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Study Tips for the CPCP Exam

Study Tips and Exam Preparation

This page is intended for individuals who have completed the application process and received an eligibility notice with instructions for scheduling the exam appointment 

See Input from CPCPs

It can be helpful to review the experiences of individuals who previously passed the exam. The NAPCP offers:

Review the Exam Content Outline

The CPCP exam contains 150 multiple-choice questions on multiple topics. You will be given three hours to complete the exam. 

Identify Your Areas of Weakness and Obtain Resources

Based on the exam content outline and approximate weightings of each topic, identify the topics for which you have less experience and begin researching those areas first.

Review the reading references list for the CPCP exam, which specifies various resources that may aid your study process. The list does not attempt to include all acceptable references, nor is it suggested that the examination is based entirely on the listed references. In addition, it is not suggested that you obtain and review all of these materials. Rather, as noted above, focus your study efforts on areas in which you are weak or less experienced.

Evaluate Your Overall Experience

How much you should study depends on your experience and level of industry knowledge; for example, during the past few years, have you:

  • regularly read industry reports, news and articles?
  • stayed current on trends, best practices and regulations?
  • regularly attended educational events?
  • networked with other P-Card professionals to learn new ways of doing things?
  • actively engaged your card provider?
  • been involved with all aspects of implementing and managing a program?

If you can answer yes to all questions, you likely need less preparation than someone who primarily answers no.

Also recognize that the way your organization approaches something may not be the best practice. For exam success, focus on industry best practices. 

Finally, another plus may be having P-Card experience with more than one employer.

Create a Study Plan

Consider your overall experiene, but, generally speaking, set aside an hour or two each night for studying, beginning two to four weeks prior to the test. By spacing your study time, you will improve your comprehension and retention; for example, three one-hour blocks might be more beneficial than one, three-hour block.

As you study, highlight areas that address the items in the exam content outline. Try to review all the references you have obtained within two to three days of the test. Then spend the remaining days reviewing the highlighted areas of the reference materials. Concentrate on areas in which you are less proficient.

Study with a colleague if you plan to take the test during the same test period. Meet only after each person has reviewed the material individually. Take turns asking questions. 

If desired, take a seven-question sample quiz.

 Locate the Testing Center Before Your Test Date and Plan Ahead

To reduce anxiety, ensure that you have directions for getting to the test center and consider taking a test drive. On your exam date, allow plenty of travel time.

Note: You will not be allowed to take any personal belongings with you into the testing area. Leave valuables at home, but ensure that you bring your eligibility notice plus a current, government-issued photo ID. 

Utilize Test-Taking Tips

When taking the exam, read each question carefully. Respond to the questions you can confidently answer first. Then go back and re-read the remaining questions, making sure you understand exactly what the question is asking. Review the answers and choose the one that "best" fits the question. If you're unsure of an answer, consider the following:

  • Is the test answer partially true? Then it's probably not the right answer.
  • Try to take the question at face value. Don't think about situations in which the answer might be true.
  • If you narrow your choices to two answers, trust your instincts as to which answer is correct.
  • Remember that the industry best practices may differ from how your organization does something; keep best practices in mind when taking the exam.

You are allowed three hours to complete the exam. To maintain clarity, take a few "breaks" by closing your eyes and taking a deep breath.

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