PM-nuggets: Project Management Flashcards – Release 1

Got few minutes available while travelling to your office or waiting for somebody? Want to utilize this time to master your project management knowledge and ace the Project Management Professional (PMP®) exam. We have got something for you!

The PM-nuggets are portable, in-you-pocket, “single-sided” Project Management Flashcards which will help you memorize project management concepts and terminologies on the go. These flashcards are images which can be accessed on your smartphones, tablets, and PCs. Downloadable PDF format is also available for printing at the end of this article.

These Flashcards have been made by researching multiple study resources and are written in the simplest and easy-to-understand language to help you effectively memorize key Project Management concepts.

So, do not wait further. Take control of your PMP® learning journey and make the best use of your free time.

Happy Learning!

Note: As a first wave, we are launching 14 Flashcards as a sample. If you like the content and find these flashcards useful, do respond to me in comments section or on my LinkedIn page. Based on your responses, I will release second wave of flashcards FREE very soon!

Project isn’t a fun… Says who? – #3 – Ball park estimate gone too wrong!

Having a thorough Project Budget is key to delivering project success.

By definition: A Ball park estimate is a roughly accurate estimate, or an educated guess. Coming from baseball, this expression rests in turn on in the ballpark, meaning within certain limits.

Let’s learn more about Budget estimation techniques, but with a twist 😉😃

Photo Courtesy:

PMP® Prep: 35 Contact Hours of PM education to fulfill PMP® Exam eligibility criteria

One of the key eligibility criteria for qualifying for the PMP® exam is successful completion of 35 Contact Hours of formal Project Management education. While discussing with many of the PMP® aspirants, we found a lot of confusion around this topic like, what are right platforms to earn these contact hours? Is there any difference between PDUs and “Contact hours”? Does a college or university course qualify for these contact hours? And many more.

Relax! In this blog, we will tell you everything you need to know about the project management education requirement for the PMP® exam. Let’s get started.

# Understanding the requirement:

The requirement for contact hours has been detailed out by PMI in the Project Management Handbook. The highlights of the requirements are as under:

  • The requirement is minimum 35 Hours of education. (As per PMI, one hour of classroom instruction equals one contact hour.)
  • It should be Formal & demonstratable.
  • The Course work should be complete at the time of your application. In-process courses would not count.
  • The education should include content based on Project Management topics like project quality, project resource management, project communication management, project scheduling, project budgeting & cost control etc.
© PMI Project Management Handbook

In order to bring more clarity, let us elaborate further on few of the requirements –

It is not necessary to earn these contact hours in a single course. There is a big misconception that all these 35 contact hours should come from a single course which is totally untrue. You can undertake various course which would add up to the total time requirement.

The contact need not be in-person. It is not necessary to undergo a classroom training where you meet the instructor in-person. Specific Online courses also qualify for the contact hours. We will discuss the various platforms to earn these contact hours in the later sections of this blog.

The actual learning time needs to be recorded. You need to record the actual time given to learning the topics and not the break times in between. For example, if you attended a “one-day” workshop on the Project Management principles by a reputed and authorized education provider, you cannot count it as 24 hours. For that matter if the workshop timeline was from 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM with 1-hour lunch break, you will only count it as 8 contact hours.

Similarly, while you may be able to record applicable classes that counted toward a degree, you cannot record the degree program in its entirety because some classes within the program will not apply to the requirement.

Another note from PMP Certification Handbook quotes:

One hour of classroom instruction equals one contact hour. If you have completed a university or college course on project management that met for three hours per week for 15 weeks, you would record 45 contact hours. If only a portion of a course dealt with project management, only the hours spent on project management can be applied toward the total.

Learning must be formal. Self-directed learning like reading books, watching instructional video on video streaming platforms will not count as contact hours. Any online course taken should be verified properly for the PDUs on offer.

Demonstratable. The contact hours being claimed should be demonstratable to PMI during the application, i.e., you should be able to prove that all the trainings / workshops / courses put together satisfy the minimum eligibility criteria. You will not be needed to submit the training documents to PMI but just to list it (only if there is an audit, you might have to present your documents). The best document to keep as evidence is the certificate of participation in the training.

