Are you looking to advance your project management career and pass the CAPM exam? Are you wondering how to study for the CAPM exam to get a passing score? You have come to the right place.
The Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) exam is an entry-level certificate for individuals looking to advance their careers and prove their knowledge. We will not only provide you with tips on preparing for the exam, but we will even give you some must-have resources to help you prep.
All you have to do is keep reading to find all of that and more.
What Does the CAPM Cover?
When many workers think about project management certifications, the first one that comes to mind is generally the PMP. However, the PMI stipulates that not all new project managers may be able to fill when they first enter the profession. The CAPM covers that gap.
The CAPM is a knowledge-based exam, whereas the PMP is more practical. It aims to provide a way for students to showcase what they know about traditional project management and its various theories. Much like the PMP exam, each exam area is covered in depth in the PMBOK guide. However, before you can even think about sitting for the exam, you must acquire 23 contact hours.
If you are going to sit for the 150-question, 3-hour exam, you will need to be prepared. The CAPM exam questions cover a variety of topics within four domains. The domains can be found below in addition to the percentage they can be found on the exam.
- Business Analysis Frameworks 27%
- Predictive, Plan-Based Methodologies 17%
- Project Management Fundamentals and Core Concepts 36%
- Agile Frameworks/Methodologies 20%
The CAPM exam groups the information on the exam in 3 ways. This includes domains, tasks, and enablers. Each of the four project management domains is high-level and can be further drilled into for more context. Tasks are defined as the activities each domain will include, and enablers are the real-world examples associated with the task. You can see the domain and task breakdown below. All information is taken from the PMI content outline.
The largest domain is Project Management Fundamentals and Core Concepts (36%). This domain includes the following tasks:
- Demonstrate an understanding of the various project life cycles and processes
- Demonstrate an understanding of project management planning
- Demonstrate an understanding of project roles and responsibilities
- Determine how to follow and execute planned strategies or frameworks (e.g., communication, risks, etc.)
- Demonstrate an understanding of common problem-solving tools and techniques
Several enablers fall into this section, including using a risk register, comparing roles and responsibilities of the involved parties, and even determining the number and type of resources needed. These items are described in depth via the PMI Handbook.
Coming in second at 27% is the Business Analysis Framework. Though, as a PM, you do not do the work of a business analyst, it is important to understand what the Business Analyst does and how they support your efforts as a project manager. The tasks assigned to this domain include the following:
- Demonstrate an understanding of business analysis (BA) roles and responsibilities
- Determine how to conduct stakeholder communication
- Determine how to gather requirements
- Demonstrate an understanding of product roadmaps
- Determine how project methodologies influence business analysis processes
- Validate requirements through product delivery
One very important domain to understand to support your work in the field is the Agile Frameworks/Methodologies (20%) domain. To sufficiently work in an agile environment, you must know what it means to be agile and how your work changes because of it.
- Explain when it is appropriate to use an adaptive approach
- Determine how to plan project iterations
- Determine how to document project controls for an adaptive project
- Explain the components of an adaptive plan
- Determine how to prepare and execute task management steps
The exam covers the Predictive, Plan-Based Methodologies (17%) domain. This domain tests the user’s knowledge of calculating schedule variance and determining activities for discreet functions.
- Explain when it is appropriate to use a predictive, plan-based approach
- Demonstrate an understanding of a project management plan schedule
- Determine how to document project controls of predictive, plan-based projects
At a high level, this is the information the exam covers and can be found in the PMI Breakdown.
How Hard Is It to Take the CAPM?
Depending on your longevity in the field, the CAPM exam may be difficult but not impossible. The exam focuses on testing your ability to operate in the capacity of a project manager. It is often one of the first exams that students will encounter on their journey into project management since it is meant for individuals with zero to three years of experience.
Students have several options to ease some of their worries when it comes to preparing for the exam. The section below will go in-depth on preparing for the exam and what you should do before and after the CAPM exam.
How to Prepare for the CAPM Exam?
You can do several things to obtain a CAPM passing score. The list below includes a number of things you should do before the exam, as well as after the exam. This list also includes techniques to help you prepare for the act of sitting for the exam and what you can expect.
