CRSP Exam Preparation Strategies That Work!

There’s more to successfully passing the CRSP exam than just studying and memorizing textbook materials. As a future candidate, it’s not enough to simply have memorized the various concepts and terminologies to get a good mark. You MUST be able to bridge the gap between what you have learned and its real-world applications. Let’s review some proven methodologies to implement into your preparation which will ensure your success in both the CRSP and in your future career!

What Is The CRSP?

The Board of Canadian Registered Safety Professionals was initially founded under the “Association for Canadian Registered Safety Professionals” in 1976. It is a public interest and not-for-profit association whose certificates are dedicated to the principles of health and safety as a profession.

Its purpose was to certify qualified safety practitioners as Canadian Registered Safety Professionals. By 1982 the CRSP exam was made to be mandatory for those in key positions as licensed OHS professionals. The Board of Canadian Registered Safety Professionals Canada.

According to the BCRSP, “The CRSP certification is now a widely accepted form of recognition by industry and government in Canada. Many employers require employees and potential job candidates to acquire the CRSP certification as a means of qualification for safety positions. It also allows the BCRSP to ensure that the highest standards of excellence and professionalism are maintained at all times and by all certificants.”

To qualify for the certification, individuals are required to meet qualification standards, including education and experience requirements, as well as to pass the CRSP and CRST exams. Although the qualification requirements will be discussed in just a moment, as they may change or be updated year to year, we recommend that you search for them on the official BCRSP website for clarification.

The differences between the CRSP and CRST certifications are compared below in the following table. CRSPs have a leadership and management oriented role in which they are tasked with planning and organizing OHS systems in order to control hazards / reduce risks for all parties involved, the work facilities, products, and the environment. In comparison, CRSTs are responsible for supporting and implementing the OHS systems created by CRSPs. CRSTs use the adopted and tailored tools that are approved by CRSPs in order to assess and monitor risks to ultimately increase productivity.

Applying The Golden Circles Concept

In your planning and thought processes surrounding career development and education, it's crucial to continuously reflect on what you are learning and inquire into how these new skills apply in your workplace and general life. To be successful, you are required to take what you have learned and implement it in such a way which produces results.

The golden circles are a very powerful thought concept that you may or may not be familiar with which can be used when taking on large challenges such as this exam. It identifies 3 steps in approaching difficult tasks from a core level moving outward. Let’s look at how we can use its framework to create a plan of action that generates the results you are looking for, not only with the exam but also in your future career as an OHS professional.
The golden circles diagram. 3 Layered circles, from inside to out, Why? motivation, How? Process-Planning, What? Certification.

Why CRSP?

Starting at the core, ask yourself “why do you want to take the CRSP certification exam?” Take the time to really consider your intention in achieving this certification. It is interesting that when CRSP candidates are asked this question, they usually think “how will this certification reflect on their resume and qualifications?” Yes, that is a big factor to consider as it directly affects your employment. But think about what underlying value acquiring this certification has for you individually and for the people who you serve in your organization.
CRSP Golden Circle Diagram,
For some, getting CRSP certified is an opportunity to gain the confidence needed to then be able to lead a team. For others, it could be to fulfill on a value they have for education. These are two common examples, but your “why” can be anything that motivates, drives, and inspires you. If you are having difficulties identifying your “why”, a good practice is to envision yourself as a CRSP graduate and how that would reflect in your view of yourself individually, at work, and in society. Spending the time to get a clear image of your “why” is the most important step in this whole process and it is what will keep you committed to seeing this certification through to the end.
Stick Figure thinking about the questions why, how, what, when preparing for his CRSP Exam

How & What?

After you have explored your “why”, you can begin to consider “how” you have to plan for achieving your goal and “what” the areas you should focus on are.

This would include: creating a plan of action congruent to your schedule, determining what areas you are most and least competent in, and focusing on developing your weaknesses by taking action on following through with your commitment.

Following this intrinsic approach, focusing on your individual path throughout the process, you can fulfill the outcome you are trying to generate.
The how and What circles of the CRSP golden circle

CRSP Exam Preparation

Let’s consider the various aspects of the preparation process, including: how to approach and structure your study plan, what competencies you will be required to know, exam details and references, the preparation time frame, studying methods and recommendations, and how our CRSP Exam Crash Course can provide you with a proven and tested method of achieving your goals.

