Becoming a certified Project Management Professional can be a great way to boost your career. However, if you’re already mid-career, studying for the PMP exam can be difficult to schedule. Figuring out the best way to prepare might seem impossible.
If you’re looking for a step-by-step guide to preparing for the PMP exam, you’re in the right place. So whether you’re just starting or are nearing the end of your PMP exam preparation, read on for everything you need to know about passing the PMP exam.
How To Prepare for the PMP
Preparing for the PMP exam is just like preparing for any other exam. You’ll need to study, take practice exams, and show discipline in the months leading up to your test. However, there’s more to preparing than scheduling your exam and reviewing materials.
Here are a few basic things to remember to prepare for your PMP certification exam.
Know Your Stuff
One of the best ways to prepare for the PMP exam is to have a solid understanding of project management principles and processes. Studying key terminology and familiarizing yourself with the Project Management Body of Knowledge, or PMBOK will help ensure you’re test-ready.
It can also be helpful to review recent work projects to identify any weak areas you need to focus on. Practical knowledge and book smarts give you a considerable leg up going into your exam.
Get Serious About Time Management
Another crucial aspect of PMP exam prep is time management. Make sure you give yourself enough time leading up to the exam to review all the material and practice test-taking strategies.
Managing your time means getting serious about your study needs.
In other words, if you choose to enroll in an exam prep course, set aside time to focus on the course. Participate in any way you can, do all the assignments, and take all the practice advice the instructor offers.
Rest Up the Night Before
As your exam day approaches, give yourself time to rest. Studies show a good night’s sleep improves recall and keeps your mind sharp. So, get plenty of sleep before the big day so you’re fresh and ready to test in the morning.
Also, eat an energizing breakfast to keep your brain sharp. Avoid heavy foods that’ll make you lethargic. Instead, go for mood and mind-boosting choices, such as fruits, grains, and a portion of protein.
How Do I Develop a PMP Study Plan?
Developing a PMP study plan that works for you is crucial to achieving your goal. A study plan will help you stay on track as you prepare for your test and ensure you cover the right content you need to succeed. So, take a look at the following steps if you want to develop a PMP study plant that’ll work.
Find a Test Date
The first step in creating a PMP study plan is determining your endpoint. The endpoint for your study period is your test date. That means you’ll need to divide the time between scheduling and testing to best suit your study needs.
So, take a look at the available PMP exams in your area and choose a date that fits your schedule. Once you’ve set your test date, you can move on to the next step in developing your PMP study plan.
Find the Time
The next step in developing a PMP study plan is to figure out when you have time to study. First, look at each day to determine when your schedule allows an hour or two for dedicated studying. Then, schedule specific blocks of time for studying each week.
Also, when finding your studying time, take a moment to assess your current level of knowledge. When you understand what you know versus what you don’t, you can set a realistic study timeframe.
Understand How You Learn
Next, figure out what kind of learner you are. Then, find resources that fit your learning style. Everyone learns differently, so don’t feel beholden to study partners if their learning style clashes with yours.
For example, are you a visual learner, or do you absorb audio information best? Do you like working on your own or in groups? Once you understand what you need, you’ll be able to weed out the resources that won’t suit you.
Gather Your Materials
After you figure out the best way to absorb information, gather your study materials. Textbooks, notes, flashcards, and recordings are all excellent tools for learning or reviewing important content.
If you’ve opted to enroll in an online PMP prep course, acquire any materials the instructor requires. Download any content you can, and take copious notes as you listen to lectures. Most importantly, don’t be afraid to ask questions.
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Also, don’t forget the importance of taking practice exams to gauge your level of understanding and get comfortable with the test format. You can find exams in prep books, online, or as part of online test prep courses.
Practice, Practice, Practice
Practicing is the best way to reinforce the ideas you learn while you study. Exam prep books are an excellent resource for practice questions, mock exams, and key points you should commit to memory.
