A Personal Guide on How to Prepare And Pass the Certified Case Manager Exam

Yesterday – Almost three months after passing the Certified Case Manager Exam – I received my certificate in the mail. 

I had already known I had passed, and honestly had forgotten about the tangible certificate and it’s ridiculously long processing and shipping timeline. Nonetheless, I’m happy to have it in my hands and remember what a relief it was to pass this exam. I know there are many others out there right now studying and stressing over the upcoming examination window. Fear not – you’ve got some amazing (free) resources at your fingertips and a community of people who are here to help you succeed.

About the Certified Case Manager Exam

The Certified Case Manager Examination by CCMC is a 180-question exam offered three times a year. You must meet educational as well as experience requirements before becoming eligible to take the exam. This is for your benefit, as exam questions are often application based and require critical thinking to select the correct answer. Memorizing definitions does not guarantee preparation. You will test on the five core components of case management which is then broken down into sub-domains. I suggest you read this guide offered by the CCMC for complete information on applying, qualifying, the exam, fees and more.

Testing Options

Applicants that were scheduled to test in April 2020 were met with disappointment as their testing sites closed due to Covid-19. They had to then wait until August to reschedule their exams. Applicants like myself who applied for the August testing window were given the option of using Prometric and taking the exam from the comfort of our home. Some people experienced technical difficulties and poor experiences with Prometric but I had no issues and was grateful for this option. 

Make sure if you choose to test remotely that you do a test run a few days before your scheduled exam. Your computer must meet bandwidth requirements and have a webcam and microphone. Ensure a quiet, private space and remove all objects from your desk and walls. You will use your webcam to show the proctor around the room, under your desk and chair, and even yourself to ensure nothing is on your glasses, in your ears, or up your sleeves. While this sounds extreme, it is necessary to ensure the integrity of the exam. Your Prometric technician is a professional and will walk you through it with ease.

My Study Materials

I joined the Facebook group Case Managers Community as well as an additional Facebook group that was created specifically for my testing window. Some beautiful souls in there provided test questions, powerpoint slides, and webinars for us to study. These were very useful in making me feel prepared, especially in sections I was weaker in. 

If you aren’t already aware of Deanna Cooper Gillingham and her book CCM Certification Made Easy this is your holy grail. Disclaimer: I used an older version of her book, but the exam is changing December 2020 and she created an updated version, the third edition, for this reason. Please pay attention to the edition when you are purchasing online.

The CCMC does not provide specific study materials for the exam, but rather an extensive list of resources, a sleep-inducing glossary, and their own $80 practice exam. I did not utilize any of these resources and do not feel they would have contributed any more to my success.

I also used Quizlet briefly for additional questions and scoured Google for any quizzes I could find. 

This free 30-question exam was one of my favorites that I found. There are also practice questions posted in the Case Managers Community Facebook group. You can use the search bar to see them all in one place.

I felt that practicing questions was my favorite way of preparing and gauging if I truly understood a concept. If I struggled on certain sections, I referred back to Deanna’s book or researched it online.

Choose How You Study Best

Other than Deanna’s book, I did not pay for any other resources, practice exams, or courses. This exam is costly enough on it’s own! Of course we want to ensure our success, but don’t fall victim to books and websites selling you a guarantee. We all study and learn differently. Luckily I had just completed a degree earlier in the year and was used to online learning as well as studying. If you’ve been out of school for many years, take some time to become acquainted with your learning style. Do you like podcasts and videos? Do you prefer creating flash cards and quizzing yourself? Don’t use your precious study time by filling it with videos and books that are simply extraneous information.

Planning Your Study Time

Lastly, plan your study time and stick to it. I’ve heard of people that started studying three months prior to the exam. To me, that is excessive and only puts you at risk for filling your brain with tons of information you don’t need or forgetting what you do need. I recommend beginning one month prior to your exam date. I began by reading Deanna’s book for 20 minutes each evening. That equaled approximately 10 pages and took me 20 days to complete. From her book, I made my own notes on areas I was unfamiliar with like vocational rehabilitation. I did not waste my time studying areas I had firsthand experience in such as hospice or palliative care. For my last week of studying I ramped up my time to 2-4 hours per day. The day before and morning of I simply reviewed my own notes. This is not the time to cram more information. Be confident in the effort you’ve put in and relax. Eat well and get a good night’s sleep.

You Got This!

Do not let fear control your success. I know some of you are required to have this certification for your job. I know you may have already taken the exam once or twice. I know you’ve been out of school for decades and the thought of a major exam gives you all kinds of anxiety. Even if these obstacles are true, only YOU are stopping your own success. Do not read into negative experiences online. Do not let someone else’s failure, stress, or lack of preparation control your outcome. Hold yourself accountable. Make a commitment to study and trust in your expertise as a case manager. We help our patients reach their goals and overcome difficult situations everyday. You deserve to put that same effort into yourself and your goal of passing the certified case manager exam.

3 thoughts on “A Personal Guide on How to Prepare And Pass the Certified Case Manager Exam

  1. Thank you so very much. I had a situation that caused me to “fall” into a CM role quite by force. I couldn’t work bedside in my specialty anymore and was provided with OJT. Nevertheless, since I love patient interaction so much, I have enjoyed CM fir the last 2 1/2 years. Now, I plan to study for my certification and realize there is so much I really didn’t know such as certain waivers that are available. I feel that my “get it done and find the solution” personality has been what has made me successful in CM, but now with the information I’ve been seeing and learning from everyone in the FB group, I feel I will make a much better impact. I’m feeling very challenged with the idea of passing, therefore, I’m giving myself until the August 2021 test date to prepare. Thanks for your information in your blog! Much success to you!

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    1. Martha you sound just like me! I kind of “fell” into CM as well and it is a perfect fit. I know for me it feels like I am making even more of a difference for my patients than I was as a bedside nurse. The are so many different categories of case managers and you aren’t going to know the ins-and-outs of all of them. That’s where the book comes into play in filling in all the gaps. Thank you for the comment Martha and good luck to you!

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