# Education providers for the learning contact hours:

You can satisfy the PMP exam education requirement by successfully completing the courses / workshops / trainings from one of the following sources:

  • PMI registered education providers / PMI Chapters
  • Company / Employer sponsored Project Management programs
  • Classroom training / courses by Universities or training companies or consultants
  • Online training (which must include end-of-course assessment) by online education providers like LinkedIn Learning, Coursera etc.

# How are the “Contact Hours” and “PDUs” different?

While you might have heard these two terms, Contact Hours and Professional Development Units (PDUs) being used interchangeably on various forums, it is important to understand that these two terms are not necessarily the same.

Contact Hours are the formal professional education you undertake before getting certified to meet the eligibility criteria whereas PDUs are credits given for continuous professional development after you are certified. These can be earned in several ways including volunteering, self-study and also formal project management education.

To explain it further, attending a Project Management Training by your local PMI chapter would give you both Contact Hours and PDUs (depending upon whether you are attending the same before getting certified of after) whereas attending a PMI Chapter meeting would only earn you PDUs but not Contact hours.

# Getting the 35 contact hours Online

As mentioned earlier in this blog, there are multiple online and distance-learning education providers which offer 35 contact hours training through their courses. Here, you would find two options and you can choose one of them based on your learning style.

  1. Self-Paced Online PMP Training
  2. Virtual PMP Training – Live Classroom

While you can find multiple options on internet offering variety of courses, both free and paid-for, you should always choose a comprehensive (preferably but necessarily a single course covering all aspects of Project Management) course best suited to your learning style.


Hope in this blog, we have been able to explain you all the aspects of satisfying the formal project management education requirement for sitting for PMP® exam. It is important to understand the fine line between the Contact hours and PDUs so that you make correct decisions.

Please remember, it is very easy to fall in trap of considering the Contact Hours training just a mean to fulfil exam eligibility criteria but if done with intent, this can well be the foundation stone for your PMP success.

So, do not wait further, go and pick up those 35 contact hours and kick-start your PMP journey with vigor and enthusiasm. See you soon with our next blog.

Happy Learning!

Latest Posts

PM-nuggets: Project Management Flashcards – Release 1

Got few minutes available while travelling to your office or waiting for somebody? Want to utilize this time to master your project management knowledge and ace the Project Management Professional (PMP®) exam. We have got something for you! The PM-nuggets are portable, in-you-pocket, “single-sided” Project Management Flashcards which will help you memorize project management concepts […]

Project isn’t a fun… Says who? – #3 – Ball park estimate gone too wrong!

Having a thorough Project Budget is key to delivering project success. By definition: A Ball park estimate is a roughly accurate estimate, or an educated guess. Coming from baseball, this expression rests in turn on in the ballpark, meaning within certain limits. Let’s learn more about Budget estimation techniques, but with a twist 😉😃

Project isn’t a fun… Says who? – #2 – Best Project Manager!

We are back with yet another chuklesome dose of office satire. 😀 😀 😀 The moral of the story: It not enough to hire a high profile Project Manager in your organization and expect him to magically change everything. While having a resourceful Project Manager is one of the key aspect of attaining project success, […]


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PMP® Prep: Project Governance and the relationship between Project, Program, and Portfolio management

In our previous post, we understood the importance of Project Management and how effective use of Project management tools, techniques and processes provides a strong foundation for organizations to achieve their objectives. All the projects are about teamwork; but how the teams work depends heavily on the type of organization and their governance structure.

A project may be managed in three separate scenarios:

  • A stand-alone project,
  • A Program – A group of related projects which are managed in a coordinated manner to obtain benefits. The respective inter-dependencies make the separate management of these projects challenging.
  • A Portfolio – Projects, programs, and operational work managed as a group to achieve strategic objectives.

Let’s understand more about what Program and Portfolio management are and how they differ from Project management!

Program Management

Program management approach focuses on managing the interdependent projects in a coordinated manner to effectively manage risks, avoids conflicts for shared resources, achieve economies of scale in order to achieve management objectives which ultimately support organization strategy. Projects are combined into programs to provide coordinated control and support.

