10 things to know when preparing for your CAPM exam
For many people, the idea of taking the CAPM exam can be a little scary and overwhelming. Not to worry: We’re going to break it down here in ten easy steps to help you feel ready.
1. The basic facts
How much does it cost?
The 2021 cost is $225.00US for PMI Members and $300.00US for non-members of PMI.
Pro tip! PMI membership costs $129US per year, and if you become a member before taking the exam, you save a little on your exam fee and get access to resources that will help you prepare for the exam.
When and where can I take the exam?
If you take it online, you can choose pretty much any date, time, or location – it’s very flexible. You need to book in advance and be prepared to be video monitored by a live proctor during the online exam.
Note: The online proctored test is not available in some countries because of government sanctions. If you are in one of these countries and try to book online, you will not see any availability for online testing. In-person paper-based in-person exams are offered a few times a year in some countries where online isn’t an option. Check the PMI website for details.
To take the exam in person, check Pearson VUE’s website for the schedule at a location near you.
How long is the exam?
The exam is 150 questions long. It starts with a 15-minute tutorial followed by three hours to complete the exam, with no scheduled breaks.
Note: If you take the exam at a test center, you are permitted to take a break, but the clock keeps ticking during your break. Breaks are not allowed during the online exam for any reason, and leaving your desk will terminate the exam.
What questions are on the exam?
Questions are multiple-choice and follow the chapters of the PMBOK® Guide, with a set number of questions per chapter. See the CAPM Handbook for a breakdown.
2. Exam results and retakes
When do I get my results?
Right away, no waiting. Regardless of whether you take the exam in-person or online, you get your results immediately after you complete the exam.
What if I fail the exam?
Can I try again? You can take the exam up to three times in your one-year eligibility period, and fees are associated with re-examination. Details for re-examination can be found in the certification handbook – but who needs that stress? Our 100% pass guaranteed CAPM course will help you prepare, and make sure you pass the first time!
Don’t waste your time or money – study and prepare for the exam so you can be more confident of a good result.
3. How to prepare
If you haven’t done this already, check out the PMI’s CAPM Handbook. You’ll want to download, print, or bookmark it. It’s a handy overview, and reading it is one of PMI’s expectations before you take the exam.
Don’t miss the opportunity to use your 23 contact hours of required training to help you prepare for the exam. Our course counts, and that can check two boxes for you – meeting the eligibility requirement AND helping you prepare. Brain Sensei’s Complete CAPM Exam Prep Course includes interactive modules, practice questions and exams, content summaries, and self-assessments.
You also get access to a private Facebook group to ask questions if you get stuck, get support, and compare notes. It’s online so that you can do it anytime, anywhere, and it’s not dull. The unique storytelling and spaced repetition system (SRS) keep it exciting AND have better results.
With mini-quizzes and exams at the end of each module, you always know how you’re doing. And that’s not all: there are four complete practice exams, with questions and a format that mimics the actual CAPM exam, so you know you’re ready by exam day!
You’ll also need the A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide), published by PMI. With our prep course guiding you, you’ll only need to read specific sections, not the whole thing. This guide is written in PMI language and will be a great reference tool for areas where you need to dive deeper to be successful.
What comes next?
Just like with anything you tackle, you need a plan and a schedule. It might even help to think of it as a project: Set your objectives, identify your timeline, map out tasks and dependencies – and make sure you stick to your plan.
Tip: Most people who weren’t successful on their first try with the exam say that either they didn’t do enough practice tests, or they didn’t budget their time correctly.
4. Practice exams – aka “the secret ingredient to your success”
Nothing helps you know you’re ready like a practice exam.
When you’re doing your practice exams, approach them just like the “real thing.” Make sure you’re ready to focus for three solid hours to build your confidence for exam day. This simulation also gives you the chance to work out any wrinkles: Are you budgeting your time well?
If taking the exam online, practice in the space you’ll use on exam day. Is your chair comfortable? How’s the lighting in the room at the time of day you’re going to do the exam? Are your keyboard and mouse in good order?
