What is CAPM Exam? | Certified Associate in Project Management

CAPM exam is the gold mine for those who do not have eligibility to appear for the PMP certification. For many of us whenever we heard about project management certification, the only thing that comes to our mind is PMP certification, because of its popularity and credibility. But what happens you are not eligible for the PMP certification, because you have no or little experience in project management, or you lack time and efforts for PMP preparation for whatever the reasons.

What is CAPM Exam?

CAPM exam is a short form of Certified Associate in Project Management. CAPM exam is the entry level certification program for project managers offered by PMI (Project Management Institute). Irrespective of where you stand in your career, PMI’s CAPM certification will distinguish you from others (non-certified) and enrich your credibility to work on project management area.

CAPM Certification gives the confidence to the employers that you are knowledgeable on the PMBOK concepts and aware of the project management standards and best practices.

In simpler terms CAPM certification exhibits to employers that you have capacity and capability to work and manage projects.

Nevertheless to say, For many of the project managers who do not have eligibility of attempting PMP Certification, CAPM certification is a goldmine for them. Especially if you are beginner level project manager, or you are in a different role such as software developer and wanted to transition to the project management role, then CAPM exam is best suited for you.


CAPM Certification Benefits

  • Recognition – CAPM Certification will distinguish you from others for your expertise and credentials in the project management.
  • Credibility – CAPM Certification will establish credibility to the employer that you have ability to efficient lead and manage projects.
  • Knowledge PMBOK concepts and processes – By successfully completing CAPM exam, you gain the knowledge on PMBOK concepts, processes, and best practices, which can be applied throughout the projects.
  • Salary Increment – PMI Salary survey states that, across the world certified project managers has more package compared to the non-certified people. You can negotiate with your employer for higher package.
  • Better Job Opportunities – You will have better opportunities by having CAPM certification in the job market.

CAPM Certification Requirements & Eligibility

To be eligible for CAPM exam, you have two options.

CAPM Exam-Certification-Requirements-Eligibility

Option 1 Criteria

  • Educational Background: Secondary diploma (High school diploma/global equivalent)
  • Project Experience: 1,500 hours of professional experience on a project team

Option 2 Criteria

  • Educational Background: Secondary diploma (High school diploma/global equivalent)
  • Project Management Education: 23 contact hours of formal education

You must have either Option1 or Option2 “completely” to be eligible to attempt the CAPM exam. That means if you have ZERO to less than 1500 hours of project experience, then you can still appear for the exam, by attending a formal project management education training for 23 contact hours.

Roughly 1 hour of training is equivalent to 1 PDU (Professional Development Unit). As per PMI, Professional Development Units (PDUs) are the measuring unit used to quantify the approved learning and professional service activities.

CAPM Exam Training Online or Classroom

If you pass the eligibility criteria of Option1, you do not require formal training for CAPM exam.

But if you are opting for Option2 as mentioned above in the eligibility criteria section or you require assistance in preparing for CAPM certification in the form of training, then you can go for CAPM training.

There are plenty of online and classroom trainings available for CAPM exam. Some of you may prefer online, as they are used to it. And some may prefer classroom training, as it may be more effective for them to listen to some one at a stretch to completely understand in one go.

Irrespective of whether it is online OR classroom CAPM training, expect bare minimum the following from your CAPM training provider.

  • Certificate for completing a minimum of 23 hours of formal education in project management – 23 or more PDUs.
  • Coverage of PMBOK concepts aligning with latest PMBOK 6th edition guide.
  • Sample Questions or Mock tests

CAPM Reexamination

When you apply for CAPM certification exam successfully, you will be given 1-year period to complete the CAPM exam with 3 attempts.

Incase if you fail on your first or second attempt of CAPM exam, then for the subsequent attempt, you will must apply for CAPM Reexamination or recertification to appear for the exam. CAPM Reexamination fee is little less than the normal CAPM exam fee.

In case if you are not able to pass the CAPM exam within a year to a maximum of 3 attempts, then you must wait for 1-year period from the date of last CAPM exam attempt.

CAPM Exam Renewal and Validity

CAPM certification is valid only for 5 years. After the 5 years, if you gain edibility for any of the other PMI certification you may opt to prepare for those certifications.

Incase if you wanted to renew CAPM certificate, then you must reappear for the CAPM exam. And the fee for CAPM renewal is the same as the normal CAPM exam fee.

CAPM Certification Cost or Fees

CAPM exam cost varies for PMI members and non-PMI members.

CAPM Exam-Certification-Cost-Fees

Lot of people recommend that becoming PMI member has lot of advantages, as it gives free access to PMBOK as well as its other resources.

CAPM Certification Salary

As per many job sites, the average annual salary of a CAPM Certified candidate varies from $45K to $105K based on the years of experience and the role that the candidate is playing in the organization.

You can also check the sites such as indeed.com and payscale.com for the salaries information.

Compared to the non-certified project managers, CAPM certified project managers earning more salary package.

