Survey: Before beginning your session, survey the material that you have planned to cover. Review all the charts, graphs and headings in both A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide) and your prep book. Gaining familiarity with the topics that you wish to cover will give you a better understanding of where to find certain topics in the book, for your initial study and for your revision. This method also makes it easy for you to arrange information in a systematic and sensible order in your mind.
Motivation: Find your motivation! Before beginning your day’s work, figure out what it is that you want to learn from the given material. If your preparation material has certain study goals or recap questions, then read them first so you know where you are headed and what you need to accomplish by the end of the day.
Research: Before you begin your day’s learning, make a list of questions that you want answered and learn. Doing this will transform you from a passive reader to an active researcher, which may be very helpful when you study the PMBOK Guide.
Disengage: Cognitive Psychology states that a person tends to remember the first and last elements of a study session best. Use this fact to your advantage. Break up your study sessions into smaller 'chunks'. For example, if your study session is planned for 3 hours, break it down into six 30 minute sessions, scheduling short breaks in between. Disengaging from studies makes it easier to recall what you previously studied.
Make a plan to study one Knowledge Area of the PMBOK Guide every week. Begin with the Guide itself and then move on to other study material. This will help you improve your understanding of the topic since other study guides will often rehash the content and present the same topic from a different angle.
Further, break down the Knowledge Areas of the PMBOK so you study one process a day. Doing this will help you prepare a clear plan of what you need to study daily and weekly.
It is not enough to just memorize everything. Put in the effort to understand concepts well, and study them with focus and concentration. This is critical, since the PMP exam questions will test how well you can apply these concepts, principles and ideas. Many questions are situational descriptions of a problem. These situations contain enough information to arrive at the best answer, but they also include irrelevant information to deliberately throw you off course.
If the PMBOK is not studied well, you will not be able to identify the concepts that are illustrated in the questions that are going to be asked. It will become difficult to determine what is being asked and what your answer needs to be.
After you finish a first read of the PMBOK, take a break before rereading it twice, or even thrice. You will begin to understand it better with each revision. By the third read, it will become easier to read as the concepts are already registered in mind, while the ones you found hard will become easily understandable.
Use the latest version of the PMBOK guide that is released by PMI (current version 5) to understand all the knowledge areas, processes, concepts and formulas of the PMP.
You also need to stay current with the project management concepts and changes in the latest version of PMBOK guide (version 5) over its previous version (PMBOK guide version 4) to be in good shape for the exam. Appendix X1 in the PMBOK guide, V5, has a detailed list of changes made to the PMBOK guide V4. Some of these changes include an increase in the number of knowledge areas from 9 to 10 (including the addition of a new Knowledge Area called Project Stakeholder Management) and an increase in the number of processes from 42 to 47.
A good PMP textbook is a must. Top authors for PMP aspirants are Rita Mulcahy and Andy Crowe. The PMP certification is loaded with difficult question and answers, which test your knowledge and your ability to apply your learning to difficult real-life scenarios. Studying for the exam could take up a significant amount of your time and requires a great deal of commitment .Therefore, it is important for you to know what to study and how to study for the exam. This is where good preparation material enters the picture.
For instance, one of the challenges that you face while studying for the exam is dealing with the inputs, tools and techniques and outputs (ITTOs) of each process. Many study materials recommend that PMP aspirantswork on the basics (such as why a process is used, what is the process all about and when is the process used) before preparing on the ITTOs . By working on the basics first, you will be able to see the connectivity between the processes and understand the processes better. You need not memorize the ITTOs .This reduces the time required to prepare for these topics.
Several PMP exam preparation courses are also available online. These online training courses tend to be less expensive than the in-person workshops. Choose the option that best suits your study style. Do lots of comparisons and read testimonials, before you commit to one.
Study groups and discussion forums can help greatly as you prepare for your PMP exam. As an active participant of study groups and discussion forums, you can help others pass the exam, get your own concerns and queries clarified, know more about several useful resources and thus, significantly reduce the time required to prepare well for the exam.
Once you are done studying the PMBOK Guide, your next worry and most important activity will be the practice questions. The 200 multiple choice question paper will include question types like complex situation questions, short situational questions, formula based questions, knowledge based questions and interpretive questions. The practice test will help you understand how to approach each question. Knowing how to get the most out of each question is very crucial.
Situational questions: are those that will test your ability in identifying the relevant content and ignoring the irrelevant. These tend to be lengthy questions so it is important to read the questions a couple of times, accurately identifying the actual question, leaving out the insignificant information, and then moving on to answering.
Formula based questions: are not only about solving the median or calculating the earned value. There are a total of close to 49 PMP formulas that you will have to know, ranging from the simple averages to the probability and depreciations. The formulas along with the calculation needs to be right in order to attain the required marks.
Knowledge based questions: are those which test you on the facts, usually on the PMBOK Guide. They occasionally question on where processes belong in the Knowledge Area, or on which processes the Inputs, techniques and tools or the outputs, will go. At times you may be asked to identify a graph or an example chart, like recognizing the Pareto chart or the RACI.
Interpretational questions: are those that test your ability to deduce a condition or a situation.
Specific Technique questions: are those that contain tools or techniques like a network diagram and ask you to provide an element that's inherent in that diagram such as forward pass or backward pass.
The PMI does not tell you how many questions you must answer to pass the exam. People assume it to be 62%.
To know whether you are ready or not, try to apply the 85% rule.
While doing your sample questions, continue to work hard until you can answer at least 85% of the questions correctly. If you can do this at your first attempt itself, then you can probably consider yourself ready for the real exam.
However, do not stop revising until the final day!
It is not impossible to pass the PMP exam. Just a little effort will get you across the finish line. Use the tried and tested practices that got your through your school and college as well. Carry your study materials wherever you go, so you can open them up at any opportunity. Join a PMP exam study group, where you can push and be pushed to study harder. Focus on the trouble spots and spend time on them. Revise at least 5 to 6 times.
Remember: Once you have passed, the PMP credential will not last a lifetime. You will have to keep renewing it.
Get a taste of our PMP certification course. Here is 40 minutes of our Project Management Exam Tips and Tricks video.
Widely considered to be tough, the PMP certification exam is loaded with difficult questions which test your knowledge and ability to apply your learning in difficult scenarios. Here are a few tips to help you prepare well.
Avantika holds a degree in Journalism, & writes on such topics of interest as PMP, Digital Marketing, Six Sigma, & Big Data. She also maintains a travelogue, blogs on media issues, and volunteers at a boarding home for stray dogs. She enjoys art & travelling, & loves outdoor activities like basketball, athletics, & swimming.
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