PMP® Prep – Plan you work and work your plan!

“A goal without a plan is just a wish.” ― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

“Always begin with the end in the mind.” ― Stephen Covey

I think the above two quotes summarize the crux of this article very beautifully. Before pressing the pedal for accelerated learning towards passing the PMP exam, one should have clear vision about how he or she is going to reach there. Before going full throttle in execution mode, one should make sure they have a solid plan and are following a right approach towards achieving the success.

To begin with, let me share some general tips to be considered while building your study plan.

  1. Understand what the PMP exam is like?
  2. Assess how ready are you for the PMP exam?
  3. Keep optimum time for preparation but not too much.
  4. Understand your learning style and choose the best learning resource for you.
  5. Survey: Gather information about how others achieved success in this journey and learn from their experiences.

What the PMP® exam is like?

The Project Management Professional (PMP) exam is tougher than most of the exams and require extensive preparation to pass it in the first attempt itself. You cannot simply cram a lot of information into your brain and try to retain it just long enough to get through the four-hour testing period. Instead, you have to truly understand the concepts and process of Project Management and how their application would help you in real life scenarios at your work.

Another thing to keep in mind is that, the exam doesn’t test you only on the information provided in the PMBOK® Guide, nor you can rely only on your real life on-job project management experience. Thus experience and formal training in Project Management aligned with the PMBOK® Guide is critical to success in this exam.

Some important points to note regarding the exam –

  • The exam comprises of 200 multiple-choice questions with allotted time to complete the exam as 4 hours.
  • Out of the 200 questions, 25 are considered as pretest (Unscored) questions which are used to check the accuracy and validity of future exam questions. Hence, you will be scored only on 175 questions. The 25 pretest questions are randomly placed in the exam paper.
  • The exam is a closed book, so no reference material is allowed.
  • There are no scheduled breaks during the exam, although you are allowed to take a break if needed. If you take a break during the exam, your exam clock continues to count down.
Please note the PMP® Exam is changing w.e.f. 2nd Jan 2021. Schedule your exam before it changes!

The exam tests across all the project management process groups. Please refer following table for the number of questions being asked on the exam from each section.

From time to time, PMI makes some changes in some aspects of the exam including qualification requirements, exam process, passing score, and the exam pattern. For latest information, please regularly visit While we ensure bringing the latest information to you, any difference in information between what is covered here and what is communication by PMI should be resolved in favor of PMI’s information.

How ready are you for the PMP® exam?

Half of the people who fail the exam do so since they do not have sufficient real-world experience of managing large projects while the other half fail because they had not had structured Project Management Training that used PMI concepts and terminologies. Having 10 years of Project Management experience doesn’t necessarily mean that you will successfully pass the exam. At the same time, just cramming some study material from some PMP Exam Prep course is also not enough. In order to succeed, you should possess both; a structured PMBOK® based training program and real-life hands on Project experience.

Remember, PMP is not an exam for a beginner project manager nor it is for someone who hopes to become a project manager. For passing the exam, it is important to answer the questions from the prospective of an experienced project manager coupled with the tools and techniques as prescribed in the PMBOK.

Hence, do assess your depth of knowledge and understanding of Project Management based on above parameters before proceeding further. It’s always a good idea to give a sample mock exam to understand the current level. If you feel the gap is too wide, it is advised to get a good classroom/ online foundation training on Project Management first. 

Keep optimum time for preparation (Start neither too early nor too late).

Provide yourself with a reasonable and just sufficient time for preparing for the exam. You should avoid giving yourself some unrealistic timeframe (let’s say 2-3 weeks) and burn yourself out in the process. At the same time, you should not give yourself a luxury of too much time. There is a high possibility of losing focus and getting side tracked if the timeline is too relaxed.

Generally, a period of 3-4 months is sufficient if you are able to dedicate at least 1-1.5 hours on weekdays and at least 3 hours on weekends for the exam preparation.

So, figure out your optimum time for preparation and plan accordingly.

Understand your learning style and choose the best learning resource for you.

There is no single “best” medium of learning for the exam. Every individual’s learning style and speed are different. Ask yourself can you study on your own or do you need a classroom training to keep you motivated throughout? Are you more comfortable with books or find engaging video sessions more helpful?

Needless to say, classroom and online sessions are generally costlier than Books and other study material. So, if it a constraint, your planned budget is also a factor to be considered.

While I will share my detailed study plan along with the details of all the study resources used in the next blog, I found this online course by Sandra M Michelle very helpful for beginners. Completing this course available on LinkedIn Learning will also provide you with 35 PDUs (education requirement) necessary to qualify for the exam.

Survey: Gather information, read reviews, learn from successful exam candidates.

Researching and gathering information is very important while zeroing down the study materials which suit your learning style and provide you with quality information.

Reading lessons learned by successful exam candidates is also an important tool which helps you avoid general mistakes which people commit while preparing for the exam.

The Basic premise of this blog is, in fact, to providing you all the information needed pertaining to PMP certification on a single platform. And I hope we are on track to provide you with the same!

In the next blog of the series, we will talk in depth about how to make a detailed Study Plan customized to your learning style. I will also be sharing the my study plan which helped me in passing the exam successfully in the first attempt itself.

Thank you for reading, Happy Learning!

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