CSP Exam Overview
This document is intended as an overview of the background and policies surrounding the International Function Point Users Group (IFPUG) Certified SNAP Practitioner (CSP) Exam.
As the use of Software Non-functional Assessment Process (SNAP) continues to grow, it is essential that individuals with an initial level of knowledge and skills be recognized. The CSP designation is a formal recognition of an initial level of expertise in the area of SNAP, both knowledge and application of the IFPUG counting rules according to the IFPUG Assessment Practices Manual (APM).
The dictionary defines the word certify as: 1. a. To confirm formally as true, accurate, or genuine; testify to or vouch for in writing. b. To guarantee as meeting a standard; attest. In order to formally confirm this initial level of expertise, IFPUG chartered the Certification Committee (CC) to develop and administer the CSP Exam. This examination is the mechanism for certifying that an individual meets the requirements to qualify as a CSP.
An individual who passes the CSP Exam receives a formal certificate from the IFPUG Office stating “IFPUG certifies that [name] has met the requirements as specified by the standards and guidelines of the International Function Point Users Group to qualify as a Certified SNAP Practitioner (CSP) for the [version/series] of the Assessment Practices Manual.” The certificate indicates the Month and Year the exam was taken, as well as the Month and Year the certification expires and the membership expiration date. The CSP Certificate will be valid for a period of three (3) years provided the individual who has been certified remains an IFPUG Member. An individual may remain certified by taking the CSP exam in the third year of certification.
The CSP Exam is a test of both the knowledge of the counting rules laid out in the current release of the APM and the ability to apply those rules.
The CSP exam consists of two sections: Definition and Implementation. Definition questions are scored at 1 point for each question. Implementation questions are scored at 2 points for each question.
A successful exam includes the following:
(1) Candidate will have at least an 80% overall score, including both the Definition and Implementation sections
Calculation: (Definition questions correctly answered x 1 point) + (Implementation questions correctly answered x 2 points) / 140 total possible points = exam score
(2) Candidate will have at least a 70% score on the Definition section
Calculation: total number of correctly answered questions / total number of questions (60) = Definition section score
(3) Candidate will have at least a 70% score on the Implementation section
Calculation: total number of correctly answered questions / total number of questions (40) = Implementation section score
The IFPUG APM is the guiding body of knowledge for developing the CSP Exam. As one of the IFPUG Counting Standards committees, the IFPUG CC is subject to rulings of the IFPUG Board of Directors, ensuring the integrity and credibility of the CSP Exam.
As companies use SNAP more and more in their software development measurement programs, IFPUG, as the body who certifies an individual’s capability, must make certain that the certified individual does indeed have the required expertise. Therefore, ongoing renewal that includes active testing is required to maintain the current high status of the CSP designation and to maintain IFPUG’s reputation as the certifying body.
The Exam is structured so that both the knowledge and the ability to apply the definitions and rules as published in the current APM are tested. The two hour exam currently is composed of two sections: Definition and Implementation.
- The Definition section consists of 60 multiple-choice questions. The Definition section specifically tests the individual’s knowledge of definitions and rules.
- The Implementation section consists of 40 multiple-choice questions. The Implementation section indirectly tests the individual’s knowledge of definitions and rules, and directly tests the individual’s ability to apply the definitions and rules through small story problems.
The Exam is open book and a copy of the APM may be used during the exam. The exam is designed to not allow more than a few questions to be looked up during the exam. The candidate should prepare as though they will not have time to look up any questions. The IFPUG SNAP (or is it APM) Quick Reference Guide may be used during the exam but the APM will be the official reference in case of any discrepancies between the Quick Reference Guide and the APM.
The proctor will allow a maximum of two (2) consecutive hours to complete the CSP exam. There will be no scheduled breaks during the two (2) hours.
The Exam is created in English. However, bi-lingual SNAP knowledgeable IFPUG members will be used to work with the CC to translate the exam to other languages. The APM must be available in a language a minimum of 6 months prior to having a CSP Exam available in that language. As stated previously, the purpose of the exam is to test the candidate’s knowledge and his/her ability to apply that knowledge.
The purpose is not to test the candidate’s language skills. For that reason, if a participant is taking the SNAP exam in a language that is not their native language, and is not one of the primary business languages of the country, they may request an additional fifteen (15) minutes of exam time. Time extension requests must be made prior to the start of the exam, and are granted at the sole discretion of the proctor. Note: Time extensions are made on a person by person basis and are not to be given to all participants.
The CSP Exam Day Rules must be read out loud to all participants prior to the start of the exam. The rules must be available in English and the language of the majority of the exam participants. For example, when the CSP Exam is given in Brazil the rules will be read in Brasilian Portuguese even if there are individuals who will be taking the exam in English. The English Exam Day Rules will be made available to those taking the exam in English. The proctor should be aware of the language that the exams will be given in and ensure that the participants have access to the Exam Day Rules in the language that the participant will be taking the exam.
Proctors will be provided copies of the Exam Day Rules by the Certification Committee at the time the CSP Exam Request is approved by the Certification Committee. Proctors may contact the Certification Committee at firstname.lastname@example.org to ask any questions or clarify rules at any time prior to the day of the exam.
Proctors must be members of the Certification Committee, an IFPUG Board member, or a CSP with at least 1 year left on their certification. They may not work for a company that sells Function Point Analysis, SNAP or Software Measurement Services to other companies, commonly known as IFPUG Partners, unless they are an IFPUG Board member. Proctors must also be IFPUG members.
It is the CC’s policy to review all comments that individuals record on their exam answer sheet, and to give credit whenever a comment supports the given answer.
The successful CSP candidate must have at least 70% in each section and 80% overall score.
The CSP certificate is valid for three years from the time the Exam was passed. Candidates who do not pass may re-take the Exam at any time, provided at least 14 days have passed from the prior sitting.
Exam Feedback Policy
Feedback is provided to all candidates who sit for the exam. For successful candidates the feedback is a letter from the IFPUG office plus the CSP certificate. For candidates who do not pass, the feedback is a letter from the IFPUG office plus exam percentages by section. These percentages give a general indication of areas requiring additional study before sitting again.
The IFPUG Certification Committee does not provide any lower level of feedback detail to anyone, either topical or specific content. Key testing topics remain consistent from one exam version to the next. Also, some specific questions may be reused from one Exam version to the next. There is the possibility that questions missed by a candidate on one exam may be on the next version of the exam. To review these questions with a candidate would be unfair to others taking the exam.
The following general and/or anecdotal observations may be helpful to candidates preparing for the exam:
- If you have not been counting SNAP points regularly within the last six months, make an effort to do as many real or practice counts as possible – without the aid of a counting tool. Most people find that counting skills and mechanics tend to slow and weaken without regular use.
- The CSP Exam is designed to be passed by those candidates who have practical experience in using SNAP. Candidates taking the introduction class should not expect to be able to pass the exam based on taking the class only.
- Check your answer sheet carefully before returning it to the proctor. There have been many instances where people have left questions with no answer marked or selected, which must be therefore be counted as an incorrect answer.
- Some people have made “flash cards” by reviewing the APM and writing definitions, rules, etc. on index cards. They reviewed the “flash cards” whenever they had a few free moments – a break during a meeting, sitting in a traffic jam, waiting for the washing machine to finish the spin cycle. They indicated that this technique helped their confidence and recall, as well as their time management during other certification exams.
Special care should be taken to completely read and follow all CSP examination instructions. The Proctors can only answer questions about the instructions, where and how to show your work, etc.
Exam Day Rules are read before every Exam session, whether at a Conference, Workshop or regional location:
For Exam Day Rules in English, go here.
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