The Project Management Professional (PMP) certification is the most important industry-recognized certification for project managers. In this article, I’ll provide seven tips to pass the PMP exam.

In 2017, I obtained “above target” scores in four out of the five process groups covered in the PMP exam. I studied for around four to five months for the exam—likely longer than necessary, in all honesty.

Here are some tips that should help you study for and pass the PMP exam efficiently and effectively.

Tip #1: Use PMP Exam Simulations

PMP Exam Simulations

The best PMP exam simulations are likely the ones offered by PM Prepcast.

I took all eight PMP exam simulations offered by PM Prepcast, and my scores averaged around 80%. It’s recommended to get 80% or above scores, if possible, before taking the PMP exam. I analyzed and researched the answers to the questions I got wrong. I then took a custom exam simulation containing only the questions that I got wrong.

If you feel ready after taking less than eight exam simulations, that is probably okay.

URL: PMP Exam Simulation

Tip #2: Read “PMP Exam Prep” by Rita Mulcahy

PMP Exam Prep Book

To understand every concept on the PMP exam, it helps to read the “PMP Exam Prep” by Rita Mulcahy from beginning to end. Also, in the few days before the exam, it helps to go through the book’s index and quickly read about each term for which you need more clarity.

URL: PMP Exam Prep – Rita Mulcahy

Tip #3: Prioritize Knowledge Areas and Process Group Pairings that Will Have the Most Questions on the Exam

Five Project Process Groups

Focus most of your study efforts on the knowledge area/process group pairings that will be most prevalent on the PMP exam. Here are some of the most prominent examples: 

  1. Human Resource Management / Executing
  2. Integration Management / Initiating
  3. Cost Management / Monitoring & Controlling
  4. Risk Management / Planning
  5. Time Management / Planning
  6. Integration Management / Monitoring & Controlling

Additionally, I noticed that most of the questions in the PM Prepcast exam simulations pertained to these knowledge area/process group pairings.

Tip #4: Use the “The Book of Forms” to Visualize Concepts

Project Manager's Book of Forms

Skimming through the forms in “A Project Manager’s Book of Forms” will help you visualize about 5% to 10% of the topics covered on the PMP exam—a huge game-changer. Also, it helps to use the forms from this book as much as possible in work situations to familiarize yourself with the concepts.

Here is the URL to the book: 

A Project Manager’s Book of Forms – Cynthia Stackpole Snyder

The forms are available in PDF and Word formats here: 

https://www.wiley.com/WileyCDA/Section/id-830313.html

Tip #5: Use PMBOK Guide as a Quick Reference Guide, But Don’t Read All of It

PMBOK Guide

I wouldn’t recommend reading the PMBOK guide word for word. The material is tedious and time-consuming to trudge through for even the most patient readers. But, it helps to read small sections related to the concepts for which you need more clarity. It’s also beneficial to at least skim through each page in case you come across diagrams and concepts that you missed using other sources.

URL: A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide)–Sixth Edition — Project Management Institute

The Project Management Institute (PMI) also offers this guide for free with a PMI membership.

PMI Website: https://www.pmi.org/membership

Tip #6: Take an Inexpensive Class on the PMP Exam

PMP Exam Prep Seminar

I took this inexpensive class on Udemy to attain the required 35 PDUs / 35 contact hours to apply for the PMP exam: https://www.udemy.com/course/pmp-pmbok6-35-pdus/

This course is the top course about PMP exam preparation on Udemy. However, the material covered in that course is basic compared to the actual PMP exam, but it is an excellent introduction to most of the concepts. 

Tip #7: Avoid Taking Too Many Notes

Note Taking

I took 70 pages of notes from “PMP Exam Prep” by Rita Mulcahy. I’m sure it helped in some ways, but it’s probably sufficient just to read the book and limit the notes you take to under 20 pages. Then reread the sections you’re most unclear about in the few days before the exam.

Prioritizing the PMP exam simulations would have provided considerably more value in less time than taking so many notes.

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