Elizabeth Pike, CMP
Senior Consultant – Association & Event Services
If you’ve come across this post, chances are we have something in common – an interest in becoming a Certified Meeting Professional (CMP). I can proudly say after October 13, 2020, I officially passed the CMP exam and was able to check a long-running goal off my list (and I couldn’t have been more relieved). My husband will tell you he has never seen me run up the basement stairs to tell him something as fast as I did when I saw that little green “pass” window appear on my screen. (I even forgot to disconnect from my remote proctor before I did!!) But let me tell you, the path to becoming a CMP is not an easy one.
For me personally, my exam had to be rescheduled multiple times. First due to COVID, then due to my son making an appearance 3 weeks earlier than planned, and finally because the website was down for maintenance on my date. BUT with the new procedures for at-home exams in place for a little longer now, I would think (and hope!) that it would be smooth sailing. My hope is that through my experience I can give you a few tips that worked for me on how to become a CMP!
1. Create Your Account and Apply Early (But Not Too Early!)
Before you can apply you need to create your online account on the Events Industry Council website. Start loading in your CE credits any time, you want to make sure you have all that are needed to be accepted into the program and if you are going to need to have any additional credits before you can apply. Once you are ready to officially submit your application, know that you have one year from the time you are approved to take your exam. It notes on the website it can take 3-5 weeks to be approved, mine did take the full 5 weeks (and you cannot set your exam date until you are approved). Make sure to apply when you are close to ready, once your approved year is up you would have to go through the whole process again if you did not pass your exam in that window. If you do not pass you have to wait 90 days before can you attempt again, the good news is they are now allowing testing year-round instead of just quarterly windows they had in the past!
2. Find a Study Group
I started trying to study for the exam without any help, I took the exam once in 2017 and did not pass. I credit so much success the second time around to working with a group of people all in the same boat and it held me a little bit more accountable for studying. The class I took was virtual through the MPI North Florida Chapter, we met once a week for 11 weeks about 2 hours at a time. Practice tests were provided throughout the classes for each domain, as well as one big practice test at the end. I learned SO much about how to study for the CMP and tricks that others had learned as well for studying. Although my class was not in-person/local and with a group of people across the country (how cool is it that technology can bring us that?!) you can check out your local organizations to see what is close to you as well!
3. Take Practice Tests
This can’t be stressed enough; the practice tests were key for me! I have had testing anxiety since I was a little kid, my parents can still remember trying to help me study and overcome this throughout grade school, however it has still stuck around. For me, seeing how the questions were worded, what the answers were like, examples of past questions, etc. eased my mind a little bit and made me feel more prepared. One tip I learned on how to study from the tests was after you take them and have the correct answers, study only the questions and their answers – don’t even look at those incorrect choices!
4. Download a Study App
There are so many different resources available and I found downloading an app to take practice tests helps (I used the Pocket Prep app and paid for a one-month subscription, I wish I would have done it for a little bit longer). Flashcards never seemed to work for me, I tried and really wanted them to, but it just wasn’t working. The app allowed me to review information quickly and take mini-quizzes. You can set how many questions you want to do for that time frame, which made it really nice if I only had a few minutes. It also tells you what percentage of questions you have correct, what domains you are doing better on than others, and gives you the option to review questions you got wrong. As a Mom of three little ones, I could use this app to sneak in some studying while feeding the baby, watching a TV show, a quick minute at bath time, etc.
5. Schedule Your Exam, Stick with it, and Don’t Be Afraid to Fail!
Having your exam date set makes it seem a little more real. You know that your study time is limited to a certain window and you make yourself work. If you keep rescheduling due to fear that you aren’t ready, you’ll never be ready! Plus, there is a fee to reschedule your exam so it isn’t ideal. Set that date, make a count down, and get working!
It took me THREE years to take the exam again after I didn’t pass the first time. I was so scared that I would not pass again that I couldn’t even bring myself to look at the books anymore. I wish I wouldn’t have waited. You learn from your mistakes and become better because of them. If you don’t pass, have a glass of wine, let yourself be down for a bit, and then pick up those books and get at it again – trust me, it is worth it!
If you’ve made it this far and you are ready to commit, you are already well on your way to success. Adding those three little letters to your signature line, Linked In, resume, etc. is an incredible value (and makes you feel pretty good about yourself too!). With GLOBAL RECOGNITION there isn’t a better certification for a meeting planner in today’s industry. I wish you the best of luck on your CMP journey!
Elizabeth Pike, CMP is a Senior Consultant – Association & Event Services with Treeline Associates. Treeline Associates is an international association management company based in Michigan, with operations in both the US and Canada. They provide full association management services as well as selective services such as conference planning, nonprofit accounting, membership marketing, and others. They are a technology-savvy company and have operated virtually for over 10 years. They were formed in 1998 and are entering into their 23rd year. For more details see their website at https://treelineassociates.com