Portfolio Management

Project portfolios are used to effectively manage multiple programs, individual projects and operational work to achieve specific strategic objectives. Combining Programs, projects and operations together into a portfolio helps managing the resources better, enhance productivity, optimize the benefits and manage risks. The programs and projects that are included in a portfolio may not related but do support a common organizational objective.

A project or program is included in a portfolio based on the potential returns, scope for benefit realization, alignment with the organizational strategy and other factors important to business. Program management and portfolio management differs from project management in their lifecycle, objectives, focus and benefits.

The picture below indicates the interdependencies between Projects, Program, Operations and Portfolios.

(Pic Courtesy – PMBOK® Guide)

Project Governance

Project governance refers to the framework within which the projects will be executed across the organization. It includes setting and application of processes, policies and procedures regarding portfolio, program and project work, which help to ensure that these initiatives operate within strategic plan of the organization and that they contribute towards delivery of the strategic organizational objectives. Project governance sets out guidelines to manage key areas such as risk, resources, communication and change.

Projects, Programs and Portfolios are driven by Project governance or Organization strategies. Although they differ in their level of contributions but still carry forward a common goal to meet strategic objectives.

  • Portfolio management aligns portfolios with organization strategies by selecting the right programs and/or projects, prioritizing the work, and providing the needed resources.
  • Program management harmonizes its program components and controls interdependencies in order to realize specific benefits.
  • Project management enables the achievement of organization goals and objectives.

The below picture illustrates the level of alignment of projects, programs and portfolios with the strategic objectives.

Project Governance can be established and effected by a Project Management Office (PMO). We will discuss more about PMOs in the next blog of our study resource series.

To conclude, Program and Project management focus on managing the programs and projects the “right” way while the Portfolio management focuses on doing the “right” programs and projects to meet organization’s strategic objectives.

Happy Learning!

PMP® Prep – Fundamental Elements of Project Management

The art and science of Project Management is evolving day-by-day with ever increasing complexity of the projects and competitive Business environment. The biggest gain one can have while preparing for the PMP® exam is to be able to apply the learning to your work and to be able to take better decisions.

As some wise men say, having a strong foundation is the most important step towards building the strongest and tallest of the buildings. Similarly, before diving deeper into the domain of project management, it is important to understand fundamental elements of Project Management. In this blog, we will take you through the Basics of Project Management.

Note: Developing good understanding of Project Management fundamentals (or Framework) will help you answer up to 5 questions correctly in the exam. 

What is a Project?

PMI defines a Project as, “A Project is a temporary endeavor undertaken to create unique product, service or result”.

Another definition of Project goes like this; “A Project is a collection of linked activities carried out in an organized manner with clearly defined start & finish points to achieve specific results.” Building a tree house is a project, so is putting a man on the moon. From the simplest of tasks to most complex business ventures, examples of projects are everywhere.

Let’s decode the important characteristics of a Project:

# It is Temporary…

Project is not a process. It is never ongoing and it always has a definite start and finish.

A project is considered to be ended, if any of these conditions is met:

  • Project objective is met (desired Product or service is created).
  • It becomes clear that the project objectives cannot be met and stakeholders decide to discontinue the project.
  • The need for the project no more exists.

# Creates a Unique deliverable…

A project always creates a Measurable unique deliverable which has never been created in the past in the exact same manner. These deliverables’ can be tangible or intangible and be in the form of Products, Services, results or a combination of all the three.

With increasing impetus for adapting agile methodologies, another important aspect of projects comes into foray.

# Progressive Elaboration…

A project revels itself more and more as it progresses. Based on the deliverable requirement and organization types, projects start with varying levels of early planning of scope, schedule and cost. There is always new information flowing in as the project progresses and the Project manager needs to keep making decisions to keep the project on track.

An important thing to note about projects is that projects might be temporary, but their deliverables might exist beyond the end of project. For example, a building or a power plant created as a result of construction project will exist even when the project is officially closed.

Why are Projects undertaken?

Projects drive positive change in the organization. They are undertaken to create business value and attain specific objective usually targeted towards creating or improving products or services. Projects are undertaken due to following four major reasons.

Why Project Management is important?

