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Frequently Asked Questions about the APICS CSCP Exam

Frequently Asked QuestionsEarning your APICS CSCP Certification has many benefits for anyone working in supply chain, but the process also comes with many questions. I’ve put together a list of questions that friends and colleagues have asked me in the hopes of making the process a bit easier for everyone. You may also be interested in my Tips for the APICS CSCP Exam article, which tells my story of taking the test and my suggestions on how you can succeed as well.

Don’t see your question? Ask your own question in the form below and I’ll do my best to answer and add it to this list.

Do I Qualify to Take the APICS CSCP Exam?

In order to qualify to take the CSCP exam, you have to have meet one of three criteria. You have to either have (1) three years of supply chain related work experience, (2) a bachelor’s degree or international equivalent, or (3) CPIM, CFPIM, CIRM, SCOR-P, C.P.M., CSM or CPSM designations. You can find the detailed requirements on the APICS Eligibility Guidelines page.
What is the APICS CSCP Exam Qualification Process?

At least two weeks before you register for the exam, you have to complete an eligibility application. You can access the form by logging into the APICS site and visiting the CSCP Eligibility Application. The application is usually approved within a few business days, but it may take up to two weeks.

Should I Take APICS’s CSCP or CPIM exam?

To answer this, you need to first answer the question of where you are trying to go. The best thing you can do is look at potential employers and job listings to see what certifications will help you land those jobs. Some won’t care about certification, but many have a preference for one or the other.

Broadly speaking, the CSCP certification is great for those interested in a career in general, broad supply chain functions. The CPIM certification is more targeted toward those looking at careers in inventory management. Getting your CPIM qualifies you to take the CSCP if you don’t already qualify. One APICS chapter president told me he thinks of the CPIM as a supply chain bachelor’s degree, and the CSCP as a master’s degree. I disagree, but it shows what at least one high up supply chain executive thinks about each. I like the differing career path analogy much better.

Should I Look into Certification from Organizations Besides APICS?

Absolutely. APICS is a fairly well known professional organization, but there are many other good certifications available. If interested in procurement, definitely look into the CPSM certification from the Institute for Supply Management (ISM). Wikipedia’s page on supply chain certification has a great chart of the different certifications available. Do some searches for potential jobs to find out exactly what the market is currently looking for before you commit time and money to a certification.

Is the APICS CSCP Certification Worth It?

My total time commitment: Three to four months of studying, 1-2 hours per day, or about 100 hours total.

My total cost of materials: Around $2000 after materials and test fees.

Your time and costs may differ, but the benefits need to outweigh these costs. Below are some of the possible rewards of certification.

Some Possible Rewards from APICS CSCP Certification:

  • Financial Raise in Current Job
  • Promotion with current employer
  • Helps qualify you for better jobs
  • Credibility and knowledge in the supply chain field
  • Strengthens your MBA school application


How Long Does Studying for the APICS CSCP Exam Take?

It took me about 100 hours of studying – or about three months, 1-2 hours a day on most days. Individuals vary very widely, but planning on 100 hours will get you very close if not all the way ready.

How Big of a Role Does Memorization of the Vocabulary Play?

Memorization of the vocabulary is key to passing the test. There’s a lot of vocab to memorize – especially with the very specific definitions APICS uses, but knowing the vocab will help you nail the questions. Using the flashcards and knowing all the words will help you more than anything else.

Where Can I Get Discounted APICS CSCP Learning System Materials?

BuyUsedCSCP 2You can buy a used CSCP Learning System. A friend of mine has a network of people looking to sell their used CSCP Learning System sets for half the cost of a new set. You can contact her for more information through the inquiry form on this page: Used APICS CSCP Learning Systems For Sale.

Can I Buy Just the Online Portion of the Study Materials?

Two options on this issue:

  • Contact us about used CSCP Learning Systems available. We may be able to find you something.
  • Call APICS’s sales department a call – they are very easy to work with:

Call +1-888-266-9079 (US, toll-free) or +1-651-905-2664 (worldwide).
8am-5pm Central Time
Monday – Friday

You could also try emailing Bobby Quickstad of APICS at bobbyq@learncscp.com. He does corporate rates, but he could point you to the right person if he can’t help you.

Do I Have to Study Sources Beyond the APICS CSCP Learning System?

APICS sets up the test and the learning system independently. Essentially, one group uses all the external sources they list to write the test, and another group uses all those external sources to build the learning system. The two groups do not coordinate to preserve the integrity of the test.

That being said, most people’s experience combined with thorough study of the learning system should be more than enough to pass. If you read all the course material and master all the online quizzes, then you should be just fine during the test. The flashcards are definitely the most useful tool since it sets out exactly how APICS uses that set of vocabulary – which is sometimes different then how I learned some of the vocab.

If there’s something completely strange to you in the learning system material, it might be worth reading more about it (I’d start with Wikipedia before the external sources), but again, the learning system does a good job of covering everything fairly well. In the actual test, there were only one or two questions that were a little outside what I had been studying. Even then, they weren’t terribly difficult at all.

How Many Questions Do I Need to Get Right to Pass the CSCP Exam?

The test has 175 questions and a scaled scoring system. You can get a score of 200 to 350, with 300 being a passing score. The exact mechanics behind the weighting are explained on the APICS Understanding a Scaled Score page.

From taking the test, I felt like you had to get the majority right (perhaps 80% or more), but I didn’t see my results on each question. Having completed the learning system, I felt very confident on about 70% of the questions, fairly confident on 20%, and not very confident on 10%.

What Is Involved with Maintaining My CSCP Certification?

To maintain certification you need to earn 75 points every five years. The easiest way to earn points is to maintain your APICS memberships (6 points per year) and go to APICS events regularly (usually 1 point per event). That’s a decent monetary commitment ($200 per year for membership), but it could be worth it if you network well with people at the event and/or get your company to cover some of the cost.

However, there are other ways to maintain certification. Here’s a list of qualifying point-earning activities: APICS Professional Development Activities.

They emphasize continuing education, so if you go to conferences, listen to business speakers, or take classes on a somewhat regular basis, then you can definitely keep the certification up to date. APICS is very liberal in accepting most seminars or classes as continuing education. Most one-day seminars count for 8 points – so doing one a year gives you 40 points.

Another factor to consider is whether you need to keep the certification current. I know several people who get their APICS certification so that they can qualify for a particular job in supply chain. Once they have the job, they feel that their experience is more important for their resume than an APICS certification, so they let it lapse. However, it’s harder to renew certification once it’s lapsed, so I wouldn’t advise this unless you’re positive your work experience will be sufficient.

Why Would I Maintain my APICS CSCP Certification?

APICS now allows people to check whether certifications are up to date. If a potential employer checks, and your certification is not up to date, then that could be a problem. However, that ability is relatively new, so some employers may not be using it quite yet. Ten years in the future, however, checking certifications may be very common.

Another factor to consider is that once you’ve let your certification lapse, getting it current again becomes more difficult. It takes an additional 15 points per year you’ve let it lapse to renew. For example, if you have let it lapse for two years, then you need 30 additional points (for a total of 105 points) to renew you certification for another five years. If you let your certification lapse for five years, then you have to retake the test.

I Have Another Question…

If you don’t see the answer to your question, feel free to reach out to me via the question form below. I’ll get back to you with my thoughts (or point you in the right direction), and may even add the question to the list.

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Your APICS CSCP Exam Question

Also, be sure to check out my Tips for the APICS CSCP Exam article, which tells my story of taking the test and my suggestions on how you can succeed as well.
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