I get quite a few questions about what’s on the certification exam. It’s certainly understandable that candidates need to know what to study and how to prepare. Unfortunately, we can’t tell you exactly what questions you’ll have to answer, but we can tell you what areas of knowledge you should be informed about and brush up on. The Certification candidate bulletin, the complete packet of information that explains the programs and contains all of the paperwork you will need to get certified, includes a study guide. We call it the Test Specifications and this document is a fairly comprehensive overview of the areas of knowledge and skills you should be familiar with in order to pass the exam. The Test Specifications document is also available on-line at ppa.com if you want to take a look right now. While you’re downloading that you might want to download the sample test questions as well. These will help you understand how questions are framed and provide a way to test your own knowledge about some of the topics covered by the CPP exam.

The test specifications are changing in 2006, so this document may look foreign to those of you who have applied in the past. We strongly encourage those folks who are already candidates for the program to review the new test specifications. We want to be fair to everyone taking the exam and the best way to do that is to assist candidates with the proper study materials.

The primary difference in the 2006 version of the examination is that specialty areas will no longer be represented as a separate section. It is possible that a portrait photographer will have a question on the exam that is referencing cameras or skills that only commercial photographers normally use. The good news is that the vast majority of the exam is based on the core areas of knowledge that all photographers need to know. Having said that, some photographers are concerned that there are a hundred examples of core knowledge areas that not every photographer uses in their day to day work, such as learning about outdoor lighting if they only shoot studio work. This is true, but we can’t create hundreds of versions of the exam to accommodate all such instances it’s just not feasible. Additionally, most photographers in our surveys and our focus groups tend to agree that what you should know about your profession is not always the same thing as what you use in your day to day work. Most photographers would agree that you should know lighting indoors and outdoors in order to be a certified professional photographer. Of course, you don’t have to get every question correct, there are always going to be some questions that a candidate didn’t expect (we hope) and you only have to get seventy percent of them correct in order to be certified.

The new photographic generalized exam should also be a better fit for the vast majority of professionals who tend to work in more than one area of specialization. Most of you are in the business of photography and are not in the habit of turning down a good job.

The new version of the exam has one hundred questions and candidates have two hours to complete the written test. Take all the time you need to study and prepare. To order the certification candidate bulletin just give us a call at 800-786-6277 or send us an e-mail at csc@ppa.com.