Answers to the Most Commonly Asked Questions about Certification
This list of Frequently Asked Questions is intended to help you find answers to common questions that arise as you learn about IAPP privacy certification. Please contact us if you have additional questions.
Which IAPP privacy certification is right for me? What is the scope of the certifications?
What is the process to obtain an IAPP certification?
What if I have a large group from my organization that wants to become CIPP-certified?
How much does it cost to take the IAPP exams?
How should I prepare for my IAPP exams?
How many hours should I prepare before my exams?
What is the cost for certification prep class materials?
Is the certification prep class guaranteed to cover everything that will be tested in the certification exam?
Who develops the IAPP exams?
What is the minimum score required to pass?
What if I need testing accommodations because of a qualifying disability?
I have several years of professional experience and hold many other professional credentials. Can I obtain a IAPP designation without taking the exams?
I already hold one of the IAPP designations. If I want to pursue an additional designation or concentration, do I need to take the Certification Foundation exam again?
Test Centers (Computer-based Testing)
Is there a deadline for taking my exam?
Why can’t I schedule my Certification Foundation and my designation or concentration exam together?
How far in advance can I schedule an exam?
Can I schedule an exam for the next day?
What if I need to cancel a reservation?
After the Exam
How will I find out if I passed?
What happens if I fail one of my exams (Certification Foundation, CIPP/US, CIPP/C, CIPP/E, CIPP/G, CIPP/IT or CIPM)?
What if I want my exam score reviewed?
What is the term of the certification? Are there any ongoing obligations?
Q. Which IAPP privacy certification is right for me? What is the scope of the certifications?
A. Presently the IAPP offers two designations: CIPP and CIPM. There are five CIPP concentration certifications: CIPP/US, CIPP/C, CIPP/E, CIPP/G and CIPP/IT. The concentration certifications are designed to provide you with a principles-based framework and knowledge base for the legal or practical specialization you seek in information privacy. The CIPM certification is designed to give you an understanding of privacy program governance and the skills necessary to establish, maintain and manage a privacy program across all stages of its operational life cycle. We suggest you review the bodies of knowledge for each of the designations or concentrations offered to determine which is most relevant to your area of work or interest. Remember, if you are a new candidate for certification, you will need to take the Certification Foundation exam in addition to the exam for the certification you are pursuing.
Q. What is the process to obtain an IAPP certification?
A. If you are a first time candidate, you must complete the Certification Foundation, which assesses understanding of fundamental concepts of privacy and data protection and covers common privacy principles and approaches, global data protection models, information security controls and online privacy protections. Successful completion of the Certification Foundation exam, coupled with successful completion of a CIPP/US, CIPP/C, CIPP/E, CIPP/G, CIPP/IT or CIPM designation exam will result in certification. You may sit for the Certification Foundation and one additional exam during a single testing event, but for test center exams, you must schedule exams separately.
To be eligible for any IAPP Privacy Certification exam, you must be a current IAPP member. The IAPP also offers a variety of materials to help you prepare for IAPP exams, including textbooks, in-person prep classes, online training, practice tests, as well as free resources.
Q. What if I have a large group from my organization that wants to become certified?
A. We can bring any or all certification programs to a group within your organization. Depending on your needs, we can provide comprehensive IAPP preparation (textbooks, prep classes, resources). Learn more.
Q. How much does it cost to take the IAPP exams?
A. For our major conferences, we offer a discounted price for the delivery of paper-pencil exams: $225 for Certification Foundation exams and $225 for designation or concentration exams (CIPP/US, CIPP/C, CIPP/E, CIPP/G, CIPP/IT and CIPM). Should you fail an exam you are eligible to retake the exam for a reduced rate of $112 for each exam at one of our major conferences. For all other exams (including computer-based delivery) the Certification Foundation exam is $275 and each of the designation or concentration exams are $275. Should you fail an exam you are eligible to retake the exam for a reduced rate of $162 for each exam. Find testing dates and locations near you.
Q. How should I prepare for my IAPP exams?
A. We offer a number of resources to help you prepare for your exams. The way in which you choose to prepare for your exams should be based on your level of familiarity with the exam content and your preferred learning style. We strongly recommend that you prepare by reviewing the bodies of knowledge for the Certification Foundation and the designation or concentration you are pursuing; purchasing and reading the associated textbooks; attending an in-person prep class or online training; purchasing the associated practice tests; and reviewing the free resources available to you on our website.
Q. How many hours should I prepare before my exams?
A. In general, the IAPP recommends that candidates plan for a minimum of 20 hours of study time in advance of each exam; however, you might need more or fewer hours depending on your personal choices and professional experience.
Q. What is the cost for IAPP certification prep classes?
A. Costs are the same for the in-person prep classes and media-based training. The Certification Foundation prep class is available for $425, and prep classes for each designation or concentration is also $525.
Q. Is the IAPP certification prep class guaranteed to cover everything that will be tested in the certification exam?
A. The IAPP prep classes are designed to substantively cover the laws, regulations, technologies, practices and procedures that will be addressed in the privacy certification exams. However, we strongly recommend that you also review:
- The bodies of knowledge for the Certification Foundation and the designation you are pursuing
- The textbooks
- Bibliography of recommended reading for supplemental coverage
- Glossary of Common Privacy Terminology for complete definitions of important privacy terms
The resources are all available under the Preparation section of each designation or concentration. Together with your paid prep class, they will serve you well to pass the IAPP certification examinations.
