What Is CAMS Exam And Everything You Need To Know About It

Last Updated: May 24


Money laundering is a serious financial crime. It involves the legalization of money that is earned unlawfully. AML experts are a critical part of any organization as they protect their companies from financial crimes. The CAMS certification is the only anti-money laundering certification that is widely recognized. To become a certified anti-money-laundering expert you need to take the CAMS (Certified Anti Money Laundering Specialist) exam. In this article, we will discuss everything you need to know about the CAMS certification.

What are ACAMS and CAMS?

ACAMS is the world’s leading membership association that aims to strengthen the skills and experience of fraud detection in public and private sectors both. Their certification (CAMS) is recognized by the financial authorities worldwide.

Is CAMS appropriate and relevant to my country and industry?

The CAMS certification is recognized worldwide and is not focused on a single country. The course content is relevant to all countries of the world. To take the exam, you must have experience relevant to AML in the real world.

Table of Contents

What are the prerequisites of the CAMS exam?

If you wish to take the CAMS exam, you must have an ACAMS membership. You also need a minimum of 40 credits. These credits are issued by ACAMS based on your certifications and experience in the field of anti-money-laundering. If you have a master’s degree, you will receive 30 points. You can get 10 additional credits if you have experience of at least one year in the relevant industry. If you are short of credits, you can attend free webinars on the ACAMS website. You will get one credit for attending each webinar.

What is the application process for the CAMS exam?

Once you have enough credits, you can download the application from the ACAMS website, fill the application, and submit it along with proof of credits (degree, certifications, experience, or free webinars). You also need three professional references along with proof of credits. Your application will be verified in a couple of days. After your application is verified, you will pay for the exam.

Why do I need professional references?

Professional references are mandatory for all candidates. They are individuals who can vouch for your AML knowledge and experience. Your relatives and ACAMS staff cannot be your professional references.

How difficult is the exam?

The CAMS test is quite difficult and is revised continuously to resolve and new challenges, risks, and possible methods to counter these risks. The questions are quite lengthy and complicated with intentionally put clues to misdirect you from the correct answer. For some questions, you have to select multiple correct answers. If you fail to select any of the correct answers, you will not score the point.

How to prepare for the exam?

Here is an effective way to study for the CAMS exam:

  • Make a study plan
  • Use official study guides of the ACAMS
  • Study each chapter carefully. ACAMS combines multiple concepts from different chapters into a single question to test if the concepts are fully understood.
  • Do not take the exam without sufficient preparation. Your work experience is not enough to take the exam.

How long do I have to study for?

For preparation, time is not a constraint. You should give at least two to three hours per day while preparing for the exam if you are aware of the AML frameworks. For a person who is new to the AML domain, it can be much more than two to three hours.

Do I have to memorize content for the CAMS exams?

You have to memorize a lot of factual content for the exam. Candidates who appear in the exam report that 20-30% of the questions require the memorization of content.

Is there a penalty for picking out the wrong answer?

There is no negative marking in the CAMS exam.

What is the format of the exam?

• There are 120 multiple choice questions in the exam.
• The time limit to solve these questions is 3.5 hours (210 minutes).
• There is no negative marking in the exam therefore you should not leave any question unanswered.
• The test is MCQs based and for every question, you are given four to five options.
• There are some questions with single answers and some with multiple answers. For questions with multiple answers, you have to select all the correct answers to score a point.

English is not my mother tongue, can I take the exam in a language other than English?

Yes, you can take the exam in the following languages:

  • Arabic
  • English
  • Chinese
  • French
  • Portuguese
  • Polish
  • Spanish
  • Russian
  • Bahasa Indonesia
  • Japanese
  • German

What is the course outline of the CAMS exam?

The official study guide provided by the ACAMS consists of eight chapters. Chapter 1-6 has all the study material while chapter 7 has practice questions for the examination. Chapter 8 has guidance material and other documents. It is important that you study some additional topics which are mentioned below in the article.

Is external reading required for the exam?

