Preparing for the CSEP Examination

Preparation for the CSEP examination requires a comprehensive understanding of the special events industry combined with study, review and application of the CSEP Content Outline. Only event professionals with the required three (3) years of full time events industry employment are eligible to sit for the exam.

Content Outline

The content outline is a candidate’s “guide” on what to expect on the exam. Every question on both the multiple choice and written portion relates back to the CSEP content outline.  The content outline will not be available during the exam.

CSEP Content Outline

What to Expect

The CSEP is a four and one-half (4.5) hour computer-based examination that is scored as either pass or fail.  The exam consists of two (2) parts: a 100 multiple-choice question portion and a written portion, both based on the CSEP Content Outline. The exam is only offered in English and translation into other languages is not available.  The candidate must pass both sections of the exam in order to receive the designation.  Failure to pass either section would require the candidate to retake the entire exam.

Multiple Choice Portion

All CSEP examination questions are selected from the CSEP “item bank” and are written and reviewed on a regular basis by current CSEP subject-matter experts.  Each item represents a problem-solving situation for the special events industry professional to resolve.

Each exam is comprised of randomly selected questions from the CSEP “item bank” and designed to evaluate the candidate’s competency and knowledge of the special events industry.

The candidate will have one and one-half (1.5) hours to answer 100 multiple choice questions on this portion of the exam.

All examination items are in a carefully constructed multiple-choice format. There are no “all of the above” or “none of the above,” “fill in the blank” or “true/false” choices on the CSEP exam. Most items present a problem-solving situation for candidates to resolve.

SMT electronically scores the multiple choice portion of the exam and results are reviewed to determine a score.

Written Portion

Each candidate will be given the option to pick one of two event scenarios. Each event scenario provides the candidate with similar information including but not limited to: type of event, attendee profile, location, calendar, goals and objectives, and budget. Once a scenario is selected, the candidate is asked a series of questions which the candidate must answer by applying event-management techniques.

The candidate will have three (3) hours to complete this portion of the exam.

While preserving the candidate’s identity, each exam is electronically rated by three (3) trained CSEPs.

VIEW the Written Portion Test Tutorial

CSEP Preparation Resources

The CSEP exam is a certifcation that tests your knowledge and experience within the events industry and no study materials are provided besides the CSEP Content Outline.  There are no required textbooks for the CSEP exam; however, candidates preparing for the CSEP exam may find the following resources helpful:

Exam Preparation Tips

  1. Candidates can gain additional experience, information and skills that may aid in preparation for the examination by:
    • Obtaining further special events industry experience
    • Becoming active in special events industry associations and organizations
    • Volunteering or serving as a special events industry leader
    • Attending continuing education classes, industry meetings, and conferences
    • Participating in professional development opportunities
    • Contributing to the industry as a writer, speaker, mentor, or educator
    • Submitting for industry awards
    • Earning other professional designations
    • Volunteering within the special events industry
  2. Analyze the CSEP Content Outline, apply real life experiences. Think of an event that you were recently involved in and apply it to the CSEP Content Outline event scenerio. 
  3. Some candidates prepare for the examination individually. If this method is best for you, have faith in your ability as an event professional along with your careful review of reference materials to successfully complete the CSEP examination.
  4. All examination items are in a carefully constructed multiple-choice format. There are no “all of the above” or “none of the above,” “fill in the blank” or “true/false” choices on the CSEP exam. Most items present a problem-solving situation for candidates to resolve.
  5. Professional experience, review of material and general industry knowledge will assist in preparing for the challenging questions.
  6. Candidates may find it useful to simulate a computer-based testing environment by applying the content outline to a practice event scenario or recent actual event. Each event scenario may include: type of event, attendee profile, location, calendar, goals and objectives, and budget.
  7. Identify areas of opportunity. Join a discussion group and learn from your peers or seek out professionals in event areas you may be less familiar with and learn from them.
  8. Recognize why certain elements fall within certain stages of the event process. Understanding event flow will help you to use logic when taking the exam.
  9. Review the APEX glossary or a dictionary of event terms. Multiple choice questions test the event professionals knowledge and in many of the items a term or philosophy is referenced from these tools. Focus on terms that you are NOT familiar with.
  10. Create your own event scenario using the guideline to prepare for the short answer portion of the exam. Ask questions of yourself from the CSEP Content Outline – all questions on exam tie DIRECTLY to this document.
  11. RELAX

Note: Candidates should deal directly with ISES Headquarters regarding eligibility, policy and examination inquiries. Do not have anyone contact ISES Headquarters on your behalf.

CSEP Exam Content Distribution Accuracy

CSEP examination content is only exposed to the ISES Certification Committee members and candidates. Strict security measures are taken to prevent the removal and/or reproduction of examination questions from the CSEP “item bank”. Use caution when purchasing study guides or paying for review courses that may claim to address actual examination questions.

Discussion Groups

Note: The International Special Events Society makes no representations or warranties with respect to the accuracy or completeness of the subject matter or contents of CSEP Study Groups. ISES does not develop study materials to assist members in passing the CSEP exam nor endorses any specific study group. ISES can take no responsibility for the accuracy or the content of the information presented.

There is no limit to the number of people who can pass the exam, so participating in a discussion group may be a good way to review information and share knowledge with other CSEP candidates. Advantages of discussion group participation include networking, continuing education and a support group during an intense time.

Forming Discussion Group

Most discussion groups are autonomous, with their own rules of conduct. Each group develops a program to suit the needs of participants. Responsibility for the content and opinions expressed during discussion groups rests solely with the facilitator.

Selection of a Discussion Group Leader

The CSEP discussion group leader should hold the designation, have dedication to the program, knowledge of current ISES policies and understanding of CSEP procedures. The discussion group leader should be committed to making the opportunity open to as many qualified people as possible.

Leaders should resist the urge to interpret ISES policies for their group members. Refer to ISES Headquarters when policy questions arise. Do not rely on hearsay or rumors. Leaders should not attempt to predict if an event professional’s application will be approved or if they will pass the examination.

ISES policy states that CSEP test questions are not to be discussed outside of the examination. Any infraction of this is considered to be a violation of a candidate’s ethical responsibilities. It is also a violation of copyright law and test security.

Selection of Meeting Dates and Sites

The selection of regular meeting locations and times may vary.  Many groups find weekday evening meetings to be best for active participation while others prefer meeting over one intense weekend.

Sessions

The number of discussion sessions varies according to the needs of participants. Participants may find it useful to structure sessions based on elements found in the CSEP Content Outline.  Additionally, groups may find industry speakers to be helpful in providing information about specific disciplines.

Discussion Group Fees

Many discussion groups have had their program sponsored by their organizations. Other groups charge a fee, to help off set costs such as study materials or handouts, refreshments, meeting space rental, guest speaker fees and any other needed expenses.

CSEP examination content is only exposed to the ISES Certification Committee members and candidates. Strict security measures are taken to prevent the removal and/or reproduction of examination questions from the CSEP “item bank”. Use caution when purchasing study guides or paying for review courses that may claim to address actual examination questions.

Candidate Responsibility

Candidates are responsible for adhering to all CSEP policies and deadlines. Candidates will be notified directly by the ISES Headquarters regarding examination eligibility. Candidates should deal directly with ISES regarding their eligibility, or policy and exam inquiries.