PMBOK® defines Project Management as application of knowledge, skills, tools and techniques to project activities to meet project requirements. Various subject matter experts call Project Management both a science as well as an art. A science, since it encompasses a systematic process of managing work efficiently and effectively to deliver expected results. And art, because it relies heavily on the skills of the Project Manager on how well he (or she) uses it to attain project objectives.

Effective Project Management is accomplished through the application and integration of project management processes – Initiating, Planning, Executing, Monitoring & Controlling, and Closing. It ensures that organizations are staying focused and utilizing their resources on most important work. Tailoring the project management knowledge to specific project needs helps delivering projects in the most cost and time efficient manner without compromising on scope & quality.

Inefficient management of projects or absence of project management would lead to following:

  • Dissatisfied customers
  • Missed targets
  • Cost overruns
  • Rework and rejections
  • Poor quality
  • Loss of reputation
  • Employee dissatisfaction

In today’s competitive and dynamic business environment, Projects hold a key to value creation and benefits realization. At the same time, the art aspect of Project Management highlights the importance of Project Manager’s role towards organization’s success. It requires a Project Manager to use his skills like leadership, influencing, Organizing and strategizing to deliver Project success by deftly managing scarce resources, shorter timelines, tighter budgets and heightened customer expectations.

In the next blog of the series, we will discuss about the Project Governance and the relationship between Project, Program, Portfolio and Operations management.

Happy Learning!

Read further: PMP® Prep: Project Governance and the relationship between Project, Program, and Portfolio management

PMP® Prep – My PMP® study plan

Before I share my PMP® study plan with you, I must admit that preparing to take the PMP exam is a journey in itself. If you allow yourself, this journey will open new avenues in your understanding of Project Management body of knowledge.

This exam is not just about cramming some information and holding it long enough to clear the exam but it is an opportunity for you to become a better Project Manager.

Now, let me take you through my study plan which helped me clear the exam successfully.

Once I had collected the complete information about the exam and decided to go ahead with the application, the next step was building a S.T.A.R. study plan with the objective to clear the exam in the first attempt itself. (I have covered this topic of “How to build a S.T.A.R. study plan” in my previous blog already.)

I concentrated my efforts for building the study plan on the following aspects –

  • Deciding the learning resources best suited to my learning style
  • Keeping just enough time for exam preparation
  • Since I was working full time, I should be able to strike a good balance between quality family time and extensive study required for the PMP exam.

As I mentioned in my previous blog, it is very important to document you plan in order to keep yourself motivated throughout the learning journey. Here is my very brief Study plan which included objectives of the plan, deliverable details, major milestones, and was backed up by a detailed study schedule.

The detailed study schedule is as under. For your convenience, I have taken the start date as today (21st Jan 2020) and the exam date as 21st May 2020.

In this plan, I had tried to strike the optimum balance between reading through the material and practice tests to increase my ability to pass the exam. To start with I found the language of PMBOK® Guide to be very complex. Hence, I decided to start with Head First PMP® which uses a visually rich, not-so-text-heavy approach towards delivering project management content. So, it helped me to build a good foundation. After that, I studied by referring both PMBOK® Guide and Rita Mulcahy’s™ PMP® exam prep simultaneously while making self-notes alongside. The next step was the revision of my notes and the highlighted points from the reference books followed by a series of Mock tests. I had also scheduled 1 mock test after completion of reading of each book.

At the end, don’t forget the mantra: Study, Assess, Course correct, Refine, Repeat!

For the benefit of readers, I am sharing downloadable files of the Study plans down here. Feel free to download them and start customizing based on your exam date and study resources.

Thank you for reading. Happy Learning!

PMP® Prep – Build a S.T.A.R. study plan

“Make time for planning; Wars are won in the General’s tent.” ― Stephen R. Covey

As it’s with any Project, a comprehensive plan is the most important key to success. As I said earlier, 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.

In this article, we will work together towards building a comprehensive study plan suiting to your learning style in a systematic way. In order to successfully clear the exam in the first attempt itself, your PMP study plan should be nothing less than a STAR!

S: Structured, T: Time-bound, A: Actionable, R: Result-Oriented

To start with, one should lay thought on the following points in order to build a strong PMP study plan.