Even if you feel your practical experience outweighs what you can learn in an exam book, try to set that aside. Run through the practice questions and exams to see how you do. You might be surprised at what you need to work on.
Review Regularly to Find Your Weak Points
During your study plan, you should continually reassess your progress to see if you need to make any adjustments. A comprehensive review includes:
- Examining practice questions you got wrong
- Reviewing feedback from your supervisor about projects
- Looking at where you struggled to understand concepts during studying
Prioritizing the topics you struggled with will ensure you reinforce the right things as you study. Of course, don’t skimp on the issues you aced, either. Review everything to ensure your knowledge is on point.
Another key component of your study plan is staying motivated and organized throughout the process. Motivation across all education levels improves learning outcomes and performance, and exam prep is no exception.
Finding ways to keep yourself engaged and energized is essential, whether that means setting aside dedicated study time every day or taking regular breaks to recharge your batteries. A great way to keep yourself motivated is with little rewards along the way, like a coffee break after a practice exam.
Finally, don’t let yourself get overwhelmed. When you feel too much pressure, you might struggle to focus on your studies. So, find an organizational system to keep you on task and less stressed.
Being diligent about tracking your progress can also help you stay on track and avoid feeling overwhelmed. Also, if you start to feel that foggy feeling that’s so common during study sessions, take a step back to regroup.
Develop a PMP Exam Schedule
Every person learns differently, so it’s essential to find an exam study schedule that fits your needs. Take a look at the following tips on staying motivated and organized while studying for the PMP certification exam.
Make Studying a Priority
Prioritizing studying can make or break your success. So, craft a PMP study plan with clear and realistic goals. You need to be honest with yourself about how much time you have to study each day and what kind of schedule works best for you.
Some people may prefer a more structured approach to study. On the other hand, others might benefit from a more flexible schedule that allows them to focus on different topics as needed.
As with project management, setting milestones can help break up your study plan and keep you on track. Start by determining a realistic timeline for when you want to take the exam. Then, divide the PMBOK Guide and other materials into smaller goals.
Setting achievable goals to maintain your motivation and energy levels throughout the process will make success more attainable. For example, one milestone could be to complete two chapters and five practice questions by the end of day three.
Find Extra Time
When creating your schedule, try to find extra time here and there where you can work in a few minutes of studying. Finding the time to study may require extra effort, but staying current in the field is worth it in the long run.
If you’re struggling to find those few extra minutes, try stepping outside the box. Don’t be afraid to get creative. For example, you could wake up early before work one day each week. Another option is studying during your morning commute if you take public transportation or listen to recordings.
Set Study Blocks
Block out specific times in your schedule when you know you’ll have the most focus and energy to study. Break down your studying into smaller chunks and schedule them into your daily or weekly routine.
Also, set aside time for breaks and rewards along the way. Schedule some relaxation time after each study session so you can come back refreshed and ready to learn more. A clear head is key to getting the most out of each study session.
Do you still have questions about preparing for your PMP exam? Here are a few answers to some of the most common PMP questions.
How do I create a PMP study plan?
You can create a PMP study plan in just a few steps. First, figure out what you need to cover. Next, gather your materials. Finally, create a schedule that’ll give you the time and space you need to prepare for your PMP exam.
How many hours should I study for PMP?
On average, test takers commit 35 hours to their PMP study plan. This level of PMP exam preparation requires dedication and focus, which is why creating a schedule can be helpful.
Can I pass PMP in 3 weeks?
With the right dedication, passing the PMP exam in three weeks is difficult, but not impossible. You might want to consider a bootcamp and a few extra practice exams to better your chances of success.
Can I study for PMP on my own?
It’s easy to study for the PMP exam on your own. Many people enjoy working with study partners, but it’s by no means a requirement.
Whether preparing for the PMP exam or simply looking to improve your project management skills, a solid study plan will pave the way to success. By setting daily goals and developing a consistent study routine, you can increase your chances of passing the exam and becoming a Certified Project Management Professional.