CAPM Exam Format With Helpful Tips

Brief Introduction to CAPM Exam Format with Useful Tips:

In this tutorial, the CAPM Exam format is explained in detail along with some useful tips.

=> Read our last CAPM Certification Guide tutorial here.

Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) is an entry-level Project Management Certification that is recognized internationally. The eligibility criteria for this certification along with other related information can be found in our previous tutorial.

In this tutorial, we will discuss the certification exam in detail.



We will take an in-depth look at the exam format, outline, and the examination report. Most importantly, some helpful tips to clear the examination in the first attempt have been explained here.

CAPM Exam Common Terms

We will be referring to the following terms again in this tutorial:

#1) PMBOK Guide – PMBOK stands for Project Management Body of Knowledge. PMBOK Guide contains internationally recognized standards, concepts, and guides for Project Management.

The content and all the related material of this guide has been contributed by the Project Management practitioners and is a collection of best practices, concepts, and understanding of the concepts related to Project Management. PMBOK sixth Edition is the latest available version of the guide.

#2) CAPM Handbook – CAPM Certification handbook can be downloaded from the PMI website at no charge and is a comprehensive document that includes information on how to apply for the exam, details of the entire application process, the associated fees, exam blueprint, certification policies, PMI code of ethics, professional conduct and much more.

#3) Project Management – Project can be described as a planned set of tasks – that are correlated and having a definitive scope. Management refers to the act of managing a task or project with the aim of meeting the task or project objective. Project planning, scoping, budgeting, acquiring resources, etc. are the activities that are undertaken in project management.

#4) Project Management Processes and Process Groups – A set of activities constitute a process and a collection of similar processes form a process group.

Each process has its own set of inputs, outputs, and the tools and/ or techniques are used to derive the outputs.

For Example, A Business case is an Input to Develop the project Charter Process, expert judgment, and facilitation techniques are used to create the end result or the output which would be the project charter.

As for the process groups, similar processes are grouped together.

For Example, processes that are executed during the Execution phase of a project like acquiring resources, managing communication, performing quality assurance etc. are all grouped under the executing process group.

#5) Project Management Knowledge Areas – Knowledge area is essentially the field of specialization or expertise. Some examples of project management related knowledge areas are quality management, risk management, etc.

CAPM Content Outline

As discussed earlier, the CAPM handbook provides information regarding the certification exam outline which is also called as ‘Blueprint’ in the handbook.

Following is a summary of the knowledge areas along with the percentage of questions related to each area that are expected in the examination. Each knowledge area listed below is an independent chapter in the PMBOK book.

Knowledge Area% of questions based on PMBOK 6 th Edition% of questions based on PMBOK 5 th Edition
Introduction to Project Management0.06Not Applicable
Project Environment0.06Not Applicable
Role of the Project Manager0.07Not Applicable
Project Integration Management0.090.12
Project Scope Management0.090.11
Project Schedule Management0.09Project Time Management – 12%
Project Cost Management0.080.07
Project Quality Management0.070.06
Project Resource Management0.08Project Human Resource Management - 8%
Project Communication Management0.10.06
Project Risk Management0.080.09
Project Procurement Management0.040.07
Project Stakeholder Management0.090.07
Project Management Processes in ContextNot Applicable0.15

Note: CAPM certification exams being conducted now are based on Sixth Edition (New) of PMBOK Guide. Please check PMI website for more details.

Examination Format

CAPM certification exam totally consists of 150 questions that need to be answered in a maximum of 3 hours. These questions are multiple choice questions with exactly one correct answer and there is no negative marking.

Out of these 150 questions, 15 questions are pre-test or unscored questions and do not contribute towards the overall exam score. These questions are randomly inserted throughout the examination with the purpose to test the relevance of those questions in the future examinations.

If you answer a pre-test question incorrectly, then that would not impact your examination score. Same is true if the pre-test question you answered is correct, your score will be unaffected.

Please note that the pre-test questions are indistinguishable from the other questions, so when you are answering a question in the examination there is no way to know if that question contributes to scoring or not. Therefore, try to answer all the questions to the best of your ability.

Examination Report

If you opt for online examination, then the results will be made available before you leave the examination center. As soon as you submit the examination, within a couple of seconds, a detailed breakdown of the result (pass or fail) will be shown on your screen.

The detailed breakdown of the results will list your level of proficiency in each knowledge area /chapters based on how correctly you answered the questions related to each different area/chapter. Proficiency levels as per the predefined standards include – Below Proficient, Moderately Proficient and Proficient.

Before you exit the examination center you will be provided a stamped copy of your examination results. If you pass the examination, your actual certificate will arrive at your mailing address in the upcoming weeks.

CAPM Certification Tips

Given below are a few useful tips that would help you to clear the interview successfully in the first attempt.