The official ACAMS study guide does not cover all the questions that appear in the CAMS exam. It is very important that you read information from online sources of important topics. These include:

  • Wolfsberg anti-money-laundering principles for private and correspondent banking
  • European Union’s money laundering directives
  • Notes and recommendations of the FATF (Financial Action Task Force)
  • Wolfberg’s guide on Anti-Corruption
  • 100 sanitized cases from the Egmont group
  • Are the guides and resources available on the internet helpful?
  • Yes, the resources available online are quite helpful. You can practice the concepts you studied in the ACAMS guide by taking mock tests online. These practice tests will make you fully prepared for the actual exam. It is also recommended to talk to people online on forums where people who have previously taken the test share their experiences. Their tips will help you ace the exam.

What are the tips and tricks for taking the exam?

Following tips will be helpful while taking the exam:

  • The questions of a CAMS exam are lengthy and confusing. Read every question carefully to make sure you do not miss any important detail.
  • There are many distractors in questions and answers both. It is important to identify and eliminate unnecessary information that does not have an impact on the answers.
  • There is no negative marking in the exam. Make sure you do not leave any questions that you are not sure about.
  • The questions are confusing and tricky. Do not panic, it will only make things worse.
  • You have 210 minutes to solve 120 questions, which makes it approximately 1.5 minutes for each question. Try to solve every question in 1.5 minutes and do not spend too much time on confusing questions.

What is the passing score of the exam?

To obtain the CAMS certification, you need to earn at least 75 points (out of 120) in the exam.

What do I have to bring on the day of the exam?

On the day of the exam, you have to bring a valid form of identification. You can bring your passport, driver’s license, or any form of government-issued ID.

Can I retake the exam?

  • Candidates who do not pass the exam on their first attempt can retake it after 30 days.
  • Candidates who do not pass the exam on their second attempt can retake it after 60 days.
  • Candidates who do not pass the exam on their third or more attempt can retake it after 90 days.

Does the CAMS certification expire?

The CAMS certification expires in three years. CAMS professionals can recertify after three years.

How much does recertification cost?

The recertification costs between $200 – $250 before the deadline. If you miss the deadline, you must pay $300 to recertify.

Can I reschedule my exam?

  • Refunds will not be granted after registering.
  • Candidates can reschedule or cancel their exam via Pearson VUE up to 72 hours prior to the scheduled exam date at no charge.
  • Exams cancelled or rescheduled 24 to 72 hours prior to the scheduled start time incur a Pearson VUE charge of US$100.
  • No-shows and cancellations less than 24 hours before the scheduled exam require a new ACAMS authorization to test, at a cost of US$299.
  • Scheduling, rescheduling, or cancelling via the Pearson VUE call center incurs a charge of US20.

What are the career opportunities for a certified AML specialist?

A CAMS certified is an expert in anti-money-laundering techniques and is aware of the market trends. Having this certification ensures improved work prospects and better salaries. A CAMS professional can work in the public and private sector as:

  • AML Officer
  • Fraud Investigator
  • Auditor
  • Compliance Officer

How much does a certified AML earn?

CAMS certification is a vital component of a successful AML career. Nowadays, large financial institutions have made CAMS a mandatory requirement for positions in the AML and CTF.

Is CAMS worth it?

It is observed that a certified AML earns much more than a non-certified professional. On average, a CAMS professional earns $17 per hour or $80K per annum while the salary of non-certified professional ranges from $50K-$60K per year.

Is there an alternative to the CAMS certification?

Yes, there are many alternatives to the CAMS certification:

  • CFCs (Certification in Financial Crime)
  • CFE (Certified Fraud Examiner)
  • CAFP (Certified AML and Fraud Professional)

Is CAMS the best AML certification?

CFCS is a new certification and is not globally recognized. CFE is beneficial for those who want to pursue their career as fraud investigators. CAMS is the only certification that is widely recognized as the standard in the anti-money-laundering certifications.


In the AML domain, the CAMS certification is by far the most prestigious credential. It is an effective tool in fighting crime and terrorism. A certified individual can easily identify how and where threats originate. Even though it requires a big investment but it is a valuable contribution to your career and will open many doors for success in financial institutions. Preparing for the exam will not be easy but you will certainly reap the benefits of the time you put into studying.

P.S. For latest update of the exam rules and policies please refer to the official exam organization at acams.org.

Picture of Holly S. Elliott

Holly S. Elliott

Holly have worked in the compliance field for over 15 years. She is now the senior editor in exam team.


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