The Project Management Institute (PMI) offers several certifications for those who are looking to become certified in project management. Even if you don’t have a lot of knowledge or education in project management, you can still apply and take an exam to become certified. The Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) exam is recommended for those who don’t have as much project management experience as those with a Project Management Professional (PMP) certification. It is considered an entry-level exam for those who are knowledgeable of project management processes and terminology.
Taking and passing the CAPM exam is a smart move for those who already have project management experience, are changing careers or even those who have no project management experience whatsoever. It can be taken by anyone who wants to learn more about project management, move into a project management role, take on more responsibility or stand out to potential employers.
The CAPM exam requires a high school diploma and either 1,500 hours of project management experience or 23 hours of education in project management. The application, which can be filled out online, will ask for this information. If you are claiming 1,500 hours of project experience, the projects must be recorded individually, not grouped. You will need to record the number of hours worked on each project, as well as summarize your experience with each project. You must also apply the hours to one or more of the five process groups within project management: initiating, planning, executing, monitoring and controlling, and closing.
If you choose project management education to fulfill your requirement, you will need to be aware of which types of education and activities count toward the 23-hour requirement. The education must address learning project management skills and objectives. The course content may include training on project quality, cost, time, scope, communications, risk, human resources, integration and procurement. The education must be administered by one of the following six types of education providers: PMI-registered education providers, PMI component organizations, company-sponsored programs, training schools, distance-learning companies and college or continuing education programs. You are not allowed to count PMI meetings or self-directed learning (such as reading books or watching instructional videos) toward the requirement.
Once you start the application, you have 90 days to submit it. It cannot be cancelled, but you can come back and edit it or add information during that 90-day period. It can be mailed in or submitted online. Before you submit the application, you will need to review some forms regarding ethics and professional conduct. If you submit it online, it is reviewed within 24 hours. It can take up to 10 days if you submit it through the mail. Once your application is deemed to be complete, you will receive an e-mail requesting payment. You must pay the registration fee before scheduling an exam. Fees range from $225-300, depending on whether or not you are a PMI member. The exam is administered primarily by computer, unless you have special circumstances.
After you submit your application for registration, there is a chance your application may be randomly selected to go through an audit. This is when PMI asks that you submit your high school diploma, signatures of managers who can verify the projects you worked on and evidence of the project management classes and training you received. You are given 90 days to submit the requested materials. PMI reviews the submitted materials. If you complete the audit successfully, you will be eligible to take the exam. If you fail the audit, you will be given a refund, minus a $100 fee.
Certified Associate in Project Management Exam Preparation
The Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) exam can be a challenging exam, even for those who have an extensive amount of project management experience. That’s why it’s important to be fully prepared on the day of the exam. There are a variety of resources available online to help you gauge your knowledge and determine your strengths and weaknesses. Taking advantage of these resources is in your best interest if you want to pass the first time.
Many websites offer online courses that you can take not only to study for the CAPM exam, but to receive continuing education credits as well. These courses can be expensive ($100 or more), but they are a good way to receive a comprehensive knowledge of project management skills and terms in a short period of time. Once you receive a login and password, you can access the courses any time you want, 24/7, anywhere you have an Internet connection. You can often choose from types of areas of project management from which to receive training. There are courses available in soft skills (such as leadership, communication and team building), advanced project management topics or even Microsoft Office programs (such as Project or Word). These types of courses generally include modules that you can print for later, as well as glossaries, references and follow-up activities that will help you obtain a passing score on the CAPM exam. Technical support is available to help you with computer or access issues.
Another resource you should consider when studying for the CAPM exam is an exam simulator. These are often available online for a free trial period. These are good for those who want to try out a study method without an obligation to purchase anything. Exam simulators allow you to take practice exams anywhere you have access to an Internet connection. They mimic a real CAPM exam, with more than 700 questions to be tested on and detailed score reports after each exam is completed. Just like the real thing, the exams are based on A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) – Fourth Edition. You can also choose to study based on the knowledge areas you need to improve upon. You can take the exams as many times as you want during the free trial period. Some simulators also include games to help you study more efficiently.
If you don’t mind shelling out some money to pay for other types of study aids, there are many available, such as flashcards, study guides and full-length practice exams. These can be costly, but they are comprehensive and give you a good idea of what to expect on the exam. Practice exams are similar to a real exam, but they also include detailed scores and diagnostics so you can determine your strengths and weaknesses. Study guides generally include tips and ideas to help you learn the material faster, as well as help you apply the concepts and terminology to the exam. Plus, you learn how to analyze the questions and possible answers so you can eliminate incorrect ones quickly. In addition, some study aids also include time management tips so you can learn to complete the test in the allotted time without stressing or panicking.
Certified Associate in Project Management Exam Procedures
The Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) exam consists of 150 multiple-choice questions. Fifteen of these questions are pre-test questions that are not scored, meaning that only 135 of the questions are counted in the total score. Although pencil-and-paper testing is available, it is done only in limited circumstances. Almost all CAPM exams are done via computer. You can only take an exam via paper and pencil if you live more than 186.5 miles from a computer testing site or in the case of employers wanting to administer the test to their employees. You are given three hours to complete the exam. There are no breaks given during the exam; however, you can take a break if needed.
The test questions are based on twelve chapters from the book A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) – Fourth Edition. They are chosen based on frequency and importance. Although the CAPM is administered in English, there are language aides for the questions and answers available for assistance. If you require special accommodations, you will need to indicate this during the registration or payment process. You will also need to provide medical documentation verifying that your condition impairs your ability to take the exam.
Once payment is received, PMI will e-mail you instructions about how to schedule your exam. It is recommended that you schedule your exam as far ahead in advance in possible because seating is limited and therefore cannot be guaranteed. Plan to schedule an exam at least six weeks in advance. Exam scheduling can be done online or via telephone.
Cancelling and rescheduling computer-based tests needs to be done at least 48 hours before the scheduled exam. For pencil-and-paper tests, 35 days notice is required. Failure to do so will result in no refund; in addition, you’ll have to pay the exam fee again. The only exceptions are special circumstances such as medical emergency, death or illness in the immediate family, military deployment or natural disaster. In these situations, you have up to 72 hours after the scheduled exam date to provide PMI with an explanation and supporting documentation.
At the exam site, you will be required to provide a form of identification, such as a driver’s license, passport or military ID. You must also bring your PMI eligibility ID, given to you after your registration is processed. Be prepared to arrive 30 minutes before the exam time. Do not bring anything to the exam area. Calculators, pencils and notepads will be provided. For computer-based tests, results are printed and provided immediately following the exam. You will receive a pass/fail status, as well as diagnostic information. Each chapter is assigned a proficiency indicator – Below Proficient, Moderately Proficient and Proficient. Those taking paper-based exams will receive their results in 6-8 weeks.
If you do not pass the CAPM the first time, you have two additional attempts within the one-year eligibility period. Use the diagnostic information provided in the test results to determine your areas of weakness. You should spend some time focusing on improving these areas before registering for another exam date.