Passing the CMP Exam

I know I have totally been MIA. Holy cow, you all. Life has been busy to say the least. I have been traveling every week since December and I took the CMP Exam yesterday (Saturday, the 27th of January). Between work and studying for the exam, I haven’t had time for much else. I know this isn’t a usual blog post, but for those of you event professionals out there, I wanted to tell you a little about the steps toward passing the CMP Exam, especially if you’re shorter on time like I was/am. And for those not in events, well…this is part of my life, so I am happy to share.

Passing the CMP Exam

What is a CMP?

CMP stands for Certified Meeting Professional. It is a globally recognized credential for meeting and events professionals. You can read all about it on the Events Industry Council Website (EIC). Formerly known as the Convention Industry Council, they promote and educate on best practices within the events industry; among many other things. To take the CMP Exam there are qualifications you must meet. This includes having 25-hours of continuing education credits. You’ll apply to take the exam by submitting proof of your educational hours, a résumé and your application fee. The criteria for taking the exam can be found here. I’ve read it takes 4-6 weeks to find out if you are accepted to take the exam. Luckily, I was accepted the day after I applied.

Studying for the CMP Exam

The recommended amount of time to study for the exam is 100 hours. Truth: I just didn’t have that type of time. I was actually going to take the test later in the year, but there was a need for me to take it in January so I went to the MPI (Meeting Professionals International) website-I am a member of MPI-and looked up recommendations for studying for the test. That’s when I saw several recommendations for Ellen Maira’s course. She has her CMP and CMMM, owns Event Solutions Management and has been teaching the CMP course for years (she’s a preferred provider). I gave her a call. She encouraged me to take her Crash Course and told me if I didn’t pass, she’d offer to let me into the regular course at no extra charge. I couldn’t pass it up.

A note: This doesn’t mean you should take three-four weeks to study like I did. I have been an events professional for 17 years. I was very fortunate I had experience on my side. The test is not easy. I was very nervous!

CMP Crash Course

Now I am not going to lie, folks. At the end of some very long days (especially when I was on site visits, flying to and fro or after an event day) it was hard to tune into two hours of CMP exam study prep. Then there was the reading. There are two course books that you will need to read at least some of to pass the exam. Ellen gives you a lot of tips for taking the test, what to look out for and lets you know subject matter that is likely to appear on the test. She also gives you a very precise reading list and lets you know which charts in the text you’ll need to commit to memory.

I’d be remiss not to mention Joann Dennison (who is also a CMP) and her tips on YouTube. I watched several of them. You will want to study this one and her four videos on Fixed and Variable Rates. Trust me!

Lastly, I used the CMP Pocket Prep app. It gives you a question a day and 10 quiz questions to go along with it. You can also pay to upgrade for access to practice exams.

Taking the actual CMP Exam – What to Expect

Arrive 30 minutes early – do NOT be late. Have your ID ready. You will check in and put your belongings into a locker (yes, phone included). The person who greets you will ask you to turn any pockets inside out and metal detect you with a hand wand (for real). I forgot I was wearing the necklace with hubs’ heartbeat on it, had to take it off, reopen the locker and put it inside. I also had to turn my hands over then roll up my sleeves. No headbands, big earrings and so forth are allowed. You will sign in, they will match your signature to your ID and ask you to record the time you signed in. The EIC does everything they can to avoid the possibility of someone cheating on the exam.

Once all the formalities are complete, the Prometric rep will get your testing station ready. The rep will motion you over when you may sit down. You will be given either a white board or laminated sheets of papers with graphs (I had the latter) to work with during the test. You will need them. When you begin on the computer, a screen will pop asking you to confirm the information you see is accurate (your name, etc.). You will have 15-minutes to complete a tutorial and then it’s time to start.

Passing the CMP Exam – The Test Itself

I have never met one person who says this test is easy. My opinion? It isn’t. The exam is 165 questions and you have 3.5 hours to finish. 150 of the questions count – you don’t know which ones. The fifteen that don’t count are called “pre-exam” questions, but they’re scattered throughout. There are ten categories on the test and each category holds a different weight. This changes over the years. In 2018 the emphasis is on Meeting Design and Strategic Meeting Planning.

Some advice:

  • Break down the questions. Really break them down (some questions contain irrelevant information – toss it out and then don’t overthink)
  • You can flag questions you’re not sure about – flag them and go back I did this on around 20 questions then gave myself the time to go back and read
  • BREATHE. Do this before and during the exam
  • If in Algebra you said you wouldn’t need it in your adult life? Well you do on the exam. Go back to those Fixed Rate/Variable Rate videos I mentioned earlier
  • Take your time – the 3.5 hours go fast, but you’ll still have plenty of time to check and re-check your work

Once you are finished with the 165 questions, you are asked to complete a survey about the test and the testing center. It feels like torture, because you just want to get to your results.

Once you submit those questions, the computer asks if you really want to submit all of your answers. Click “yes” and then wait. It feels like an eternity while that little circle goes ’round and ’round. I admit, my heart was pounding. Then IT popped up on the screen – I PASSED! Since there were other people in the testing center I didn’t scream, but I wanted to!

Passing the CMP Exam – Celebration!

If you don’t pass, you will be given a score of 54 or lower (you have to have a 55 to pass). The hard thing about passing the CMP Exam is you don’t know which questions you got wrong. It’s a pass/fail exam and if you pass, you’re happy and don’t have to worry about it, though if you’re like me you will wonder. If you don’t pass, you are given assessment on each of the ten categories and can concentrate on which areas need improvement.

If you are a disciplined and great test-taker, that’s wonderful and you can probably study for it on your own, but for me, when it came to passing the CMP Exam I am so glad I took the Crash Course, watched YouTube videos and used the app. I attribute that to my success and after almost 17 years in the industry, it’s about time I took the exam. I’m proud to join my esteemed colleagues in the events industry and to say, “YAY! I am officially a CMP!”

Stay tuned

So now that I have some of my time back, stay tuned for:

  • A blog makeover in February
  • Brentwood Home Dog Bed Giveaway
  • Luc & Lia Apparel Giveaway
  • Hanacure Facial Mask review and how they banned me from commenting on their Facebook page (true story!)

See you all real soon!


Heather Wilson, CMP 😉