PMI (CAPM)®- Certified Associate in Project Management

CAPM is an acronym that stands for Certified Associate in Project Management. It is a credential that is offered by PMI (Project Management Institute). This certification programme is designed for those who have less project experience. It is a certification meant for entry level for the project practitioners. CAPM is a certification which is already very popular among the project practitioners. Its popularity is increasing with each passing day. More and more individuals are taking up the certification programme. The programme is very helpful for all the individuals who want to make a name for themselves in the field of project management. In this competitive age, the companies look out for the best that they can among their employees, therefore, with this widely recognised certification, the individuals make sure that they have a better chance at getting their dream job as a project manager. CAPM is a certification programme that is widely regarded as one of the best certifications that a potential project manager should take up. This is the reason that more and more individuals are taking up this certification programme. In November 2013, there were approximately 25,000 active CAPM certified individuals in the entire world. This number is becoming bigger and bigger by the day.

As mentioned above, the certification programme is an entry level one. It is for the individuals who are interested in making a career in the field of project management or are just starting in this industry. It is also for the individuals who are already in the project management industry and want to demonstrate their project management skills. It is also beneficial for the individuals who are already working as part of a project management team and contributing their specialized skills to the team as it helps them to align their work with that of the project managers. Moreover, this certification is a big asset to the CV of a person. The students who have a CAPM designation are bound to enjoy a very high level of credibility from PMP (Project Management Professional) certification holders, employers, peers and project managers.

Who should take up this certification programme?

Anybody who works in the field of project management or dreams of getting a job in this field should do this certification programme. This certification programme is a really big asset for a person. Regardless of the career stage of a person, the Certified Associate in Project Management is something that will help you not just do well at your job, but it will distinguish you in the job market. It is a certification programme that enhances your credibility and effectiveness. In the simplest of words, the programme makes you certified. Before doing this, even if you are best at your job, nobody will believe it unless you prove it. But when you are certified with a widely recognised credential like Certified Associate in Project Management, you are always looked at as someone who is really good at his job. Overall, this certification programme is a really beneficial one. Anybody who has a little experience as a project practitioner and is looking to demonstrate his commitment and dedication to project management should do this. If you want to improve your abilities drastically and want to manage larger projects and earn additional responsibility, you should take up this. Moreover, if you want your CV to stand out from the others and get the job, you should take up this certification programme.

How is this beneficial?

Although this certification programme does not tell the managers and recruiters that you have some experience of directing and leading projects. There are other certifications available to do this job for you. What this certification does is it shows the recruiters that you are fully dedicated to getting a job in project management. If you wouldn’t have been dedicated to the career, you wouldn’t put in all the effort and go through the time and preparation and then give the CAPM exam. Moreover, you wouldn’t even pay the costs associated with the test. When the recruiters see the CAPM certification on your CV, it makes a huge impact on them. As mentioned above, it doesn’t tell them that you have a lot of experience, but it does tell them that you are genuinely interested in the job. The fact that you have already gone through so much effort for passing the CAPM exam even before getting the job makes them realise the intensity of the dedication that you have for the job you have applied for. This dedication when put together with a good interview can help you in securing your dream job where you get to manage projects and even lead them.

Moreover, it is not just about the certification, it is about the knowledge as well. The CAPM exam is based solely on PMI’s framework as explained in the PMBOK and by studying for this test… one acquires precious knowledge about project management. In other words, it is not just the certification mentioned on the CV that makes you stand out but the knowledge that you acquire after studying for this exam does that too. The PMI’s framework does not tell you entirely how to be a project manager, but it focuses on some very important things which come handy when you take up a job as a project manager. PMI focuses a lot on sticking to processes. It teaches you how to break down a massive project into different stages according to your needs and then planning the effort and strategy that you need to apply to these stages.

Even if the subject of the CAPM does not come up in the discussion, the knowledge that you acquire over the course of this process will help you a lot. Knowing about proper management skills will help you in getting the job as a project manager.

How to prepare for CAPM?

