A Guide to the CAPM® Exam Change | Converging 360
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A Guide to the CAPM® Exam Change

Why Should You Read This Document?

Starting in the summer of 2019, PMI will be making some changes to the Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM®) exam. This complimentary report will explain things like why the exam is changing, what exactly is changing, and how these changes will affect your preparation for taking the CAPM exam—whether you plan to take the exam before or after the exam changes have been implemented.

This report will also offer a few key dates CAPM® aspirants need to be aware of. So please read through this information carefully, and feel free to pass this document on to any friends, colleagues or co-workers who might be interested as well. Changing for the application part August 28th. New questions will come in late September 2019.

First the Basics: What is PMI?

PMI is a worldwide nonprofit organization that owns and administers some of the most widely recognized and popular professional certifications on the planet. The professional designations PMI currently administers and supports include the Project Management Professional (PMP)®, the Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)®, the Professional in Business Analysis (PMI-PBA)®, the Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)®, and many others.

You can get proven and time-test exam preparation on the PMP, CAPM, PBA and ACP certifications through a variety of books, software, virtual and live classroom training, and self-directed e-Learning courses for professionals seeking certification.

What is the CAPM Exam?

The CAPM exam tests your knowledge of the information in the PMBOK® Guide through a series of 150 questions over a three-hour testing period. PMI has two administration methods: an online proctored test and a center-based test. Test takers have the option of taking the CAPM exam on a computer at a designated testing site, or they may take their exam online, either at work or at home. For more information, visit pmi.org and download the Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)® Handbook.

The exam includes 150 questions. Fifteen (15) of the 150 exam questions are experimental questions, meaning they are not included in your score for the exam. These questions will be randomly placed throughout the exam. You will not know which ones are experimental vs not. The experimental questions are included by PMI to validate questions for future inclusion in their master database. Your score will be calculated based on your response to the remaining 135 questions. PMI has not published what it considers to be a passing score. Based on the exam history, however, we estimate that it is somewhere between 65 and 88 percent.

The questions are randomly generated from a database containing hundreds of questions. The questions may jump from topic to topic, and a single question may integrate multiple concepts. You get one point for each correct answer. There is no penalty for wrong answers.

The following table breaks out the number and percentage of the 150 questions on the exam in each knowledge area, mapped to the chapters in the PMBOK® Guide.

Qualifying to Take the CAPM Exam

To take the CAPM exam, you must meet requirements as outlined by the Project Management Institute. Currently, test takers must have a high school diploma, associate degree, or global equivalent, and either 1,500 hours of project experience or 23 contact hours of project management education.

Applying to Take the Exam

You must submit an application to PMI to take the CAPM exam. Applications may be submitted online or by mail. Submit online if possible, since PMI’s response time is faster for electronic submissions. In addition, the online application process makes it easier for you to document your project management training or experience while adhering to the application guidelines.

After submitting your application, you’ll receive a notice that will confirm your application has been accepted; you will then be prompted to pay for your exam appointment. Once payment is received, you’ll receive an email authorizing you to make an appointment to take the exam. You may be subject to an audit of your application before it’s approved. Be aware that an audit will delay your authorization to take the exam.

Once you receive your authorization notice, you must pass the exam within one year. You can take the exam up to three times within that year; if you fail all three times, you must wait one year to reapply for the exam.

Why is the Exam Changing?

When PMI introduced the CAPM certification exam in 2010, it was a big departure from the traditional project management subject matter PMI was familiar with. Rather than trying to assemble agile topics internally, they engaged a Steering Committee of agile experts to source, consolidate, and organize the material into an exam content outline. This original exam content outline was vetted with industry practitioners and the new exam was trialed with a pilot group before the exam was rolled out in 2011.

In 2014, after the exam had been live for three years, PMI assembled a Task Force to conduct a Role Delineation Study to gauge the industry reaction to the exam content outline. The goal was to find out if the topics covered by the current CAPM exam were those widely used by practitioners, if any new and emerging techniques should be added, if any topics should be dropped, and if the scoring breakdown across the topics was still accurate.

Several thousand very detailed questionnaires were sent out to CAPM holders, CAPM applicants, and industry practitioners—and almost 1,000 fully completed questionnaires were received back. Once the Task Force correlated the results and catalogued suggestions for additions, deletions, and scoring changes, they decided that a few changes needed to be made to the exam.

What are the Exam Changes?

Based on the Role Delineation Study questionnaire results, the Task Force and Steering Committee examined the existing Domains, Tools and Techniques, and Knowledge and Skills areas that comprised the original CAPM exam content outline. All in all, the suggested changes were minor, and the Role Delineation Study validated that the CAPM design is still applicable and suitable.

Although the Tools & Techniques and Knowledge & Skills listed in the exam content outline have been simplified, the knowledge base required for the exam remains essentially the same. Some topics have been moved between domains, and the names of some domains and subdomains have been tweaked—but these changes only affect the organization of the exam content outline and aren’t tested on the exam. For the purposes of preparing for the exam, the major changes that resulted from the study are as follows:

1) The important topics of agile values, principles, and methodologies have been folded into a new domain called “Agile Principles and Mindset.” In the first edition of the CAPM Exam Prep book, these topics are covered in Chapter 2 (“Agile Framework”). The domain change doesn’t affect how these topics will be tested on the exam.

