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STUDY TIPS & ASSESSMENT EXAM
WHAT IS A CERTIFIED ASSOCIATE IN PROJECT MANAGEMENT (CAPM)?
A CAPM is a project manager or project participant who:
Has been responsible for individual project tasks in his or her area of expertise
Has a demonstrated understanding of the fundamental knowledge, processes, and terminology as defined within Project Management Institute (PMI) standards
Has a high school diploma, or equivalent, with at least 1,500 hours of experience as part of a project management team or 23 hours of project management training
Has passed a CAPM exam administered by PMI
CAPM EXAM SPECIFICS
The exam has the following characteristics:
It assesses the knowledge and application of globally accepted project management concepts, techniques and procedures
It covers the ten knowledge areas and the five process groups as detailed in A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge, Fifth Edition (PMBOK® Guide)
It contains 150 multiple choice questions
It includes 15 questions that are pre-exam questions being field-tested by PMI that do not affect your exam score
It takes up to three hours
The table on the following page summarizes the distribution of exam questions across each of the 13 chapters of the PMBOK® Guide.
Note that the information in this chart may change from time to time. Consult the PMI website (www.pmi.org) for the most current information.
Below is a list of recommended study tips from project managers who have successfully passed the CAPM exam. Think about each one and determine which suggestions are the best for your learning style.
Develop a plan for studying; see page 1-17 for a sample study plan utilizing the PMBOK® Guide and this study guide
Follow the plan on a daily or weekly basis; it is important for you to commit to studying
Make a checklist of things you need to study
Plan your study sessions with time limitations
Vary tasks and topics during lengthy study periods
Find one special place for studying and use it only for that
If daydreaming, walk away
Take brief breaks (5 to 10 minutes) after about 50 minutes of study Continue to test yourself
Use lots of practice exams
Create your own exams
Your goal should be to consistently achieve 80% correctness
Understand the big concepts first
Restate, repeat, and put in your own words
Important people mentioned in this textbook and their contributions to project management
Processes and their order
Inputs, tools and techniques, and outputs of each process
Key terms from the PMBOK® Guide
Use memorizing methods such as:
Memory searches (relate to past experiences)
Prepare for the exam day
Get a good night's rest
Avoid last-minute cramming
Have a good breakfast
Leave books at home
Use the calculator on the electronic testing system
Go with a positive attitude
Get to the exam site early
The exam tests your knowledge of the PMBOK® Guide by asking you many questions on definitions and inputs, tools and techniques, and outputs, and it has many situational questions that determine how well you apply PMBOK® Guide concepts to real-life situations. Most people can succeed if they follow these simple steps on test day.
Use the 15 minute tutorial time to do a brain dump on the items you have memorized
Relax before and during the exam
Take deep breaths
Stretch about every 40 minutes
If you get nervous, try to relax
Give yourself a goal and reward yourself
Resist the urge to panic
Read each question carefully
Be especially alert when double negatives are used
Reread ALL questions containing negative words such as "not," "least," or "except"
If a question is long and complex, read the final sentence, look at the answer choices and then look for the subject and verb
Check for qualifying words such as "all," "most," "some," "none," "highest-to-lowest," and "smallest-to-largest"
Check for key words such as "input," "output," "tool," "technique," "initiating," "planning," "executing," "monitoring and controlling," and "closure"
Decide in your mind what the answer should be, then look for the answer in the options
Reread the questions and eliminate answer choices that are not correct
The correct answer, if it's not simply a number, will include a PMI term
Make sure you look at all the answer choices
Mark questions to come back to
TIME MANAGEMENT DURING THE EXAM
Keep track of time (you have approximately 1 minute and 15 seconds for each question)
Set up a time schedule for each question
Allow time for review of the exam
To stay relaxed, keep on schedule
Answer all questions in order without skipping or jumping around
If you are unsure, take a guess and mark the question to return to later; do not linger
For questions involving problem solving:
Write down the formulas before solving
If possible, recheck your work in a different way (for example, rationalize)
Subsequent questions may stimulate your memory and you may want to reevaluate a previous answer
A lapse in memory is normal
You will not know all the answers
Take your time
Do not be in a rush to leave the exam
Before turning in the exam, verify that you have answered all questions
FAQS ABOUT THE EXAM
Can you bring materials with you?
What is the physical setting like?
It is a small room or cubicle with a computer, chair, desk, and trash can
Can you take food or drink into the exam area?
NO food or drink is allowed
Can you take breaks during the exam?
YES, you can go to the rest room or take a break to clear your mind, but know that your clock is ticking all the time, so you need to determine if you have time for a break
What are the time constraints?
You have 3 hours (with an additional 15-minute tutorial and 15-minute survey)
Are the exam questions grouped by knowledge area such as scope, time, and cost?
NO, the 150 questions are randomly scattered across the process groups and knowledge areas
Can you take paper and pen into the exam area?
