Career, Personal development

My experience with Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) exam

This morning I went in to take Certified Associate in Project Management exam for the first time, and I am extremely happy to say that I PASSED! I’ve been very stressed out with this exam coming up at the same time as I was getting ready for my vacation, stuff at work got crazy, AND I am looking for a place to live starting August. And to be honest, even though I registered for the exam in May, I only really started studying for the exam from mid-June. I did read the entire PMBOK once in early May, but honestly I wasn’t really feeling the pressure back then to actually learn the materials so I was rather skimming through the book. Then from mid-June I started to REALLY study and panicked a little because I read online that people study for CAPM for a couple of months, dedicating their full 2~3 hours per day. I work full time, so since last week I got to the office by 7am, studied until 9am and did my job 9 through 7pm, then studied again from then until 10pm. So that is about 5 hours of intense studying for about a week and a half.

Just to touch on my experience with project management, I have my Bachelor of Commerce degree from UBC, my current job is my first ‘real’ job out of school, and next Tuesday will be my exact 1 year anniversary at this job. I am a ‘Project Coordinator’ and this was the reason I wanted to give it a go at CAPM, since I specialized in Marketing and had no professional training in project management. Also, my company paid for the exam so all I had to do was study and pass! My director is has PMP as well and he was quite happy to hear that I wanted to take CAPM, so this should give me at least some boost on my performance review that’s coming up soon…

What I found though, was that there weren’t that much materials for CAPM exam as there are for PMP exam. And since PMP is a higher/harder version of CAPM, I figured if I study with PMP materials it should get me ready for CAPM as well. I went through about 1,000 sample PMP exam questions, went over the ITTO over and over again, and tried to memorize all the formulas as much as possible. Nonetheless I was getting pretty bad marks on those sample PMP exams – high 50s to high 60s – so that did freak me out a little bit. These questions definitely try to hinder your thoughts so you need to read the questions carefully and always pick the best answer if there seems to be multiple answers that sound about right. Then the day before the exam, I went through the only set of sample CAPM exam and I got a low 80s which definitely was a drastic improvement from the marks that I had been getting on PMP questions.

I had my exam scheduled at 8:30 this morning, but I got there around 8 because in the guidebook it said I should get there about half an hour early – and it’s always better to be early than to be late – but it seemed like I was the first one of the day, so I got the sitting right away and started the exam little after 8. I gotta say though, the testing software is quite old-school. Nothing fancy, black and white with Windows-98 looking buttons, but I guess it does its job so there is no need for them to make initiate a new project to upgrade the system! 😛 It also has a little tutorial of how the program works in the beginning, so even if you are not so tech-savvy it will walk you through the steps.

I can try to answer if anyone has questions on CAPM, but basically these are my tips:

  • Go through the PMBOK at least once
  • Memorize your ITTOs
  • Memorize your formulas – especially with the ones that involve EV
  • Try sample exams; and read your questions & answers carefully
  • There is no right or wrong way to study – No, actually, there is a wrong way to study if your way of studying is not studying and going straight to the exam. There is a very high risk of failing the exam even though the registration cost is already a sunk cost (hahaha)
  • Given that, I don’t think those review classes where you pay a couple hundred to thousand dollars are necessary – at least for CAPM. Full understanding of PMBOK and ITTOs I think is good enough for CAPM

So this is my brief note on my experience with CAPM, and I am more than happy to help others who are getting ready for their CAPMs!


4 thoughts on “My experience with Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) exam

  1. Apex says:


    I am working as a software developer for past 2 years and wish to take this exam. For the eligibility, can I show my developer experience ? Please let me know.

    • J says:

      Sorry for this extremely late reply! I can’t say for sure, but I think you need to have some sort of project management experience/training to be eligible. Hope this helps!

  2. Luis says:

    Well I am planning on taking my CAPM next year in April and I am currently enrolled in sort of a teaching class to learn about project management. This course is preparing me for the big test that I will take through PMI. I see that you mentioned a lot going through the PMBOK and ITTO’s, but through this course the guy has his own book and own set of questions and I got to accept those are really tricky. Any other advice you might want to share!!!

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