What Some CPCPs Have Said About Their Exam Preparation
This page includes comments provided to the NAPCP over the years by various individuals who passed the exam. In addition, beginning summer 2013, the NAPCP implemented a survey to capture the input of new CPCPs. View survey results.
In the months leading up to the exam, I allocated specific blocks of time weekly for studying. Paying specific attention to the percentage of questions related to each subject on the exam was very helpful, as it allowed me to weight the different areas of importance appropriately. I spent far more time studying material related to the areas that I felt were my weakest. All of the information that I used was found on the NAPCP website. I also viewed each of the NAPCP webinars that were geared towards exam preparation.
The studying and prep took a good deal of time, but, in retrospect, I know that I would not have passed the exam without making the effort. I found the exam to be quite challenging and was grateful for the ability to revisit/review questions that I was not sure about before finalizing the test submission. I did not feel rushed during the lengthy exam, however, I did use nearly all of the time that was allowed.
I purchased the Purchasing Card Essentials guide/book and used this as the primary source for my studying. My initial method was to start reviewing some of the sample test questions that are listed on the NAPCP site to see if I was on target with my own knowledge of a typical P-Card program. I also reviewed how the test was broken down into percentages... That helped me to review areas that I was weak or unfamiliar with. I scanned the book initially and looked at some of the suggested sites for referencing other information. About 3-4 weeks before the actual test date, I started to go through the book thoroughly, studying about 1-2 hours each night. Taking notes and highlighting key phrases helps me retain information better than just straight reading.
To prepare for the exam, I bought the book from the NAPCP and read through it, making notes. I also tried to envision myself creating a new program at a company, applying what I was learning. I did search for information online to supplement the book and to find what I needed for the tax and Sarbanes-Oxley portion of the test.
I must concur that the study method as outlined by the NAPCP is right on the mark! I used this method and paid special attention to weak areas. Everything I've read through the NAPCP website and the success stories I've heard through networking with other NAPCP members who successfully passed the CPCP exam are all true…just follow the NAPCP study method guideline…it works! For example, the RFP process was a weak area for me, so I suggested to my boss that I'd like to participate in the request for proposal evaluation committee as our current P-Card contract was scheduled to expire soon. My boss obliged and recommended me. The experience I gained from the P-Card RFP process was invaluable and a tremendous help during the CPCP exam.
I used the guide from the NAPCP and did additional online research on terms and topics that were unfamiliar to me.
After I obtained Purchasing Card Essentials, I studied for the examination for a year to help prepare myself.
I reviewed the list of recommended study resources and obtained several books, publications, benchmark studies and CDs. I read approximately an hour or two a day for a couple of weeks.
I felt well-prepared due to the vast amount of information I was able to gather on the NAPCP website. I studied for 60 to 90 minutes each night for six weeks.
I actually carved out a six-month period of time for studying, allowing for real-life situations and finding a balance between home and work loads. I found the exam challenging and encompassing a broad range of knowledge.
Although I would have preferred a more structured approach to studying for the exam, I did use the tips posted on the website to concentrate on the areas for which I did not feel that I was as strong. I would not say that it was an easy test. My years of experience alone could not have gotten me a passing grade; the book and website information were very helpful along with the hands-on experience.
I used my eight years of experience in our P-Card program, along with other finance duties, and trusted that I knew the material. No doubt, the exam was difficult and covered a variety of finance/accounting areas, but I felt it covered the more important aspects of an administrator's responsibilities.
My main study tool was the Purchasing Card Essentials guide, our Visa best practices book and a variety of other recommended papers that I was able to access from the Internet.
It is always a challenge to find the time to adequately study for a certification exam in an already busy schedule, but good preparation is essential. The exam itself was about as I expected. Difficult and challenging, but, if a person is well-prepared, not impossible. I hold two other purchasing certifications and found the CPCP exam to be on par with those. It was thorough and adequately difficult and definitely required proper preparation to pass.
The computer format made the test much easier to take. It was a great system that allowed you to answer, pass, and then go back as often as you wanted to review. Some questions had very obvious answers from my standpoint. But obviously this is in direct relationship with the areas you are most comfortable with. I honestly have to say that, when I completed the test, I really couldn't determine if I had done really well or would fail by some margin.
During the CPCP exam, I had to decide how to keep a good pace so that I could successfully answer all the questions within the allotted time (and avoid rushing). There was a bit of pressure in the last 30 minutes where I had to speed up the process because of my detailed and thorough approach…
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