Tips for getting PMP Certified

Steps to Getting the PMP Certification

Before moving forward, take the time to carefully read the requirements and the PMP Handbook. They will give you complete information about the project experience you must have, the process of submitting for the exam, payment information, etc.

If you are meeting the requirements, the steps to get the certification are:

  • 1. Getting registered on-line to the PMI website & filling in your experience information;
  • 2. Payment and confirmation of your eligibility to take the exam/or be audited;
  • 3. Study time;
  • 4. Taking the actual exam.

After you take the actual certification, the work does not stop because you have to continue being an active project manager, running projects, teaching others about project management and improving yourself by going to trainings, conferences, workshops, etc. All this activity, you will have o report on the PMI website. Again, more info about this will be found in the PMP Handbook. So do take the time to read it.

Tips for Studying to Get the Certification

When studying for the exam, consider these tips:

  • Look at studying as if you are running a project - the subjects you will have to cover are quite large and, if you have finished your university studies some time ago, you will probably no longer have the same speed of studying as when you were a student. Study the first chapter and measure how long it takes. This is one of the easiest chapters so add 20% more time for the others, make a learning plan, set deadlines and keep tracking yourself;
  • Keep the studying condensed in a couple of months at most - if you spread your learning thin, across a whole year, you will forget where you started from. Create a tight schedule for you and create the mindset of finishing the PMP certification 'project' in a couple of months (preferably 3 or 4).
  • Choose the study materials wisely - note that the PMBOK Guide from PMI is very dry reading and hard to use for the learning process. It works more as a reference guide you consult as needed. There are two good books you can use for the preparation, both filled with the necessary theory and exercises: PMP Exam Prep: Rapid Learning to Pass PMI's PMP Exam-On Your First Try! by Rita Mulcahy and Head First PMP: A Brain-Friendly Guide to Passing the Project Management Professional Exam by Jennifer Greene and Andrew Stellman. If you use any of these books together with the PMBOK Guide, it is more than enough. Also, don't pick more than 1 book to study from. The authors have very different styles and it will just frustrate you when trying to accomodate to more than one.
  • Try alternative studying methods - one of the most effective ways to study is a study group. This can help you to keep the pace of studying. If your company does not organize such groups, you can find them also on LinkedIn groups and other sites. I also found CBT Nuggets very effective, these are video guides with very good quality.
  • Exercise, Exercise, Exercise -A recent study published in the Association for Psychological Science concluded that some well-known study techniques such as highlighting, underlining and rereading are not as effective as some thought. However, the researchers said distributed practice — or working on several topics simultaneously, over a longer period of time — as well as the use of practice tests, were the most effective methods for most people. Flashcards can also be a great tool to constantly test your knowledge, even on the go! Practice with "1440 PMP Past Question" or any of the texts recommended above.The books we recommend have lots of exercises, so don't skip them. When done reading all the materials, you can try also online test exams such as the one offered by PM Study. A good score is anything above 70%. If you get this on average for all chapters, then you can go to the actual exam with confidence that you will pass.
  • Don't get frustrated - there is also A LOT of theoretical knowledge you will have to learn about tools, besides the framework. Even if you might not use some of them, you still need to learn what they are and when they are used. There is lots of theory to learn but most of it makes sense when you try to connect it to real projects, so it is not as bad as it looks. Just keep learning.
  • Don't be scared - the exam is actually MUCH easier than the study materials from Rita Mulcahy's book. If you learn from this book and you get 70% of the questions right, you will pass the actual exam. The truly hard part about the PMP exam is sticking till the end, being disciplined and covering all the theory & exercises.

Tips for the Certification Exam

When actually taking the exam, consider these tips:

  • Be prepared to focus for 4 hours - the exam will require a lot of concentration from your side and most probably you will need all the hours allotted to it. Therefore, do try a full practice exam before going into the real one. If you manage to focus for the whole 400 questions you are in great shape.
  • Eliminate the bad answers to find the right one - even though you don't know the right answer to a question, try to find it by eliminating the less probable ones. In most cases you can easily eliminate two answers, leaving you with only two options to choose from. And in that case you got a 50% chance of getting it right instead of 25%.
  • Don't think too much - usually, your first answer is the right one. When in doubt, go with your instinct and don't over-analyze the question and the answers.
  • Go with the mindset that you will pass - this will help you to be calm and relaxed. If you've got a bit of experience and you went through all the theory and exercises, you WILL pass.

When Done - Celebrate!

After you are done with the preparation, have taken the exam and received the PASS notification, don't forget to celebrate! You surely deserve it.

I'm hoping these tips will help you. If you have any questions, I would be happy to answer. Also I am welcoming other PMPs who would like to post their comments here. Please help us to build a library of tips.

For exam supports including some of the materials we mentioned above and a 4 hours simulated computer based examination send us mail to support@cielgr.com.