2) The weighting of the exam questions is now based on the domains, rather than the Tools & Techniques and Knowledge & Skills. However, this is simply a change in how the weighting is organized. The T&T and K&S icons in the first edition of the CAPM Exam Prep book are still an accurate guide to the relative weighting of the topics for the exam. (The new weightings by domain are shown below.)

3) The reference books for the exam have been updated. Some of the older titles have been replaced by newer books that better reflect today’s use and understanding of agile practices. However, all the key exam content in the reference books is included in the CAPM Exam Prep book, so you don’t need to read those books to prepare for the exam. RMC’s book is the only resource you need.

A Timeline of Exam Changes

The changes to the exam will go into effect during a Pilot Period from July 15 to October 14, 2015, when PMI will be testing the grading scale for the new version of the exam. If you take the exam during that time, the good news is that you will receive a 20 percent rebate on the exam fee from PMI. But the bad news is that your exam results will be delayed—possibly until October 22nd. Is this suspenseful wait worth a 20% discount to you? Only you can decide that.

Once the Pilot Period has concluded, a new version of the exam will go into effect starting on October 15, 2015. If you wait until then to take the exam, your scores will be available immediately after testing, as usual. At that point, there should be no further changes to the exam, in theory, for at least three to four years.

To help you decide what to do during this transition, we have assembled this easy-to-follow timeline:

  • Exam Milestone Date
  • Last day to take original version of CAPM exam:
  • Start of Pilot Period for new CAPM exam
  • End of Pilot Period for new CAPM exam
  • First day to take new version of CAPM exam without waiting for your results

What Are the New Domains and Weightings?

PMI has organized the content that will be tested into seven domains of knowledge (see diagram below). Each domain describes a general category of information that you have to understand to pass the exam. Now don’t worry, these domains aren’t anything you have to memorize.

Although PMI uses them to organize exam content, the exam itself doesn’t refer to the domains or test them in any way. In other words, if you were the world’s greatest agile expert but had never heard of PMI’s domains, you could still ace the exam with flying colors.

For most people the domains are very helpful in studying for the exam. You can use them to quickly diagnose which areas you already know well, and which areas you need to spend more time on. They can also help you allocate your study time for the exam topics, since PMI tells us what percentage of exam questions will be based on each domain:

If you are only using PMI’s exam content outline to prepare for the exam, this weighting by domains would only take you so far. There are many agile practices that PMI doesn’t identify by domain. For example, the daily standup is a team practice, a planning tool, AND a way to stay on top of problems (as well as a basic manifestation of agile principles). So which PMI domain does it fall under? The answer is that for the new exam, it is counted as part of the Planning domain.

To solve the problem of figuring out which topics fall in which domain, in the new version of the CAPMSM Exam Prep book Mike Griffiths will organize all the exam topics by domain for you, so you will know which topics fall in each domain and can allocate your study time effectively.

For the new version of the CAPM exam, some exam topics have also been moved around between domains. So if you are using the first edition of the CAPMSM Exam Prep book and taking the exam after July 14th, then use the T&T and K&S icons as outlined in that book to guide how much study time to allocate to each topic— instead of weightings by domain. That’s still an effective way to study for the new exam since the actual content being tested hasn’t changed that much.

Other than moving some topics around between the domains, the only major change to the domains is that PMI has added a new domain called “Agile Principles and Mindset.” However, the topics in this new domain were already being tested on the previous exam; they just weren’t assigned to a domain. So this change doesn’t affect what you need to know for the exam. In the first edition of the CAPMSM Exam Prep book, these topics are covered in Chapter 2 (“Agile Framework”).

How Will These Changes Affect My Preparation?

All the exam changes are minor. Whether you are planning to take the exam before the pilot period or during it, the 2nd edition of the CAPM Exam Prep book still covers all the topics you need to understand, and will still be the most comprehensive study resource for the exam through the end of the pilot period.

We will be releasing a new set of study materials for the updated exam—a book, a set of flashcards, and an exam simulation application—approximately four weeks before the end of the pilot period. This will give you plenty of time to study for taking the CAPM exam after October 15th, if you choose to wait until then.

When Will Study Products for the New Exam Be Available?

RMC’s new 2nd edition CAPM Exam Prep book, as well as the Hot Topics flashcards and PM FASTrack® Cloud for the CAPM Exam Prep Simulation Software to reflect the new domains and the upcoming exam changes.

We have updated our 23-hour e-Learning course. This course consists of a wide variety of tools and learning aids including interactive exercises, games, flashcards, and practice exams to help you learn and quickly recall the project management terms and principles necessary to pass the CAPM® exam.

Bottom Line

1. If you plan on sitting for the CAPM exam on or before October 14th of 2015, our current products and courses—along with this report—offer everything you will need to take and pass the exam.

2. If you plan on sitting for the CAPM exam on or after October 15th of 2015, RMC will have new products and courses available approximately one month prior to the exam change.

PMI, CAPM, PMP, CAPM, and PMI-PBA are registered marks of the Project Management Institute, Inc.



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