A Privacy Instructor’s Guide to the CIPM Exam

Thinking about taking the IAPP CIPM exam but you’re not sure how to prepare or whether you’re ready? This post outlines what you need to know about the CIPM exam.  

What is the IAPP’s CIPM?  

CIPM stands for Certified Information Privacy Manager. This certification is provided to test takers who demonstrate their ability to implement data privacy regulations in day-to-day operations, as well as the broader considerations for designing and implementing privacy programs within an organisation.  

Here’s what the IAPP say about the CIPM certification:  

  1. The CIPM is the global industry standard in privacy programme management. 

  2. Master the skills to establish, maintain and manage a privacy programme across all stages of its operational lifecycle. 

  3. Bear the mark of a privacy leader who drives the culture of privacy within your organisation. 

  4. Elevate your leadership profile among your colleagues. 

  5. Secure the confidence that you have the essential tools and knowledge to boost your privacy programme and add value across your organisation in both the public and private sectors. 

Passing the IAPP’s CIPM exam is the only way to become a CIPM.  

Find out where the CIPM certification can take your career.


Helpful Resources for CIPM Exam Takers 

The curriculum for the CIPM is contained in the Privacy Manager Certification Body of Knowledge. This document should be read alongside the Examination Blueprint, which reveals the range of items that are included in the CIPM examination as well as the major domains and topics that will be examined. The Blueprint allows you to map out a study strategy, since you should study more for topics with higher ranges for the items being tested.  

At the time of writing, there are six domains that will be tested in the CIPM exam. They are:  

  1. Developing a Privacy Program (13-17 items). 
  2. Privacy Program Framework (9-11 items). 
  3. Privacy Operational Lifecycle: Access (13-17 items).  
  4. Privacy Operational Lifecycle: Protect (12-16 items).  
  5. Privacy Operational Lifecycle: Sustain (5-7 items). 
  6. Privacy Operational Lifecycle: Respond (9-11 items). 

The Blueprint reveals that most of the questions on the test will relate to the first, third and fourth domains. However, domains 2, 5 and 6 do still make up a significant portion of the test and should not be neglected.  

The Body of Knowledge is also available in French and German 


Textbooks and Suggested Reading for the CIPM Exam 

The primary textbook for the IAPP CIPM Exam is Privacy Program Management: Tools for Managing Privacy within Your Organization. It is available for $75 USD for non-members via the IAPP’s online store. Alternatively, you receive it for free if you sign up for a CIPM exam preparatory course with Privacy 108 

Secondary resources suggested by the IAPP for further study include:  

The IAPP has also created a glossary of privacy terms that is helpful if you’re not familiar with privacy terminology.  You can use the glossary to create flashcards. 

Finally, exam takers who sign up for a preparatory course with Privacy 108 also receive a free IAPP membership – which includes access to the IAPP Resource Center 


How Much Study Should One Do Before Taking the CIPM Exam? 

The IAPP recommends studying for at least 30 hours before taking the CIPM exam – even for degreed professionals who have passed other certification tests.  

Typically, successful candidates who complete Privacy 108’s 4 x half-day exam preparation course also read the textbook (more than once) and the course notes. They compare their knowledge to the Body of Knowledge to confirm they understand all the content outlined in the body of knowledge. 


Be Sure to Practice Taking the Test 

Many of us don’t routinely take tests anymore. Test-taking (like so many other things) is a skill that can be improved through practice. So, it’s best to take practice tests to hone that skill before taking the real certification test.  

Taking these practice tests gives you the space to figure out how to manage the available time and to develop a strategy for answering questions you may not know the answer to. This is important because the CIPM exam will likely contain questions for which the correct answer is the ‘least wrong’ and others where you need to choose the best practice from two seemingly correct answers.  


Feedback From the Field 

We asked some recent (successful) CIPM test-takers some frequently asked questions about the CIPM exam. Here’s what they said:   


How Should You Prepare for the CIPM Exam? 

Two of our recent CIPM certification recipients gave the following advice when we asked them about their preparations for the CIPM exam: 

  • Watch the online IAPP CIPM modules.  
  • Take the IAPP CIPM practice tests until you get 100% on the tests. (These are available for free when you register for a training course with Privacy 108.) 
  • Answer the practice questions provided by Privacy 108.  
  • Discuss the answers to questions with a friend.  
  • Read the textbook.  
  • Dig into how the IAPP likes to approach scenarios in the test, including IAPP’s opinions regarding best practices.   

How Hard is the CIPM Exam? 

The CIPM exam is designed to really test the depth of your knowledge and contains complex questions that can seem tricky. The two exam takers we asked about their recent experience with the CIPM exam both indicated that the hardest aspect of the exam was choosing between two clearly viable and correct responses.  

Our advice for exam test takers is to study the IAPP’s best practices carefully before taking the CIPM exam. For many of the questions where two options seemed equally correct, the test taker should choose the answer that reflects the best practices outlined by the IAPP.  


What Tips Would You Give Those Preparing to Take The CIPM Exam?    

Here are some quotes from recent CIPM certification recipients about the advice they would give to future CIPM test takers:  

“Study the CIPM workbook and practice, practice, practice applying principles to scenarios.” 

“Definitely read the textbook but also familiarise yourself with the Body of Knowledge outline, it doesn’t map directly to the textbook and it’s important to know the sequence of actions recommended by IAPP in developing a privacy program.” 


Prepare for the IAPP CIPM Exam with Privacy 108 

Privacy108 has been running IAPP’s Certified Information Privacy Manager (CIPM) training course in Australia for over 4 years.  We offer instructor led online training for CIPM, CIPP/E and CIPT. Led by Dr Jodie Siganto and giving you exclusive access to additional resources to help you pass your exam. 

You can review our CIPM Exam Preparatory Course Details or see the summary of what’s included in our CIPM exam preparation course: 

  • 4 x half day instructor led on-line training sessions 
  • Official electronic copy of the IAPP text-book Privacy Program Management 
  • Up-to-date Student Guide 
  • Specimen exam 
  • Exam voucher (valid for 6 months and valued at US$550)* 
  • 12 months of IAPP Professional Membership (valued at US$250) 
  • Access to recorded sessions at any time for up to 12 months after the course date. 
  • Plus additional resources available only to Privacy 108 students. 
  • Link to over 200 practice questions created by us to help your exam prep. 
  • Summaries and crib-sheets to help you study. 

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Privacy, security and training. Jodie is one of Australia’s leading privacy and security experts and the Founder of Privacy 108 Consulting.