5. Set-up requirements and location tips (online exam)
For the online exam, you need a reliable internet connection and a device with a webcam. Your webcam needs to stream video at a high resolution so the proctor can monitor and support you. This requirement is one reason the internet connection is so important: you are using it to take the exam, and the proctor is using it to monitor the exam. Complete system requirements are listed on Pearson Vue’s website.
Make sure you run the system tests before your exam, more than once. Some people find that a wired connection is more robust than a wireless connection. Also, in some home networks, you can even disable other connections while you’re in the zone (sorry, roomies, no Netflix!).
Once the exam and the clock start, there’s no stopping it. If you have technical difficulties, your proctor will do their best to help you, but the clock keeps ticking, and that time will be lost. So, make sure your technology is good before you start!
Try to find a quiet, private place with no distractions. Think about the time of day and factors like glare coming through windows onto your screen, your comfort sitting there for three hours, warmth or air drafts, or noisier times of day in the area you’re choosing.
Once the exam starts, no one can enter or be in the room, and you can’t talk, stand up, or move from your seat. During the check-in process, the proctor may ask to see the walls, floor space and desktop. This check confirms that you don’t have unauthorized aids, like books, notepads, post-it notes, papers, pens, pencils, or other writing instruments. Extra monitors must be unplugged, and other computers must be turned off. If you cannot complete this room scan, you might not be permitted to proceed or take the exam.
6. Exam logistics
It might come as a surprise that you’re not allowed any writing instruments, not even a blank page or scratchpad. There are digital tools, though: there’s a built-in calculator to help you get the numbers right AND a built-in whiteboard, where you can make notes, sketch, or work through your ideas.
Once you start the exam, your computer is locked down, and you won’t be able to browse the internet or use other applications. It’s just you, your brain full of information, and the exam!
Oh, and another thing that’s worth mentioning: no phones allowed during the exam. Let friends and family – and anyone else who might reach out and expect a quick response – know that you will be unreachable at that time.
7. Before the clock starts
Here are some tips before you sit down to set yourself up for success.
- Get a good night’s sleep. Don’t stay up late cramming! You already did the work. You studied and prepared. Being alert will help you navigate tricky questions.
- Ensure you’re well-hydrated and not hungry, but don’t drink too much water right before the exam – and use the bathroom before you settle in.
- Ensure your clothes are comfortable and suitable for sitting for long periods and at appropriate room temperature.
- Get into your space early. The online check-in is 30 minutes before the test start time, but it’s wise to give yourself extra time. Aim to be unplugged from the rest of the world. Get into the zone an hour before your exam starts. Use the time to adjust window blinds or the temperature, make sure your chair and desk are comfortable – not to mention giving yourself a chance for that last-minute bathroom break or snack before you get started.
8. Once you get going …
Chances are your exam prep included a lot of practice questions and exams, and you developed some strategies that will help you on exam day.
Your exam prep was probably online, just like the exam. By the time you sit down, you will have done a lot of tests and questions. Let the familiarity help you feel comfortable.
9. Manage your pace
Just as you had a strategy to study for your exam, budget your exam time. Three hours sounds long, but it can pass by quickly, and you need to use your time wisely.
If you’re prone to rushing when nervous, take a moment once every ten questions or so and take a couple of slow, deep breaths. This exercise helps your brain have the oxygen it needs and may help you focus. The more relaxed you are, the better you’ll do.
If you learned during your practice exams that you struggle to complete the entire exam in three hours, keep track of your pace so you can adjust if you need to. You may want to check the time every 10 or 20 questions. Simple math suggests that 150 questions in three hours are just over a minute per question. Some questions will be faster and slower, so try to budget in chunks, such as 10 minutes for every 10 questions or 20 minutes for every 20, plus or minus 1 or 2 questions.
10. Most important thing to remember
You worked hard to get to this point. Don’t let your nerves get in the way. People who don’t pass often say either they didn’t prepare enough – which isn’t you because you’re doing this research to ensure you’re ready – or they ran out of time during the exam. Both of those are 100% within your control. You’ve got this!