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PROJECT MANAGEMENT

How to prepare for PMP Certification Exam

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Techcanvass Team — MAY 12, 2021


A step-by-step approach on how to prepare for PMP certification exam and pass it in the first attempt.

PMP Certification Preparation

In this article, I am going to laydown a step-by-step approach for PMP certification exam preparation so that you can succeed in the first attempt.

Here are the five steps to prepare for the PMP certification exam. These steps are based on our panel of faculty and PMP certified professionals.

  • Set your goal.
  • Plan the preparation well.
  • Master PMP content.
  • Practice, practice, and Practice
  • Condition your mind.

Step 1: Set your Goal

Visualize Your PMP Certification: You must build your own mission statement clearly, spelling out the important reason of your earning PMP Certification. Secondly, the mission statement has to be reviewed throughout the preparation process to keep you motivated and inspired.

  • Set your goal.
  • Plan the preparation well.
  • Master PMP content.
  • Practice, practice, and Practice
  • Condition your mind.

Once all the above points are taken care of, work on setting up your target date for passing the PMP Exam. Target date is like setting up a goal post to keep you focused. Your goal has to be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely). Based on your own assessment in this step, set an exam date. This will also help you in making a plan as explained in the next step

Are you up for it? If yes, go ahead.

Step 2: Plan the preparation well

Start your preparation by making a plan. Ideally the plan should be weekly so that you can also set a weekly goal. Day wise targets are very difficult to adhere to because our workload and various other reasons.

This step will help you in couple of things:

  • Validate your target date for exam
  • Working on weekly targets will help you focus better

Passing PMP Exam takes a systematic approach and a lot of hard work. Analyse your workload, family commitments and motivation before you start your preparation. You don’t want to leave it in between as that will not only waste your time, it will also be demotivating

We believe that it takes 150-180 hours of preparation time for PMP. If you are able to set aside 15 hours a week, it will take about 10-12 weeks and this translates to 2-3 calendar months.

Make sure that you review your progress regularly and if needed, adjust the plan. I would advise you to keep 2 weeks as buffer to manage risks.

Step 3: Master PMP content

PMBOK® Guide 6TH Edition is a go-to reference book, but the exam isn’t based on it alone. A list of reference books (including the PMBOK® Guide 6th Edition) is mentioned below which is provided on pmp-reference-list.

  • REF- ACP - Effective Project Management: Traditional, Agile, Extreme, Hybrid | Author: Robert K. Wysocki | Publisher: Wiley
  • REF-PMP-Essential Scrum: A Practical Guide to the Most Popular Agile Process | Author: Kenneth S. Rubin | Publisher: Addison-Wesley
  • REF - PMP - Project Management: A Systems Approach to Planning, Scheduling, and Controlling | Author: Harold Kerzner | Publisher: Wiley
  • REF - PMP - Project Managers Portable Handbook, 3rd Edition | Author: David Cleland and Lewis Ireland | Publisher: McGraw-Hill
  • REF - PMP - Project Management: The Managerial Process | Author: Erik Larson | Publisher: McGraw-Hill
  • REF- PMP- Fundamentals of Technology Project Management, 2nd Edition | Author: Colleen Garton with Erika McCulloch | Publisher: MC Press
  • REF- PMP- Information Technology Project Management, 7th Edition | Author: Kathy Schwalbe | Publisher: Cengage Learning
  • REF- PMP- The Project Management Tool Kit: 100 Tips and Techniques for Getting the Job Done Right | Author: Tom Kendrick | Publisher: AMACOM
  • Agile Practice Guide | Author: Project Management Institute | Publisher: Project Management Institute
  • A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) 6th Edition | Author: Project Management Institute | Publisher: Project Management Institute

It’s not enough to read PMBOK® Guide 6TH Edition and Agile Practice Guide just once. So, how many times should you go through these two important books?

It is recommended to go through PMBOK® Guide 6TH Edition and Agile Practice Guide at least 4-5 times during your preparation. It is also recommended to read the other reference books at least 2 times to understand the overall project management scene as per PMP Exam.

First reading: Understanding key concepts, relationships and making a note of key aspects and developing your mnemonics.

Second reading: Start going through each knowledge area more thoroughly. Your focus should be on the nitty gritty and finer details of information provided in the guides

Third reading: This reading session will help you connect all the dots. As per the new ECO, you should be able to integrate all the 3 domains of People, Process and Business Process.

Subsequent reading: : These readings can be called as your revision readings and should be done at least twice.

Mind Maps: Create your own mind maps to understand the concepts, flow, and relationship among the three new domains of People, Process, and Business Environment. This is the best tool.

Step 4: Practice, practice and Practice

Your success depends on choosing a good question bank and practicing with it throughly. Here are a few guidelines to select a good question bank series:

  • Check the reviews by people who have used the question bank.
  • Go for full-length question banks.
  • Question Banks provided by ATPs can always be the best option.
  • You need around 8-10 full length tests to get ready for the final exam

Choosing a good question bank is just half the battle. Using it wisely and effectively is equally important. What does it mean?

  • Always attempt full-length simulations.
  • Practice exams can be found online or as part of formal training courses.
  • Always target 80-85% score on an average and that’s typically a good indication of your readiness.

Check your Terrain before the ride:

  • Learn about the format of the PMP Questions.
  • There are different types of questions including multiple-choice, multiple responses, matching, hotspot and limited fill-in-the-blank. You can refer to prototype questions provided on the PMP Certification Page of pmi.org.
  • Review the new ECO which details the domains covered in the exam.

Note: Techcanvass’ PMP question Bank includes questions as per the new format of PMP Certification Exam.

Step 5: Condition your mind

Mental conditioning is extremely important for couple of reasons:

  • Length of the exam is 230 Minutes (approximately 4 Hours). When do you think you sat for 4 hours without taking a break?
  • With gadgets all around, our concentration spans have gone down considerably. Maintaining focus in a stressful (stress of success/failure) environment is not easy.

PMP tests are lengthy and can be exhausting. Going through 180 questions and sitting for those many hours can be challenging. Before you start taking them, you must condition yourself. And, how do condition yourself?

  • Spend as much as time as possible in Study step to make sure that you start feeling confident.
  • Take the first full-length test after the training. The first mock test score will give you a picture of where you stand in terms of your overall understanding. This test will help you identify your areas of improvement.
  • Using full length tests wisely. Your first two attempts will be good enough to give you your evaluation and improvement areas. Work hard on these areas.
  • Working hard and practicing enough to score consistently 80-85% scores in all the Domains. (Important is all the Domains).
  • Taking at least 7 full-length simulations. This will also help you in preparing for a 4 hours exam.

In this article, I have used inputs from many PMP certified professionals. It’s quite obvious that proper planning and mental conditioning are as important as mastery of PMBOK® Guide 6TH Edition, Agile Practice Guide and other reference books.

Connecting with PMPs and joining a club can also be rewarding. Project professionals are eager to provide advice and encouragement.

  • www.ProjectManagement.com: There is a lot of blog posts and community discussions devoted to PMP exam-prep challenges and advice.
  • PMI’s LinkedIn project professional group: It is great place to post a question about the exam-preparation process when you are not able to find solution to your problem.
  • Local PMI chapters: These chapters can also be of help.
  • Authorized Training Partners: The ATPs will also help you prepare for the exam.

Hope this helps you in succeeding. All the best.


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