Part 1 – Exam Preparation

Part 1- Exam Preparation
CFM® Exam Study Guide
(Revised July 2020)

Provides an overview, recommended prerequisites and other basic information about applying for, preparing for and taking the exam.


The CFM®exam measures a person’s knowledge of a community’s responsibilities under the National Flood Insurance Program and related floodplain management topics. The CFM® exam contains questions in the proportions shown for the following seven topic categories:


  20-25% Floodplain Mapping  
  20-25% NFIP Regulatory Standards  
  15-20% Regulatory Administrative Procedures  
  10-15% Flood Insurance  
  10-15% Flood Hazard Mitigation  
  10-15% Natural and Beneficial Functions  
  5-10% Overall context of Floodplain Management  

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Recommended Prerequisites

The Certification Board of Regents recommends CFM® exam takers have either:

  • a minimum of two years of full-time floodplain management experience;
  • OR a higher education degree in a related field;
  • OR complete the four-day 0273 Managing Floodplain Development through the National Flood Insurance Program course, which is offered by EMI (E0273), by FEMA Regions (L0273) or by ASFPM, a state NFIP coordinator or state ASFPM chapter (G0273).
    • E/L/G0273 courses are designed to provide basic training on NFIP minimum requirements for local officials administering floodplain management programs.
    • The 0273 course is not an exam prep class, but it does focus on the NFIP and concepts of floodplain management,maps and studies, minimum regulations, ordinance administration, and the relationship between floodplain management and flood insurance.

NOTE: The CFM® exam is a national exam. Questions are based on the minimum NFIP regulatory standards. Some states (and communities) may have higher regulatory standards. Keep in mind that CFM® exam questions must be answered according to the minimum NFIP regulatory standards.

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Preparing for the Exam
  • After meeting recommended prerequisites, you should review the list of materials in Part 2: Technical References.
  • The answer to every question on the exam was verified using those resources.
  • The most frequently cited technical reference for the CFM® Exam is FEMA Publication 480, “National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) Floodplain Management Requirements, A Study Guide and Desk Reference for Local Officials”.
  • Supplemental review resources are listed in Part 3: Exam Supplemental Review Resources. Particular attention is encouraged on subjects in which FEMA 480 and the 273 courses only provide a basic overview. These subjects include, but are not limited to, topics such as flood insurance, flood hazard mitigation, natural and beneficial functions, and future conditions hydrology.

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FEMA’s Emergency Management Institute Courses
  • All EMI online and resident courses are FREE.
  • EMI also provides free on campus lodging.
  • FEMA reimburses eligible local, state, territorial and tribal government attendees for allowable travel expenses.
  • All students staying on campus must purchase a non-reimbursable meal ticket (approximately $125 for the week).
  • Students sponsored by governmental entities receive priority.
  • Non-government attendees should contact EMI Admissions at (301) 447-1035 to ask about attending.

Generally, you need to apply for courses at EMI at least six weeks prior to the start of class, but classes tend to fill up quickly so apply early. EMI is located in Emmitsburg, MD. You can find the EMI course schedule and application materials at The courses are listed by the course number preceded by the letter “E”. These courses may also be offered in your local area with the same titles and course numbers preceded by the letter “L” or “G”. Hosting organizations for these field courses may charge a fee to cover the cost of facilities, snacks, instructor travel, etc.

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ASFPM Event Calendar

You can search for local EMI courses and other training offered in your state by going to the ASFPM event calendar.

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ASFPM State/Regional Chapters

They are a great source for training, professional networking, industry news and upcoming events in your state. ASFPM chapters also hold conferences and training throughout the year. Learn more about State/Regional Chapters view here.

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State Floodplain Manager

Each state has an NFIP coordinator, also called a state floodplain manager, who is responsible for assisting communities with their requirements under the NFIP. They are your first point of contact for any questions, issues or concerns you have about the program and state floodplain laws (which may be more restrictive than the NFIP minimum standards). The state FPM also provides floodplain management training and receives copies of ASFPM’s training courses. Contact your state FPM for assistance or to inquire about upcoming trainings in your area.

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Registration & Sitting for the Exam
  • Advanced registration and fee payment is required prior to taking the exam.
  • On-site and same day registration is not permitted.
  • You must provide photo ID to the proctor prior to receiving exam materials.
  • Plan to arrive 30 minutes before the exam for check-in and instructions. Late arrivals will be held to the scheduled completion time regardless of when they began the exam.
  • The exam is pass/fail, and exam results are held in strict confidence.
  • Results are sent by USPS mail to exam takers in the United States two weeks after the exams have been received by the ASFPM executive office.
  • Exam results for international examinee may be delivered digitally using the same time frame.

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About the CFM® Exam
  • The CFM® exam is a 120 multiple-choice question, closed book exam, held in a proctored classroom environment.
  • You have three hours to complete the exam.
  • The exam proctor will provide all materials necessary for taking the exam and all exam materials must be returned at the end of the session.
  • Your exam packet will include general directions for the exam. Please read through and follow these directions carefully. If you do not understand something about the directions, please ask your exam proctor.
  • Pace is important. Please review all materials in the exam packet before beginning. This will allow you to anticipate which questions you may need more time to complete.
  • Remember, this is a national exam based on NFIP’s minimum standards. While your state or community may have higher standards, you should answer exam questions based on the NFIP minimum standards.

We wish you the best on your exam preparation, exam taking and eventual acceptance into the community of professional CFMs.

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Since the exam questions change often, ASFPM does not have, endorse or provide CFM® exam preparation classes. Rather, CBOR provides advice on recommended prerequisites in the above section and Part 2: Technical References and Part 3: Exam Supplemental Review Materials as the best way to prepare.

ASFPM provides this guide to assist in preparing for the exam. ASFPM cannot make guarantees or warranties concerning the use of this guide. Attendees should not assume they will pass the CFM® exam by only reviewing these resources or only completing the recommended training.