How to prepare for the PMP Exam?

PMI’s PMP exam is the world’s leading project management certification exam and is also one of the toughest exams to crack. It consists of 180 multiple choice questions which are to be solved in 230 min. These questions will assess the candidate’s leadership experience and expertise in Project Management. PMP Exam prep is an approach to preparing and passing the PMP exam on the first attempt.

Cracking the PMP exam is not a piece of cake and requires you to devote a great deal of time and commitment. In order to clear the PMP exam, it requires you to make a consistent and strong study plan, which you will have to follow religiously.

Many candidates with vast experience in project management have failed the PMP exam as they undermined the difference between being a successful project manager and being successful in clearing the PMP exam. And most of the candidates were able to successfully clear the PMP exam after devoting 5-6 hours or more each day for the exam preparation. Therefore, to pass the PMP exam with flying colors, you need to set aside a sufficient amount of time for the preparation before you sit for the exam.

This article is divided into sections. These sections cover different aspects of passing the PMP Exam and how to prepare for the PMP exam.

True nature of the PMP Exam

The PMP certification exam is not just an educational exam but also involves psychological testing. It tests a candidate's ability to react positively to various challenges that occur in a project and handle them calmly. The exam is not simply based on the material in the PMBOK Guide or other study guides, but rather focuses on the candidate's ability to apply project management concepts in real-world situations.

  • It is important to understand the underlying concepts and principles, rather than relying solely on memorization.
  • Candidates should break down the knowledge areas into smaller, more manageable sections to aid comprehension and retention.
  • Practicing mock tests is essential for identifying knowledge gaps and weak areas.
  • Candidates should take the time to analyze their mock test results and understand why they got certain questions wrong.
  • The types of questions on the exam include situational questions, which require the candidate to analyze a scenario and apply project management concepts to solve a problem.
  • The exam is computer-based and consists of 180 multiple-choice questions, with 230 minutes time limit.
  • Candidates should approach the exam with a structured study plan, a calm and focused mindset, and confidence in their knowledge and abilities.

Get started for PMP Exam preparation

Before you begin your PMP exam preparation, here are some suggestions that you can consider.

I. Survey

The first and the most important thing before you start preparing for the PMP exam is to survey the exam syllabus that you will have to cover, go through several PMP study guides to choose the best ones, and gain familiarity with all the concepts and topics covered in the PMP exam.

II. Commitment and motivation

Preparing for the PMP exam requires complete commitment to your study plan and the motivation to be consistent and adhere to your study schedule. You must set goals or targets for each day that you are going to accomplish by the end of the day.

III. Authorized Training Partners (ATPs)

ATPs are aligned with the vision and values of PMI and the ATP Program has been designed to help the candidates find high-quality training.

Few good reasons to work with ATPs:

  • Working with an PMI ATP PMP Instructor: ATP-PMP-Instructors are valid PMP® Certification holders and they keep themselves abreast with the learning methods and continuously enhance their skills.
  • Study Group: This is the place where people meet individuals who share the same goal.
  • Structure: Authorized Training Partners meet during specific times. Find a program that works for you and hold yourself accountable to attend all the sessions.
  • Instructor-Led: This kind of learning option is better if the candidate learns through discussion and dialogue..

PMI also offers a PMP Practice Exam to make sure that the candidate is ready for the PMP Certification. This is the best way to measure and evaluate how the candidate will perform in the real PMP Exam. The other reasons to create this practice test are to test the candidate’s knowledge and to simulate the real test.

IV. PMI authorized on-demand

PMI has developed the Authorized On-Demand PMP Exam Prep and has been validated by the PMP Certification holders. This is an online, self-paced course and has been designed to keep the learning needs of some of the candidates. It will help the candidate to enhance the project management skills and prepare for the PMP Certification Exam. This course focuses on helping the candidates with principles and concepts by using real-world scenarios from industries. Moreover, it satisfies the 35 contact hours required to apply for the certification.

Top reasons to take the PMI® Authorized on-demand PMP® exam prep

  • Self-paced and study at your own schedule: The most important reason to go for this exam prep course is the flexibility it provides to the candidates in terms of schedule, speed, and structure. This course is also better if the candidate is looking for a refresher course
  • 35 training hours/ contact hours: This course will satisfy the 35 training hours required to apply for the PMP Certification

How to prepare for the PMP Exam?

