What are some tips to successfully pass the Project Management Professional (PMP) exam?
This is a question several project managers will ask themselves as they prepare for their upcoming rite of passage into PMP status. The “ritual or ceremony” consists of a 200 question, 4-hour long, test that isn’t for the faint of heart but, once that dragon is slain, your PMP badge of honor will let the world know that you mastered the key concepts found in the Project Management Institute’s (PMI) Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK).
As a recent PMP, I wanted to share my personal PMP exam tips to help you more easily obtain that distinction and welcome you into our PMP brotherhood, which as of May 2020, has over 1 million members worldwide.
1. Attend a PMP exam prep course
One way that proved valuable to me in passing my exam was to take a PMP exam prep course. I highly suggest an in-person course as this will allow you to ask questions of the instructor and receive immediate feedback. It also was helpful to have peers to work/study alongside both during the course and as a study group afterward.
One of the things we did during the exam prep course that was very helpful was creating a “placemat” document each morning of key information learned the previous day. When you take the PMP exam, you are given a few pieces of blank paper and can write down all of the information you can remember. This “brain dump” is great for listing formulas, the 49 project management processes, and any tips and tricks you might have learned during your studies. In the weeks leading up to my exam, I would practice this almost daily. By the time I took the actual test, there was very little I had to write down as I had learned it.
2. Take practice tests and (and more practice tests)
I suggest taking as many practice tests as you can online vs paper to best replicate the conditions, you’ll experience come Test Day. A good gauge as to whether you are ready for the exam is if you are receiving an 80% or higher on your practice tests. In addition to the ones given out in the prep course I took, I used Udemy for my practice exams. I was able to find a package that had 6 practice tests that I could take as many times as I liked. It would let me know why I got some answers incorrect and where I could find the explanation in the PMBOK.
Per a recommendation from my in-person Prep Course, I also downloaded the iPhone app PMP Pocket Prep and would take mini practice quizzes on my phone whenever I had the free time.
3. Read Rita Mulcahy’s book
Rita Mulcahy’s PMP Exam Prep greatly helped me in my journey to passing the exam. The book breaks down the topics discussed in the PMBOK in easy to understand ways. There are also quizzes at the end of each chapter as well as a practice exam at the end of the book.
4. Take the PMP Exam In The Morning
One final recommendation for those preparing for the exam is to schedule it for a morning time slot. Studies have shown that your brain is at its best to tackle difficult tasks early in the morning. Another benefit, instead of waiting around all morning and stressing about the test, by taking the exam in the morning, after you pass you can go out that afternoon and celebrate your accomplishment.
If you do plan to take the exam in the morning, I would recommend not studying the night before. Your brain will need that little bit of rest as you prepare to battle the exam the next day.
Just remember, once you pass the exam, you are done! You do not have to take it again, as long as you maintain your PDUs. You can find all the information on PMI’s PDU requirements here: https://www.pmi.org/certifications/maintain/requirements.
I hope my PMP exam tips above will help you in your quest to get PMP certified. For those that might be looking for an in-person PMP Prep Course, Arrowhead Consulting offers a great one. It helped me pass my exam and I’m sure it can do the same for you! You can find out more about that course here in our Course Catalog