✪ The 4 Elements you need to Ace the CAPM® Exam ✪

Are you interested in a career in project management? Are you looking for a way to gain believability with project managers and employers?

By Markus

October 29, 2021 -   minutes read

October 29


Are you interested in a career in project management? 

Are you looking for a way to gain believability with project managers and employers?

Then taking the "Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)®" exam should be on your "to-do" list. 

The CAPM® exam is developed and administered by the Project Management Institute (PMI)® and provides recognition of individuals who are just starting their career or are interested in project management.

Those who pass the CAPM®  have demonstrated knowledge of "A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide)."

That may seem like a lot for someone just starting in project management, but don't worry. In contrast, the material may seem overwhelming; a few critical factors to consider when preparing to earn your CAPM®  certificate successfully.

Understanding the exam eligibility requirements, learning the project management principles, developing a solid study plan, sticking to it, and practicing exam-taking strategies are essential components for CAPM® exam success.

Critical Element #1: Eligibility Requirements

The CAPM® is designed for those interested in or just starting in the project management field.

The eligibility requirements are minimal; however, you still need to understand what they are before applying.
There are two options for eligibility, and the base for both is the requirement to have a secondary diploma (high school diploma / global equivalent).
Beyond the base requirement of a secondary diploma, one option has project experience, and the other option has formal education.

The project experience option requires 1,500 hours of professional hours on a project team. If you select this option, you will need to report on your work on projects within the five project management process groups (Initiating, Planning, Executing, Monitoring and Controlling, and Closing), summarizing your experience for each project.
Each project should be individually recorded, no matter how many projects you have worked on.

The formal education option requires 23 contact hours of formal education. If you select this option, you need to record hours spent on learning objectives in project management such as project scope, quality, cost, time, human resources, procurement, communications, risk, and integration management.

You can gain these 23 hours through several avenues to include PMI® Authorized Training Partners (ATPs), PMI Chapters, employer-sponsored programs, training companies, distance learning companies, and university or college programs.

One thing to keep in mind is one hour of classroom training equates to one contact hour. For example, taking a university course that meets three hours a week for 15 weeks will earn 45 contact hours. Another note on contact hours is they must be completed before the time of your exam.

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To learn more about the requirments and the application process please refer to the CAPM Credential Handbook:

"The  CAPM® Credential Handbook  should be the first stop for anyone who intends to become a CAPM."

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Critical Element #2: Learning Project Management Principles

Specific principles addressed in the CAPM® exam include learning project management and processes in context and integration, scope, time, cost, quality, human resource, communication, risk, procurement, and stakeholder management. 

Each of these principles is covered in "A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide)." You must understand them individually and how they work together to ensure overall success in project management. 

You may be wondering that we are not referencing the current PMBOK Guide 7th Edition here, which PMI published in the summer 2021. 

Until further notice, the PMBoK Guide 6th edition is still the authoritative reference for the CAPM® exam. 

We will inform you about possible changes here. 

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Critical Element #3: Developing a solid plan to study for the exam & sticking to it

As with all standardized exams, the CAPM® covers a wide variety of material in a relatively short period.
Don't be discouraged!

Remember that careful planning and structure are essential to your exam success.
It is crucial to develop a Study Plan to reduce the material into manageable portions. People often find they work well with a structured exam preparation course that provides focused instruction over a specific timeline.
If you select the formal education option for meeting the eligibility requirements, you can use this coursework to help give structure to your study plan.
Just remember, if you select an online course, make sure it has an end-of-the-course assessment with a written certification of participation and completion of required hours of instruction.

The CAPM® exam consists of 150 questions to be answered in three hours.
Questions on the exam fit into the following categories:

  • understating project management and processes in context (15%)
  • integration management (12%)
  • scope management (11%)
  • time management (12%)
  • cost management (7%)
  • quality management (6%)
  • human resource management (8%)
  • communication management (6%)
  • risk management (9%)
  • procurement management (7%)
  • and stakeholder management (7%)

Many people often divide up their study time similarly, dedicating more hours to those topics that are tested more heavily. Others take practice exams, note specific weak areas in their knowledge, and focus more review time on those topics.

When developing your study plan, make sure it is suited to match your strengths and weaknesses as well as your test timeline.

Create a realistic plan with a manageable schedule of material you wish to cover each day.
Most resources recommend spending one to two hours a day for four to eight weeks in preparation.

You can approach developing a plan like a mini-project where weekly goals are set and track progress. As part of creating your study plan, don't forget to plan time for external commitments and responsibilities.
Also, schedule some downtime and breaks to keep from burning out.

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Critical Element #4: CAPM Exam-Taking Strategy

The CAPM® exam consists of 150 multiple-choice questions completed on a computer at a Prometric testing center.

The exam begins with a 15-minute tutorial, followed by three hours for exam.
The 150 questions also include 15 pretest questions that are not graded and used for future exams.
You will not be allowed to take anything into the exam but will be given paper and pens to jot down thoughts and notes during the exam.
The exam is provided in English only, but if English is your second language, several language aids are available.

Practice exams are available on many exam preparation websites.
Practice exams help familiarize you with the style and format of the questions and allow you to practice taking a three-hour exam.

It is generally recommended that a consistent score above 75% on practice tests is a strong indicator of success on the real exam. Assess your progress each week to determine how confident you feel in each subject area. Half the battle is already won if you go into the exam gallop with confidence on exam day.

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Specific tips for exam day include sleeping well the night before, eating a healthy breakfast, dressing comfortably, and arriving early.

Before the exam begins, many use the paper provided to write down formulas, lists of processes with their inputs and outputs, and tools and techniques useful during the exam.
Breaks are not included in the three hours allotted for the exam but plan for one or two.
Don't waste too much time on a single question; mark it for review and move on if you get stuck.

If you follow these four simple steps, you won't waste your valuable time, and the CAPM® exam cost.

Successful completion of the CAPM® exam depends on your ability to understand and apply project management principles, prepare thoroughly with a solid study plan, and smoothly balance everything on a stressful exam day.

Preparation is the key to reducing stress and guaranteeing success.

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