Before the CAPM Exam
1. Prepare for the Exam Structure
Before the CAPM exam, it is important to prepare yourself not only for the exam material but also for the structure of the exam. Students will be faced with a multitude of CAPM exam question types. These will include
- Point and Click – Test takers are given a scenario and an image in this question type. To answer the question correctly, a user must click the correct portion of the image. The portion selected will then be marked an ‘X.’
- Enhanced Matching – This area of the exam is drag and drop. Test takers will be given a scenario and asked to select the items that best fit the scenario.
- Animation Videos – This type of question mandates that a user watches a video before answering multiple-choice questions. Users will have the ability to start and stop the video as needed.
- Comic Strips – Another CAPM exam question type is the comic strip. Like traditional comics, the user will read a comic strip and answer questions.
2. Ensure You Meet the CAPM Prerequisites
One important thing you must ensure you complete before the exam is the 23 hours of education. In addition to your secondary education requirement, this must be met before sitting the exam. The PMI Project Management Basics course can meet the education portion. This course can be completed at your own pace or in an instructor-led course, virtually or in the classroom.
During the CAPM Exam
3. Pace Yourself
One of the most important things you can do during the exam is pace yourself. You will get one 10 minutes during your 3 hours. This break will appear on your screen after you have completed the first 75 questions. However, it is important to remember that once you get past these questions, you will not be able to go back and review them later.
5 Tips to Pass the CAPM Exam
If you’re still overwhelmed about taking the CAPM exam, use the tips below to help you get in the right mindset.
Use a Pre-Test or Exam Simulator
Using an exam simulator will help you develop a baseline for your knowledge. It will also aid you in creating a plan for studying. Focus your studying on the areas where you are struggling first.
There is no clear pass or fail point for the CAPM exam. However, students should aim for at least 70% to receive a passing score. To do this, you will need to answer over 105 questions accurately. It’s important to flag questions you are unsure about as you take the exam for review. This ensures that you can do one last check before you submit. Your score will be shown immediately.
Use Non-Traditional Methods
It’s easy for us to tell you to read the material and do the same things repeatedly. However, that learning style may not work for you. Youtube is another avenue in which you may find helpful resources. Several project managers dedicate their content to helping others pass the project management certification exams. Alvin, the PM, is one YouTuber who provides tips on how to pass the CAPM.
Make Sure You Know Your ITTO
Many students who have taken the exam have emphasized the importance of knowing your Inputs, Tools & Techniques, and Outputs. There are different ITTOs for each of the 49 processes. It’s important that you know what they are and how to apply them.
Create a Study Schedule
Since this is a professional exam, it is important that you allow ample time to prepare. It may be hard to grasp some concepts as you may be actively doing something different in your workplace. Create a schedule to help you stay on track with your studies and aid you in getting through the PMI basics course. Create your schedule with checkpoints to test your knowledge. At each checkpoint, update your study plan to fit your needs.
Best CAPM Exam Prep Resources
One of the most influential pieces of content that you can have for the exam is the PMBOK. The PMI writes it and is the foundational text used for the exam. All the material you need to be familiar with can be found in this book. Though it may not be your only resource, it should be your source of truth.
CAPM Exam Prep, 4th Edition by Rita Mulcahy
This Rita Mulcahy text has been a favorite amongst testtakers since its first edition. The book has tips, memorization games, and practice exam questions. Though it can be a bit pricey, it is certainly worth it. Most importantly, it is aligned with the PMBOK.
Though an untraditional resource, it is continuously recommended. The CAPM Pocket Prep Application is available on Apple and Android devices. It comes equipped with practice questions and the ability to build your exam, so you only study what you need help with. Test takers consider it a useful investment in the palm of their hands.
Wrapping Things Up: How to Study and Pass the CAPM Exam?
Passing the CAPM exam is not impossible; all you need to do is study a little bit. One of your greatest resources for this exam is the PMBOK. It has all the information that you need to pass. To obtain a CAPM passing score, scoring 70% or more is highly suggested and can be in your future.