Are you excited to take the next step in your project management journey by getting your PMP® certification? Then it’s time to start thinking about how you’ll prepare to pass the PMP exam with flying colors.

The PMP exam can be a real challenge if you don’t properly prep for it. You’ll have four hours to finish the test, which consists of 200 multiple-choice questions. It’s a lot, so please don’t take it lightly!

Below, we’ve compiled a few handy study tips that you can use, along with some advice on how RMC can assist you when getting ready for this exam so you can pass it on your first try.

  1. Use the Right Resources

There are many resources that you can use to learn about the topics covered on the PMP exam. Selecting the right resources can make all the difference. PMI publishes A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide). This guide establishes the best practices in project management.  From RMC’s perspective, the PMBOK Guide plays an important role in preparing for the exam. It is a good resource for your exam preparation. However, it likely won’t be enough to fully prep for the actual test.

When looking at professional prep resources and study materials that charge for their expertise, look at how long the company has been providing training for people to becoming PMPs. RMC has been training project management professionals for 30 years. Ask other project managers what they used to study. The key benefit of using a professional training company is their knowledge and expertise to help you pass the PMP exam. These companies leverage their project management expertise to develop quality materials that are aligned to the most current topics on the test.

Beware of free materials available on the internet to help you study; you need to make sure these materials are based on the most current version of PMI® (PMBOK® Guide). These providers have good intentions, but they may not have the project management training expertise nor be up-to-date with the current exam information.

  1. Consider Study Options

If you chose to take a live, in-person class or an eLearning course, most professional prep materials include an exam prep book with purchase. RMC recommends when you read the prep book for the first time that you complete all the exercises in each chapter. If you are using an exam simulation program as part of your studies, you don’t need to spend time on the practice exams at the end of each chapter. The exam simulator will likely cover many of these same questions in a more interactive manner.

Refer to Rita’s Process ChartTM for each chapter to make sure you understand all the efforts involved in the knowledge areas you are working on. At the same time, skim through the PMBOK Guide to understand the inputs, tools and techniques and outputs in the project management process. In the past, there have been more than 70 questions that require knowledge of the project management process. If you aren’t using RMC’s prep materials, you can check out Rita’s process chart game for free. The game allows you to practice your knowledge and recall of the process using a fun, interactive game.

After you have read through your exam prep book once or completed your prep course, you may want to consider joining a study group. Working in a small group of no more than 3 to 4 individuals will shorten your study time and make studying more effective. You can find a study group through your local PMI chapter, if you are a member. Facebook and LinkedIn also have ways to connect with study groups.

Finally, consider supplementing your study options with practice tests and flashcards.  We go into further detail later on, but as you think about your plan, know that both are invaluable tools that allow you to interact with the exam material in a different way.

  1. Set a Schedule to Give Yourself Plenty of Time

When it comes to PMP exam preparation, don’t expect to cram everything a day or two before the test. It’s best to set a schedule in advance, and then use that schedule to break down the material that you need to learn into manageable sections.

How long you have to study for the exam depends on when you plan on taking it. If you schedule your exam too soon, you won’t have as much time to dedicate to your studies. You might decide to sign up for the test after you’ve fully prepared for the exam.

  • Study a little bit every day, or at least several days per week, and take breaks during study sessions to make it easier to recall what you’ve learned.
  • Give yourself the time to go back and review material several times to ensure you’ve really absorbed it.
  • Build up your knowledge slowly and consistently so you can retain all of the new things you’re discovering about how to be a successful project manager. It might take you several months—totally normal!

As part of your process, build in time to work on the areas where you have knowledge gaps and in areas you did not know prior to beginning your studies. For example, consider keeping a list of questions you got wrong in exercises and practice tests to help you determine how much more study time you need and which areas you need to dive into more deeply. You will likely see trends in your knowledge gaps.

  1. Take Practice Exams

When you are comfortable with the test material, it’s time to take a full exam simulation using an exam software, like PM FASTrack® Cloud.  Simulated exams allow you to experience what it will feel like to take the test, using an interactive software program.  We recommend using a practice test containing 2,200+ questions. This step will provide you with a baseline against which to track your progress. Limit yourself to no more than two full exam simulations before you take the actual exam, so you don’t fall into the trap of memorizing versus understanding the answers. If you don’t score over 70 percent the first time you take a full exam simulation, you may need a refresher in core project management concepts.

Review each question you got wrong in the exam simulation test. Write down the specific reason for each wrong answer. Assess why the correct choice is correct and why the other answers are wrong. Again, look for trends in your understanding and add problem areas to the list of questions. Continue to refer to the chapters in your prep book and the PMBOK guide to fill in your knowledge gaps and correct any errors. Skim the sections or chapters on which you did well to keep those fresh in your mind. If you are using flashcards, remove the concepts you understand so you are singularly focused on your knowledge gaps.

At this point, take your final PMP exam simulation. You should score over 75 percent before you take the real exam. Continue to use your list, flashcards and other helpful materials to retain what you have learned leading up to the test.

  1. Enroll in a PMP Exam Prep Course Online or In Person

Sure, you can go about preparing for the PMP exam all on your own, but some people prefer to study under the direction of an instructor who can make the material more engaging and easier to understand. And nothing beats being able to ask a professional some questions when you’re immersing yourself in a new topic! You will also benefit from your interaction with other students in the class. RMC’s instructor-led courses also include free exam simulation and guidance on your post-class study plan.

RMC has many live virtual classes PMP exam prep courses that give you the experience of being in a class while studying from home.   We also know that different people have different study preferences. That’s why, in addition to in-person classes, we offer self-study materials and eLearning courses that you can work on independently. Plus, you can choose from that give you the experience of being in a class while studying from home.  RMC has many in person classes PMP exam prep courses that may be offered in your area

Use These Study Tips to Improve the Way You Learn!

It all really boils down to time, resources, support, and practice. Set aside the time required to tackle the many topics covered on the PMP exam and use the highest quality resources, such as RMC Exam Prep products, that go beyond theory to real-world application of project management processes. Lastly, here are some things to consider about meeting the PMP requirements and details about the exam itself. If you have additional questions about the exam, consider attending one of RMC’s free webinars.

Good luck!

Project Management Professional (PMP)®, Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)®, and PMI® are registered trademarks of the Project Management Institute, Inc.


Cate Curry
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