The Project Management Professional (PMP) exam is an internationally recognized test for professionals in the project management industry. It is based on the information covered in the PMI’s Project Management Body of Knowledge, consisting of 200 mutually exclusive, four-option, multiple-choice questions.
As with any test, you’ll want to prepare before taking the PMP exam. Many people neglect to take mock tests or study hard enough before their exam date. Signing up for a PMP Certification Training program is extremely beneficial since you’ll be able to pursue your project management career skills with the help of an instructor. When you’re enrolled in a class, you can work to achieve your certification at your convenience.
How to Prepare for the PMP Exam
Here are some of the best ways to help you prepare for the project management professional exam in and outside of the classroom.
1. Study hard
There’s no right or wrong amount of time to study, as every individual learner is different. Generally speaking, it’s recommended that you spend 20 to 40 hours studying (in addition to the time you spend in class) for the PMP exam in order to succeed. For best results, base your studies off of The Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge. This guide will give you a great head start on test prep.
2. Follow a plan
Regardless of what you’re studying for, having a plan of attack is always essential. Set clear and specific goals for your studies so that you know when you’ve achieved them. Balance your time wisely, being sure to consider how much time you can realistically study on any given day. Finally, be sure you’re studying the resources that are going to serve you best. The exam can be overwhelming, but with a plan in place, you can and will succeed.
3. Make time for practice tests
As previously mentioned, one of the biggest mistakes people make in taking the PMP exam is neglecting to take a few practice tests first. By taking practice tests, you’ll have a better idea of what to expect on the actual test. In addition, you’ll be able to put a laser focus on the areas you don’t know as well and spend more time studying them. You won’t have a lot of time to spend on each question when you’re taking the actual exam. Practice tests can improve your question and answer recall and enable to you come to a conclusion quicker.
4. Study more than one guide
The Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge is a great starting point, but it shouldn’t be the only thing you study for the PMP exam. Other guides that come highly recommended include:
- PMP Exam Prep by Rita Mulcahy
- Head First PMP: A Learner’s Companion to Passing the Project Management Professional Exam by Jennifer Greene
- The PMP Exam: How to Pass on Your First Try by Andy Crowe
5. Read the questions carefully
Even though the questions are multiple-choice, one switch of a word can completely change its answer. Keep an eye out for those questions that lead you to believe it’s something you’ve read before in a reference book or guide. Minor changes can cause major blunders in your final test score.
6. Create flashcards
One study method that will never go out of style is flashcards. The PMP exam features definition-based and formula-based questions. Flashcards are an easy way to study for these portions of the test. Not only will you be going over the cards again and again, but you’ll have to write out the question and answer, which can help your memorization of the terms and formulas.
7. Take training seriously
The Project Management Institute requires that you spend 35 hours on your education before you apply to take the exam. Use this time wisely, as what you learn can help you pass the exam. Focus on the founding concepts of project management, and most importantly, if you have questions, ask them! The classroom is your direct line to the answers and insight needed to pass the test.
8. Allow breaks
Make sure you give yourself time for mental breaks. It’s just as important to have enough rest leading up to the exam as it is to study the reference book and take practice exams. You don’t want to go into the test feeling stressed out and tired. Ensuring you stay healthy, physically and mentally, while preparing for the test will enable you to remain cool, calm, and collected during the exam.
The grading system for the PMP Exam is not straightforward. Each question is weighted by level of difficulty, and no two students will get the same set of problems. So, it’s tough to say what the pass rate is. That’s why taking practice exams is of the utmost importance. The more you practice, the more knowledge you’ll have to help you determine what questions may be considered easy and what may be considered hard.
9. Enroll in a PMP certification program
The Project Management Excellence Center (PMEC) offers a PMP certification program that will ensure you are fully prepared to take the test. Their team of instructors specialize in PMP, CAPM, PMI-ACP, as well as Agile and Scrum methodologies and training, and are hand-selected based on their experience and industry knowledge.
PMEC provides complete course materials, including study aids, references, and a 90-day subscription to their online simulation of the PMP exam with over 500 practice test questions. Thanks to their well-rounded approach at tackling the exam and their expert instructors, 98 percent of their students pass the exam the first time around.
Everyone has different needs and learning styles. PMEC programs are located across the United States in 23 cities as well as online. They also offer a 4-day PMP Boot Camp which is an accelerated, guaranteed path to achieving your PMP certification. No matter what your preference is, you’ll be able to study the project management career skills and related certifications you need to excel in your career at your convenience.
Remember — there isn’t a one-size-fits-all strategy to studying for the PMP exam. Use the methods that work best for you to ensure you understand the concepts at play. In this way, you’ll be able to pass the test with flying colors.