4 Tips to Avoid Getting Overwhelmed as You Prepare for the GISP

Anxious about the GISP?  Wondering how much preparation work there is to do?  How many months will it take to study for the exam? Many GIS professionals feel the same way once they begin to think about obtaining the GISP certification.

GISP stands for Geographic Information System Professional and is probably the most recognized certification in the field of GIS.  The GIS Certification Institute (GISCI), a not-for-profit organization that provides “the GIS community with an industry-wide, internationally-recognized, software-agnostic certification program” creates the GISP Certification.

Over 9,000 people have completed the application process since the program started and over 6,000 are active GISPs which are currently found in all 50 States and 25 foreign countries.

Here’s what you need to know to start GISP preparation!

Who qualifies to apply for the GISP certification?

To become GISP certified, an applicant needs to meet “the minimum standards for educational achievement, professional experience, and manner in which he or she contributes back to the profession, and practices in an ethical manner.” Since July 1, 2015, applicants are required to pass an exam which is made up of 192 questions out of which 100 are actually scored. To pass the exam, the applicant must answer at least 75 of the questions correctly.

The GISP Certification Process

A member from the LOGIC Solutions Group team recently went through this process – here is a recap of the experience.

This was a 4-month process with preparation for the GISP certification beginning in October 2018. The first month focused on putting together the required information and gathering the data needed for the portfolio section of the application. In November the focus changed to refreshing their knowledge base and preparing to take the exam in early December 2018. After passing the exam, the completed application was submitted, at the end of December 2018. In mid-January 2019, the good news arrived and another certified GISP was born! Overall, their experience with the GISP process was positive, although the exam was described as “the most frustrating exam ever taken.”

4 tips for making the GISP preparation process less overwhelming:

1. Focus on your major achievements. For the portfolio application, there is no benefit to documenting a high point total. As long as you meet the minimum total points for each component, it is unnecessary to put extensive effort in documenting lesser GIS achievements.

2. Rely on the unofficial exam study guide. Due to the extensive array of knowledge covered in the exam there is no easy way to study other than working in the field. When it comes to studying or refreshing for the exam, we recommend going through each knowledge area in the “unofficial exam study guide” and fully comprehend the material instead of memorizing it.

3. Mentally prepare for test taking. The exam is 4-hours long with close to 200 questions and requires intense concentration. Take your time, go through all of the questions and mark the ones that you aren’t sure about, take water breaks to refresh yourself, then come back to the test. 

4. Plan ahead. The exam is only offered twice a year, once in Summer and once in Winter. Plan and schedule ahead, giving yourself plenty of time for the application preparation and studying for the exam.

If you are thinking about getting your GISP, go for it!

Attaining your GISP is absolutely worth doing and is such a personal achievement for GIS professionals that focuses on contribution to the field.

If you are thinking about applying for the GISP and taking the exam, GIS Lounge has a practice exam and preparation resources to get help you get started.

Good luck and happy certifying!