Getting prepared for CAPM: Tips, Formulas & PMI’isms

My inbox was getting out of hand (again!) and I took up the mission to get it to zero! (Believe it or not, it has been a mission impossible till date.) So, I got the Mailbox app and spent an entire evening swiping left and right. That’s when I noticed this little something buried in the inbox. Nearly a month back, On the request of a friend preparing for CAPM, I prepared a list of tips from my experience to help her get through the exam. Thought it will be a good idea to post it here and help others who are thinking about taking up project management certification..

Certified Associate in Project Manager (CAPM) is awarded by the Project Management Institute (PMI). It recognizes the individual has a fundamental understanding of project management’s process and terminology. This credential exemplifies your experience, education, and knowledge; increasing your recognition within an organization and around the world.

How to register for the CAPM exam?

The CAPM Handbook guides you through the process and also gives you how the questions split-up based on the PMBOK topics. You can view it here.

General Exam Tips

1. Get the PMBOK. Print out the Knowledge areas & Process groups table. This is very important. Learn it completely.

2. Learn the inputs, tools & techniques and outputs  for each of the 42 processes. Try to make a chart of that to refer to before the exam.

3. Download the CAPM Handbook and learn the PMI Code of Ethics & Professional Conduct from Page 36 to 40. You will have questions from this.

4. For questions on Code of ethics, If the ethics is violated, report them to the authorities, the value of the crime is never important, talk to the person, get the facts straight and only after that you should report. If your choices have check the rules or confirm with company policies, that is the right answer. If there is a choice of talk to the person, then that should be chosen than reporting.

5. The level of authority project managers have in different types of organizations.

6. Write down the formulas as soon as you sit down for the exam.

7. If you feel that more than one answer is right choose the one which the project manager should do first, where applicable.

8. Always try to picture which knowledge area and process group the question belongs to before answering. It is advisable to draw a skeleton of the knowledge areas & Process groups table after you write down the formulas. I found this to help me a lot during the exam.

9. Always answer the question from PMI’s perspective. (some PMI’isms are listed below as a reference for you.)

10.Watch out for noise/distractors in the questions, ie., unnecessary data which distracts you from the question.

11. Always read the question first. This will help you to cut through the noise/distractors quickly and arrive at the right answer.


12. PV = FV / (1 + i)n

13. Cost Variance, CV = EV- AC

14. Schedule Variance, SV = EV – PV

15. Variance at Completion, VAC = BAC – EAC

16. Cost Performance Index, CPI = EV / AC

17. Schedule Performance Index, SPI = EV / PV

18. Estimate to Completion, ETC = EAC – AC

19. To-Complete Performance Index, TCPI = (BAC – EV) / (BAC – AC) or (BAC – EV) / (EAC – AC)

20. Communication Channels, with N as no. of stakeholders = N (N-1) / 2

21. PERT = (O + 4M +P) / 6 where O is Optimistic, P is Pessimistic & M is Most-Likely

22. Expected Monetary Value, EMV = % of risk occuring  x risk impact

23. Float = LS – ES or LF – EF


24.Projects should be strategically aligned with the high-level strategic objectives of the organization.

25. Engaging the stakeholders early is important and they are involved throughout the project.

26. Planning is the most important of all the Project Management processes.

27. The Project Team must be involved early in the Planning process and in all major decisions concerning the project.

28. Sponsor provides the funds.

29. Customer uses the product.

30. If it is a problem, always do something to move closer to the solution.

31. Face to Face is the best way to communicate.

32. To manage conflicts, Confronting and Collaborating are the best techniques.

33. While resolving conflicts or solving problems, it should involve the people with the problem.

34. Project managers should put the best interest of the project before his/her own interests.

35. Project managers never take shortcuts or skip process steps.

36. Requirements is not provided by the Project manager.

37. If someone asks for a change, then the project manager should follow the complete change control process involving the paperworks, approvals and tracking.

38. Unless approved, Change requests cannot be executed.

39. Rewards and Recognition helps to improve productivity.

40. The project manager is assigned during project initiating, not later in the life of the project.

41. Adding out-of-scope extras (also called “gold plating”) to please project stakeholders is strongly discouraged.

42. No project is complete unless there has been final acceptance from the customer.

So, There you go. I have listed everything I remember in no particular order. All the best. 🙂