How to Choose The Best CAPM® Practice Exams For You

Are you ready to prove that you can manage projects? The PMI Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)® certification is a great way to show that you are confident working in a project environment.

The CAPM certification gives you the edge as a professional. However, preparing for the test can be a challenge. There is no pass mark available from PMI so it can be hard to know if you are ready. That’s why taking a CAPM practice exam - or several - is essential to help you prepare.

An exam simulator will show you what to expect, help you plan your time and make studying much easier. When you are looking at how to choose the best CAPM practice exams, what should you look for? CAPM practice tests vary widely in quality, so in this article we’ll consider what features you should look out for before you make your decision.

Before we go into that, let’s review the benefits of using an exam simulator to support your studies.

Why Do You Need a CAPM Practice Exam?

The world of work is becoming more and more ‘projectized’: in other words we are doing more work as projects. Research on the future of project management shows that project-based work, greater collaboration and virtual teams are all trends that we have to learn to manage… and that’s where project managers come in.

Employers are looking for candidates who can demonstrate they have the knowledge and experience to work in this environment, which is why the CAPM certificate is so valuable. You want to maximize your study time and pass on your first attempt, right? That’s where an exam simulator can help.

The top 5 reasons that people use a practice questions as part of their exam prep, according to the many conversations we’ve had with students, are:

  1. Practice with realistic questions
  2. Practice managing your exam time
  3. Study faster and focus on areas for development
  4. Track your performance
  5. Feel confident on exam day.

1. Practice with realistic questions

You can find sample questions online and in books, but many of them are designed simply to test your recall of key concepts and are not representative of what you will find in the ‘real’ CAPM certification exam.

Your exam simulator must have questions similar to those you’ll experience when you take your test because that will help you understand how you are likely to perform on the day. The best sample questions mirror the tone, format, phrasing and difficulty level that you should expect to see in the test.

2. Practice managing your exam time

The CAPM exam is three hours long. There are 150 questions to answer. You can do the math: that’s one question every 1.2 minutes, assuming you don’t need any time to check your answers.

Of course, most people do want to leave time to check their answers and go back to questions they skipped, so in reality it’s important to practice managing your exam time. A simulator helps you do that by getting you used to the speed expected to make it to the end of the assessment.

3. Study faster and focus on areas for development

Very few students can study full-time, so it’s common to try to squeeze your study hours into evenings, weekends and other pockets of time you can find during the day. If you are looking for how to make time for professional development, a top tip is to focus your learning on the areas that will give you the best return.

Answer test questions and check your work. Then use that information and the detailed reports in the simulator to identify areas where you need to spend more time. It’s normal to find some subjects straightforward and others more complicated to understand. Make the best use of your time by focusing on areas for development based on your test results.

4. Track your performance

We know that students get a huge confidence boost from seeing their test results improve over time. When you have access to data about your performance, you can focus tightly on areas where you need to improve further. You’ll be able to measure your progress with tangible data and use that information as a feedback loop to get the best results out of your study time.

5. Feel confident on exam day

All of these benefits add up to something that is perhaps the most important benefit of all: confidence.

Nerves can strike anyone, but good preparation and confidence in your ability is key to busting those feelings. Walk into the test center knowing that you know the material and that you have got good results in many similar quizzes.

How to Choose the Best CAPM Practice Exam

As you can see, there are lots of benefits from using test questions as part of your CAPM exam prep. And as we’ve also seen, it’s important that your sample quizzes align as closely as possible to what you will experience at the test center. So how do you identify the best CAPM exam simulator to use?

Here are the top 10 criteria students look for when choosing what to buy.

  1. It’s supplied by a PMI-approved training provider
  2. It has enough questions to provide full exams
  3. It covers the whole exam content outline
  4. It’s been written by certified experts
  5. It has great customer reviews
  6. It has great customer service
  7. It has detailed explanations
  8. It offers test-taking strategies
  9. It has a delayed start
  10. It fits your budget.

That’s a lot to consider! As you go through the criteria and assess different options for samples tests, we recommend using our free simulator comparison worksheet. Simply download the worksheet and use it to make notes about each product you are considering. It’s the perfect tool to store your research and support your decision-making process.

OK, now let’s review those selection criteria so you know what to look for.

It’s supplied by a PMI Authorized Training Partner

The most important consideration is that you buy from a PMI-approved supplier. Those suppliers have met strict quality criteria so you can be confident that you are getting good quality questions, representative of what you’ll face on the assessment.

Authorized trainers will advertise their PMI credentials so you’ll be able to see whether or not they are approved. That information is also on the PMI website and you can always ask the simulator provider about their status if you aren't sure.

It has enough questions to provide full exams

The CAPM exam has 150 questions. You’ll want to take several practice tests over the course of your studies. Make sure the tool you are considering has enough questions to provide at least 4 full exams with totally different questions.

