Certified Administrative Professional Certification

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Certified Administrative Professional (CAP)


The Certified Administrative Professional (CAP) exam is developed and administered by the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP), a professional organization whose roots go back to the 1942 founding of the National Secretaries Association (NSA). The first exam, given in 1951, conferred the Certified Professional Secretary (CPS) credential on those who passed. Over time, as the role of the secretary expanded to incorporate more responsibility and scope, the term “secretary” was replaced by the term “administrative professional”. In 1998, the NSA changed its name to the IAAP to more adequately reflect the caliber of its professional membership. Three years later, the revised exam was introduced and the CAP program was born.[1]

Function of the Test

CAP Study Guide

The CAP test is the only comprehensive credentialing exam that covers all aspects of the administrative professional’s role.[2] To be eligible to take the test, candidates must have recent administrative experience in an office environment, with at least 12 consecutive months working for the same employer within 5 years of the date of application. Candidates who do not have a college degree must have at least 4 years of experience gained over the last 10 years. A college degree in business or a closely related field may substitute for part of the experience requirement; those with an associate’s degree must also have 3 years’ experience while those with a bachelor’s degree are only required to have 2 years’ experience.[3] Administrative and office professionals who hold the CAP credential are rewarded with greater confidence and recognition of their expertise, expanded career opportunities, and greater earning potential than their non-credentialed peers.[4] Once an individual is CAP certified, he or she may sit for additional specialty application exams to become certified as proficient in Microsoft Office suite applications.[5]

Test Administration

CAP Flashcards

Applications may be submitted by mail, or electronically via email. Candidates are encouraged to apply well in advance, and the cutoff date is 3 months prior to the first day of the coming exam window. Candidates receive instructions for directly scheduling the computer-based exam with a local Pearson VUE testing center once their application has been reviewed and approved by IAAP.[6] The exam is given in 2, one-week windows each year beginning on the first Saturday in March and the first Saturday in November. Effective in 2016, the cost to take the exam is $525 with a discounted price of $350 for IAAP members.[7] First-time applicants must submit proof of office administration experience with their application and exam fees. Those who do not pass the test must reapply and pay the fee, but need not resubmit proof of experience.[8]

Test Format

Sections of the CAP Test
CAP Test Subject Areas Percent
Organizational Communication 25%
Business Writing and Document Production 20%
Technology and Information Distribution 15%
Office and Records Management 15%
Event and Project Management 12%
Human Resources 8%
Financial Functions 5%
Total 100%

Test Structure

The Certified Administrative Professional is made up of about 300 multiple choice questions that have to do with seven major subjects: Organizational Communication; Business Writing and Document Production; Technology and Information Distribution; Office and Records Management; Event and Project Management; Human Resources; and lastly, Financial Functions. Three and a half hours are given to complete all 300 questions.[9]

Test Environment

The CAP is administered by Pearson Vue testing centers. It is a computer based test. There, candidates must present a government issued, valid photo identification, as well as a secondary ID. Once in the examination room, personal items are not allowed. This includes bags, books, study items, and electronics. These items must be stored in a locker provided by the testing center.[10]

Sample Questions

More free CAP practice test questions.


The multiple-choice questions cover knowledge gained from a combination of on-the-job experience and formal higher education. Exams are professionally scored and a pass report is generated and sent to candidates within 45 days of taking the exam. Successful candidates who receive a “pass” on the exam will also be mailed a certificate.[11]

Recent/Future Developments

Beginning in March 2015, the pencil-and-paper CAP test was replaced with a computer-based exam administered by Pearson VUE.[12] Recent changes have been made to the CAP application as well, which are reflected in the new version released in August 2015 for the 2016 exams.[13]


  1. ^ History of IAAP July 20, 2015
  2. ^ Certification July 28, 2015
  3. ^ Certification July 20, 2015
  4. ^ Why You Should Become an IAAP Certified Administrative Professional July 28, 2015
  5. ^ Certification July 20, 2015
  6. ^ Certification July 20, 2015
  7. ^ Applying for the IAAP CAP Certification and/or OM Specialty Exam July 28, 2015
  8. ^ The Exam Study Guide July 29, 2015
  9. ^ CAP domains 10 August 2015
  10. ^ CAP Handbook 10 August 2015
  11. ^ The Exam Study Guide July 29, 2015
  12. ^ Why You Should Become an IAAP Certified Administrative Professional July 28, 2015
  13. ^ Certification July 20, 2015