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How to pass the ISA-CAP Certification Exam

Certification is one of the way to prove your knowledge, skill and authority over the subject of your profession. It improves your understanding of the subject and then applying it in the field gives you immense satisfaction and confidence.

International Society of Automation (www.isa.org) certifications provide an objective, third-party, unbiased assessment and confirmation of a person's skills, experience, knowledge and proficiency. They give accredited individuals the opportunity to stand out from the crowd and be recognized.

Over the last couple of years, ISA certifications, ISA-CAP in particular, has achieved global recognition, which is a great feature in today's competitive market. ISA-CAP covers all the possible domains of the Instrument & Control. It sets the standard of having overall knowledge for automation professionals and control systems technicians. It is good to see that Instrument & Control System engineers are thriving for new challenges and have started to take such certifications seriously beside their formal education.

An analogy can be drawn between PMI-PMP and ISA-CAP in terms of pattern of exam except that number of multiple-choice questions in CAP are less. You have little more time per question in CAP exam. Exam fee is approx US$ 330.0 for ISA Member and US$ 445.0 for others. ISA offers 3 No. of optional testing windows, a time duration in a year, in which you have to pass the exam once your application is approved. You may retest twice within your twelve-month eligibility period for a fee of $180 for each retest, however only after 30 days of your 1st attempt. For details visit https://www.isa.org/templates/two-column.aspx?pageid=111120

The CAP exam is offered in an electronic format through the third party Prometric global network of testing centers. For more information on testing center locations, visit http://www.prometric.com/ISA .

Following Resource materials are available to prepare for the exam:

  • Various domains defined by ISA to prepare for the exam are provided at https://www.isa.org/uploadedFiles/Content/Training_and_Certifications/ISA_Certification/CAPClassificationSystemWEB.pdf "
  • A Guide to the Automation Body of Knowledge", Second Edition: Edited by Vernon L. Trevathan, with contributions from more than 35 leading experts. This book defines the many of the automation concepts and processes, while also describing the technical skills including project management professionals may require. This book can be purchased from ISA publishing.
  • ISA offers CAP Review Course as a preparation course for taking the certification exam. This course is offered by ISA and can be offered at your location. ISA also offers an automation professional curriculum of courses as well as distance education to assist those preparing for CAP.
  • Self-Study CAP Online Exam Review Course EC00E: ISA offers computer-based online instructor-assisted training courses with the benefit of a high quality ISA training course having added advantage of studying at your own pace in the office, at home, or while traveling. However, its cost may not be feasible to you.
  • Contact your local trainer providing such training. You can contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit http://www.innovasyses.com/index.php/training2

I suggest following strategy to study the Automation Body of Knowledge Book to pass the exam:

  1. Study the complete book of Automation Body of Knowledge 3 times. Write done important concepts and key definitions on paper or as you prefer.
  2. Keep key points, figures and tables in a summarized form. You may need to memorize few of them.
  3. Chapters 1 ~11, 14 ~16, 18~24, 26 29 ~ 37 are the one from where most of the questions are asked in the exam or you may need to focus in.
  4. Find out which are various International standards. Specially IEC-61131, IEC61508, IEC61511 and related to Grounding, Motors such as NEC, NFPA etc . Develop a handy list of Standards.
  5. Project Management, Project Life-cycle and related Costing is an important subject for all the engineers now a days. Automation Body of Knowledge book covers this subject in the end upto some extent. Expect some hard-hitting questions on this topic.
  6. Prepare yourself while practicing with various sample questions. Sample questions help you to improve and rectify your understanding about various subjects.
  7. Questions related to Planning, Deployment, Operations and Maintenance are tricky and often lead to wrong conclusion.
  8. Plan a discussion schedule with your peers to analyze what you have studied. Mutual discussion also improves understanding of the subject and broadens your knowledge.

Failures are part of our daily routine. If you fail in the 1st attempt, take it up as a challenge. Success is waiting at your doorstep.

About Author: Asif A. Khokher is a seasoned Instrumentation & Control System professional based in Pakistan with 17+ years of diversified international experience in the Project Management, Business Management & Engineering working with various multinationals covering Consultancy, Basic & Conceptual Design, Front End Engineering, Detailed Design & Engineering (EPC), Control System Solutions & Integration, Commissioning & Start-ups. He is qualified Electrical Engineer with Masters in Business Management.

For Training / Preparatory course on ISA-CAP and Process Instrumentation, contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. http://www.innovasyses.com/index.php/training2

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