19 Study Tips for the
CMP(Certified Meeting Professional) Exam
Nobody ever has what they feel is “enough” time to study for the exam. I believe that it is important to strategically study and prepare for the exam. That way you are starting with the methods that you are going to get the largest results from, and if you have more time, working through more material, in more detailed ways. If you start out spending all of your time on the minutia you will never get the big picture. Yes there is strategy to studying, just as there is to meeting and event planning.
The “Do Nots”
I know that you are never supposed to start with negatives, but:
- Do not listen to anyone who took the exam more than a couple of years ago. It has changed so much they really do not know specifics of the current exam unless they are really involved in the process through the Conclaves. What they do know is that it is stressful!
- Do not use “practice tests” except the one provided on line by EIC (formerly CIC)*.
Yes, I know this is controversial and lots and lots of people disagree with me (it’s OK -I am used to it). And you probably already have that 4” stack that has been collected around the country (or world since we are now global) and overnighted to you. Why would I say this?
One reason is the same one as #1—the tests have changed so much, both content and how the questions are written, that these are probably not a good measure for what the exam is going to be like.
A second reason that anyone who has attended the CMP Conclave recently, (where the questions are written), will tell you it takes a while (usually minimally 10 minutes) and a couple of people (at least two have to write and/or review) for a “real” question to be written. There is actually a real science to it (We are taught before we are allowed to write them!). Because of that it is very difficult for one person to correctly write numerous correct and current questions to create a mock exam.
A third reason—I have seen a lot of wrong and/or outdated material on these. Definitely not useful to be using that as a benchmark.
These three points also apply to many of the apps that are available. Please note that even if an app says “CMP app” does not mean it was put together by anyone knowledgeable about the industry or the exam. EIC does not have an app.
And one last point—I have seen people “study” the questions. This is just not the best use of your study time.
In my mind it is worse for someone to take a mock exam with incorrect questions, than it is to not take any. It can give you a false sense of success or failure.
*The only “real mock exams” (how’s that for an oxymoron?) is the Official CMP Practice Exams. There are two. Here is more information:
http://www.eventscouncil.org/CMP/CMPApplicants/PracticeExam.aspx – The good thing is that it shows a “real” question that will never be used in the future (it is removed from the question bank). Be aware that some have been removed from the question bank because they are “outdated”—they are no longer in the books or exam content. It does not show you really how you will do on the exam however, because the subject areas (domains) are not necessarily represented in the same proportion as the exam.
And now stepping down from my soapbox…
- Get over the fact that what is “right” according to the book, may not be the way you do it. The whole purpose of studying, taking the exam is to show you are a professional. That means that you are trying to create the “optimum learning experience” where all the stakeholders get the most out of it. In reality you may never have learned the “best way” to do it since we pretty much have all learned on the job. Do not take the attitude that the books are wrong. The books have been put together based on a lot of research including input from hundreds, probably thousands, of meeting professionals. Would it really hurt to learn a better way of doing something even if what you have done before has worked? A Professional (the “P” in CMP) is someone who always keeps current with what is new in the profession and strives to create the best.
- The exam has changed significantly just within the past 3 years (am I making that point enough?) In the past 10 years, it has gone from a very definition/fact type exam, to a situational type exam. Also a lot of the “facts” have changed. Therefore a lot of memorizing of facts tends to be the least effective approach to learning the material. Although obviously some “Facts” have to be learned, what I have found for most people is that learning the concepts–in other words how to apply it, suits the current exam better. Focus on concepts over memorizing every word in the books. Because the exam is not based on memory recall (memorization), flash cards are not the most strategic way to study.
- Corporate planners stop rolling on the floor. Yes, the exam was originally based more on how Associations plan meetings, hence the five year time line and references to working with volunteers. The books and the test have changed to incorporate other types of meetings, but associations still do plan in a very similar fashion. A suggestion is to look at everything you read in multiple ways: how would it affect you if you were a Corporate Planner? Association? Independent? Supplier?