CRSP Study Materials

To begin, let’s take a look at the CRSP study materials for the BCRSP examination. The BCRSP has included 6 category classifications to group the exam competencies. This pie chart names and breaks down the weightings of the 6 categories. Please note that the ratio of the questions do not perfectly follow the percentages shown here. This is because of the slight overlaps between questions in the exam, but overall, we could say that the “Health and Safety Management” competency makes up the largest percentage of questions.

“Hazard and Risk Identification & Assessment” and “Hazard and Risk Control and Mitigation” are the next highest categories. Together, they include roughly 34% of the exam content. The remaining competencies account for 12% each and total to the remaining 36% of the exam content. Make sure that you first assess how much of the exam materials you know and how much you need to learn. The exam covers some concepts very thoroughly so just being familiar wouldn’t suffice (refer to the competencies breakdowns and references). When going over them, be objective and honest in your estimations of how well-versed you are. This way you won’t under or overestimate the workload.

A pie chart of the 6 BCRSP categories with their percentage weight on the exam.  Health and Safety management (30), Hazard and Risk Identification & Assessment (17), Hazard and Risk Control and Mitigation (17), Technical human and social sciences (12),  Management sciences (12), ethics role and function (12)

CRSP Examination Length & Format

Just to give an idea of the BCRSP’s CRSP examination format and length, it usually consists of 200 multiple choice questions which candidates will have to answer in approximately 3 and a half hours or 210 minutes. On average you will have one minute to allocate to each question. Roughly 70% of the questions are independent and 30% are situational or cased based.

Overall, only a fraction of the exam is knowledge and comprehension questions. 40% of questions are application based and the other 35% test for critical thinking.

How To Plan For Studying?

Any approach that you use in preparing for the CRSP exam, as long as it works for you, will be a good plan. However, this does not mean that just studying or preparing at random based on your “in the moment feelings” will be effective. In contrast, you should follow a structure that suits your specific situation, learning style, and timeline.
A quote to remember when preparing for the CRSP Exam

Register First!

The best advice for anyone who is planning to write the CRSP exam is to set a date congruent with your schedule and register! After taking some time to consider your individual timeline and comfortability with the content, setting a date and following through by registering is the perfect way to stay accountable as it sets a deadline for you to work towards. 

The BCRSP application process takes roughly 3 to 5 months as they have to verify all of your information. Most candidates take on this certification alongside their work or other full-time commitments, so it’s easy to forget about it and set it aside when convenient. By selecting and committing to an exam date early on, you give yourself a fixed target to keep in mind as you study. 

This screenshot was taken from the “CRSP Exam Planning” video to give you a sense of how long the full process could take. I highly recommend that you watch the video to ensure that you know how to plan for the exam properly. As you can see, it takes roughly one full year from start to finish to get the certification. Therefore, if you’re already considering taking the exam, registering earlier will also limit delays in achieving your goal.


The timeline for becoming CRSP certified

Share Your Plan For The CRSP Exam!

Next, talk to people in your life who love and support you! Let them know how being CRSP certified will impact your life and the people you are serving. Share how your studies empower you to express yourself amongst your CRSP peers and to contribute to your organization at a higher level. As the saying goes “speak it into existence”. By expressing your goals and getting the support of your loved-ones, you make it “real”. This will create an intrinsic need to follow through and also decreases your likelihood of giving up.
Two cartoon people talking about their plan for the BCRSP Exam

Create Study Plan For The CRSP Exam

You have to know exactly how much time you have before the date of the CRSP exam. After you have determined all of the content and subject matter you will need to cover, work backwards and design a plan with set deadlines and objectives. Be sure to account for your work schedule, holidays, travel plans, and anything else that may get in the way of your studies. Again, be reasonable, don’t commit to an unnecessarily condensed timeline or take it too easy. Follow a structure and timeframe which works for you!
Cartoon planning their calendar for the CRSP Exam

CRSP Exam Study Plan

How meticulous you get with your CRSP exam study plan is up to you and depends on various personal factors such as prior level of competence, study habits, and so forth. In general, break down study plans into weekly objectives, however, feel free to adjust to whatever programming works best for you.