Here is a screenshot from indeed.com from salary analysis from 90k+ CAPM certified project managers.


Source: indeed.com

CAPM Exam Format and Structure

  • CAPM exam comprise of 150 multiple choice questions.
  • These 150 questions are divided into two categories.
    • Scored Questions – 135 questions – These questions are will give a score of 1 for each right answer.
    • Unscored (Pretest) Questions – Pretest questions are placed in the exam randomly to test the validity of the future examination questions.

The tricky part here is, you will never know which are these 15 questions are. Hence you must consider all 150 questions.

  • Total duration of the exam is 3 hours with no scheduled breaks. You can take breaks in between. However, the clock on the computer screen will be counting the time during your breaks.

The following is the CAPM exam format, which has the questions distribution chapter wise.


CAPM Exam Changes with PMBOK 6th Edition

PMBOK 6th edition released in September 2017. Following this, a new version of CAPM Exam was released on 21-May-2018.

The above question distribution list is revised to align with new CAPM exam based on PMBOK 6th edition.

CAPM Study Guide

There are many CAPM study guides available. As of writing this blog post, only few CAPM study guides or exam simulators were updated to align to PMBOK 6th edition.

PMBOK 6th Edition PDF Download For Free – For PMI Members

Nevertheless, PMBOK guide 6th edition is available for download for free from PMI website, if you are a member of PMI.

Pick up PMBOK 6th edition guide and start preparing. This guide should be your first point of reference for CAPM or PMP exam.

There are many other PMP study guides, which are updated to align with PMBOK 6th edition. You can use one of these books to prepare for CAPM exam too.

One can also use the previous version of CAPM study guides which are covering PMBOK 5th edition. But you should ensure that you know changes in PMBOK 6th edition book and try to cautiously understand the difference and prepare for the exam.

Rita Mulcahy and Joseph Phillips CAPM Study Guides

Rita Mulcahy and Joseph Phillips CAPM study guides are popular for CAPM exam preparation. You can pick up one of these books to study along with PMBOK 6th edition.

PMBOK 6th edition book is a bit difficult to read, if you are a first timer, because of its text style of presenting the concepts. But after reading few initial chapters, you will get used to this style of reading.

However, PMP/CAPM Study guides such as Rita Mulcahy, Joseph Phillips, Head First PMP, Andy Crowe PMP are easy to read and understand the concepts with ease. For better results, these study guides should be accompanied with PMBOK 6th edition side by side.

CAPM Passing Score

PMI does not reveal the passing score of CAPM exam. PMI uses sound psychometric analysis to determine the passing score of the exam for each candidate, based on the level of difficulty of the exam.

Each right answer will give you 1 mark or point. So based on your exam level of difficulty, PMI dynamically determines the passing score for you.

Based on the marks that you have earned, PMI will rate your performance with the below 3 performance rating categories.

  • Proficient
  • Moderate Proficient
  • Below Proficient


PMI rates your performance chapter wise with the above performance rating categories. This information is also passed to you in the form your final pass/fail report.

CAPM Certification Process

First thing that you must ensure that, you have eligibility to appear for the CAPM exam.


The CAPM certification process starts with filling your CAPM application.

  1. Start filling the application. Once you start the application, it is opened for a period of 90 days to complete the application form.
  2. PMI reviews the application, to see all the required information is filled as expected. This usually within 24 hours of time, if it is online application.
  3. It may be possible that, your application might have chosen by PMI for audit. PMI selects certain applications for Audit in a random fashion. If your application is selected for audit, then you should submit all the required information such as documented proofs asked by PMI for audit. Once you receive the audit mail, you should submit the hard copy of the documents through courier or post to PMI within a period of 90 days. PMI takes a weeks’ time to process your audit documents. Once you successfully complete the audit, you will be informed about it by PMI.
  4. The next step would require you to proceed to payments and complete the payments.
  5. Schedule and appear for the exam. Once you are done with your payments, you have 1-year period to complete the exam. In case if you fail on your first attempt, you can appear for the reexamination process for another 2 attempts within a year.
  6. Finally, once you attain the CAPM certificate, it is valid for 5 years. After 5 years you can either renew the exam, by appearing for CAPM exam once again. Or you can plan to appear for other PMI certification based on your interest and eligibility.

Application Process for CAPM Certification Exam

You can submit CAPM application online. Alternatively you can send the filled application hard copy through postal service. Online application has faster response time. Hence online application is recommended option. Online application will usually be processed within 24 hours’ time.

On the other hand, application sent through post may take more time. It depends on how quickly the PMI receives your application.


CAPM stands for Certified Associate in Project Management. And it is a beginner level exam for project managers. Almost every IT professionals can fulfill the CAPM eligibility criteria through either Option1 or Option2. CAPM certification is primarily for the people, who has no or less experience in project management. Finally, we have also seen CAPM exam related information, CAPM certification cost and finally the CAPM certification process.

I hope this helped you with all the information pertaining to CAPM Certification exam.

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