Project management professional

Preparing for the PMP Certification Exam

Acquiring the Project Management Professional, PMP Certification is a challenge. It calls for a very strong commitment to cover the syllabus fuelled by a deep seated desire to pass the exam and above all, excellent exam question answering skills.

As a tutor who has conducted PMP Preparation courses for a number of years, I have found that there are two ways to pass the exam. The difficult way and the intelligent way. I like to share with aspiring students what, in my opinion is the intelligent way to prepare for and pass the PMP exam.

The intelligent way to prepare for the Project Management Professional, PMP certification is to adopt a three phase approach. The first phase is to have a good overview of what the course is about and more importantly, how the different aspects of the course link to one another. I call this developing familiarity of the coalition of interrelated issues such as processes as well as knowledge areas that will be covered. This is done by first reading abstracts or summaries of the different knowledge areas and processes to have a feel of what they refer to and try to see how these relate to one another with examples or based on your experience. A good starting point is to read the book “Head first” that provides excellent, simple to understand explanation of these concepts.

The second phase is to gradually dig deeper into the topics by focusing on key underlying principles that relate to the topic or are associated with the different processes. A good way to do this is by highlighting key concepts and developing your very own “things to remember” list or coming up with simple mind maps. This should be an ongoing activity during your preparation stage. Care should be taken during this time to be familiar with the terminology and to be aware of the subtle differences in some of the terms / phrases such as quality control, quality assurance etc.

The third phase is to completely immerse yourself in answering as many PMP standard type questions that you possibly can. There are a number of such sources that you should seek out and do as many of the questions as possible. A list of such sources should be identified and updated regularly. As a rule of thumb, I would recommend students preparing for the Project Management Professional, PMP certification exam to attempt at least 150 questions per topic and 200 questions per process group and scoring a minimum of 75% correct. A good source of high quality, PMP exam type questions are from Rita Mulcahy’s Exam Prep.

The more questions you answer, the more aware you will be of your “knowledge gap” and what types of “tricks” you can expect during the exam. Doing these questions under “exam type” conditions where the questions have to complete within a certain time frame helps you analyze the question and come up with an answer within the time span allocated. To do this better you should attempt 200 questions mock exams within the 240 minutes allocated.