4. Use irregular verbs and their different forms properly and distinguish transitive and intransitive verbs.
5. Identify subjects, predicates, verbs, adverbs, pronouns, direct and indirect objects, and prepositional and infinitive phrases in sentences.
6. Recognize and correct problems in grammar and usage including, but not limited to, completeness, agreement, fragments, run on sentences, dangling modifiers, reference, and form.
7. Describe and write the four kinds of sentences—declarative, interrogative, imperative, and exclamatory.
8. Write clear, descriptive sentences in a variety of sentence patterns (e.g., simple, compound, complex, and compoundcomplex).
9. Write logical, coherent phrases, sentences, and paragraphs incorporating correct spelling, grammar, and punctuation.
10. Apply techniques for adapting the message to the audience and for developing effective sentences and unified and coherent paragraphs.
11. Determine appropriate use of all punctuation marks including periods, question marks, exclamation points, commas, colons, semi-colons, quotation marks, and apostrophes.
12. Define the grammatical rules that govern the use of special punctuation marks such as the dash, hyphen, and parentheses.
13. Identify how to capitalize sentences, proper nouns, abbreviations, adjectives, and titles correctly.
14. Proofread documents and identify spelling, grammatical, and punctuation errors.
15. Proofread and edit business documents to ensure they are clear, correct, concise, complete, consistent, and courteous including effective word choices and sentence structure.
16. Revise and proofread a message for organization, content, style, mechanics, format, and layout.
17. Recognize how word selection and usage effects communication including slang, jargon, and clichés.
18. Illustrate the proper way to divide words.
19. Illustrate the ability to use a dictionary and thesaurus as an aid to spelling, pronunciation, and meaning.
20. Apply spelling rules such as i before e, words ending in y, and homonyms and commonly confusing words such as effect and affect.
21. Use bias-free language (e.g., gender, race, religion, physical challenges, and sexual orientation).
22. Discuss the importance of proper spelling and grammar in all types of written communication.
Format and Appropriateness of Business Messages
1. Identify the five C’s of communication.
2. Discuss the role of letters, memos, and reports in business.
3. Manage telephone communications and use appropriate techniques to gather and record information.
4. Discuss communication techniques as they apply to internal and external customers.
5. Use an appropriate format and business writing style and apply conventions to Standard English.
6. Describe and demonstrate the stages of the writing process to include planning, writing, editing, proofreading, and revising.
7. Write and design a document (e.g., memo, letter, and report) using the correct style, format, and content (e.g., letter, memo, report, and e-mail) that is appropriate for the type of correspondence (e.g., persuasive, positive, and negative).
8. Construct technical information in a clear, concise, and objective manner for a specific audience, purpose, and method when communicating in writing.
9. Develop and maintain a professional writing skill that will reflect a clear understanding of the customer’s status with a detailed yet concise summarization of facts, comments, and notations.
10. Determine the type, content, and formatting of a document to write a given situation using appropriate style, tone, and grammar.
11. Produce letters, memos, e-mails, and reports that address specific tasks.
12. Conduct research using the five basic steps: planning the search, locating sources of information, organizing the information, evaluating the sources, and using the information to prepare a short report on a business topic.
13. Create and maintain a level of analytical skill to allow for effective research and data gathering leading to an effective decision.
14. Identify and utilize traditional and electronic research sources such as encyclopedias, reference manuals, periodicals, Internet, etc.
15. Document all sources (e.g., print and electronic) using current standards.
16. Comprehend copyright laws and their applications to text, visual art, design, music, and photography.
17. Use scanning hardware and layout, design, and graphics software to enhance documents.
18. Compose and evaluate common types of business reports including informational reports, news releases, proposals, and policy statements.
19. Write an effective formal report using assigned format and acceptable writing style.
20. Prepare presentation documents to include publicity, agendas, handouts, follow-up reports, etc.
21. Demonstrate and select the appropriate use of electronic messaging technologies (e.g., fax, voice mail, conference calls, chat rooms, and e-mail).
22. Manage e-mail to include composing and send e-mail, retrieving, reading and printing a message, and sending an attachment by e-mail.
23. Examine proper use of e-mail and other appropriate Internet/intranet communication capabilities, including business related terminology and language.
24. Discuss how e-mail can accentuate or detract from the professional image one is trying to project.
25. Discuss inappropriate use of e-mail at work.
26. Apply the etiquette rules for electronic messaging (e.g., e-mail, cellular telephone, and voice mail).
27. Discuss ways to keep data secure from theft and destruction.
Format and Style Differences with International Communications
1. Describe and analyze problems and barriers with differences in languages and customs on business operations.
2. Identify resources (Internet, etc.) for learning about cultural taboos and practices as they relate to international communication.
3. Describe and analyze the impact of cultural diversity on the communication process.
4. Demonstrate understanding of the rudiments of intercultural communication.
5. List examples of how nonverbal messages have different meanings in various cultures.
6. Explain the role of communication in international relations.
7. Identify international illustrations of social media trends and patterns.
Listening, Oral, and Nonverbal Concepts
1. Demonstrate effective active listening techniques and identify major barriers to listening.
2. Develop critical reading and listening skills to allow for rapid assimilation of facts and accurate recording of all essential details.
3. Identify and interpret the major types of verbal and nonverbal communication.
4. Discuss various methods of presentation delivery including oral, written, multimedia, teleconferencing, and interactive.
5. Design effective presentations to include multimedia components of presentation software packages.
6. Identify and evaluate different types of presentations to include information, persuasive, and debate.
7. Plan and make an oral presentation using proper techniques and basic speaking skills.
8. Express opinions and discuss issues positively and tactfully.
9. Describe and use effective interpersonal communication in one-on-one and small-group situations.


PBL Program of Study


States may submit up to 2 entries.
Competitors must be registered for NLC and pay registration fee.
Competitors must pay dues by 11:59 p.m. Eastern on April 15.


Test: 1 hour
Home-site Production Test: 30 min