Tips to Ace EVERY CPCU Test


Tip 1 Look at the “Education Objectives “. You find them at the start of each assignment and they are your secret weapon. When they make the questions, you can be sure that almost all of them fit neatly in this list. Right out of the gate you know what they intend to ask on the test. So skip the cheat sheet and just go memorize the answers they just handed you.

Tip 2 Make sure that you get the concept behind each section, even if you draw a complete blank on an answer. Chances are this will take you from a 1 out of 4 change down to a 50/50 shot. A great way to do this is to paraphrase the concept in your own words.

These tests want to give you knowledge, but more than that they try to reframe your thinking about insurance. I believe the true goal is that no matter what changes come you can adapt and rise to the top.


Tip 3 Vocabulary- They WILL use the vocabulary words in the margins. We have our own little language in insurance, and each line of business has its own dialect. Speaking the language will help you apply the concepts you learn to each question and knowing the vocabulary will probably get you a few points all by itself.

This is a great quick review as well before the test. You can flip through the vocabulary across the whole book in a flash to check yourself out before the test.

Tip 4 If there is a chart summarizing several pages, coverages or concepts mark it, highlight it and put a copy under your pillow.  Knowing the chat may not give you all the answers, but you can bet that information will give you a good boost on the test.

When you are doing your review these are an amazing quick check of you knowledge.

Tip 5 The more times they mention something the more likely it will be on the test. If you see a word or concept repeat, you need to have it down. Duty of care and hold harmless appear throughout CPCU 552.

Tip 6 Math and formulas, the bane of liberal arts major. Yes, there are a few in there, but I have faith in you. Ideally you have them all memorized and can calculate them out. For some people this is just not going to happen. If you need to do a little battle field triage on which formulas you can do and remember here is a good method.

  1. If the formula appears only once in a block of text: know that it exists and what it is trying to do.
  2. If it shows up more than once: Be able to piece it together from memory.
  3. If it has an entire section dedicated to the formula: memorize it and practice some calculations
  4. If it shows up multiple times and the workbook gets you to work it out (especially multiple times) know it down cold and make sure that you can calculate it every time.

Tip 7 If there is a process diagram or acronym know it. I believe that there is a special place in the hearts of the test makes for these. Know the concept, know the order, know the exact words, and know the description and examples of each step. In my experience there almost has to be some wizardry involved to turn a 4” by 4”inch diagram into so many questions.

Tip 8 Taking an in person class from a Society Chapter is great for concepts, retention and even some networking. Unfortunately, not everyone has the time or money to make that happen. Not to worry, you can do the next best thing. Use the workbook and online resources.

  1. The workbook is a good double check on your readiness, but a unique feature is that you actually write stuff down. It has been proven that actually writing things helps us remember them.
  2. The online courses may now have videos included. If you are a visual or auditory learner this can be a huge help. There are online quizzes and tests that tell you where you need more work. All of the online resources are accessed through a code in the back of the work book.

TIP 9 Get an accountability partner it works for the gym, it works in life, and it works for the CPCU.

TIp 10 Try to study on a regular schedule, your brain learns better if you study around the same time each day.


Taking the Test

Studying is great, but some of the smartest people out there blank, run out of time, or just plan are not good at taking tests when the time actually comes.  

Tip 1 If this is the first big test that you have taken since the SAT’s, forget most of what you know about taking a test. (I will not even ask if you took that test 2 years ago or 30 years ago). There are NO negative points here. Answer every single question – having a 1 out of 4 chance sure beats getting it wrong.

Tip 2 Other than your last minute study, stick to your normal routine as much as possible. If you normally drink coffee, have a cup; if you skip breakfast, don’t eat before a morning test. Changing what you do every day can take you out of the zone.

Tip 3 Most people skip the tutorial before the test and have no idea what tools are there to help them. I recommend taking the time to go through this at least on the next test you take.

Tip 4 Read the question; read the question; read the question. Yes, I repeated that on purpose. So many answers are missed because people don’t pay attention when they read the question. The test will have “All are correct except” (pick the one wrong answer), all of the above answers, and other simple trickery. The key is to read the question and you can even use the highlighter tool to make sure that you remember the tricky part of that question.   Many people miss these because they read the first answer and pick it if it is correct.

TIP 5 Read all of the questions. If you forgot tip 4 this can save you. Once you read two answers that are correct and you are surprised or confused, you should stop and read the question again.

Tip 6 There is a big black X next to each answer. As you are reading each answer (see tip 5) if an answer is wrong hit the X and it will cross out the answer. If you only X one answer see TIP 4, because that might actually be the one you are looking for. If you only X two answers pick the best of the other two and the X’s will help later.  (Three X’ed answers do not count as picking the 4th)

Tip 7 You can mark questions for review. This might be the most powerful tool, USE IT.

  1. At the end of the test you can pull up a list of all review questions or simply scroll through only questions marked for review.
  2. Don’t waste a ton of time agonizing over a question, follow the tips, do your best and mark it for review. You can always come back if there is time.
  3. Many times something in a later question will help you figure out a previous question. Every now and then you will even see the answer.
  4. When you make it through you now have an opportunity for fresh eyes and more time on the questions you marked.
    1. Hopefully at this point you have an X on two of the answers and you can take a fresh look with only 2 possible answers to consider. Always give preference to your first answer, unless you are sure it should change.
    2. Now you can spend the rest of the clock reviewing if you need to, and since you put an answer for each question you know you will not miss a single one simply because you did not finish in time.
    3. Finally in the review questions screen they will tell you if any questions were not answered.   

Now is time to take the first step. Order the books and make a plan whether this is your first test or that last one that you just can’t get past, you can’t reach your goal without taking the first step. So what are you waiting for?

About Derek Lynch

Derek has been protecting businesses and providing peace of mind for the last 10 years as a commercial insurance agent. He holds the CPCU, ARM and AIS designations.

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