- Read the books as if you love the industry and it is one of those industry magazines that you have been wanting to read. So I am going to assume if you are going for the CMP you love the industry. When we get to read the industry magazines, it is interesting and fun and exciting to learn and experience what others are doing. Read the books as if you really want to, not because “you have to study”. It will help you read on a more conceptual level and you will begin to apply it to your experience. If you “study”, as in whip out the highlighter and mark the entire page up, you are most likely burying yourself in the minutia, or as Carol Norfleet, DMCP, CMP says “the factoids”. This is when you start worrying about the quantity of cups of coffee men and women supposedly drink. That is not what is on the exam.
- Learn “2 x 8” rule as “2h x 8h” – that way you never have to think twice as to whether the number you use is the Height or the Width—the “h” helps you remember it is the height. In case you were wondering how I came up with that nifty formula… it was because I could never remember. Now I never forget.
The only caveat to this? Occasionally, instead of Height and Width, they use the terms Horizontal and Vertical. The problem? Height =Vertical and Width=Horizontal. If you chose the Horizontal, it would be the wrong “H”. Usually it is Height/Width but just think it out if it is Vertical/Horizontal.
- Glossary—where do you even begin? What you need most is a working definition. Could you recognize the word in context in a question or answer? Remember you do not have to define it so you don’t need to memorize it.
Go through and read it with a highlighter. (A good way to test yourself is to cover the definition. Then in your mind think of what you think the answer might be—even if it is vague. Then uncover the answer.) For every word that you have some good working knowledge of, highlight it. You are going to find some of the words are so much a part of your everyday language that it will eliminate many of them immediately. As you read the chapters you should be able to highlight more and more words. Every word is not in a chapter however, so in the end you need to go back and somewhat learn the ones that are not highlighted.
This is a great book to carry with you everywhere you go. When you have two or three minutes (in line, on public transportation, waiting for an appointment) you can read a term or two and not worry about having to go back and re-read a whole paragraph because you were interrupted.
Stop carrying all your books everywhere you go because you feel guilty that you should be studying. Just take this one, and follow this process. The books that weigh a total of 10 lbs. should stay wherever you can do your most uninterrupted and focused studying.
Since the exam is no longer definitional based, personally I do not feel flashcards are an effective way to study for the exam. If you want to do flashcards, by all means do it—I am well aware that is what most people are telling you to do. I feel for most people, they are not the most effective use of precious study time.
- Confused with terms and definitions? Look for what is different not what is the same. It is the “sameness” that is making you confused.
- Concepts are best remembered by how they apply to real life. Learn the stories behind what you are studying, including the formulas.
The “there are nots”
- There are not items from the “general body of knowledge that the “old timers” like me will tell you stories about. Every answer must be in one of the three recommended books, and when the question is written it is documented to a specific page. An example is that AV projection image ratios are not on it! They are no longer in the books and have not been in over 15 years. In other words, the three books are the only study materials you need. Other tools may help interpret, but if the material is not in the book it cannot be on the exam.
- There are not measurements that need to be “translated”. All measurements are written in both imperial and metric so you don’t need to know how many ounces in a liter, or liters in a gallon.
- You do not need to know international currency and conversions. In fact now the exam uses no monetary symbols—it tells you that you are working with currency and moves on with the questions.
- There is not an ADA section. First of all this is now a global exam so the “American Disabilities Act” would not apply directly since material is country neutral. Questions about accessibility are incorporated into other areas such as site selection and room set-up. You do not need to know how high the elevator buttons are.
To me the most important two things about accessibility and questions regarding it are:
Did you know ahead of time?
How do you treat the person with the most dignity?
Approach the exam questions concerning disabilities in this order, because the correct answer could be different depending on whether you knew ahead.
- There is not an International Section. Again the international points are integrated into other questions. And every question that begins with “You are having a meeting in Paris…” is not necessarily an international question. Remember the questions are frequently built into situational examples. It may be just a piece of information describing the meeting.
- Concentrate on the Domains and skills that have the most number of questions – in other words you probably will still pass even if you know nothing about shipping.
- When you schedule your exam, if you have a learning disability or English is not your first language, you may apply for an extended testing time.
- Review my “Test Taking Tips for the CMP Exam”
- Don’t study the night before or the day of – really. You either know it or you don’t at this point, and sleep is more important.