The following article was prepared by Mike Taylor, C.P.M.,
for distribution to ISM affiliate newsletters
Are You Ready to Take the C.P.M. Exam?
You only have a few years left to do so before
the exam is discontinued in favor of the CPSM certification. (last day to take
the C.P.M. exam is 12/31/2009) I applaud your plan and highly recommend it.
Bridging to the new certification will be available so you can always move
forward later – but you’ll never be able to go back.
If you are just getting started, here are a few
HOLD IT! Don’t look at this list and complain that it is too long or
complicated. Taking the test and becoming a C.P.M. is not a walk in the park. If
you want easy, become a CPA . You are going to have to call on all of your time
management skills and self discipline to get it done. It will take an investment
of time on your part – procrastinating is not an option grasshopper.
NOTE: DON’T BUY ANYTHING YET – read these
recommendations first before spending money on materials you don’t need or
Spend some quality time on the internet with
the ISM certification information pages. There are many links to resources,
which could be of help and information. I can’t emphasize this enough!
Spending enough time getting familiar with this material now, will pay off
in the long run. Have a cup of coffee (or tea) and spend some time browsing
though all of the information, FAQs, links, resources, etc! Even if you
don’t need a specific piece of information now, it’s good to know what’s
available when you do want it.
Place a copy of the application and all of your
supporting documentation in one place ( a folder in your desk for example).
Get in the habit of keeping any new supporting documentation (continuing
education credentials, etc.) in the same place – you will need them to
recertify and it’s much easier to gather while you go. When you return from
a class or conference, first thing to do is store the credential in this
Download a copy of the C.P.M. exam
specification. It’s a complete outline of the topics covered by the exam and
can be used as a checklist for locating references and studying. I’d suggest
printing it and marking it up. Color code the items that you are comfortable
with or need to study or need help with. There is also a document referred
to as the General Format of the exam. It might be a useful index.
Don’t be daunted by the overall length and
complexity of the exam specification. This is generally a full outline of
Supply Chain Management topics. It won’t all be on the exam – and this is a
very important point: The exam specification and study materials are just
general guides. The exam could include anything related to the Supply Chain
topics from many different sources. Don’t assume that just by reading a
study guide you will be prepared. Current literature, articles, and
practices are all part of the exam. If there is a hot issue relating to
Supply Chain Management in the news today, it could be on the exam tomorrow.
The exam specification should become your study
plan to specific topics. Start with module 1 and review the topical areas
listed. Scan through the specific tasks to get a feel for how comfortable
you are with the topic. Use this outline as a guide when reviewing articles,
books and web sites for information related to the specific topics. The exam
specification can also serve as an outline for study groups.
Don’t forget to solicit program information
from your local affiliate. Specific exam topics could make useful affiliate
program topics. Example: when I was studying for the exam, I knew nothing
about hedging (still don’t know much) so I encouraged our affiliate to find
a local company to do a program on commodity hedging. Helped me a lot.
Don’t assume you know the topic just because
the terminology looks familiar. It may not be your highest priority, but you
should verify that what you think you already know is correct. I personally
know of one person who failed module 1 of the exam twice, before realizing
that he “knew” all the wrong definitions for freight terms. He absolutely
‘knew’ that FOB meant Freight on Board – after failing twice he opened the
book and discovered it doesn’t.
Now that you have reviewed the web site and the
specification, you can start gathering study materials in a systematic way.
Check the ISM web site discussion group.
What you want may already be available as a used copy. What you are
thinking about buying may already be reviewed by someone else.
You will definitely want to have a copy of
the current study guide – mostly because it’s already organized in the
same way that the exam is. Get your own copy to mark up as you go.
Remember the study guide is not intended to be complete – it’s just a
Try to track down and borrow a copy of the
diagnostic kit. The analysis and explanations of questions and answers
is important. Looks for phrases such as “understand the concept” and
make sure you do. Exam questions will be focused on making sure you
understand the concepts like tariffs and impact to the supply chain.
Locate and borrow a comprehensive Supply
Management textbook. The bibliography available on the ISM web site
under the study materials link lists several good books. Some local
libraries or affiliates have copies that you can checkout or borrow.
You’ll need a good reference to use as you study and run into questions.
Look in college bookstores for related
materials on business law, management and general business topics. The
best resource I’ve ever found was a Contract Law study guide in a
college bookstore. Read more about that here….
Locate and take (no cheating) all the
sample exams that you can find. The old study guides used to have sample
questions, and most study courses included sample questions. Copies are
floating all over. This is your absolute best way to gauge your own
study needs and if you spoil the surprise by reading the answers first,
you’ll never know what you never knew.
Look for web sites and online resources for
specific tasks and topics. Examples would be some of the ISM Groups and
Forums web sites. Like the brand new Electronic Supply Management Web
Approach this task like you would a college
course. Only a very few special people in the world, could take the C.P.M.
exam and pass it without making a concerted effort. Allocate time to read.
Join or form a study group. Carry the materials with you so that down time
can be productive study time. Remember how we all learned to work on
assigned reading while standing in line or waiting for class…
Call in all of your favors. Got a little
trouble with a specific point? Find someone who understands it and ask for
an explanation. Bring questions to affiliate programs and start a discussion
Don’t forget that you probably will need to
practice test-taking skills as well. The questions are worded very carefully
to be differentiators. That means they are HARD. You’ll want to get back in
the habit of looking for double negatives and qualifiers like “ALL or
ALWAYS” . Practice taking tests and analyzing why you missed questions.
Also, don’t fall into this trap when taking
sample tests. This tip from my old psychology days. The answer a
person selects in a sample exam will look familiar and sound correct when
they sit down to future exams - regardless if it was right or wrong. So,
after taking a sample exam, deliberately review and look at the correct
answers carefully to make sure they override your memory of the wrong
Set a goal! I have collected all of the study
materials for module 1 and will review them by Feb 1. On Feb 15, my study
group and I will meet take one last sample exam and quiz each other. I have
registered for the exam on March 1 and will be ready!
Good Luck grasshopper! May being prepared bring you peace of mind and
success in this worthy endeavor.