Pursuit of Excellence – Studying for CPP accomplishment

Nadeem Iqbal CPP,MSyI. Director Business Development at Securiguard ME

Importance and relevance of professional certifications to the challenging job environment cannot be overemphasised though achieving certifications for true reasons and application of the knowledge can be deliberated to any length. Those, who make a conscious choice to pursue CPP; are somewhat likely to be overwhelmed for some time, as is the case with any new project or assignment in life. How to study, for how long, self-study or join a group and many more questions may blur and for some, may remain unresolved even half way through the study program. The best approach is very much dependent upon learning style and the initial research however; one thing common to all aspirants is, that you will have to study a lot no matter how experienced and knowledgeable you are.

 This document is a Pro Bono gesture to thank those who helped me gain my certification as well as a guide for those who are at the start point. Furthermore; the approach recommended below is my personal opinion and by no means should be read as contradiction to what you have read elsewhere. There is plenty of information available on the internet and ASIS handbook serves a very good reference, yet there is no one size that fits all.

Reasons to Study

  • Enhancement of professional knowledge
  • Awareness with Industry best practices
  • A different perspective to what you might have learnt and practiced for many years
  • Recognition and Credibility of Certification (should not be the main objective)


  • Reference Books (POA Standards + Guidelines) Hard copies or soft is matter of personal choice- I recommend e-versions.
  • PC and Internet connectivity
  • PC again but here it implies “Personal Commitment”
  • Support from professional circle and family

Taking the Dive

POA Manual has 8 modules, of which “Legal Issues” is not applicable outside the US. Also, there are 6 Standards and Guidelines with wealth of information though sometimes, these can be frustrating to study because lots of references to articles, codes and laws may not be common to all learners.  Here internet connectivity pays the dividends and brings the interest back as high level research can provide examples and insights. Remember; POA is compiled and edited by industry veterans and does not necessarily always follow the curriculum design trends that you might have been following till date.

 Getting the Feel

It would be worth the time to study through the table of contents of each module and also repeat it few more times occasionally.  Once you have a fair idea of what subjects are covered in which module, expanded through which standard and supported through which guideline, selection of your approach can be much easy.  Please do spend some time studying the Certification Exam Handbook.

Domains and Tasks Approach: This can be challenging for some; I struggled to find the relevant information thru the study references and relate those to the Tasks. One needs to have fairly good knowledge of the concepts and understanding about what a task might entail.

B2B Approach:  I found it relatively easy to study all modules back to back and from my initial efforts of scanning all indexes, I was able to link relevant standards & guidelines. To be honest; I also paid to join a distance learning program as my mentor had developed a good frame work though I have changed that slightly. Joining the group made me follow a discipline and track progress which is by far the most difficult part of independent study.

I recommend to start light & easy and increase the amount of study and information variety gradually. Do not pressurise yourself to study too much in one session and do not, I repeat do not, flip a page until you have taken some notes. This is the most crucial part of the study and results are proportional to the efforts that you spend in taking notes. Do not get tempted to see the flashcards or questions shared by various study groups; those are all very helpful but at the stage once you have been through the study reference material.  Moreover, there is enormous information that you have to register by cramming and there is no way around that i.e. figures, statistics and references to a research conducted, genesis of a concept etc.

Block Study Program

Sequence below illustrates relevance of POA modules to standards & guidelines but this is not a cast on the stone. You may like to follow what suits your current knowledge and aptitude.

  • Module 1  : Security Officer Operations + Standard Chief Security Officer
  • Module 2: Crises Management + Standard Business Continuity Management + Standard Organizational Resilience
  • Module 3: Security Management + Standard Workplace Violence
  • Module 4: Investigations + Pre-employment Background Screening (GL) + Standard Investigations
  • Module 5: Information Security+  Information Asset Protection Guideline
  • Module 6: Physical Security + Facilities Physical Security Measures (GL)+ General Security Risk Assessment     (GL)+ Standard Risk Assessment
  • Module 7: Applications
  • Module 8: Legal Issues (applicable in US only)

Taking Notes

I wish to make justice with this critical point without boring you, may I say “Your notes are the gap in your knowledge area or the new information that you have registered -do not find the easy way by looking at questions set up by others”. See the para below and notes extracted thereof as an example:

 One of the greatest liabilities an organization faces involves issuing deadly weapons to security officers. Liability is obvious when the weapons are issued to proprietary officers. Some assets protection managers think that when a contract security vendor is used and the outsourcing contract is properly drawn, most of the liability is shifted to the vendor. However, legal actions usually involve anyone remotely associated with a situation. Payment for the vendor services indicates an acceptance of the vendor’s management style and practices; thus, crucial policies and protocols should be prescribed by the organization that employs the vendor.” (Security Officer Operations – page 14)

Notes / Learning Points:

  • The liability of issuing deadly weapons does not transfer in entirety to the vendor in a contracted security function.
  • All parties involved in managing a security function where deadly weapons are provided, hold the liabilities to some extent.
  • Payment of the vendor services implies acceptance of vendor’s performance / service.

 Questions, Answers and Distractors

Some questions in the exam can be lengthy & tricky to divert the focus and distractors can be very appealing to be the right answer under varying circumstances, however; the correct answer is what is implied from the POA.  Therefore; I recommend once you have studied the entire material and taken your notes, do spend some time reading and referencing question banks available from various resources.

Last not the least; going through the study reference material once may not be sufficient unless the reader is exceptionally intelligent with tremendous retention ability. A second and perhaps third round will only help to reassure what you have retained earlier. Remember, certification was one of the reasons for taking the study; keep reminding this aspect to yourself again and over.

Best of luck with your study and certification efforts.

I shall be happy to help further though regret to share copy of POA or question banks.

Please feel free to write for assistance within professional code of conduct.