Self Studying For Certification?

Woman looking thoughtful

Do you want to learn more about certification options for administrative professionals and office workers?

CAP Certification Process Infographic

An infographic giving you a quick overview of the process you will follow to become CAP certified.

CAP Process Infographic

Summary Comparison Chart of CAP, OM and MOS Certifications

A table summarizing the key differences between the CAP, the OM and the MOS certification exams.

Summary of Various Administrative Professional Certifications

What Next?

OK, now you have learned more about the certifications. Next you have to decide if you want to study on your own or join a study group. There are pros and cons to either option.

If you would like to join one of my upcoming study groups, click below.

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If you would prefer to self-study for your exams, here are a few tips to get you started.

Certified Administrative Professional (CAP) Exam

There are quite a few books on the bibliography for the CAP exam. However, there is also quite a bit of redundancy across those books. You don't need to buy all the books, but if you are self-studying, you should have a good representation across the various categories of the test. Start with the IAAP HQ official Certification Study Guide first. A new version comes out every year, so make sure you get the latest one. Please note that I may get a commission on the sale of any of these books. It doesn't impact whether I refer them or not (since these are the recommended guides from IAAP) and you won't pay any additional cost for it. I would recommend picking up this book as a starting point if you intend to self study:

Bovee, C. L. & Thill, J. V. (13th Ed - 2015). Business Communication Today. Pearson Prentice-Hall
Business Communication Today (13th Edition)

From there, I would do internet and library research on the information technology subjects, accounting, and human resources sections.

Go through the Body of Knowledge released by the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP) and review the performance objectives for each domain covered by the exam.

IAAP HQ CAP Body of Knowledge

Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) Exam

First, you will need to decide if you wish to pursue certification in Office 2010 or Office 2013 or Office 2016. Then you need to decide if you wish to pursue the Master level certification, which has different requirements, depending on which version of Office you are certifying in.

For Office 2010, you will need these books to become a Microsoft Office Specialist - Master.

MOS 2010 Study Guide (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook)
MOS 2010 Study Guide for Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook Exams (MOS Study Guide)

MOS 2010 Study Guide Book (Word-Expert, Excel-Expert, Access, SharePoint)
MOS 2010 Study Guide for Microsoft Word Expert, Excel Expert, Access, and SharePoint Exams (MOS Study Guide)

For Office 2013, you will need separate books by program to become a Microsoft Office Specialist - Master.

MOS Word 2013 Study Guide
MOS 2013 Study Guide for Microsoft Word (MOS Study Guide)

MOS Word 2013 Expert Study Guide
MOS 2013 Study Guide for Microsoft Word Expert (MOS Study Guide)

MOS Excel 2013 Study Guide
MOS 2013 Study Guide for Microsoft Excel (MOS Study Guide)

MOS Excel 2013 Expert Study Guide
MOS 2013 Study Guide for Microsoft Excel Expert (MOS Study Guide)

For All Exams

Regardless of which test you are sitting for, add up all the pages you need to study, divide them out by the number of weeks remaining between now and the exam, and that will tell you how many pages you need to read each week. I would actually subtract two from that number of weeks so you finish all your reading a few weeks prior to the test and have some time for review at the end, rather than just new reading.

You might want to find a study buddy to share the load with. Believe me, it will help!

If you've changed your mind and decided you really do need more help, you can always join my study groups.


Once you are certified as a CAP, you will want to keep those initials after your name. Doing this requires that you recertify with 60 points every five years. You can do this through a variety of options (educational, leadership, certification, etc.). Be sure to sign up for my mailing list to be notified of the ongoing study groups, webinars and other educational offerings I have that are eligible for recertification points!

In addition, there are some resources out there for free recertification points (be sure to read the guidelines from IAAP HQ to ensure they qualify!).

Meetings Today Magazine - Free Webinars
Meetings Today Webinars