February 15, 2017

How to Prepare for the CIP Exam

I see the exam results of every single person who takes our 25-question CIP sample exam, and of every person who takes the full, formal CIP. The latter includes specific results by domain as well as an overall score. I'll share some of those statistics in another post later, but I wanted to post some guidance for CIP candidates on how to best improve their chances for success with the CIP exam.

Preparing to be a CIP candidate
Like most certification exams, the CIP was built on the basis of a job task analysis. We asked subject matter experts in 2011 and again in 2016 what CIPs need to know, and be able to do, as part of their job. This resulted in the development of the exam blueprint. So the first recommendation I'd make is: Have 3-5 years of hands-on experience doing those things - at least in one domain. While the CIP is not intended to be a deep-dive into technology, candidates should have some experience with common technologies like scanning, email, Office, the web, and so forth, and common information management processes like document management, records management, or business process management. 

It is a challenging exam. Accordingly, it's very challenging to succeed at the exam if you have no practical experience/knowledge to bring to bear. Someone fresh out of college, or fresh out of high school, or who has just changed jobs from a completely unrelated field, should not expect to pass the exam without a massive amount of studying. 

Similarly, we think pretty highly of our CIP study guide and CIP Prep workshop. But it is not realistic to go into the prep workshop cold, with no background or experience in any of the domains, and expect to pass the CIP 3.5 days later. The workshop and study guide are better understood as ways to brush up on topics you know, and do some light studying of things you might not be as comfortable with.

Update: If you are a consultant or other role and have 5+ years of significant breadth and depth of experience in multiple domains, you can probably take it cold. I know a number of CIPs who did just that. But since you have to pay for any subsequent exam attempts, I would strongly recommend that all candidates do at least some studying of the areas in which you are least experienced. 

Preparing for the actual CIP exam
Congratulations, you're a candidate! Now what? Well, the aforementioned resources are certainly helpful to help you review and prepare for the exam. Here are a couple of other strategies/tips. 
  • Review the exam outline. It lists all of the knowledge areas for which there could be questions on the exam. These are designed to be broadly applicable and reflect defensible best practices across industries, geographic locations, and solutions. 
  • Review the bibliography. These were the resources that we used to write those exam questions. They will often lead you to other resources you can use to round out your knowledge on a particular topic or domain. ISO standards and bodies of knowledge are always a good bet. 
  • Take the CIP sample exam. It's only 25 questions but it should closely approximate the types of questions you'll see on the actual exam. 
  • Take one of the other AIIM courses. The 2016 CIP update aligns more closely to existing AIIM courses as well, so taking our ERM course will prepare you for Domain 5 and to some extent Domain 3. Our ECM course will prepare you for Domain 1 and 2. The Master Classes prepare you for Domain 6. Etc. 
Preparing for YOUR exam
Finally, here are the things to do once you feel ready and prepared to be successful on the CIP exam. 
  • Schedule your exam. You can find Kryterion test centers on their website; if you're taking an AIIM CIP Prep workshop, you generally also have the option to take the exam onsite. To do so, you need to bring a Windows laptop with you; ping me with specific questions about tech requirements. 
  • Prepare to take an exam. The usual guidelines apply: get some sleep, have a typical meal, don't stress out too much. Bring 2 types of photo ID. Don't bring any references, the study guide, your electronics etc. as Kryterion will make you store them with them before you go into the exam room, and so will I if you're taking an onsite proctored exam. 
  • Bring your registration documents with you to the exam. The proctor will most likely have them as well, but having yours readily available, along with the details of your date, time, and location, is helpful and may eliminate one more source of stress. 
If you're a CIP, what other tips would you share? 

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