Overall, make sure to allocate enough time to get through all the CRSP exam materials well before your exam date. For some, “enough time” may mean two to three hours of studying per day, while for others it’s perfectly normal to need four to six hours per day of studying. In general, it's smart to finish all the content at least 1 month in advance which will give you sufficient time to review and do sample questions.
A clock with a man standing on the hands

Study Approach Based On Accomplishment

Taking a more detailed look at how to structure your study plan, it’s important to consider the order in which you approach the content.

A common question about the CRSP exam is “in what order should I study the modules?” Most individuals tend to start with the content that they are most familiar and confident with.

As human beings, we look for the easiest path available and although the logic behind this approach is understandable, it often leads to issues when estimating preparation time. On many occasions, following this approach has led to a feeling of overconfidence early on as the material is easiest. But when the time comes for studying the more difficult content, a looming sense of anxiety sets in due to the rate of progress stalling.

Taking an alternative approach, by focusing on what you don’t know first, can reduce the risk of cramming material at the end.
Graph comparing time to feelings of accomplishment. Starting  with familiar concepts gives a low rise then moving into less familiar concepts gives a large feeling of accomplishment going into the CRSP exam.

“Less Familiar First” Approach!

If you follow a “less familiar first” approach, you will ensure that you give yourself enough time to study and overcome the more difficult aspects of the materials. This will give you a sense of accomplishment early on and decrease the possibility of stress in the future. However, the downside to this is that you may forget the more difficult material due to the prolonged delay.

Therefore, candidates who follow this approach will have to make sure that they go back and review the less familiar materials again, or continuously, so it stays fresh as the exam date draws near.
A graph comparing time spent to feeling of accomplishment. Starting on less familiar subjects for a large feeling of accomplishment then moving to more familiar concepts that lowers feelings slightly before a gain by the end before the CRSP exam.

Dynamic Approach Recommended For The CRSP Exam

Using a “dynamic plan” approach for the CRSP exam, which combines both approaches to reviewing familiar and less familiar competencies is an ideal solution to the drawbacks of the previous methods. As the diagram shows, you could alternate between studying more and less familiar content every couple of weeks. This way, your feeling of accomplishment will be gradual; and likewise, your level of stress will be distributed proportionately through the study period. The full feeling of accomplishment will still happen closer to the end, but this way you will be able to manage your stress levels properly and reduce the risk of burning out.
A graph comparing time before the CRSP Exam compared to Feeling of Accomplishment. Alternating between less familiar concepts for a large raise in accomplishment and more familiar concepts.

Give Yourself Enough Time For The CRSP Examination

We’ve talked a lot about planning so far and how to approach scheduling. However, the key point which is foundational to success is being realistic with yourself. No matter how detailed or specific your plan is, if it isn’t realistic and reflective of your circumstances, then it will not work. Individuals and companies who do not have expectations which reflect the reality of their circumstances always end up with a result that falls short or is not what they were aiming for. Not only that, but it also often creates unnecessary stress and losses.

In order to really be effective and see the results you want; you must be realistic. Give yourself enough time, be honest about how fast you can work or study. Make your schedule and look over the references I’ve mentioned previously. Take a detailed look into each of the competencies and really determine how much time you would need to spend learning and practicing.

For the most part, people tend to underestimate how much time it takes to become comfortable with the subject matter, and don’t account for other factors. By really being honest with yourself, you can avoid unnecessary stress and failure.

That being said, by taking the time to create a schedule which reflects your situation, you will save a ton of time that could have been lost to disorganization, stress, and poor planning. If you’re interested in a program which covers all of the key concepts of the CRSP certification exam in detail and is designed to help maximize the efficiency of your studying, check out our CRSP Exam Crash Course!

A figure running away from a watch. Running out of time before the CRSP Exam

CRSP Exam Requires Focusing

Moving on, an issue many people face is problems with concentration in the moment. Many CRSP candidates bring this up and say that although they are able to create an effective plan, oftentimes, they are not able to stay focused in the present moment when they are studying. This leaves them feeling resigned. I’ve personally experienced this myself and still to this day experience it in my work. It’s important to accept that this is normal! It's normal to not be able to sit and concentrate on one thing for 6 hours a day.

Especially when you haven’t had a lot of practice doing that. As mentioned earlier, you need to be honest with yourself and factor that into your timeline. If you recognize that within 6 hours of time you can only put out 3 and a half to 4 hours of high-quality focus then adjust your timeline to reflect that. As you practice you will improve and become more effective. This is all part of the process. You can consider removing unnecessary distractions from your immediate space and communicating with your loved ones to make adjustments for you to study without interruption.
A woman stressed over a pile of books with a clock above her head.

