Computer Applications (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: Creating a database and applying various functions; Creating a spreadsheet and applying various functions; Preparing text slides with graphics; Bar, line, pie, exploded pie, & stacked bar business graphics; Word processing

Objective Test Competencies: Basic Computer Terminology and Concepts; Document Formatting Rules and Standards; Grammar, Punctuation, Spelling, and Proofreading; Related Computer Application Knowledge; Netiquette

Skills: This event provides recognition for PBL members who can most efficiently demonstrate computer application skills.


Event Specific

  • Production test will constitute 80% of final event score.
  • Objective test will constitute 20% 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
Event Tips
Sample Practice Materials

Format Guide

Website Resources
Basic Computer Terminology and Concepts
1. Use and understand basic computer terminology
2. Identify the many uses of computers.
3. Describe the three basic elements of data processing (e.g., input, process, and output).
4. Explain the purpose, operation, and care of hardware components.
5. Describe the purpose of an operating system.
6. Install, configure, optimize, and upgrade operating software and application software on computers and other portable devices.
7. Identify tools, diagnostic procedures, and troubleshooting techniques for components and operating systems for personal computers, laptops, and portable devices.
8. Apply basic commands and navigate the operating system including such things as creating backups and determining memory and disk space.
9. Input data and commands using peripherals (e.g., keyboard, light pen, mouse, scanner, and voice recognition).
10. Manage file storage through the use of file and disk management techniques such as copy, move, store, rename, retrieve, save, delete, compress, decompress, and create/manipulate folders and directories.
11. Demonstrate ability to use a variety of search engines to search and navigate hypertext documents and to download files.
12. Use Internet search engines and understand their advantages and disadvantages.
13. Evaluate the accuracy, relevance, and comprehensiveness of information retrieved from the Web.
14. Identify the different parts of a browser window (e.g., pull-down menus, toolbar, address box, status bar, scroll bar, close button, maximize and minimize buttons, and title bar).
15. Analyze emerging technologies used by business and industry.
16. Identify the fundamental principles and basic concepts of installing, configuring, optimizing, and upgrading printers and scanners.
17. Identify tools and diagnostic procedures to troubleshoot printers and scanners and perform basic printer functions (e.g., load paper, change cartridge, repair paper jam, etc.).
18. Identify and use appropriate resources to obtain assistance (e.g., Help menu, manuals, and Web sites).
19. Evaluate advantages and disadvantages of various processing, storage, retrieval, and transmission technologies.
20. Describe the purpose of computer networking.
21. Identify the fundamental principles and basic concepts of networks including installing, configuring, optimizing, and upgrading.
22. Identify network devices, including network connectivity hardware, and describe their functions.
Document Formatting Rules and Standards
1. Apply basic formatting procedures and manipulate data in letters, reports, simple tables, spreadsheets, graphics, graphs and charts, and databases.
2. Apply paragraph alignments of left, center, right, and justify to documents.
3. Set character, line, and paragraph spacing options such as single, 1.5, double space, and special spacing before or after the paragraph.
4. Use indentation options (e.g., left, right, first line, and hanging).
5. Add borders and shading to tables, paragraphs, and pages using a variety of borders and shading in color and patterns.
6. Create and use horizontal and vertical lines of various types and sizes to separate and emphasize.
7. Change the margins for a selection or section of the text and/or a document (e.g., left, right, top, and bottom).
8. Change a document to use portrait/landscape orientation.
9. Enhance documents by using different fonts, font sizes, and features such as bold, italics, caps, and underline.
10. Demonstrate the use of character formatting features (e.g., bold, underline, italics, font styles and sizes, superscript, and subscript).
11. Demonstrate the use of paragraph formatting features (tabs, indentations, line spacing, and enumerated items)
12. Demonstrate the use of page formatting features (e.g., margins, justification, vertical placement, orientation, page breaks, headers, and footers).
Grammar, Punctuation, Spelling, and Proofreading
1. Use correct grammar, spelling, and punctuation when producing documents.
2. Utilize appropriate functions and references for spelling, grammar, and proofreading.
3. Use appropriate capitalization, punctuation, and number expression rules to produce mailable documents.
4. Proofread documents to ensure correct grammar, spelling, and punctuation.
5. Apply language rules, proofreader’s marks, and reference materials when editing copy.
6. Preview a document prior to printing.
7. Edit documents using techniques such as delete, insert, typeover, block, move, and copy
8. Use the hyphenation feature to automatically hyphenate words when needed.
9. Use the find/search and replace feature to edit a document.
10. Use spell and grammar check in reviewing documents.
11. Use the thesaurus to find synonyms.
12. Set widow/orphan protection in a document.