There are multiple options/resources available to the candidates for preparing for the PMP Exam and based on the candidate’s learning style. The aim is to find the best resources fitting the candidate’s learning style and schedule. It is recommended to work with Authorized Training Partners (ATPs) or to take PMI® Authorized On-Demand PMP® Exam Prep Course.

The benefits of working with ATPs include alignment with PMI, completion of the PMI Authorized Training Partner Train The Trainer – PMP® Exam Prep Course, and instructors who use PMI-developed training course content. The PMI ® Authorized On-Demand PMP® Exam Prep course is self-paced and online, and it is designed to help candidates prepare for the PMP Certification Exam on their own time. Candidates would be better prepared if they knew the difference between taking an On-Demand PMP Exam Prep Course and working with ATPs.

The one thing that would help an aspiring PMP candidate crack the PMP Exam in the first attempt is commitment. Let’s understand how to prepare for the PMP exam by a step-by-step approach.

I. PMP Exam content outline

The exam pattern is changed from January 2nd, 2021. This New PMP Exam content outlines documents, the domains, tasks, and enablers. The ECO provides a framework for the pattern of the PMP Exam. This is the most important document a candidate has at her perusal. The ECO provides the domains, tasks, and enablers which would be part of the PMP Exam. These domains, tasks, and enablers cover the content in PMBOK Guide 6th Edition.

II. PMI’s Project Management Training

It is recommended that the aspiring PMP candidates should work with PMI’s ATPs for acquiring formal training in project management. The ATPs provide training based on the study material developed by PMI. They provide tips & tricks and best practices to pass the PMP Exam. This reinforces the confidence in the candidate that the content is aligned with the PMP Exam pattern. These ATPs provide the completion certificate to the candidate about her acquiring the 35 contact hours which is one of the eligibility criteria to appear for the PMP Exam.

III. Goal

You must build your own mission statement clearly, spelling out the important reason for your earning PMP Certification.

Secondly, the mission statement has to be reviewed throughout the preparation process to keep you motivated and inspired.

  • The best way to stay with your goal is to share it with your near and dear ones. They will also help you stay focused.
  • The most important aspect here is to seek help and support from your manager.
  • Integrate your work commitments and family obligations with the PMP Preparation. Integration is a key.

Once all the above points are taken care of, work on setting up your target date for passing the PMP Exam. The 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 the 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.

IV. Plan

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 of our workload and various other reasons.

This step will help you in a couple of things:

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

To crack the PMP exam takes a systematic approach and a lot of hard work. Analyze 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 (including the mock tests) 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 a buffer to manage risks.

V. Study

PMBOK® Guide 6TH Edition is a go-to reference book, but the exam isn’t based on it alone. It’s not enough to read PMBOK® Guide 6TH Edition and Agile Practice Guide just once.

So, how many times should one go through these two important books?

It is recommended to go through PMBOK® Guide 7th Edition and the Agile Practice Guide at least 4-5 times during the 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.

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

2. 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.

3. 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.

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

5. 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.

A list of reference books (including the PMBOK® Guide 6th Edition and Agile Practice Guide) is available on the PMP-Reference-List page PMI.

VI. Mock-Tests

Your success depends on choosing a good question bank as it helps you assess your preparedness. Here are a few guidelines to select a good question bank series:

1. Check the reviews by people who have used the question bank.

2. Go for full-length question banks.

3. Question Banks provided by ATPs can always be the best option.

4. 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 an 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.

VII. Study Group

Wikipedia defines a study group as “A study group is a small group of people who regularly meet to discuss shared fields of study. These groups can be found in a high school or college/university setting, within companies, occasionally primary/junior school, and sometimes middle school. Professional advancement organizations also may encourage study groups. Study groups have helped students who have trouble being in a large group setting.”

A study group set up in a formal environment can be helpful. It is suggested to search for study groups in the neighborhood and in the region. A study group is always better than studying alone. It helps the candidate to think from a different and varied perspective. It helps understand the project management concepts. One of the best reasons to study in groups is that it helps motivate members in the group.