Q. Who develops the IAPP certification exams?
A. Items (questions, responses, and scenarios) for our exams are written by both volunteer item writers, who hold the appropriate CIPP designation and have at least two years of experience in privacy, and professional items writers. After our certification staff reviews and edits the items, they are reviewed by at least one other privacy professional before the certification staff assembles exam forms. Each exam form is reviewed by two members of the Certification Advisory Board before they are approved for use.
Q. What is the minimum score required to pass?
A. On all IAPP certification examinations, each item has equal value and is scored as correct or incorrect. Unanswered items are considered incorrect, and there is no additional penalty for incorrect answers.
For the Certification Foundation, CIPP/US, CIPP/C, CIPP/E, CIPP/G and CIPM examinations the passing score is a scale score of 300 on a 100-500 scale. The number of correct responses corresponding to a scale score of 300 varies by exam title and form. For the CIPP/IT, the passing score is 70% correct.
Q. What if I need testing accommodations because of a qualifying disability?
A. It is the policy of the IAPP to provide testing accommodations to candidates with qualifying disabilities to ensure each candidate a comparable opportunity for success on exams. We require one month notice in order to arrange special accommodations. Please do not schedule an exam until the IAPP approves your request. Click here to submit your request and supporting documentation.
Q. I have several years of professional experience and hold many other professional credentials. Can I obtain an IAPP certification without taking the exams?
A. No. The IAPP requires that you take the Certification Foundation and designation or concentration exams to obtain privacy certification, regardless of professional experience or other credentials held.
Q. I already hold one of the IAPP certification designations or concentrations. If I want to pursue an additional designation or concentration, do I now need to re-take the Certification Foundation?
A. If you are an existing IAPP certified individual in good standing you are not required to test for Certification Foundation. Only first-time IAPP certification candidates must take the Foundation exam. Existing IAPP certified individuals seeking additional certifications are required to complete and pass the certification designation or concentration examination for the certification they are pursuing.
Test Centers (Computer-based Testing)
Q. Is there a deadline for taking my exam?
A. We do not have a deadline for taking our certification examinations. However, we do require that you schedule your exam within six months of purchasing the exam. Scheduling your exam is quick and easy, taking an average time of 5-10 minutes, and you still have the option to re-schedule your exam once it has been scheduled.
Q. Why can’t I schedule my Certification Foundation and my designation or concentration exam together?
A. Our test center partner, Kryterion Online, requires discrete reservations for each examination. However, you may be able to schedule back-to-back sessions. If you do, be sure you do not schedule overlapping sessions—Foundation requires a one-and-a-half hour block of time, CIPP concentration exams require a 70-minute block of time and the CIPM designation exam requires an 80-minute block of time.
Q. How far in advance can I schedule an exam?
A. You can schedule your exam within one of the four testing windows as far in advance as you would like. Testing windows will be offered the first two months of each quarter. Be advised, however, that some Kryterion testing centers may not post available appointments more than two months in advance.
Q. Can I schedule an exam for the next day?
A. Yes, as long as it is 24 hours prior to the exam. If a seat is available in your testing center for the next day, you can schedule it. Please note, however, that you cannot reschedule or cancel a reservation within 72 hours of the appointment.
Q. What if I need to reschedule a reservation?
A. Reservations can be rescheduled up until 72 hours prior to the appointment the same way the exams are scheduled by accessing your order history after logging in to your privacyassociation.org account up until 72 hours prior to the appointment. If you need to reschedule your exam within 72 hours prior to the appointment, you must call the IAPP at +1 603.427.9200 ext. 283. Except in the case of documented medical or family emergencies, reservations cannot be changed or canceled less than 72 hours prior to the appointment without an incurred fee. Should you cancel less than 72 hours before your exam, you will incur a $75 per exam fee and payment will need to be made prior to rescheduling.
After the Exam
Q. How will I find out if I passed?
A. If you test at an IAPP event, you will receive an e-mail communication from the IAPP within 4 – 6 weeks after the exam. The communication will notify you of your raw score or scale score and pass/fail status. If you sit for your exam at a test center, you will usually see your result at the end of the examination unless otherwise indicated by the IAPP before purchasing the exam.
Q. What happens if I fail one of my exams (Certification Foundation, CIPP/US, CIPP/C, CIPP/E, CIPP/G, CIPP/IT or CIPM)?
A. You are eligible to retake the exam after 30 days with a retake price of $162 (or $112 for special-event paper-pencil exams). There is no limit on how many times you can retake the exam.
Q. What if I want my paper-pencil exam score reviewed?
A. The IAPP is responsible for and committed to accurate tabulation and reporting of privacy certification exam scores. If you receive a failing score for a paper-pencil exam and wish to challenge it, the IAPP offers two options: score review and appeal. A score review is a hand scoring of your exam results conducted by an IAPP certification staff member. This review will compare the exam answer key to your exam response sheet, with careful attention paid to ensure that your exam was scored correctly during the initial computer scoring. If you wish to challenge your exam results based on concerns about one or more specific questions on an exam, you may file an appeal. During the appeal process, the IAPP will review your exam results along with your specific question challenges. If the IAPP finds that the question(s) you have challenged to be faulty or flawed and it is determined that the results of your exam were affected by the question(s), a new score may be calculated. Read the Certification Exam Score Review and Appeals Policy.
Q. What is the term of the certification? Are there any ongoing obligations?
A. Once granted, IAPP certification designations or concentrations remain in force for a period of one year from the date of examination. In order to maintain certification status, you must meet two ongoing obligations: (1) Your IAPP membership must remain active; and (2) you must meet continuing privacy education (CPE) requirements (10 credit hours per term year). Please see Maintaining Your Certification for a complete description of these requirements.