(i) Study PMBOK guide thoroughly

PMBOK Guide is the recommended study material for CAPM certification exam preparation, so make sure to go through the entire Guide at least once. After you have reviewed the PMBOK Guide, you can study additional CAPM examination specific books if you wish.

As the same PMBOK guide is for PMP and CAPM exam preparation, it contains a lot of material, theory, and concepts. It is understandable that a person may get overwhelmed and gradually lose interest in studying from the guide.

My advice would be to be patient. Make sure to review the CAPM mock tests and practice questions to understand the level of understanding that you need to have in each subject area so as to not be overwhelmed.

For my own preparation strategy- I used PMBOK Guide as the study material and practiced a lot of exam questions and mock tests. This approach was sufficient in preparing me for the examination.

(ii) Memorize concepts, key terms, inputs, and outputs of each process area

PMBOK guide is structured to deliver information about project management methodology on the basis of Process Groups and Knowledge areas. There are about 47 project management processes in 5 project management Process Groups along with 10 project management Knowledge areas.

Clear understanding and memorizing the mapping of processes-process groups- knowledge areas is essential to clear the CAPM Examination and prove your competency in the Project management field.

(iii) Use a visual aid to memorize content

There is a lot of text and theory in the PMBOK guide.

I personally struggle in retaining all the facts if they are mere words. Give me a 1000 word outline about a concept or give me a pictorial representation of the same– the chances to retain the concept based on the pictorial representation will be more.

Visual aids like sketches, charts, models, diagrams etc., have been known to be effective in retention by the brain. They have really helped me in memorizing and retaining concepts, methods and remembering the facts better.

(iv) Solve as many practice questions and mock exams as possible while preparing for the examination

Solving mock exams will give you the exposure to how all the theoretical concepts mentioned in the PMBOK guide can be applied to actual projects and project-based scenarios.

Lots of material are available in books and online.

Additionally, there are some free and paid mobile apps that can help to prepare for the CAPM examination. Also, remember to practice timed mock tests to measure your performance when there is an additional pressure of the clock ticking.

(v) Use the first 15 minutes of the examination for writing down the Knowledge Areas, Process Groups, and important formulas

While preparing for the examination, I read a lot of online material – including blogs where the users share their own experiences about the certification process.

A lot of contributors talk about the exam questions, like how some of them were based on certain formulas, how some of them were directly related to Knowledge Areas and Process Groups and about the difficulty in focusing and remembering facts in few minutes into the examination due to the amount of information that one needs to process.

The best piece of advice that I found to help stay focused was to utilize the first 15 minutes of the examination for writing down important points on the piece of paper that is provided for rough work.

You need to be considerate of the amount of information you write and the time you take to write as both these resources – time and paper are limited during the examination.

I decided to write down the knowledge areas, process groups mapping and a few mathematical formulas on the paper that was provided for rough-work during the examination. For all STH readers, I have created a cheat sheet for easy reference.

(vi) Make use of the noise cancellation headphones provided

My examination center provided noise cancellation headphones on every computer system. I chose to wear the noise cancellation headphones to avoid getting distracted by the surroundings.

They definitely contributed towards keeping me focused on the examination at all times and I would recommend wearing headphones to the other aspirants as well.

(vii) Skip questions or use review later option

This is another great piece of advice that I saw on one of the blogs when I myself was preparing for the examination and researching for helpful tips online.

If you opt for an online exam, each question has flags or option to be marked for review later and for skipping the question entirely. So whatever questions I could not figure out the solution for in the first few minutes, I skipped the question. If I had doubts about my answer selection for any question, I marked that question for later review.

Once I reached the end of the examination questions – I had three sets of questions:

  • Answered questions – Questions for which I was 100% sure of my answer selection and needed no further review.
  • Skipped questions- Questions that had no answer selected.
  • Questions marked for later review– Questions that had answer option selected, but I was not sure of my answer selection.

I review the skipped and later review questions and once all questions were answered and reviewed satisfactorily, I submitted the examination.


There are a lot of study materials and practice exams that are available for CAPM Certification examination in the form of books and online as well.

PMBOK Guide is the PMI recommended book for preparation, so it is advisable to go through the entire guide at least once. The preparation can be supplemented by CAPM certification specific books and materials.

Memorize concepts, key terms, inputs, and outputs of each process area along with the common computational formulas. A good chunk of questions is based on the direct process-process group – knowledge area mapping and formulas like earned value analysis, etc., and such questions are easy wins too!

If you have trouble remembering the text and theory, then use visual aids like sketches, charts, models, diagrams etc. to help you memorize concepts. Use the first fifteen minutes of the examination to create your own version of the cheat sheet to help you get through the examination.

Most Importantly, prepare well, take lots of rest before the exam and give it your best shot!!

Read our Part 3: CAPM Sample Test Questions with Solutions