Concentration Strategies

It is hard to give an exact instruction on how to focus and concentrate on work. Our best advice is to first, practice noticing what distracts you. Your phone, computer games, emails, people in your household, eating habits, etc. are all examples of what you should watch for. Pay attention to your emotional and sensory distractors. If you are mad at someone or something, or if there is someone making noise in the area you study, you have to find a way to bring yourself back to your original commitment for the exam. Remember, “Why are you writing the CRSP examination?” If you use our videos and slides, make sure that you pay attention to both what you listen to and the notes on the slides. Sometimes you may need to review a slide/section multiple times. Listening and reading the slides will help you to concentrate better.

One of the best ways to prepare for the CRSP examination is to practice with questions and exams similar in style and difficulty. While no practice exams completely mirror the official BCRSP CRSP Exam, several resources are available for you to practice and assess your CRSP readiness. Make sure you practice with MCQs at the end of each chapter. Read the practice questions very carefully. Also, if you stick to a routine, realistic, and effective study schedule, your brain gets used to it and can focus much better. For many people coffee impacts the brain performance at high dosages so make sure you consume coffee at a moderate level.

How To Answer MCQs In The CRSP Examination?

In this final topic we will cover how to approach answering MCQs. The most common method is the process of elimination, and I would recommend that you practice using this approach for the exam.

Elimination requires you to narrow the options down to the two most probable solutions. In other words, if you can get the question down to a 50/50 chance, you have the highest probability of success even when dealing with the most difficult questions.

Although this method is effective, it might not always work, and you should expect to find questions that you are not sure about. In these situations, it's best to circle these questions so you can go back to them at the end of the exam. This will optimize your time and, in most cases, circling back to the question often provides you with a new perspective to approach it from.

Another method is to read each option separately and determine whether it is true or false. This can focus your mind on what the question is asking specifically and avoid confusion. Third, if you come across a question which you have completely no clue about, simply take a guess! It is important that you leave yourself at least 15 minutes at the end of the exam to review your answers and ensure you didn’t make any silly mistakes, especially on the questions that you are not sure about.

Keep in mind that answering all the easier questions first and flagging the harder ones for review at the end has drawbacks as you can be left with quite a few challenging questions to answer in a relatively short period of time. The last piece of advice is that on the day before the exam, set aside all your study materials and do something you enjoy which doesn’t involve reading technical reference materials or cramming for an exam. Catch up on shows you’ve missed while studying, go out for a bike ride, or hang out with friends and family! Whatever you do, remain confident in the study plan you created and followed, and find as many ways to relax as possible. de this solution.

How To Answer Cases In The CRSP Examination?

The CRSP exam consists of roughly 50% case-based questions. These cases usually consist of a long scenario with one or several multiple choice questions at the end. Many candidates complain that these long scenarios take a lot of their exam time. Although they are time consuming, the idea behind these cases is to test your comprehension and rational power around daily health and safety issues. The most important advice around these types of questions is to read the main question being asked by the case first and briefly scan through their answers. By holding the question in mind, your ability to comprehend and concentrate on the scenario increases drastically. If you have problems with concentration, you must practice developing this skill in your studies.

Our CRSP Exam Crash Course

If you’re interested in learning more about the CRSP Exam Crash Course, check out the different packages we offer under the crash course tab.

The CRSP Crash Course has been designed based on the BCRSP study materials in order to give you a set structure that’s easy to follow and effective. It includes more than 10 hours of video lessons with over 700 detailed slides. The videos are captioned and organized to follow the CRSP study materials listed on BCRSP website. The CRSP Exam Crash Course also includes over 1700 CRSP sample questions that are spread out across each module to test your understanding and comprehension. We’ve also included a sample CRSP final exam made to reflect what candidates should expect to see on the official BCRSP CRSP examination.
A figure stressed that they are running out of time for CRSP Exam Prep
Make sure to follow us on our social media platforms. Our team also creates some great videos surrounding various topics related to how to be a certified registered safety professional found under the Frequently Asked Questions tab, so be sure to check it out! You are always welcome to reach out to our team via email at admin@crspcrst.ca.
A figure happy that they used the CRSP Crash course to prepare.