CMSP Exam Study Guide

Certification Exam Study Outline1

The Certified MISMO Standards Professional (CMSP) designation represents the highest level of achievement in the standards-setting process within the mortgage industry. The CMSP is awarded to subject matter experts who have demonstrated they have the knowledge to: a) identify and document the data needed to support real-world, regulatory and business-driven mortgage transactions; b) follow MISMO's standards development process to create data exchange specifications that can be implemented within their own and trading partner organizations; and c) articulate the benefits of incorporating standards to support business operations across the loan life cycle. 2

CMSP Exam Objectives

The CMSP exam is timed (150 minutes).  The exam is "open-book" and requires the successful candidate to demonstrate the baseline level of knowledge needed to:

  • Effectively participate in the MISMO organization and its standards manufacturing process,
  • Understand and navigate the MISMO Reference Model (the Model) and supporting MISMO Work Products,
  • Apply key concepts from the Model to solve real-world data-related problems, and
  • Advocate for the adoption of industry standards within the mortgage industry. 

Prerequisites for Taking the Exam3

In order to be eligible to take the CMSP Certification Exam (Exam), candidates must complete the following steps:

  • Obtain a reference from a member of the MISMO Leadership Team (Residential Standards Governance Committee Member, Council of Chairs Member, Committee Chairman or Board Member). See Reference Form for more details. 
  • Register to take the Exam and pay the Exam fee ($200 for MISMO Members and $400 for Non-Members).
  • Review this CMSP® Study Outline.  

Exam Preparation Materials

The following documents supporting MISMO's organization, standards development activities, standards and work products can be found on MISMO's website at and, available to MISMO Members on MISMO Connect. Exam candidates should become familiar with the key concepts set forth in these artifacts and be able to easily locate them for reference. 

CMSP Exam Knowledge Areas

The following section of this document outlines the Knowledge Areas to be assessed by the Exam:  MISMO's mission, organization, standards development process, the reference model, and standards implementation and adoption.

  1. MISMO's Organizational Structure
  2. The  Residential and Commercial standards development process
  3. MISMO's Logical Data Model (LDM)
  4. The  Residential and  Commercial MISMO XML Reference Model (Logical Data Dictionary (LDD) and XML schema) concepts, terminology and navigation  

    Exam Knowledge Area 1 
    MISMO's Organizational Structure

    This section addresses the operating framework that makes MISMO possible.

    CMSP Candidates should demonstrate understanding of the following:

    • The MISMO organization and its purpose and structure
    • The artifacts comprising the MISMO standards
    • Key concepts of a voluntary consensus process for standards development and why they are important to MISMO (see OMB Circular A-119)
    • The MISMO resources available to members and non-members
    • The policies and procedures under which MISMO operates, as documented in the following MISMO governing documents: MISMO BylawsProcesses and Procedures (P&Ps), Intellectual Property Rights (IPR), and  Antitrust Policy

    RESOURCES: MISMO Governing Documents

    Exam Knowledge Area 2 
    The Standards Development Process

    This section covers MISMO's standards development process and participant roles and responsibilities, as well as how participants can effectively navigate the process.

    CMSP Candidates should demonstrate understanding of the following:

    • The difference between MISMO's standards and work products
    • The type and general contents of MISMO's work products and where they can be accessed.
    • The focus areas of MISMO workgroups, the distinction between development workgroups (DWGs) and Communities of Practice (CoP), and the role each workgroup plays in the organization. The leadership roles and responsibilities within the workgroups
    • Each step in the standards development process and how to effectively shepherd a proposed model enhancement through the process
    • Work Request Submission and approval process

    RESOURCES: The Residential and Commercial standards development process.

    Exam Knowledge Area 3 
    MISMO's Logical Data Model (LDM)

    This section reviews the key concepts behind the integrated set of diagrams that helps users specify, visualize, construct and document software or business systems.

    CMSP Candidates should demonstrate understanding of the following:

    • The relationship among the Logical Data Model, the XML Schema and the Life of the Loan Business Process Model.
    • Support provided by the LDM for XML, JSON and other technologies.


    Exam Knowledge Area 4 
    The MISMO Reference Model Concepts, Terminology, and Navigation

    This section describes the key concepts and terminology that are foundational to the MISMO Reference Model (Logical Data Dictionary (LDD) and XML Schema). Included are methods for using the LDD and Schema and how to find the MISMO data points needed to support business transactions.

    CMSP Candidates should demonstrate understanding of the following:

    • Each component of the LDD and how they work together:
      • MISMO naming conventions
      • Data points
      • Containers
      • Attributes
      • Arc roles
      • Enumerations
      • Data Types 
      • Acronyms
      • Usages
      • Deprecation
      • Context
    • The key concepts of the XML Schema, including:
      • Root elements
      • References
      • Relationships
      • Extensions
      • MISMO versioning notation and the difference between a major versus a minor version.


    Exam Knowledge Area 5 
    MISMO Reference Model Applications

    This section moves beyond Reference Model basics to address practical applications of MISMO data standards to specification development. Examples include but are not limited to how to find the enumerations for a given data point and how to use the PARTY, DOCUMENT and DEAL containers).  

    CMSP Candidates should demonstrate understanding of the following:

    • Schema representations (separated, combined), including data types and how they affect implementations
      • Version 3 concepts for documents, document views, and document maps.
      • The background and structure of a SMART® document.
      • Location in the XML schema and identification of its child containers   
      • Child containers as defined enumerated services in the Reference Model
      • Requests and Responses
    • How to represent commonly used information within the Reference Model such as Borrower, Property/Collateral and Loan
    • Approaches an organization can take to use or extend MISMO data types, data points, and/or containers in its own internal data model
    • Use of namespaces within the XML file.
    • Specification of container cardinality and data point conditionality to represent business use cases or scenarios


    Exam Knowledge Area 6 
    MISMO's Value Proposition for the Mortgage Finance System

    This section explores the benefits of adopting MISMO standards and participating in the MISMO standards development process. The importance of following a voluntary consensus process for standards development as set forth in OMB Circular A-119 is outlined. General information about the industry context supported by MISMO, including adoption by Government Sponsored Enterprises, the impact of government regulation, and environmental forces affecting the mortgage finance system are discussed.

    CMSP Candidates should demonstrate understanding of the following:

    • Benefits of adopting the MISMO standards
    • How to articulate why someone should get involved in MISMO (that is, the benefits of participation)
    • The wide variety of ways that someone can participate in MISMO
    • High level aspects of adoption of the MISMO standards by the Government Sponsored Enterprises 
    • Recent government policy or regulations that refer to or require use of standards


    Passing the Exam

    Candidates who complete the exam with a 75% or higher score earn a passing grade. Candidates achieving less than 75% may retake the exam within 10 days. Candidates failing the second exam must wait six months before taking the Exam again. A CMSP re-test fee of $100 for MISMO Members ($300 for Non-Members) will be charged for each subsequent attempt after the six-month waiting period. Contact [email protected] if you are interested in a re-test.

    1. [Referred to as "Study Outline" under Step 4 of CMSP Program, Process] , 2. [Text from MBA Certified MISMO Standards Professional (CMSPS) Enrollment page. Also CMSP Value Document under Value to the Individual.] , 3. [The text for this section is from CMSP Program, The Process, Step 4, Prepare to take the Exam.]