NO, pencils and paper are supplied
Can you see both the question and the answers on the same screen?
Is there a way to cross out or eliminate options that you immediately know are not correct?
NO, you can work only on a piece of scratch paper
Is there a way to mark questions when you are in doubt of the answer?
When you are done, can you review the exam?
Can you review just the questions you marked as doubtful?
Do you get immediate exam results?
YES, if you are taking an online exam, after you are done, hit the SEND button and then the computer will ask if you are sure; after you hit SEND, you will fill out an online evaluation of the exam process consisting of about ten questions; a testing center staff person will give you a detailed report of your results
MEMORIZATION TIPS FOR PERFORMANCE DOMAINS, PROCESS GROUPS, KNOWLEDGE AREAS, AND PROCESSES
PMI defines the field of project management as consisting of five performance domains:
Monitoring and Controlling
Each domain contains tasks and the knowledge and skills which are required to competently perform these tasks. There are also cross-cutting knowledge and skills, which are used in multiple domains and tasks.
In alignment with the five performance domains are the five process groups. Each process group contains two or more processes. The process groups with their corresponding process counts are:
Monitoring and Controlling (11)
This yields a total of 47 processes. The process groups are discussed in detail in Chapter 3 of this study guide.
There are ten knowledge areas. Each of the processes, in addition to belonging to a process group, also belongs to a knowledge area. The knowledge areas with their corresponding process counts are:
Human Resources (4)
Stakeholder Management (4)
The individual processes are discussed in the knowledge areas (Chapters 4 through 13).
Table 3-1 of the PMBOK® Guide has a comprehensive chart that cross-references the individual processes, knowledge areas, and process groups.
Many people like to use creative phrases that jog the memory to remember lists and sequences. Examples of memorable phrases follow for the five process groups and the ten knowledge areas.
Memorization Tip for the Five Process Groups:
Henry Initiated a committee named PEMCo to Close down the railway line.
4. Monitoring and Controlling
Memorization Tip for the Ten Knowledge Areas:
I've Seen That the Cost of Quality Has CRitical importance to myProject's Success.
6. Human Resources
10. Stakeholder Management
You may want to devise your own memorization tips for processes in each of the knowledge areas. Here is an example of a memorization tip for the Project Scope Management processes:
Planning Scope Means you Create Real Direction, a Sense of aCan-Win attitude and a ViSion for Continued Success.
1. Plan Scope Management
2. Collect Requirements
3. Define Scope
4. Create WBS
5. Validate Scope
6. Control Scope
FORMULAS, EQUATIONS, AND RULES
Some formulas, equations, and rules must be memorized to answer exam questions effectively. The most important items to remember are listed here. Most of these are discussed in more detail in the following chapters.
1. Project Network Schedules
Network schedules are created after duration estimates and the relationships between the work packages have been determined. Following a path(s) from left to right makes a forward pass.
Yields early start (ES) and early finish (EF) dates
Early finish = early start + duration
Rule: If there are multiple predecessors, use latest EF to determine successor ES
After all paths have been given their forward path, they are traversed from right to left to make a backward pass.
Yields late start (LS) and late finish (LF) dates
Late start = late finish - duration
Rule: If there are multiple successors, use earliest LS to determine predecessor LF
Once the forward and backward passes have been completed, the total float for the node can be calculated by:
Total float = late finish - early finish
2. Normal Distribution
Normal distribution, commonly known as a bell curve, is a symmetrical distribution, as shown in Figure 1-1. Each normal curve can be distinctly described using the mean and sum of the values.
The possibility of achieving the project objective in the mean time or cost is 0%, with a 50% chance of falling below the mean and a 50% chance of exceeding the mean. Adding one or more standard deviations (s) to the mean increases the chances of falling within the range. The probability of falling within 1s, 2s, or 3s from the mean is:
1σ = 68.27%
2σ = 95.45%
3σ = 99.73%
3. Triangular Distribution
When there are three possible values, each of which is equally likely, the distribution takes on the shape of a triangle, as shown in Figure 1-2.
With A = lowest value, B = highest value, and M = most likely value, variance for a task (V) (variance is not on the exam) is
V = [(A - B)2 + (M - A)(M - B)] ÷ 18
µ = (A + M + B) ÷ 3
Standard deviation (σ)
σ = [square root of Vp]
4. Weighted-Average or Beta/PERT Distribution
The beta distribution is like the triangular distribution except more weight is given to the most likely estimate. This may result in either a symmetrical or an asymmetrical (skewed right or skewed left) graph. An asymmetrical graph is shown in Figure 1-3.
