CMP Strategies as of May 2017

Every five years the CIC (Convention Industry Council) conducts a survey and review of what skills and knowledge are required for competency in the meeting and event profession. This is done by a survey of people in the industry asking them “What do you do…. now?” We know that most industries change and with them what people do and what they need to know. Based on the information they get back it is reviewed and put into context and an updated view is created. At that time the CMP framework, formerly called the blueprint, and the International Standards (IS) is created to reflect the changes. This process was recently completed and with it comes changes to the CMP exam, effective May 2017.

One of the most noticeable, but least impactive, is the elimination of Domain J, Professionalism. This only had 1-2 questions out of the 150 on the exam. It was primarily based around ethics and it was decided that since every CMP must sign a code of ethics it was not needed. This means there are now 9 Domains. We do still need to be ethical though---that never changes.

The other changes have a more direct impact on those preparing and taking the exam. A realignment of questions, increasing in some domains and decreasing in others, is the biggest impact. Since I believe that your studying and preparation should be strategic, I always say “all domains are not created equal”. Because of that you should adjust your studying so your emphasis is on the “big domains” and work your way down through the others.

Example: Meeting and Event Design was one of the two largest sections in terms of questions in the prior exam, with 24 questions or 16% of the exam. In the new version, it is now 51 questions or 34% of the exam. I always joke that in the days I took the exam (1996) and even as recently as 6 or so years ago, that content was the exam. Although I believe heavily in the concept, reality and application of Strategic Meeting Management (SMM), I frequently say that “you have to be strategic about the logistics” in so many ways for so many reasons. Many people are frustrated that the exam has so little emphasis on it, and ironically it is the largest chapter in the CIC Manual. This message came through in the restructuring, so many people should be happy.

The second largest section is Site Management, which ties in with the comments above. It has moved from fourth in quantity to second, but only with a slight change in questions. It now has 21 questions or 14% of the exam.

The third largest section is Marketing. This really threw me when the CMP-IS Blueprint came out, but once the new CIC Manual was published, with the content structured in the domains, it made more sense. Along with what you would expect- standard Marketing and PR- it also contains a lot on branding, RFPs, promotional products for sale and giveaways. This section has increased to 18 questions or 12% of the exam.

If you were to total those three sections up, that is 90 questions of the 150 that contribute to your score. Compare that to Project Management (9), Risk (8), HR (6) and Stakeholders (6). Am I saying those are not important? Absolutely not. I am saying that I think your preparation time should be relative to how much of the exam is on a domain. In other words, don’t spend the same time on Domain F (Stakeholders) as you do Domain G (Meeting and Event Design).

All domains are not created equal for studying purposes. No one ever feels they have enough time to study for the exam so you must be strategic about your time, to get the most ROI. It upsets me greatly when I find people have spent large amounts of time on something that is on the exam but not proportionate to the questions on the exam. It distresses me that people are studying things that are no longer even on the exam (hint: if it is not in the newest CIC Manual, PCMA Manual or CIC APEX Glossary---it is not on the exam. No matter what someone tells you). Make sure you get the correct information about the exam, its content, format and style (concept versus memorization) before you invest your time and money.

Another soapbox-- another day.


Joanne Dennison, MSEd, CMP is passion about educating in the meetings and events profession. She has taught CMP preparation courses for 17 years in North America and even China and Thailand. Her free video Study and Test Tips are YouTube. Contact her for information about upcoming classes at