Resources to prepare for the updated exam

  • It is suggested to review and understand the PMP Handbook.
  • Ensure you have all the items ready before applying for the Exam.
  • Join a formal study group of either PMI chapters or Authorized Training Partners.
  • Read study material from other authors and training institutes.
  • Review any other questions on our Certifications Q&A page.
  • Review the 2021 PMP Examination Content Outline

PMP Exam preparation tips

The first step is to make a commitment to prepare for the exam. The exam asks for vigorous preparation regardless of whether you have decades of project management experience or some advanced project management education. It is highly recommended that the aspiring PMP candidates must invest in exam preparation. The preparation consists of using multiple resources such as offline class, self-research, or joining a study group. The average time most of the successful PMP candidates spend preparing for the exam is between 150 and 180 hours (including the mock tests). The best way to qualify and pass the PMP exam is to prepare for it.

Understand the PMP exam format and structure

Before beginning your PMP exam preparation, it is essential to understand the exam format and structure, including the number of questions, types of questions, duration of the exam, and scoring methodology. This knowledge will help you prepare better and feel more confident on exam day.

Conquer the PMBOK Guide

Since the PMP exam is largely based on the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) guide, you have to go through the guide and consider it as your roadmap for the preparation. You can make a study plan to read the knowledge areas of the PMBOK guide each day or week. This way you will be able to cover each knowledge area in its depth.

You also have the option of breaking down the knowledge areas into small topics and covering these topics one by one. Since it is going to be difficult to memorize each and everything, it is better to understand every concept in its entirety. And ultimately, you need proper concentration and focus to understand each concept and knowledge area. Therefore, it is recommended to seclude yourself and study in a peaceful environment.

Create a study plan

A well-designed study plan is essential for passing the PMP exam. This involves identifying the study materials you will use, allocating time to each topic, and setting realistic goals. A study plan helps you stay on track and make the most of your study time.

Use good PMP Exam preparation books

You need good PMP exam preparation books and some of the best authors are Rita Mulcahy and Andy Crowe. Good preparation material is your path to successfully clear the PMP exam. Simply relying on the PMBOK guide is not recommended, you will have to go through a few other reference guides and books to help you with your exam preparation.

Focus on understanding, not just memorization

The PMP exam assesses your understanding of project management concepts and principles. It is vital to focus on understanding the material instead of just memorizing it. This requires applying the concepts in real-world scenarios and understanding how they relate to the project management processes.

Enroll yourself in PMP Exam preparation workshops

You can look for PMP exam preparation workshops if you prefer offline classroom settings and want to indulge in one-on-one interaction. These preparation workshops are a good idea to meet other aspiring PMP candidates in your area and learn more about the PMP certification exam.

Take advantage of PMP Exam simulators

To help you test your knowledge or do a self-assessment of everything you have prepared so far, you can take advantage of the online PMP exam simulators. These are online exams similar to the actual PMP exam and they test your knowledge of the various knowledge areas and questions following the same exam format.

Use flashcards

If you are not able to memorize important topics or concepts, then using flashcards can be an effective way. Moreover, using flashcards is a tried and tested method of preparing for any exam as it allows you to remember concepts and topics far more greatly than any other method. You have the option of creating flashcards on your own or you can use downloadable flashcards that you can flip on your phone or desktop.

Participate in discussion forums and study groups

Being a part of various PMP discussion forums and groups can help you clear your doubts and you can also clear the doubts of other PMP aspirants in the group. This way, you will be able to address your concerns and queries and even learn more about useful resources from where you can prepare for the exam.

Take breaks and manage stress

Preparing for the PMP exam can be stressful, so it is crucial to take breaks and manage your stress levels. Exercise, relaxation techniques, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle can help reduce stress and improve focus. Taking breaks can also help you retain more information and stay motivated during your study sessions.


Preparing for the Project Management Professional (PMP) exam can be challenging and daunting, but with the right resources and guidance, it can become a manageable task. Passing the PMP exam can be a game-changer for your career, opening up opportunities for career growth and higher salaries.

Techcanvass is a PMI Authorized Training Partner, providing PMP certification preparation courses to help you pass the PMP exam. Our course is designed and delivered by experienced professionals who have extensive knowledge and experience in project management.

Passing the PMP exam can be a significant milestone in your career, and we can help you achieve it. Our PMP Prep Course provides you with PMI Authorized and Certified Instructors, access to official PMI Digital courseware, a Question Bank with 2000+ questions, and special workshops and doubt clearing sessions. Our course is an effective resource for individuals seeking to pass the PMP exam and advance their careers in project management.



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