A Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) designation is recognized across the globe as a symbol of excellence among meeting planners. We share tips from qualified CMPs for how to succeed.
Becoming a qualified CMP can be a nerve-wracking experience for those who are taking the exam for the first (or not first) time. Inspired by discussions within the Event Planning and Event Management LinkedIn Community, here are several tips to help you ace the process, from people who have been there.
Qualifications to Take the CMP Exam
A CMP is designed to enhance the knowledge of meeting professionals while establishing best practices and uniform standards of practice. More than 11,000 meeting planners hold this advanced certification.
Before you can sit for the Events Industry Council’s CMP exam, you must have been working in the meeting profession for 36 months and have 25 hours of continuing education within the past five years. If your degree is in the field, such as hospitality or event management, you only need 24 months of experience. Additionally, industry internships may count towards your 25 hours of continuing education.
How to Pass the Certified Meeting Professional Exam
In order to ace any exam, you need to work on:
- Preparation work before sitting for it
- Test-taking tips during the actual exam
We’ve included both in this article as well as a third section from CMPs on what they wished they knew prior to sitting the exam.
Prep Work Tips
Take it Seriously
This isn’t the type of testing most of us can walk in cold and expect to pass. Some people assume industry exams are just a formality. But for a CMP, you’ll want to train like marathoners do. Luis Velázquez, CMP, and Tourism and MICE specialist suggests: “Take it seriously. Give yourself time to study without being bothered… join a study group and share ideas.”
Use All the Resources Available
There are many study and support resources out there for event planners who are sitting for the CMP. Netti Fulton, CMP, from the Hampton Convention & Visitor Bureau, who took the exam in 2017 advises to: “Read the whole manual out loud; use the “Pocket Prep” CMP Exam prep application for your phone and pay for the upgrade; and attend a CMP Boot Camp sponsored by your local or nearby MPI Chapter.”
Find the Resource(s) That Works for the Way You Learn
We all learn and retain information differently. Some people are visual learners, others auditory. For Netti Fulton, CMP, reading the manual out loud as peers had suggested wasn’t enough. So she created her own study tool by recording herself reading the manual and then playing it back. Do what works for you and spend the time figuring out what that is.
Take a Course
There are many prep courses and programs designed to help you master the CMP. A good course will provide structure to the learning material and condense the information into manageable lessons that are easier to process.
See It for the Time Investment It Is
The CMP designation is an investment in your career and it is also a significant time investment. Recognize that going in, and set aside time in your schedule to prepare for it. Mary Anne Whittle, CMP, suggests: “Be committed to the process. Understand that this is a major undertaking and should be treated as such. Commitment to the process will go a long way towards a successful outcome on the exam and to your career.”
Join a Study Group
If you’re someone who learns best in groups and likes the idea of bouncing concepts off other event professionals, a study group can be a critical part of your preparation plan. Susan Daddio, CMP, Director of Global Events for the Waters Corporation found: “If you join a study group, have each member create a quiz each week (different chapters) so you can learn different styles of questioning. Don't try to cram at the last minute for the exam. Start studying/preparing in advance of your first study group meeting.”
Ask Others Who Have Passed for Help
The CMP designation welcomes you into a successful group. It’s a tight-knit one that looks to give back and they were once where you are now. If you have questions or need assistance, ask a current CMP. They’re happy to make suggestions and share their experiences (as you can see with this post).
Create Your Own Study Group
A study group may not be available in your area but that shouldn’t stop you or hold you back from the advantages of studying with a group if that’s a way in which you like to learn. Mary Jo Wiseman, CMP and Author of The Meeting Planning Guide: A Guide to Planning Successful Meetings says creating a study group can be: “...a great learning/leadership experience.” You can form an in-person group or one online.
Stay Involved Afterwards
Okay, so this isn’t really a test-taking tip but it is important to understand prior to taking the test, the type of community you are entering and the unspoken expectations behind becoming a CMP. Vanassa Kane, CMP, CMM, Manager of Meetings & Events for the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States says: “I would encourage someone who gains their CMP to continue to be involved in committees, writing articles, participating in webinars and attending industry meetings that will enhance your career/growth.” You’ve come this far, keep going.
CMP Test-Taking Tips
- Go in well rested. No need to add fatigue to the mix. The questions are challenging enough.
- Understand all the instructions given by the test-taking facility and follow them, advises Mary Anne Whittle. She also suggests that you should: “Thoughtfully read the full question, and then read it again. Don't skim or you may misunderstand what you are being asked and answer incorrectly.” Archana Pyatt, CMP and CPCE offers: “...it makes a real difference on how the question is worded, even if you know the information.”
- Answer everything you know for certain first. Don’t waste your time in the beginning on questions you’re unsure of.
- Next, circle back to those things you weren’t confident on. Since you’ve already answered all the ‘easy’ ones, you can spend the rest of your 3-hour time on the harder questions.
- If you can narrow something down and eliminate some options, you can make a more educated guess and have a higher possibility of getting it right.
- Know the exam is written for textbook answers or industry practice guidelines (that’s why studying is critical to your success), not always what you would do in real life, offers Senior Meeting and Event Planner, Angela Skeen, CMP, CMM.
- Depending on where you are taking your exam, you could be sitting for your CMP with others who are taking different exams of varying lengths in other professions. Don’t get distracted by people finishing at different times. Concentrate on what you’re doing.
Secrets of the CMP
There’s a lot of time and money that goes into sitting for your CMP exam. No matter how prepared you are, there are always those secrets you wish someone had shared. Here are some we’ve gathered from CMPs:
- “I would have liked to have more experience, to have done more events previously to be able to understand the magnitude of the CMP,” shares Luis Velázquez, CMP.
- While experience prepares you, there are aspects of test-taking that you need to familiarize yourself with. Don’t assume years of experience negate your need to study or prep for this sort of exam.
- You may be surprised by the math component.
- The amount of time suggested to prepare for the test might actually take you 2-3 times that. Plan accordingly.
- “Even if you don't plan to take the exam for a couple of years, create your CMP account with EIC online now so you can begin tracking your CEUs. It will save you time and headache in the application process,” suggests Jeannie Power CMP, DES, Power Event Group.
- “Recertification time comes around quickly. With the digital ability of tracking, it’s no longer such a necessity to ‘keep a file’ of all that you have accomplished or that would contribute to recertification,” adds Vanessa Kane, CMP, CMM.
A CMP is a time-consuming undertaking, but research suggests it is worth the return on your investment. In the 2016 Professional Convention Management Association’s annual salary report, which draws its numbers from 400 association, corporate, and independent meeting professional respondents, those with a CMP after their names earned on average $8,500 more than those without the designation.
Achieving the CMP designation is something to be proud of. You join an elite group of meeting planners to have accomplished this. To get there you need to put forth the hard work and dedication no matter how long you’ve been in the industry. This means hours of studying but hopefully these tips from those who have been there make it easier. Good luck!