With slowing down, nearly everything in life is more successful. Make a plan for your endeavor. This rule doesn’t apply when you’re being chased by a bear, but in general…
So, in this article, I want to share with you some ideas for success with the PMP exam. Much of this is gleaned from decades of project management, as well as teaching thousands of project managers to take the Project Management Professional exam.
Breath deeply. Start slowing down now!
PMP exam – How to study
A few of these rules will see odd, but trust me, they are there for a reason.
- Slowing down – The first step is slowing down. Many people want to get their PMP certification today, now, immediately. It doesn’t work like that. You need to take your time and make sure that you’re ready. Otherwise, you’re going to waste a lot of time and money on an exam you’re assured to flunk. So, stay hungry, but slow down and plan.
- Study every day – Whether you’re planning on going to the exam without a formal training or you’re going to take a class like the ones we offer at PMTI, you need to study every single day. Set aside an hour every day to learn a bit more about what’s on the PMP exam. By taking time every day, the information will be more than simply in the forefront of your mind, but they information will be deeply embedded.
- 35 contact hours – You’re required to get 35 contact hours of education. Get it done as soon as you can. First, it will be out of the way. Second, you will meet others who are planning to take the exam and might learn from them. Finally, this is one requirement that you can scratch off your list quickly.
- Find good books – There are lots of PMP study books out there. Find one or two that speak to you. You want to be able to read them, understand them, and enjoy them. That seems like a strange criteria, but think about the books your read in college. The ones you liked, you were able to read in few hours. The ones you couldn’t stand either took forever or didn’t get read at all. Look around for the right books. It will help.
- Get the PMBOK® – The PMBOK® is the Project Management Body of Knowledge, a name as poetic as PMBOK®. You know those guide books that take you through every step of how to use your coffeemaker? It’s like that, only less exciting. It’s important, though. Everything in the PMP exam is in the PMBOK®. Depending who you ask, people recommend using the study books side-by-side with the PMBOK®; you can, but it’s not required. This will be a big help in slowing down.
- Do NOT memorize ITTOs – This is important. So often, people will memorize ITTOs (inputs, tools & techniques, outputs). They aren’t on the exam, so don’t worry about them. Just understand the processes.
- Take tests – There are lots of practice tests online. Each of them will help you to understand what sections you understand well and which knowledge areas you need to work on. Take one test and another and another. There is no such thing as too many practice tests. The more you test the better you’ll do on the real exam.
- Plan your study long-term – You will not be able to sit down and digest all of this in one go. You need to plan your studies in sections. This will allow you to break down the PMBOK® into bite-sized chunks. Since you’ve taken the practice exams, you should have a sense of the knowledge areas you need to work on. Give those 80% of your study time. The other 20% should be given to the areas you did well on. You don’t want to forget them and there’s always more to learn.
- Check your assumptions – Very often, not just on the PMP exam, but in life, when we fail, it’s because we started with some incorrect assumptions. On the PMP exam, if you think that something starts in one place and it really starts in another, you’re going to get the answers wrong. Worse, you’re going to get all of the answers wrong that those assumptions are based on. If you see yourself consistently answering related questions wrong, go back and check your assumptions. Chances are the your answered start in the wrong place.
- Video rocks – Look for videos to study from. A little more passive, watching videos can be a great way to learn things. There are lots of videos online that can teach you much of what’s on the PMP exam. You can either search for random videos or sign up for a video course.
- Grab some audio – Listening while you drive or ride on the bus is another great way to study. Some of the best trainings are audio only. They’re portable and can help you see new ways of seeing some of the questions that you’ll be asked on the PMP exam.
- Hit the books again – Read through your study guides and the PMBOK® again. Now that you know what you’re looking for and what you need to focus on, you’ll get a lot more out of them. Now they aren’t a high-level view, but a fine-tuning of your understanding of the material.
- Use scenarios – The exam often tests more than just your knowledge. It tests your ability to apply your knowledge to scenarios. This is important to understand. You need to study the PMBOK® in a way that allows to apply your knowledge to the stories that you’re presented with. This can be a bit tough at first, but you’ll see some of these question on the practice exams you take and in the books you study.
- Take a crash course – As PMTI, we offer a 4-day Boot Camp that takes you through every stage of the PMP Certification exam. This is a great way to get ready for the test. In 4 days, we put you through everything, including practice exams. On the fifth day, you can schedule your exam. The reason that this format is ideal is that allows you to work with an instructor to find and fix the weaknesses in your knowledge. For the record, we aren’t the only people who do something similar. This format is an excellent way to tighten up your skills and prepare you for the exam.
The key to passing the PMP exam is slowing down, take your time, and have a plan. If you follow the plan listed above you’ll likely succeed.
One thing we want to mention is PMTI’s guaranteed passing. If you attend a PMTI Boot Camp we guarantee you’ll pass. If you don’t pass the first time, we’ll work with you for free until you do pass. This is not a guarantee anyone else offers. We don’t just set you adrift after class is over.
Check out our blog on the PMP exam content to know what to study
Yada is not just the leader of the Project Management Training Institute (PMTI). He helped to write significant portions of the project management standards worldwide. He is helping PMI right now in reviewing, directing, and leading the development of the 7th edition of the PMBOK(r) Guide to incorporate the most monumental changes to project management standards in 35 years. He shares his wisdom with readers via the PMTI blog.