By Cornelius Fichtner, PMP
The Project Management Institute (PMI) has developed a set of criteria and credentials for recognizing Project Management Professionals (PMPs) worldwide. The credentialing process is fairly rigorous, including: three to five documented years of work experience in project management, 35 hours of project management related training, and successful completion of the multiple-choice PMP Exam. The amount of material on the PMP Exam is vast and can seem overwhelming, but don’t be intimidated! Having and using the 7 items in this article will ensure you are prepared to meet the exam head-on and achieve optimal results both on exam day and in your future career.
1. PMP Credential Handbook
Including everything from an overview of the PMI certification program to exam policies and procedures, the PMP Credential Handbook is available for free online at: http://www.pmi.org/Certification/~/media/PDF/Certifications/pdc_pmphandbook.ashx. The first 20 pages of the handbook cover many exam basics and are a must-read for every potential examinee. Becoming familiar with the application process, payment policy, and examination administration rules will go a long way to making the actual exam day less stressful.
The material on the PMP Exam is vast and detailed. This is not an examination you can “cram” for in a couple of weekends. Plan to take the exam after spending 10-12 solid weeks of studying for an hour or two nearly every day. Naturally, this schedule will have to be flexible enough to fit in with the rest of your responsibilities and commitments.
3. A Study Plan And Schedule
As project managers, we are well aware of the importance of a plan and schedule. Create a study schedule over 10-12 weeks that fits with the rest of your responsibilities. Depending on your job and household commitments, you may need more or less time. Take a practice exam to evaluate your weaknesses and consider spending more time on those areas. Be realistic in how much material you can cover each day and set weekly goals to track your progress. Don’t forget to include time for refreshing breaks and activities that you enjoy.
4. PMBOK® Guide, 4th Edition
The PMP Exam is based on the most current version of the PMBOK® Guide. Specific principles include communication, cost management, human resources, integration, procurement, quality, risk, scope, and time management. It is essential to understand each of these topics individually and how they work together for overall project management success.
5. Self Study Course
It bears repeating: The PMP Exam covers a large amount of material in a relatively short period of time. Don’t be discouraged! While many project managers are able to successfully schedule their time to achieve optimal results, almost everyone can benefit from an online or self study course.
The latest generation of self study courses come to you as PMP Podcasts/Videocasts, that you download to your laptop or portable player. In this way your PMP Exam preparation becomes completely portable.
Self study PMP Podcasts help divide the material into manageable portions and assist you in developing a successful schedule. Focused instruction over a specific timeline will help you meet your study goals and may count toward the required 35 hours of project management instruction.
6. PMP Exam Prep Book
There are a wide variety of PMP Exam prep books available. Some people call them “study guides”. They complement and explain the dry concepts from the PMBOK Guide and having one at hand in your studies is an absolute must. Go to your local bookstore and select one that fits with your style of learning and covers a variety of high- and low-yield topics.
7. Questions. Questions. Questions.
A large number of free PMP Exam sample questions are available from hundreds of resources on the internet. These free mock exams are a good start, but because they are free they will only go so far for you. You will also want to subscribe to an online PMP Exam Simulator to have access to the highest possible quality of samples.
Your study plan must include answering as many practice questions as possible including at least seven to eight complete 200-question practice exams. This type of preparation will help gauge your study progress and prepare you for the format of the real thing. You will be nervous on exam day, but becoming intimately familiar with types and formats of questions will help reduce anxiety and prepare you for success.
To sum up, there are a few simple things you can do to ensure you are prepared for the PMP Exam. Including these 7 items in your studies will reduce anxiety and eliminate stress associated with the exam day. Study hard and good luck!
About the author: Cornelius Fichtner, PMP is a noted PMP expert. He has helped over 10,000 students prepare for the PMP Exam with The Project Management PrepCast at http://www.pm-prepcast.com and The PMP Exam Simulator at http://www.pm-exam-simulator.com