CAPM Certification Exam Study Guide

graphic for title: capm certification introduction

What is Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM®)?

PMI® provides an entry level certification in project management for project management team members called Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM® Certification). This is specially tailored for project management individuals who do not have the project experience required for the Project Management Professional (PMP®) Certification (Project managers should aim for the PMP® Credential if they have got the required experience.)

Applicants passing the CAPM® Certification examination are certified for the understanding of the fundamental knowledge, terminology and processes of project management according to the PMBOK® Guide (A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge) framework.

Who is the CAPM® Certification for?

Project management practitioners with no or some years of project management experience could take advantage of the CAPM® Certification to:

  • demonstrate the commitment to the career project management
  • enhance the understanding of project management knowledge and terminology
  • work in organization where the PMBOK® Guide is practiced
  • improve the ability to manage larger and more complex projects
  • stand out among peers

To apply for the CAPM® Certification, one need to have:

  • A secondary degree or above (high school diploma or the global equivalent) AND
  • At least 1,500 hours of project experience OR 23 contact hours of project management education before sitting the CAPM® exam.

The CAPM® Exam and Application

Applicants can register and log in the online registration system on the Project Management Institute (PMI®) at pmi.org to apply for the CAPM® examination and to pay for the exam fee. Currently the exam fee for PMI® members is $225 while that for non-members is $300. You may also apply using a printable CAPM® application form. PMI® would select applicants for a random audit of their application. Selected applicants would be required to submit proofs of their education background, project management experience or education (the Contact Hours). The exam must be taken within one year of submission of exam fee or passing the audit, whichever is later.

It is advised to apply to become a member of PMI® for an annual fee of $125. In addition to the discount of $75 for the CAPM® examination fee, you can also download an electronic copy of the PMBOK® Guide and gain free access to tons of project management templates, seminars and e-books.

The exam syllabus is mainly based on the PMBOK® Guide 5th edition (same as the for the PMP® Credential). Yet, unlike the PMP® Certification exam which focus on the application of project management knowledge in situational scenarios, most of the CAPM® questions are directly related to the input, tools & techniques and outputs of different project management processes. Memorization of PMBOK® Guide important facts would be required.

The CAPM® examination is usually administrated through a computer-based system. Under special circumstances, paper-based examinations would be arranged. It is a 3-hour long examination consisting of 150 multiple choice questions (15 are considered pretest questions for research purpose and will not be countered towards the final score of the candidate). Candidates are required to choose the correct or the best answer among 4 choices. The distribution of the questions are allocated as follows:

table showing capm certification question distribution

The candidate will get an overall pass or fail grade to the CAPM® Certification exam. Individual proficiency levels (proficient, moderately proficient or below proficient) would be assigned to each chapter of the PMBOK® Guide. Candidates are allowed up to two re-examination during the 1-year validity period for a fee of $150 (members) or $200 (non-members).

Validity of the CAPM® Certification

The CAPM® certification is valid for 5 years. No professional development units (PDUs) are required during this period. Holders need to re-exam in order to renew the CAPM® Credential.

How to Prepare for the CAPM® Certification

Preparing for the CAPM® is very similar to preparing for the PMP® Certification. The study materials one would need are listed below:

  1. The PMBOK® Guide is almost a must as it is the syllabus for the exam.
  2. An CAPM® exam prep reference book. You might search for books specially for the CAPM® exam or you might purchase a book for both PMP® and CAPM® exam. The former option allows you to have a more focused study for the CAPM® exam while the latter will give you a more fruitful result as you can understand how the PMBOK® Guide processes are adopted in real-life project situations. You might refer to the posts here for an informed choice.
  3. CAPM® prep course. Though PMI® requires CAPM® candidates to have 21 contact hours for the CAPM® exam, it is more cost effective to purchase a project management education course for 35 contact hours as you will be qualified for both the CAPM® and PMP® examination.  There are many great online CAPM®/PMP® courses which explain the PMBOK® Guide concepts clearly and in an more interesting way.

Almost everyone sitting for the CAPM® Certification want to obtain the PMP® Certification in due course. Don’t waste your time and money on the CAPM®-only materials, purchase study courses and prep books for both the CAPM® and PMP® exam to help you get a head start towards your PMP® dream!