  1. Understand what all is coved in the exam? (Know what to Study)
  2. Understand your learning style and choose the best learning resource for you. (Choose quality study resources)
  3. Document you plan (Think through how you plan to achieve the success)
  4. Make sure you have kept optimum time for preparation and then back-calculate the allowable time for each section. (Prepare schedule)
  5. As in real-world projects, keep some contingency buffer.
  6. Keep check points to monitor if progress is on track and make course corrections. (Optimally staged mock tests)
  7. Remember, Self notes make all the difference.
  8. Be disciplined.
  9. Award yourself for small successes to keep the motivation going.

Understand what to study:

One should know that the PMP® exam is based on A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) and it forms the very basis of the course content covered in the exam. Hence, conquering PMBOK® Guide is of utmost importance. The PMBOK® Guide, maps the Project Management knowledge into a framework of 5 Process groups and 10 Knowledge areas. The 49 sub-processes of these knowledge areas are defined by their Inputs, Tools & Techniques, and Outputs (ITTOs).

Project Management Process Groups

  • Project Initiating
  • Project Planning
  • Project Executing
  • Project Monitoring and Controlling
  • Project Closing

Project Management Knowledge Areas

  • Project Integration Management
  • Project Scope Management
  • Project Schedule Management
  • Project Cost Management
  • Project Quality Management
  • Project Resource Management
  • Project Communications Management
  • Project Risk Management
  • Project Procurement Management
  • Project Stakeholders Management

Choose quality study resources to aid your preparation:

While the PMBOK® Guide forms the basis and foundation for the exam, one should not take it as a template to pass the exam and should look beyond the PMBOK® Guide as well for a complete and comprehensive understanding of the subject. There are some brilliant knowledge resources which have taken the high-level content knowledge presented in PMBOK® Guide and have further elaborated them in-depth with real life examples.

Thus, in order to develop a holistic understanding of the principles and practices of Project Management for the PMP exam, I recommend studying a variety of study resources apart from PMBOK® Guide. However, before using any supplementary knowledge resource, you should ensure that it is the latest edition and is in alignment with the latest edition of PMBOK® Guide and PMP® exam content outline.

I am listing down some very good knowledge resources that follow straight forward approach towards simplifying complex material presented in PMBOK® Guide and offer proven study techniques amalgamated with quality practice questions to help you ace the exam.

  • Rita Mulcahy’s™ PMP® exam prep – 9th edition: Rita Mulcahy’s™ PMP® exam prep is one of the most coveted books for PMP exam preparation. This bestselling book is recognized worldwide by Project Managers for its simple yet rich project language.
  • Head First PMP® – 4th edition: I would recommend this book as the starting resource for beginners who find the PMBOK® Guide content very complex to start with. This book uses a visually rich, not-so-text-heavy approach towards delivering project management content.
  • If your learning appetite leans towards online study resources, there are some very good paid and free online resources available on internet. (We at are also working on building topic based study notes which will help you understand the concept in a simple and brain-friendly way. Keep watching this space!).
  • You can also take part in the PMP preparation workshops arranged regularly by your local PMI chapter.

Build your study plan (and Schedule!):

While we are already in process of building our study plan, I want you to document your study plan to make sure that you stay committed towards to your goal. (Remember the difference between a plan and a schedule!).

Your Study plan should include minimum of the following details:

  • Objective
  • Success Criteria
  • Knowledge Resources to be referred
  • Time commitment required
  • High level milestones and detailed study schedule

# Develop the study schedule:

  • Break down the goal into actionable set of activities, including the target milestone dates for mock tests.
  • Work backwards from the target date allotting most optimum time to each activity.
  • Estimate efforts required (Hours per weekday and over weekends) based on the available time duration in days.
  • Monitor progress regularly and re-baseline your plan based on the progress.

In my opinion, a period of 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.

My recommendation for a generic 4-month study plan would like this:

Four months before the exam –

  • Try and read one chapter per week including chapter-wise practice exams.
  • Spend at least 3 additional hours over weekends to review study material.

