Letters to my child. Leadership, Business and Kaizen.

APICS CPIM: Computer Based Exam Tips

Computer Based Exam Tips

APICS Computer Based Exam Tips

I am going to dedicate some time to create content on how to prepare and pass the five CPIM exams, but I figured the best starting point is to give some advice on how to take the computer based exam.

Like in every exam it is important to stay calm and be ready. However, in my opinion, for the CPIM exams it is just as important to have a system and keep your eyes on the screen.

System? What do you mean?

You need to develop your own methodical approach to completing the exam. Something you can learn and repeat in a step by step procedure. I am going to explain my system, collect feedback and update this page. If you like my ideas, follow the blog and check back before your exam dates. 

I am going to keep updating this page even after I complete all five exams. It is my way of helping the Supply Chain community thrive.

This is how most people take the exam:

If this is your first experience taking an APICS computer based exam, you are probably going to answer questions 1 to 105, then go back to the start to review your answers before submitting. Some people run out of time.

After you take the exam a couple of times, you probably start taking advantage of the “flag” feature. So you answer your questions from start to end, flag the difficult questions for review… then go back to the start and review all before hitting send.

This is what I did on the day of the exam:

I woke up at 5AM and took my dog for a walk while I looked at flash cards. I returned home with fresh bread for my wife and went to my computer to take the APICS simulation.  *Happy Wife Happy Life*

To have a good buffer, I skipped any questions that required calculations. The whole point of doing this on exam day is to refresh definitions, not review equations.

I completed the 105 simulation questions in 57 minutes and 58 seconds:

Time to complete the CPIM Simulation for Exam 1

Time: CPIM Simulation Exam 1

Here are my simulation results:

APICS CPIM Simulation One

APICS CPIM Simulation One

I finished my coffee, brushed my teeth and drove to the exam facility. I arrived about 15 minutes before the exam. After checking in with two pieces of ID, I had my picture taken and was ushered into the exam room.

The administrator logged me in and I spent 3 minutes completing the APICS survey. I changed the settings to increase the font size. When question one popped up, I turned my keyboard sideways and my left hand was hovering two keys: ALT+N.

ALT+N: Shortcut to next question

ALT+N: Shortcut to next question

Tackling definition questions, I used my right hand on the mouse to quickly select answers and my left hand to go to the next question. However, here is the trick:

I flagged any question that had two good answers, even if I was 95% sure I had the “best option” selected.

I skipped any question that had calculations and skipped any question that started with an unclear statement, confusing choice of words, or included the words never, always, all, seldom and generally.

After 45 minutes I went back to the flagged questions and READ THE MULTIPLE CHOICES FROM THE BOTOM TO THE TOP. Then I selected the best fit and moved on.

I tackled the questions I left blank by doing the calculations and left the unclear questions for last.

In 45 minutes I reached the last question then I took look at the questions I flagged or skipped. I was 100% sure I passed so I hit submit.

Yay!! Passed the first Exam!

Yay!! Passed the first Exam!

Scored 314/330 (PASS). 60-80 hours of self study. No classes. Bought ALL reference materials and made my own flash cards.

 Why is this a good system?

It worked for me and it can work for you too. If nothing else, keep reading to develop your own approach to the exam. In my next posts I am going to explain the logic behind what I mentioned above by talking about:

  • Absolutes
  • Qualifiers
  • Multiple Choice distractions
  • Recognizing Phrases
  • Changing Answers
  • Working Quick
  • Logic VS Instinct

Check back on Tuesdays for updates. As of right now I am preparing for my second exam and after I complete this series on how to take the exam, I am going to give some study tips.

Feel free to reach out on LinkedIn and if you are in Toronto, join me and two other students in our Mastermind sessions! One is taking the CSCP and the other is climbing the CPIM ladder with me.

If you want to chat about the APICS exams, leave a comment and follow me on twitter. We can set up a Skype call or Google Hangout with other students.

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Categorised in: CPIM Exam Prep, Video

4 Responses »

  1. Hello Silvio,

    Thank you very much for sharing your CPIM experience with us. I really appreciate the exam tips that you provide on your blog.
    I’m currently about to start my CPIM journey and wanted to ask which CPIM exam simulator you used for your preparation?
    I found certico.org/cpim-exam-prep which offers a monthly subscription model for around $25 and the official one from Apics that cost around $300 for non-members. How long do you think will it take to prepare for one exam? The whole exam series is quite expensive, and I would hence appreciate if I could save some bucks on the exam preparation.



    • Hey Steven. I would check with your local chapter before proceeding. Look up “CPIM reformulation”.

      Also, are you taking the exams as part of a tuition reimbursement program with your company or out of your own pocket?

      If you are looking for work, job search in your area with the keyword “CSCP”. Then start a new job search with the keyword “CPIM”. Both are APICS designations. Shoot me a private message telling me where you are planning to take the exams. Let me help you out.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hello Silvio,

    I have started preparation APICS CPIM, I want to know whether APICS simulator is enough for self study and covers all final exam question or it require more detail study from the books provided by APICS.



    • Good evening Abbas,

      In my opinion the APICS simulator is not enough to self study. The CPIM exams are not easy and none of the questions will be the same as what is in the simulator.

      I know that often times for Citizenship exams, driving license examinations and entry level courses you can memorize practice exams to pass but that is not the case with APICS. What is your level of experience with Supply Chain?

      Under normal circumstances, the answer to your question is “no”. At the very least I suggest you look for the books. If they are too expensive in your area, look for someone who can lend them to you or buy them used.

      Have a good evening,
      Silvio K.


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