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Studying for SMPS’ CPSM can be daunting, but I was up for the challenge

Before determining the first step towards obtaining a CPSM certification through SMPS, I asked myself many questions such as, “How am I going to study all of the material? How long should I spend on each domain? What are the important topics I should focus on? What is the exam like? How do I know when I’m ready?”

Ultimately, the first step and answers to my many questions came from my participation in SMPS Boston’s CPSM Study Group.
The introduction meeting with the Study Group showed me the CPSM Committee had a plan to meet once a month for about 6 months, covering one domain a month, plus two multi-domain review sessions at the half-way and end points. This was the structure I needed to learn the domains.

CPSM candidates were assigned brief homework assignments for each session, which encouraged critical thinking into each chapter. Sessions also included practice tests and questions, but the most valuable part was the insights from the CPSM Committee members. Whether it was tips on taking the exam or questions about domain content, I was always given clarification on how to move forward towards the exam.

I still had my struggles with domain content and frequently would barely pass or even fail the practice tests. Then there was a global pandemic. Through all of this, the CPSM Committee continued virtually and encouraged candidates to keep pushing forward.

I obtained my CPSM in September of 2020 and recently joined the CPSM Committee with the goal of supporting future CPSM candidates in the same way the committee did for me. We have a robust group this year aiming to earn their CPSM credential. We are almost done with the study group sessions, but stay tuned for the next study group which kicks off in Fall of 2021!


Phil Learmonth, CPSM, is a marketing coordinator with a BA in Communications from Northeastern University. He has five years of experience with HNTB Corporation focusing on leading proposals for both traditional and alternative delivery transportation engineering projects throughout the Northeast. In addition, Phil supports the strategy and business development efforts for pursuits of various magnitudes.

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