Where O = optimistic estimate, ML = most likely estimate, and P = pessimistic estimate, variance for a task (V) is:
V = σs
(µ) = (O + 4ML + P) ÷ 6
Standard deviation (s)
s = (P - O) ÷ 6
5. Statistical Sums
The project mean is the sum of the means of the individual tasks: µp = µ1 + µ2 + ... + µn
The project variance is the sum of the variances of the individual tasks: Vp = V1 + V2 + ... + Vn
The project standard deviation is the square root of the project variance: σp = [square root of Vp]
6. Earned Value Management
Earned value management is used to monitor the progress of a project and is an analytical technique. It uses three independent variables:
Planned value (PV): the budget or the portion of the approved cost estimate planned to be spent during a given period
Actual cost (AC): the total of direct and indirect costs incurred in accomplishing work during a given period
Earned value (EV): the budget for the work accomplished in a given period
These three values are used in combination to provide measures of whether or not work is proceeding as planned. They combine to yield the following important formulas:
Cost variance (CV) = EV - AC
Schedule variance (SV) = EV - PV
Cost performance index (CPI) = EV ÷ AC
Schedule performance index (SPI) = EV ÷ PV
Positive CV indicates costs are below budget. Positive SV indicates a project is ahead of schedule.
Negative CV indicates cost overrun. Negative SV indicates a project is behind schedule.
A CPI greater than 1.0 indicates costs are below budget. An SPI greater than 1.0 indicates a project is ahead of schedule.
A CPI less than 1.0 indicates costs are over budget. An SPI less than 1.0 indicates a project is behind schedule.
7. Estimate at Completion
An estimate at completion (EAC) is the amount we expect the total project to cost on completion and as of the "data date" (time now). There are four methods listed in the PMBOK® Guide for computing EAC. Three of these methods use a formula to calculate EAC. Each of these starts with AC, or actual costs to date, and uses a different technique to estimate the work remaining to be completed, or ETC. The question of which to use depends on the individual situation and the credibility of the actual work performed compared to the budget up to that point.
A new estimate is most applicable when the actual performance to date shows that the original estimates were fundamentally flawed or when they are no longer accurate because of changes in conditions relating to the project:
EAC = AC + New Estimate for Remaining Work
The original estimate formula is most applicable when actual variances to date are seen as being the exception, and the expectations for the future are that the original estimates are more reliable than the actual work effort efficiency to date:
EAC = AC + (BAC - EV)
The performance estimate low formula is most applicable when future variances are projected to approximate the same level as current variances:
EAC = AC + (BAC - EV) ÷ CPI
A shortcut version of this formula is:
EAC = BAC ÷ CPI
The performance estimate high formula is used when the project is over budget and the schedule impacts the work remaining to be completed:
EAC = AC + (BAC - EV) ÷ (CPI)(SPI)
Figure 1-4 above indicates how many of these EAC formulas can be used to graph information.
Formulas to be used with the figure above include:
CPI = EV ÷ AC
SPI = EV ÷ PV
8. Remaining Budget
RB = Remaining PV
RB = BAC - EV
9. Budget at Completion
BAC = the total budgeted cost of all approved activities
10. Estimate to Complete
The estimate to complete (ETC) is the estimate for completing the remaining work for a scheduled activity. Like the EAC formulas above, there are three variations:
ETC = an entirely new estimate
ETC = (BAC - EV) when past variances are considered to be atypical
ETC = (BAC - EV) ÷ CPI when prior variances are considered to be typical of future variances
11. Communications Channels
Channels = [n(n - 1)] ÷ 2 where "n" = the number of people
12. Rule of Seven
In a control chart, the "rule of seven" is a heuristic stating that if seven or more observations occur in one direction either upward or downward, or a run of seven observations occurs either above or below the mean, even though they may be within the control lines, they should be investigated to determine if they have an assignable cause. The reason for this rule is that, if the process is operating normally, the observations will follow a random pattern; it is extremely unlikely that seven observations in a row would occur in the same direction above or below the mean.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Achieve CAPM Exam Success"
Copyright © 2014 Core Performance Concepts, Inc..
Excerpted by permission of J. Ross Publishing, Inc..
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Table of Contents
WEB ADDED VALUE,
CHAPTER 1 STUDY TIPS & ASSESSMENT EXAM,
CHAPTER 2 PROJECT MANAGEMENT OVERVIEW,
CHAPTER 3 PROCESSES,
CHAPTER 4 INTEGRATION,
CHAPTER 5 SCOPE,
CHAPTER 6 TIME,
CHAPTER 7 COST,
CHAPTER 8 QUALITY,
CHAPTER 9 HUMAN RESOURCES,
CHAPTER 10 COMMUNICATIONS,
CHAPTER 11 RISK,
CHAPTER 12 PROCUREMENT,
CHAPTER 13 STAKEHOLDER MANAGEMENT,
CHAPTER 14 FINAL EXAM,
CHAPTER 15 APPENDICES,
Appendix A: Sample Assessment Exam Answers and References,
Appendix B: Sample Final Exam Answers and References,
Appendix C: Glossary,
Appendix D: Bibliography,