One month before the exam –

  • By this time you should have given at least 2 full mock tests to access your progress.
  • If you have consistently scored above 80% in the mock tests, you are good to proceed. If not, assess your confidence level and weak areas. You might consider rescheduling the exam date. (IMPORTANT: You can reschedule your exam up to 1 month before the exam date at no additional cost, if you reschedule the exam within 30 days you will have to pay extra.)
  • Pick up the pace to catch up on any chapters you missed reading.
  • Work upon your weak areas & revisit the PMBOK guide and/or your selected study resource to brush up your knowledge on these areas.

Two weeks before the exam –

  • Take as many as practice exams possible.
  • Review questions answered wrongly in practice exams & correct your logic.
  • Keep working on your weak areas.

A day before the exam –

  • Disengage. Do not study. You have put all the efforts these 4 months, take a break and relax. This will help you regroup all those efforts.

The exam day –

  • Don’t Panic. You have done all the hard work; Back your skills.
  • After finishing the exam the results will be out immediately. Celebrate!

Follow this link for the Blog 4 of this series for a detailed 4-months plan which I followed to prepare for my PMP® exam.

Don’t underestimate your study notes:

I have been a big fan of writing down my own study notes referring multiple knowledge resources throughout my academic years and it has helped a lot be it my Engineering days or PMP preparation. I would also advise you to also make your study notes to refer for revision during last 15 days of exam preparation. It will help you build a mind map of many things as self-written points are easy to remember. These notes can be in form of bullet points, key definitions, Flashcards etc. Even the simple act of highlighting key points helps you retain and recall the information better.

Track progress with Online Mock Tests:

Online Mock tests are a good mean to test your current level of preparation. They test you with questions that follow the same format and pattern as that of actual PMP® exam. These tests aim to replicate the exam environment so that you become comfortable with the timing and the pressure situation.

Try out various PMP exam simulators available on internet to test yourself in real exam like scenarios. You can also give offline tests given in good PMP prep books like RITA and Head First. As per my experience, giving at least 4-5 full length Mock tests before the exam is very important to increase your ability to pass the exam. Remember, PMP® exam doesn’t cover straight-forward “typical” questions but scenario based questions which test your ability to apply the Project management framework to real-world project situations. Hence, choose a good PMP exam simulator which has more stress on scenario-based questions rather just definition based questions. Few good exam simulators available over internet are –

  • PMP® self test (100 free questions) by Oliver Lehmann

Plan for the 4-hour exam:

As you know by now that there are no scheduled breaks during the PMP exam and if you take a break during the exam, your exam clock continues to count down. Hence, it is important to prepare yourself for it. It certainly is a physically daunting and mentally straining experience. Most importantly, it is imperative that you keep you focus maintained all through these 4 hours. In fact, that why the full length mocks are very important as they condition your mind and body for the exam experience.

Another important aspect is to plan how will spend those 4 hours in the exam hall in the most optimum way possible. If you have a strategy, you will conquer this race against time like a pro! Here’s my suggestion; go through the questions in a number of passes.

First Pass:

Claim the “Low hanging fruits”. Quickly run through all the questions and keep answering questions which are short and you are 100% sure about the answers.

Second Pass:

Go for the lengthy question and questions including calculations, application of understanding.

Third Pass:

Go through all the flagged / unanswered questions in this pass. The focus is that no question remains unanswered. Since PMP exam has no negative marking. Some calculated guessing might be applied in this round.

IMPORTANT:One very important trick which I used during the exam is not to keep any question unanswered before proceeding further. Even if you are 50% sure, select the answer you feel is the closest and mark the question as flagged. This will help avoiding any question being unanswered if unfortunately you run out of time. If you manage your time well, go back to these questions in third pass and give some time to solve the questions. (However remember, don’t spend much time here in first pass. Else this strategy will backfire!)

Some quick tricks:

  • Use Brain Dump: Brain dump is nothing but some important information like formulas (EVM, Project selection etc.) and some important Terminologies which you just need to memorize and immediately put on the rough sheet as soon as your exam starts.
  • Use Flash cards to help you memorize key concepts and terminologies.
  • Use Mobile Apps to learn on the go.
  • Play some specifically designed games for ITTOs etc. to create a mind map of the interdependencies.

Finally, remember the mantra: Assess, course correct, refine, repeat!

The next blog of this series shares with you a detailed 4-months plan which I followed to prepare for my PMP exam.

Thank you for reading, Happy Learning!

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!