13. Demonstrate document editing skills using spell/grammar check, thesaurus, search/replace, and other document properties.
Related Computer Application Knowledge
1. Use help features and reference materials to learn software and solve problems.
2. Use word processing software to create, retrieve, format, and edit business documents such as letters, memoranda, reports, tables, and résumés in mailable form.
3. Explain the purpose, function, and common features of commonly used word processing programs.
4. Define spreadsheet terminology (e.g., cell, row, column, range, label, value, formula, function, worksheet, relative, absolute, and legend).
5. Create, edit, save, and print worksheets using spreadsheet commands, functions, and formulas.
6. Design and enhance worksheets by inserting, deleting, moving, and copying columns and rows.
7. Use electronic spreadsheet to create, save, print, modify, and obtain graphs and appropriate charts with titles and legends.
8. Explain the purpose, function, and features of commonly used spreadsheets.
9. Rename, rearrange, and manipulate multiple worksheets in a workbook.
10. Use an electronic spreadsheet program to enhance the appearance of a spreadsheet by changing fonts, foreground, and background colors, and centering text across columns.
11. Define database terminology (e.g., query, DBMS, field, record, file, and data type).
12. Explain the purpose, function, and features of commonly used databases.
13. Plan and create a database.
14. Enter data and edit fields and records for a particular situation.
15. Query, sort, prioritize, merge, and retrieve data from databases.
16. Use a database management program to create, format, maintain, and print reports and tables from a simple relational database.
17. Describe the purpose of presentation software.
18. Identify components of a presentation program (e.g., layout views, slide, toolbars, and dialog box).
19. Use presentation software to create a presentation with multiple types of slides incorporating effective use of text, graphics, fonts, builds, preset animation, and transitions.
20. Use presentation software to include diagrams, color and graphic modifications, animation schemes, custom backgrounds, action buttons, hyperlinks, sound, video, and speaker notes.
21. Deliver presentation with supporting materials.
22. Identify the types and purposes of different utility programs (e.g., virus, adware and spyware detection programs, etc.).
23. Create visual communications involving text and graphic data (e.g., brochures, pamphlets, fliers, and newsletters).
24. Utilize graphic manipulation techniques (e.g., wrap text, Word Art) to insert visual aids into document.
25. Save cropped or modified images in different file formats.
26. Demonstrate input of data and graphics from various sources (e.g., Web, scanner, digital camera).
27. Design, create, edit, and format Web pages incorporating various types of media (e.g., text, image, video, and audio).
28. Discuss different types of software, general concepts related to software categories, and the tasks to which each type of software is most suited or not suited.
29. Demonstrate file management skills and perform basic software configuration operations (e.g., install new software, compress and expand files as needed, and download files as appropriate).
30. Identify how applications interact and share data.
31. Demonstrate the ability to access a variety of software applications using the graphical user interface (GUI) features (e.g., the ability to have multiple applications open at any given time and switch from application to application).
32. Explain driver software, locate driver software from appropriate sources, and download.
33. Identify network applications (e.g., fax, voice mail, online services, and e-mail).
34. Use OCR software to manipulate, convert, save, and insert an image or text into a document.
35. Complete workplace applications that integrate word processing, spreadsheet, database, and multimedia software.
36. roduce documents integrating and manipulating graphic files and multimedia with other application software.
37. Produce documents integrating sound files with other application software if technology is available.
38. Research applications for new and emerging technologies (e.g., on-screen writing, speech recognition, smart phones, PDA’s, scanning, voice mail, digital imaging, touch screens, voice output, and biometrics).
1. Identify the elements of professional and effective electronic communications (e.g., timely responses, correct spelling and grammar, appropriate level of formality, etc.).
2. Examine proper use of e-mail and other appropriate Internet/intranet communication capabilities, including business related terminology and language.
3. Explain the concept of copyright laws and their applications to text, visual art, design, music, and photography.
4. Recognize the legal implications of violating federal and state laws in multimedia/digital publishing.
5. Identify appropriate uses for different communication methods (e.g., e-mail, instant messaging, teleconference, and syndication).
6. Identify the common problems associated with electronic communication (e.g., delivery failure, junk mail, spam, fraud hoaxes, viruses, etc.).
7. Identify effective procedures for ensuring the safe and effective use of electronic communication including netiquette, understanding company policies, and following guidelines.
8. Identify appropriate use of e-mail attachments and other supplementary information (e.g., large attachments, embedding a URL, security issues, etc.).


PBL Program of Study
Computer Software


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: 2 hours