CAP Certification Program: What’s on the Exam?

We look behind the curtain at the CAP Certification program designed to measure analytics professional’s knowledge across seven unique areas of the analytics process,

By Arnie Greenland, PhD, INFORMS.

The Certified Analytics Professional (CAP®) program
– managed by INFORMS, the leading international association for professionals in operations research and analytics– is recognized worldwide as the premier, vendor and software neutral, professional certification for analytics practitioners.[1] By combining education, experience, and effectiveness with a rigorous exam and a visionary code of ethics, CAP functions to help ensure that analytics professionals continue to build their experience and education to maintain their certification.

CAP is everywhere, and employers have noticed

More and more employers recognize the value of a CAP certification and the high standards required of analytics professionals who have achieved a certification. Based on current research published by INFORMS, 20 percent of Fortune 100 companies employ at least one analytics professional with a CAP certification. Similarly, CAP certified employees can also be found at more than 200 companies in more than 20 countries across the globe.

The certification program, originally designed by an international group of analytics subject matter experts[2] is based on a thorough analysis of what an analytics professional at the early- to mid-career stage does in practice. The examination for the CAP program is designed to measure a professional’s knowledge across seven unique areas of the analytics process, including:

  • Business Problem Framing;
  • Analytics Problem Framing;
  • Data;
  • Methodology;
  • Model Building;
  • Model Deployment; and
  • Lifecycle Management.

The exam was developed by additional subject matter experts who still meet to discuss and develop new test questions. The exam comprises 100 multiple-choice questions, each with four possible answers, and must be completed within a 3-hour time frame. The number of questions dedicated to each subject is based on the importance and frequency of their associated tasks.The computer-based exam is delivered through an independent and secure testing partner with locations across the globe, enabling candidates to schedule the exam for a convenient time and at a nearby testing center.

Tools for success

Preparing for an exam of this magnitude may seem daunting, especially when also managing the demands of a full-time career, but the CAP program provides many helpful tools to support candidates on the road to success.  CAP, as managed by INFORMS, provides access to continuing education courses and webinars that provide detailed explanations of the certification process, as well as serve to refresh knowledge of the content areas covered by the exam. Both the course listing and webinars are available to review online at any time. A CAP study guide was created as well, by CAPs for CAPs, to help guide study efforts, and a CAP Candidate Handbook contains information on every aspect of the program to guide applicants from start to finish.

In addition, practice test questions can be reviewed online at While these questions will not appear on the actual exam, they do provide valuable insight on question structure and the topics covered, by providing thorough explanations of both right and wrong answer selections. Why is this useful? Not only does it erase any ambiguity associated with a potential answer, but it provides unique insight into why each question and answer option has been selected, as well as the skill and knowledge levels assessed in the exam.

The CAP exam is meant to test an individual’s knowledge of the analytics process, to ensure potential employers that those who earn the certification are truly the elite among their field. While the exam requires a diligent review and application of previous experience and education, the tools provided by the CAP program enable applicants to conduct thorough preparation and take the next steps in their professional careers.


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Bio: Arnie Greenland, PhD, CAP, is a Professor of the Practice at the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland, College Park. Prior to moving to academics, Dr. Greenland worked more than 35 years as an analytics professional at a number of companies, the last of which was 20 years at the IBM Corporation. He retired from IBM in 2014 with the title Distinguished Engineer. At IBM, Dr. Greenland delivered analytics solutions to both public and private sector clients. Most recently, he focused on data and text mining solutions in such areas an anti-fraud detection and business process optimization. He has been a member of the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS) for many years, and he participated in a number of the working groups that developed key aspects of the CAP.

[1]We are distinguishing here between certification sponsored by a professional organization made of working professionals in their field, such as INFORMS, from a certificate program that might be sponsored or offered by a university or other educational institution.

[2] With full disclosure, the author of this document was a member of the working group that developed key components of the certification.