To pass this exam, you need to have extensive knowledge about project management. You should know very good knowledge about the outputs, inputs, tools, and techniques for all the project management processes that are there and also about all the knowledge areas. There are some things that you need to keep in mind. You should keep in mind that since you are absolutely new to project management, it will be difficult for you at times. Also, since you are new, you will have to memorize some information as part of your preparation. You might have some project experience but not the project management training. To pass this exam, you might want to attend some training that will help you to understand about project management better.

The preparation of the PMBOK guide is one of the most important things that one needs to do in order to pass this exam. One should study this guide at least three times before the actual exam. You can, of course, study it more times but you should definitely study it three times. The first time reading should be used to go through the book once and become familiar with the inputs, outputs, tools and techniques and all the processes and then take short notes about them. When you read it the second time, you should use it to understand about the project management groups in a better way. When you complete your second time reading, you should be able to understand the knowledge areas and also identify where a process lies in the project management process and which knowledge area. Then, when you read it for the third-time, you should keep your focus on the consolidation of the concepts of project management. You should try and understand the relationship between the different processes. You should know the usage of some same tools and techniques in different processes. You will come across processes that will have the same inputs.

Hard work is the key to your success in this exam. You should be mentally prepared to put in all the effort that this exam requires. There will be times when you will be exhausted and feel like giving up. That is when you need to remind yourselves about the success you will enjoy once you pass this exam.

Set a schedule- When you prepare for such an exam, it is imperative that you follow a fixed schedule. To pass an exam, one definitely needs a schedule. If the schedule is not followed, the exam day will realise even before you know it and it will catch you unprepared. Moreover, when you prepare the schedule, prepare a realistic one. It is very easy to put in long hours of studying in the schedule, but there are very few persons who can do it. So, make sure that you have a realistic schedule and also make sure that you stick to it. Also, besides preparing a schedule for your daily routine, you should also prepare a schedule for the longer time period that you have with you for preparing before the exam. In this schedule, keep deadlines for yourself and then work according to them.

What is the exam format?

The CAPM exam is an online exam. This exam comprises of 150 questions which are multiple choice in number. Out of these 150 questions, there are 15 pretest questions. These questions do not carry any marks. It means, in the exam, you will have to answer all the 150 questions, but you will only be marked for the 135 correct answers. Moreover, the pretest questions result will not be carried to your final score. The duration of this exam is 3 hours.

What are the requirements?

There are two conditions that one needs to fulfil to be eligible for giving the CAPM certification exam. There is no exception to this rule. If you do not fulfil these two eligibility conditions, you simply cannot give the exam.

The first condition is that to give the exam, you must hold at least a high school diploma or any other global equivalent education.

The second condition is related to the experience/training. If you have got experience in project management for at least 1,500 hours, you do not need to attend any training program. You can apply for the certification program’s exam right away. However, if you are a fresher, i.e. if you do not have any experience in project management, you need to attend 23 contact hours of formal project management education. Once you have earned these contact hours, you can apply for the CAPM certification exam.

How to score well in the CAPM exam?

For any exam, there can be no way or method that can prove to be useful for every student. The preparation strategy is different for all the candidates and it depends on the skills that a candidate holds in project management. On an average, a candidate with minimum knowledge of project management needs to devote at least two hours per day for a time span of at least two to three months to pass this exam. On the weekends, the candidate should spend more time on the preparation.

As mentioned above, there is no single preparation strategy that can be considered the best for all the candidates. However, there are some measures, which, if taken by any candidate will prove to be fruitful for him. These are:

Taking tests on each knowledge areas: If you wish to understand the concept well, you need to take a lot of tests. You need to take tests related to each project management knowledge areas. By doing so, you will get closer and closer to eliminating the weaknesses that you have and prepare yourself successfully for the examination. You should enroll for an online course and keep a question bank with you so that you can practice a huge amount of questions.

Take as many mock tests as possible: you should take many mock tests before you take the actual exam. It is always better to realise the areas in which you lack in the mock exam than to find it out in the real exam. The questions in these mock tests are from all the knowledge areas and thus you will realise the level of your understanding about each of these areas. Once you realise all this, you can easily work on them and improve.