You’ll also want to ensure there is an ‘exam mode’: a way of using the test questions in exam conditions to practice what it is like to sit and do an online test for 3 hours.

Expert tip: Take lots of tests to work on your weaknesses

Take lots and lots and lots of mock tests only from reputable sources like PM PrepCast. You will find that there's lots of cheaper mock tests online but they don't offer support, stats etc… I did around 2000 questions before taking the exam. Work on your weaknesses. Don't doubt yourself.

Martin Premont, CAPM

It covers the whole exam content outline

The exam content outline is an important document for your CAPM prep. Your sample questions should be pulled from all areas of the outline, in the right proportions to reflect your real experience on test day.

It almost goes without saying but we’re going to say it anyway: make sure the product you are considering has been updated to reflect the latest version of the exam content outline and uses up-to-date reference materials, like the current version of the PMBOK® Guide. The exam changes over time and you might come across outdated versions that have not yet been taken off sale - avoid them!

It’s been written by certified experts

Make sure the questions have been prepared by certified professionals and that the reference materials cited in the explanations are high quality resources.

If the vendor offers a free PM Exam Simulator trial, like we do, sign up and give it a try. That’s a simple way to assess the quality and make sure the product matches your expectations.

It has great customer reviews

What are people saying about the product? Check out published, independent reviews on Google or Facebook. If other people have had a good experience using the product, it’s going to be a simulator that will help you reach exam success too.

It has great customer service

The best simulators are intuitive and come with detailed ‘how to’ videos and instructions to ensure you get started smoothly. However, if there is something you need help with, you want to know that there is someone who can quickly sort out your problem so you can get back to studying again.

Read reviews for insights into what customer service is available, and see if there is a customer forum, FAQ section of the website, helpdesk and access to a customer service team.

It has detailed explanations

When you answer a question and don’t get it right, you need a detailed explanation of why that happened and why the correct answer was a better choice. Understanding the ‘why’ behind the facts has been shown to increase retention and accuracy. In one study published in the journal Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 72% of participants who were prompted to explain a fact were able to recall it accurately, compared to 37% of people who simply remembered the fact alone.

The simulator you choose to use should have explanations for every answer choice as that means no guessing required! You’ll always understand why a response was correct (or why it wasn’t).

Expert tip: Prepare with practice quizzes

I was routinely failing the exam simulators and practice quizzes I was taking on the PM Prepcast. On the one hand, routinely failing my prep was disheartening and made me feel very nervous going into the actual exam. On the other hand, failing the practice tests prompted me to study a LOT harder, so I went into the actual exam very well prepared.

Naomi Mandel, CAPM

It offers test-taking strategies

A simulator by itself is a useful test prep tool, but you know what makes it even more effective? Test-taking strategies, tips and tricks from people who have successfully passed the exam, that’s what.

These could be in a customer forum, or delivered via an email course. They’ll give you the edge and help you prepare further by knowing what to expect.

Expert tip: Eliminate wrong answers

Read the question completely before you answer. I made a lot of careless mistakes during my first CAPM full test. Eliminate the wrong options first if you are unsure about the answer for that question. For example, if you are not sure about the right answer for the question, try to eliminate the wrong options first. Then focus on the options that are remaining. This will help you to narrow down the options that you have to review.

I was able to take only three full tests. But I would advise you to take all the five to increase your confidence level.

Vignesh Kannan, CAPM

It has a delayed start

You’re looking for your CAPM prep materials but you don’t want to start taking practice tests just yet. You’ve got some study to do before you feel ready to have a go at the first one.

Look for a simulator that lets you buy now and start later. Most simulators come with limited time access, for example, 90 days. You can normally extend the time period if you want to.

However, the best tools will let you ‘start the clock’ when you are ready: the access period doesn’t begin on purchase. That gives you time to revise the core project management concepts and dive into your practice exam questions only when you are ready.

This feature will help you manage your study time effectively and also help you stick to your budget!

It fits your budget

The cost of the simulator is important. You’ve probably signed up for some free tools in the past and realized the quality could be better. Expect to pay for a good quality simulator, but you don’t want to pay too much!

Think about what you have budgeted to cover your studies and what (if anything) your employer is contributing. Then look for discount coupons on the products you like the best so you get a great price on your study materials.

Where to next?

Project management certification is a fantastic way to show the world that you can make a difference in this career and that you have the skills and knowledge to do so. However, you want to ensure your journey to earning your CAPM certification is as smooth and fast as possible so you can get on with contributing to your employer’s projects and delivering great value at work.

As we’ve seen, an exam simulator offers plenty of benefits for your studies. It can give you a huge knowledge and confidence boost. Your next step is to review the criteria that are important to you and make a choice from the products that are out there. We’re biased towards our own simulator - and there are plenty of customer reviews that show why - but ultimately the decision is yours.

Why not sign up for a free trial and check out the CAPM exam simulator for yourself?

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