The Project Management Institute (PMI)® has developed a set of criteria and credentials to recognize project management professionals worldwide.
The certification process is quite rigorous and includes three to five documented years of professional experience in project management, 35 "contact hours" of project management-related training and the successful completion of the multiple-choice Project Management Professional (PMP)® exam.
The amount of material for the PMP® Exam is enormous and can seem overwhelming, but don't let it intimidate you! If you know and use the seven items in this article, you can be sure that you are well prepared for the exam. That way, you will achieve optimal results both on exam day and in your future career.
Let's take a closer look at those 7 items:
1. PMP® Credential Handbook
The PMP® Credential Handbook should be the first stop for anyone who consider becoming a PMP.
Including everything from an overview of the PMI® certification program to exam policies and procedures, the PMP® Credential Handbook is available for free online.
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 PMP® Credential Handbook should be the first stop for anyone who intends to become a PMP."
Most of us are probably already full-time project managers or are currently pursuing another profession. The time spent on the job and other obligations is usually rather short anyway.
This time must be used sensibly, because 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 at least 10-12 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
The topic before leads directly to this one here: 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.
If you need inspiration or just do not want to create a study plan on your own, you may use my ready-to-use "ultimate PMP preparation roadmap". This works like your very own "Out-of-the-box-study-plan" but is fully flexibel and customizable to your personal needs and pace:
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4. The "PMPECO" , the "PMBOK® Guide" and the "Agile Practice Guide"
Most people are thinking that the PMP® Exam is based on the most current version of the PMBOK® Guide (currently 6th Edition).
That is NOT true!
The PMP Exam is based on the "PMP Exam Content Outline (PMPECO)"(you can download the most current Version of the PMECO down below ...).
While the content of the PMBOK® Guide with its Knowledge Areas including communication, cost management, human resources, integration, procurement, quality, risk, scope, and time management is foundational as a learning source, the PMPECO with its Domains, Tasks and Enablers is the guideline for what will be tested in the PMP Exam.
So, you need both of them anyway and it is essential to understand each of the topics individually and how they work together for overall project management success.
Since the PMP Exam has changed significantly in the Beginning of 2021 another mandatory source has been introduced; the "Agile Practice Guide".
The new Exam pattern includes agile and hybrid methods, practices and approaches and therefore the APG (can be downloaded for free as a PMI Member) has been added to the official reference List for the PMP Exam.
The current "PMP Exam Content Outline" can be downloaded here:
"The PMP® Exam is based on the current Exam Content Outline
Our supportive online community is the best place to connect with others just like you.
5. PMP preparation Course
Again, the PMP® Exam covers a large amount of material in a relatively short period of time, even more than the new pattern has been introduced.
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.
The well-known, popular PM PrepCast is probably the best online learning tool you can get to assure your exam success within that short time and is clearly our #1 recommendation for you!
The PM PrepCast has been fully updated for the 2021 PMP® Exam. It now includes Agile and Hybrid concepts to prepare you for the exam (these subjects now make up 50% of the exam questions).
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6. PMP® Exam Prep Book
There are a 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 favorite bookstore and select one that fits with your style of learning and covers a variety of high- and low-yield topics.
For further details please refer to the following article:
7. Practice! Practice! Practice!
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 three to four complete 180-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.
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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!
If you like, please let us a comment here down below. We would be really exited to hear from you how you find this article.
All the best to your preparations and until next time,
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One of Markus's central objectives and motivations is to implement and deploy the PMI project philosophy and a PMI-based project management methodology in his company.
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Markus set up a few PMI certification related LinkedIn groups and is co-administrator of the biggest and most active PMP related LinkedIn group:'I want to be a PMP'. Markus is also one of the most viewed contributors in PMP and PMI related content/questions at Quora. He also founded his own Project Management related website at http://www.pmcertification-online.de