Why You Should Read This
Choosing the best study resources for IAPP certifications can be confusing.
What resources are available? Should you use official or third-party resources? Ultimately, which ones are enough to pass the certification exam?
Trust me, I get it.
After getting 4 IAPP certifications, I'm sharing the best study resources I know of. Most of these resources are ones I've personally used and recommend. I also include a few resources that have received positive feedback from the community.
Have a favorite study resource not listed here? Let me know!
Let's dive in.
Official IAPP Resources
You can pass most IAPP certifications only using the official IAPP resources.
However, this doesn't mean these resources are always the best choice. IAPP resources can be essential to your success, but they can also be expensive, ineffective, and entirely non-existent.
So which IAPP resources should you use?
Each IAPP certification typically comes with the same types of resources. My recommendations for the best IAPP resources you should use include:
The official textbook is an essential resource for most IAPP certifications.
Typically, IAPP certifications come with one official textbook. They cost $65 for IAPP members and $75 for non-members. You can pass most IAPP certifications only using the official textbooks—overall, a pretty good value.
I passed the CIPP/E, CIPP/US, CIPM, and CIPT using the textbook as my primary study resource. The CIPP/A does not currently have an official textbook—so it would be hard to rely on. The CIPP/C has an official textbook. However, I haven't pursued this certification and can't speak about its overall effectiveness.
The official textbooks aren't the most enthralling reads, but they get the job done.
Overall, I recommend the official textbooks. A+ (on my arbitrary scale).
Body of Knowledge
The official textbooks don't always cover all testable topics.
Privacy is a rapidly developing field. To account for this, the IAPP usually updates its exams (and the Body of Knowledge) annually, but textbooks take years to update. So, the certification exam topics actually come from the Body of Knowledge—rather than the textbook itself.
However, it's normal for there to be differences between these resources.
You should review the Body of Knowledge to understand what these differences are and how big they are—sometimes it's substantial. For example, the CIPP/A has no official textbook and the CIPP/E contains 10 additional documents from the European Data Protection Board.
Double-check the Body of Knowledge to ensure you know all required topics. A+
The current Body of Knowledge for each certification is available below.
- CIPP/A (version: 1.0.2, effective on September 1, 2021)
- CIPP/C (version: 3.0.0, effective on January 1, 2023)
- CIPP/E (version: 1.3.1, effective on October 2, 2023)
- CIPP/US (version: 2.5.1, effective on October 2, 2023)
- CIPT (version: 3.2.0, effective on October 2, 2023)
- CIPM (version: 4.0.0, effective on October 2, 2023)
The Body of Knowledge is great but is useless without the Exam Blueprint.
Not all exam topics are tested equally. The Exam Blueprint specifies a minimum and maximum number of questions for each topic from the Body of Knowledge.
This is awesome because the Exam Blueprint helps you prioritize your studying. For example, would you spend hours studying a topic that only has between 0 and 2 questions? Surely not. Instead, you can focus on the most impactful topics.
It's best when you combine the Body of Knowledge and the Exam Blueprint.
This ensures you've studied all testable topics, and you've spent your study time effectively based on how many exam questions there are—a win, win.
It's so good that we've combined the official textbook, Body of Knowledge, and Exam Blueprint for the CIPP/US into a single resource. The IAPP has also started combining the Body of Knowledge and Exam Blueprint, beginning with the CIPM.
Once again, the Exam Blueprint receives an A+ from me. You can find them below:
- CIPP/A (version: 1.0.0, effective on unspecified)
- CIPP/C (version: 3.0.0, effective on January 1, 2023)
- CIPP/E (version: 2.1.3, effective on October 3, 2023)
- CIPP/US (version: 2.4.1, effective on October 1, 2023)
- CIPT (version: 3.0.0, effective on October 3, 2023)
- CIPM (version: 2.0.1, effective on October 3, 2023)
I consider the IAPP glossary a minor study tool—it doesn't quite stand on its own.
The IAPP Glossary defines a set of key terms and definitions for each certification. It's something you may choose to use as a supplement throughout your studying or review right before the certification exam. I did both for all my IAPP certifications.
I primarily used the IAPP glossary to identify topics I was less familiar with.
If I saw a term I didn't recognize, I'd review the related topics in the official textbook. However, I would typically not rely on the quality of the definitions themselves.
Do not treat the definitions as authoritative just because they're from the IAPP.
If you're worried about the quality of the terms, write your own! This can be a great study tool in its own right if you prefer to make flashcards.
I'll be honest, the glossary needs some work, but it's still worth a look. B
The most sought-after study resource? Probably practice exams.
Beginning in 2023, the IAPP now provides full-length practice exams for their major certifications. These 90-question practice exams cost $45 for IAPP Members and $55 for non-members and come with detailed explanations for each question.
These practice exams give you a good idea of what the actual test will look like. You'll learn important information about the exam's format and types of questions. They also give you the opportunity to test the knowledge you've learned so far.
Honestly, the practice exams from the IAPP are the best that I've seen.
You certainly don't need a practice exam to pass the certification exam. However, they can provide valuable peace of mind—especially if it's your first certification.
Overall, I'd give these an A. Not always necessary, but still good.
If the official IAPP resources are insufficient for you, consider third-party ones.
There are quite a few options here. Third-party resources include textbook outlines, sample exam questions, online training, and flashcards—oh my!
Covering all third-party resources for all IAPP certifications would be a full-time job. So this section will cover a few specific resources that I like. If you have a favorite study resource you'd like reviewed and added, please let me know!
To start, I wanted to share some of our more popular resources available on The Privacy Practitioner (this site). You can find all of our certification resources here.
- How Long to Study for IAPP Certifications
- Complete Guide to Get Your CIPP/E
- Complete Guide to Get Your CIPP/US
- Detailed Mapping of the CIPP/US Body of Knowledge
Disclaimer: Before we jump in, I'd like to clarify that I have no financial relationship with any of these third-party resources. I receive no commissions or other benefits by sharing these resources with you.
Mike Chapple — LinkedIn Learning
First up are Mike Chapple's LinkedIn Learning courses.
These courses aren't enough to pass the certification exams. However, they do a great job of providing a high-level overview of the CIPP/US and CIPM. Most people watch these courses before reading the official textbook or right before they take their certification exam.
Despite being high-level courses, these courses ease you into the content.
This is especially important for certifications like the CIPP/US. They help establish the right mindset and mental models before jumping into the weeds of convoluted privacy laws.
They're also a favorite because you can access them for free via a 30-day trial on LinkedIn Learning. Check them out!
- Prepare for the Certified Information Privacy Professional (CIPP/US) Exam
- Prepare for the Certified Professional Privacy Manager (CIPM) Certification
Privacy Bootcamp — Paid Courses
Next, are Privacy Bootcamp's courses for the CIPP/E, CIPP/US, and CIPM.
Historically, I haven't linked out to paid, third-party resources. However, I've seen a lot of public, positive feedback about the Privacy Bootcamp and its resources. They also offer a certification pass guarantee (terms described here).
I reached out to Privacy Bootcamp and they provided a 10% discount code (Practitioner10) for readers of The Privacy Practitioner. I receive no financial benefit from you using this code—it is strictly a discount code for you.
If you're someone who benefits from a more structured study plan or course, I think Privacy Bootcamp can be a good option. It's substantially cheaper compared to the official IAPP training (~$1,250+) and I believe it's more effective.
That's all for now!
I sincerely hope this post was accessible, useful, and practical for you. If you have any feedback on this post, please let me know. Cheers.