Additional Exam preparation materials can be found here: Exam Preparation Info

                               A completed Portfolio Application is not required in order to test.

Exam Candidate Manual

The exam measures professional competence and preparing for and passing it requires mastery of material.  This is what GISCI and the industry are about, and a mastery of core geospatial material is what we measure through the GISP Exam. 

Consistent with that philosophy, we have produced the first round of preparation materials, available below as the Exam Candidate Manual.   The Knowledge areas are correlated  to  the GIS&T Body of Knowledge, and each area of that publication has the most consolidated list of references that will provide in-depth reading within that specific GIS&T Knowledge Area.  The exam tests knowledge at the core of each knowledge area in a software agnostic manner. 

The exam we crafted measures a level of geospatial competence acquired over the course of an individual's career, and there is no simple pathway that can be provided to allow a shortcut in knowledge acquisition.   We provide a description of the knowledge areas to be covered in a specific enough way to allow for an understanding of exam content, and we then rely upon an individual's own ability and initiative to explore resources available that will provide the level of knowledge needed to pass the exam, based on her or his present level of experience and training. 

Each individual is urged to take the exam seriously, regardless of educational background or experience level, and the prep information will help you to assess your strengths and weaknesses regarding the exam material.  


The current Exam Candidate Manual can be found here:  

Exam Candidate Manual

Exam Blueprint 2019

GISCI Official Practice Exam  (New)


The Exam

  • Requires that you KNOW the GIS areas tested against and not just memorize terms to pass (you cannot test your way TO competence, but we can successfully test FOR competence in selected areas).
  • Measures proficiency in selected geospatial competencies, NOT proficiency in your job.
  • Is based on the 2019 Exam Blueprint.
  • Is written at a 4-year experience level and written by qualified GISPs, consulting with qualified psychometricians.
  • Can be taken whenever it is offered, regardless of the status of your Portfolio Application.
  • Is offered at proctored PSI testing locations around the world only in June & December.
  • The December Session will start on the first Saturday in Dec and run for 9 days; Registration for the December session will start in July.
  • The June Session will start on the first Saturday in June and run for 9 days; Scheduling for the June session will start in February.
  • Scheduled times and locations are assigned on a first-come, first-served basis; candidates are advised to apply early.
  • Is 4 hours in duration and contains 100 scored questions; average completion time is 3 hours.
  • Contains additional pre-test questions, up to 80, not scored, which will be evaluated for use as scored questions in the future.
  • Candidates will not be able to identify scored vs non-scored questions.
  • Information on these areas, is available here:   Exam Candidate Manual.
  • Passing is a scaled score 73.
  • Pass rates have reached above 60%.
  • Reporting is pass/fail only - you will not be provided with a final score.
  • Pass/Fail notice will go out, generally, within 4 weeks after the full exam session closes, after a full GISCI review and confirmation of results.  Candidates will be notified of delays if they arise.
  • Candidates failing, after initial notification, will receive a Performance Report covering each of the 10 Knowledge Categories to assist with study for re-testing.
  • Scheduling is done online through PSI Support in KS after authorization by GISCI; direct contact with a local testing center will not secure an exam slot.
  • Cancellation:  If you cannot attend your scheduled exam, due to extreme circumstances, you must contact at least 24 hours in advance to cancel or reschedule. 
  • Failure to show for the exam without notification to GISCI Staff will result in forfeiture of the Exam Fees.
  • Important Notes:
    • Candidates may be allowed to roll exam fees over once with permission from the Executive Director. Rolling over of exam fees are reserved for candidates experiencing extreme circumstances.
    • All exam fees are non-refundable.
    • Failure to adequately prepare for the exam will not be a consideration for postponement (rollover of exam fees) of the exam.
    • Contact GISCI staff immediately at if you experience test center problems.  Early notification may allow for rescheduing during the current exam period.


Exam Preparation falls into three categories:  Examine the Exam Blueprint, Self-Assess from the Exam Content, take the Official Practice Exam to confirm your Knowledge Gap. 

Then, embark on your own learning pathway to  acquire the missing skills and knowledge.

To Prepare for the Exam:

You will need a working familiarity of the 10 Knowledge Categories the exam covers in order to pass.

Your first priority is to detemine your GIS Knowledge Gap - the difference between the GIS knowledge you currently possess and the level of GISP knowledge the exam covers and tests against.  This is best done with a combination of self-assessment, first, then taking the Official Practice Exam to confirm your level of knowledge.  This is where the Exam Blueprint come in - it describes the goal.

Once you have your Knowledge Gap identified, you then have to figure out your own learning pathway that will get you to the skill level you need to show competence in the KSA areas we cover on the exam.  That means you have to learn and know GIS in these areas.    There is no study guide that will allow you to memorize answers in order to pass.  You have to know the GIS areas covered in order to pass.   In order to lay your learning pathway, you first, have to understand the goal. 

We are not a teaching organization.   We aren't going to teach you GIS.   We simply evaluate your skill level via the exam.    There is no shortcut to GIS proficiency.  There is no Cliff's Notes version of GIS to study for this;  you have to learn GIS.

  1.  Review the 2019 Revised Blueprint - this is the most important document to start with, as all exam questions come from these listed 45 KSAs
  2.  Determine the areas you know vs the areas you don't know - be ruthless in your self-assessment
  3. Examine other Exam Prep Materials listed on the site to help you unpack what knowledge is covered on the exam
  4. Take the Official Practice Exam to confirm your self-assessment  You Will get a score and Performance Report immediately upon completion. Your score on your 1st take will provide a benchmark for your GISP Knowledge Gap
  5. Once you have an understanding of what you will be tested over and your areas of weakness, decide on a learning pathway that best meets your needs
  6. Consider starting or joining a study group;  many report that the group synergy helps their study and focus
  7. Don't focus on the exam as a 'do or die' event;  consider it as the first step to toward becoming a GISP and understanding your areas of strenth and weakness, as failing candidates receive a Performance Report on each Section tested, showing your areas that need work

The exam questions cover the  Knowledge Categories in the 2019 Exam Blueprint, below:

  • Conceptual Foundations (10%)
  • Geospatial Data Fundamentals (15%)
  • Cartography & Visualization (10%)
  • Data Acquisition (11%)
  • Data Manipulation (11%)
  • Analytical Methods (11%)
  • Database Design & Management (10%)
  • Application Development (7%)
  • Systems Design & Management (7%)
  • Professional Practice (8%)

Most candidates will do very well in 5 or more of the Content Areas, then do well enough on the others to pass overall.  Your pathway to passing the exam will be unique to you!


For more information on these areas, consult the Exam Candidate Manual, available as a download higher on this page.

In addition consult the UCGIS-produced GIS&T Body of Knowledge, 1st Ed, providing  more specific references from each Knowledge Category.  The 2016 Updated GIS&T Body of Knowledge is available from UCGIS.