By Amanda Harley, Certified project manager and process engineer

Changes to the CAPM Exam

Becoming a Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) is a great way to enter the project management profession. But with the Project Management Institute (PMI) releasing some upcoming changes to the certification, timing is key. This article will outline the what, when, and why of the updates to remove any uncertainties. That way, you can get back to focusing on your studies!

What’s Changing on the CAPM Exam?

We can start with what’s changing:

Application Requirements

The current prerequisites from PMI for this exam requires you to have a secondary degree and 1,500 hours of project experience or 23 hours of project management education. However, PMI conducted research and found that the people who are most interested in becoming certified don’t actually have any experience in the field: even at entry-level. Hence, to make this certification more accessible, PMI will be removing the 1,500-hour project experience requirement. However, applicants will still need to have a secondary degree and 23 hours of project management education.

Project Management Professional (PMP) Application Requirements

The ultimate goal for most CAPM applicants is to gain the experience needed to obtain the PMP certification. Furthermore, most CAPMs have already done more than the required 35 contact (education) hours for a PMP by the time they’re ready to apply. Consequently, to avoid unnecessary redundancy, PMI has decided to remove that prerequisite specifically for CAPM certification holders.

Types of Questions

The current certification exam for the CAPM relies on the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide), 6th Edition. It tests your knowledge of basic project management processes and concepts, a project manager’s role, and the ten knowledge areas (integration, scope, schedule, cost, quality, resource, communication, risk, procurement, and stakeholder management) via 150 multiple choice questions. 

CAPM Questions

PMI is now introducing two new types of questions:

Matching questions

For this type of question, you simply match items from one list to another. For example, this may involve matching processes to the appropriate process group. 

Multiple choice questions with multiple correct answers

Up until now, CAPM test-takers have only had to select one correct answer to each question. However, this new question format will ask you to select multiple answers for the question. The good news is that PMI will tell you how many answers need to be identified. 

Additionally, PMI has stated that there will only be a small percentage of these types of questions on the exam. Also note that while the exam is changing, the PMBOK Guide is not. Therefore, the sixth edition is still a relevant and useful exam preparation resource for students who are seeking any PMI certification, including PMP and PMI-ACP.

Exam Proctor

One other change that’s not specific to the CAPM but affects all of PMI’s certifications is the change of companies proctoring exams. As of July 1st, PMI is now partnered with Pearson VUE, whereas Prometric was the chosen vendor In the past, Prometric. With this change comes some great benefits, including:

  • For the CAPM specifically, you’re able to take the exam from the comfort of your home or office. For additional information regarding the online proctoring experience (including software requirements and a simulation), check out PMI’s FAQs on the subject. 
  • With over 5,000 testing center locations worldwide, Pearson VUE has a much larger network than Prometric, making it much more accessible to candidates.
  • Pearson VUE has on-campus facilities available to U.S. federal and military personnel.
  • If you need special accommodations, Pearson VUE can assist you with a separate room, a reader/recorder, or additional time as necessary. 

To get a feel for the test environment offered by Pearson VUE, you can take a look at their demo. Additionally, you can find available testing centers near you by using their search tool.

If you’ve already scheduled your test with Prometric, you’ll need to switch your exam appointment over to Pearson VUE. To do this, you’ll just need to contact PMI either by phone or email to reschedule. PMI representatives can be reached by:

When Are CAPM Changes Taking Effect?

Now that we understand the upcoming changes, we need to know when these are expected to occur. Here are the important dates:

August 28: PMI will remove the 1,500-hour project management experience requirement needed to apply for the CAPM. The 35 educational contact hours will also be waived for those with a CAPM certification who are also applying to sit for the PMP exam.

September: This is when the exam will be updated with the new question formats.

Why?

CAPM Exam Changes - The WhenWhen dealing with any change, understanding the “why” is always a critical component of the process. PMI seeks to be the most updated and comprehensive resource for those who work in project teams and the project management profession as a whole. In order to achieve that and advance their strategic alignment, PMI collects research every three to five years to understand how the field has evolved. 

The changes to the CAPM are a direct result of that research and will remove barriers for those wishing to enter the industry, especially if they don’t have any experience to verify their skills. Additionally, PMI realizes that most CAPM certification holders aim to pass the PMP exam. By taking away a requirement for the PMP exam, this goal becomes even more achievable.

Change is Coming

With September right around the corner, your window to properly study and take the current exam is getting pretty small (if not nonexistent). You should usually plan about eight to twelve weeks for studying, especially if you’re also tied down with a full-time job. 

If you’re in the middle of your studying efforts (and if it’s possible to do so), taking the current version is always the best option. More information regarding the current exam is available online, and there’s less uncertainty due to the standard multiple-choice question format. If you haven’t scheduled your exam, you should do so as soon as possible to ensure you get an appointment since there may be a rush to schedule as September gets closer. 

If you’re unable to take the exam by the end of August, there’s no need to panic. Remember that the new types of questions should be minimal in the exam. The subject matter is still the same as well, with the PMBOK Guide being a great reference. Give yourself a little additional studying time to incorporate the changes.

Set Yourself Up for Success

CAPM Exam Changes - Set Yourself Up for SuccessFinally, remember that change can be a good thing. These modifications to the exam and application requirements will help remove barriers and test knowledge in different ways. Ultimately, they shouldn’t affect your chances of success. If the updates are giving you anxiety, focus on what you can control and learning your testing environment. 

For the exam, the content remains the same. However, you can switch up how you study by incorporating those types of questions in your personal review. 

Here’s what to do if you want to feel comfortable with your personal test environment. If you’re taking the test at home or in the office, take the time to set up your space for success. This can mean making your space comfortable, adjusting the temperature, and setting up supplies (i.e. pens, paper). If you prefer an onsite testing center, always make a trip there before exam day to know where it is and how long it takes to get there. 

You can stay up-to-date by visiting the PMI website for more updates. Good luck!

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