(804) 303-8915

Please leave a detailed message if we do not answer; we may be teaching!

A common question that we are asked about course formats is “Why are there two on-line choices?” In this post, we will attempt to explain the differences between the Precourse Work and the HeartCode offerings.

Precourse Work

Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) classes and Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS) classes require almost 6-8 hours of videos to be presented. Prior to the 2020 updates, this meant that an initial ACLS class or PALS class would take 2 days, and an update class would take at least one entire 8-hour day in the case of ACLS or a 10-hour two-day course in the case of PALS.

This is where the precourse work comes in. Instead of sitting in a classroom for 6-8 hours watching video after video, the AHA precourse work option allows a student to watch the videos on their own time and at their own pace. This option means that the in-person classroom time is more focused on questions, mentoring or tutoring, practical skills, and written examination.

This preloading of the videos at the student’s leisure means that an initial class takes about 6-8 hours of in-person time and a renewal class takes about 4-6 hours.


The AHA Heartcode model differs from the Precourse work in two major ways.

  1. The Heartcode is not only the videos but is also the written exam, all bundled online.
  2. The Heartcode requires only practical skills practice and testing during the in-person session, referred to as a Skills Session or Skills Check.

The Heartcode is an adaptive learning system, meaning that the more you get right, the less you have to do. If you can demonstrate cognitive mastery, then the minimum set of videos is presented to you. Once you finish the Heartcode on-line work, and fill out the AHA survey about the class, you get a certificate that you can present for the in-person session.

This model of course significantly shortens the in-person session to just the time needed for a student to practice and then show proficiency with the practical skills.

An ACLS Skills Session or a PALS Skills Session lasts approximately one hour for most students. This incredibly reduces the student’s in-person time and is a terrific option for busy students who can’t afford half or almost a full-day in classes.

Because of the concentration of the in-person Skills Session to exhibit mastery of the practical skills, the Heartcode is, from our student experiences, not appropriate for most initial providers.


The Heartcode and Precourse Work are both on-line options to provide flexibility for the students and efficiency of certification. The Heartcode includes the written exam and requires only a physical skills assessment following. The Precourse Work only provides the video learning and a self-assessment prior to an instructor led course.

Drop us a line!

This field is optional
Email is not always reliable. We will contact you only once about your inquiry.