How Long to Study for PMP®

  • Home
  • I
  • How Long to Study for PMP®

The PMP® (Project Management Professional) certification by PMI is the most globally-recognized certifications in the field of project management. However, passing the PMP® exam is by no means an easy task. Candidates often ask us: how long to study for PMP®? The short answer is that it depends.

If you’re super focussed and study full-time, you can pass your PMP® exam in a matter of weeks. In fact, at ExamsPM, our students often pass in 6 weeks or less.

The problem is some PMP® candidates often get distracted with work or family. Although they had the best of intentions when they begin studying, they end up losing momentum in the middle. When they pick up their studies again, they may have lost a few months (or years) time.

In this guide, we’ll help you understand how long to study for PMP® as well as the things you can do to help you ace the exam from the first attempt. Before we get started, make sure you sign up for our free training to learn how you can get certified in the next 6 weeks below.

FREE TRAINING: How To Get PMP® Certified in 6 Weeks

How to Prepare for the PMP® Exam

Preparing for the PMP® exam requires you to go through 6 simple steps, which are:

  1. Prepare your study material by making a list of all the things that you will need to study. Then, make a plan of when you will get it done. Check out our free PMP® course for more details.
  2. Study consistently for the exam by making continuous efforts to understand the concepts behind all project management processes fully.
  3. Attend a PMP® exam prep training as getting the 35 Contact Hours is a mandatory step to be eligible for the PMP® exam.
  4. Submit your PMP® application to PMI. Here’s an in-depth article on how to fill out your application and write your project descriptions.
  5. Practice with mock exams so you can have a better idea about the exam structure and the type of questions you may face.
  6. Attend the exam and pass!

Note: You can start your application when you begin your PMP® preparations. However, you can’t submit it until you’ve got your 35 Contact Hours certificate.

How Long Do Most People Study for the PMP® Exam?

Based on data collected from thousands of PMP®s worldwide, it was found that most people require anywhere from 60 hours and up to 300 hours of study to pass the PMP® exam.

We understand that this is a very wide range, but it makes sense considering that people who pursue the PMP® certification come from different backgrounds and have variable levels of experience and knowledge.

For example, people who have acquired other project management certifications before or even possess a master’s of project management will certainly have an advantage in PMP® exams. The amount of time you need will also depend upon how quickly you learn and retain the materials.

However, please note that it is a myth to assume that you can pass the PMP® with your project management experiences alone without studying anything. This is because PMI has their own unique ways of doing things and it may be different from what you are used to on the job. In order to pass your PMP® exam, you have to do things the PMI way.

The PMBOK® Guide

Before taking the PMP® exam, you need to ensure that you’ve mastered all the topics in PMI’s PMBOK® 6th Edition (Project Management Body of Knowledge) Guide book, which is based on ten knowledge areas that include:

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

But that’s not everything. You will also need to be familiar with the contents in the Ethics and Professional Conducts guide. You can obtain a free copy here:

Time It Right

Preparing for the PMP® exam requires 1-3 months of effort and time. Your mind must be fully focused. It’s better to get it done in a shorter period of time as you’re more likely to retain the information that you’ve just learned. This isn’t an exam that you can just walk in and expect to pass with no studying whatsoever.

Before you decide to start preparing for the PMP® exam, make sure that there’s enough time on your schedule for studying. Block an hour or two on your calendar daily for the next several weeks and dedicate that time to your PMP® preparations.

Practicing for the Exam

The PMP® exam will extensively test your knowledge in all the core topics of project management, and passing it requires you to be prepared very well. Here are the full details of the PMP® exam:

Fees (Per Attempt)Passing ScoreTime LimitNumber of QuestionsFormatLanguageDifficultyPractice Assessment
$555, $405 for PMI membersVariable (60-80% estimated)240 mins200Multiple ChoiceEnglish onlyHardYes, third party

Reading alone won’t help you pass the exam; you must practice with some mock exams before taking the real PMP® exam. This can be beneficial in many ways as it’ll help you:

  • Familiarize yourself with the structure of the exam
  • Understand the type of questions that you may encounter
  • Understand PMI-ism (this is PMI’s unique way of doing project management)
  • Manage your time during the exam more efficiently

Mock tests also allow you to identify your most common weak points and mistakes so you can improve them. By knowing what questions you didn’t get right, you can revise the related parts to these questions, and don’t make the same mistakes on your actual exam.

Types of Questions

Many questions in the PMP® exam are situation-based, which means that often times, all the multiple choices given could look correct. But you’re only allowed to choose one “expected” answer by thinking about the right course of action in this particular situation.

Furthermore, there’s something in the PMP® body of knowledge called ITTO, which stands for Inputs, Tools, Techniques, and Outputs. In the PMBOK® guide, project processes are defined by these ITTOs. There are 49 processes in the PMBOK® and each process has its own set of ITTOs. Each process has inputs, and by using the right tools and techniques, you’ll be able to get the outputs you desire.

There are over 600 ITTOs, and you’re expected to be familiar with all of them. Some people suggest memorizing them, but we don’t really recommend that as it isn’t the most effective technique. The PMP® exam is not meant to be a memorization exam after all.

Instead, you can go over all the ITTOs in the spreadsheet multiple times until you feel confident that you understand the relationship between those ITTOs and project management processes. This is probably one of the hardest and most time-consuming parts of preparing for the PMP® exam, but you should be able to get a full grasp on it if you put in the necessary effort.

It’s also worth noting that the exam is entirely in English. This means that you may need to improve your English language proficiency if you want to be able to answer 200 multiple choice questions in 4 hours.

You can also request language aids for your PMP® exam. This means you can take the exam in another language. Below is a quick video training on what to expect if you use language aids.

Test Yourself Every Step of the Way

Whenever you finish a process group or knowledge area, test yourself to see how much of the information you’ve retained. This also trains you in the habit of doing as many practice questions as possible.

PMP® Studying Tips

You can spend long hours studying the PMP® materials, but you won’t be able to comprehend everything without laser focus. Here are some PMP® exam tips that can help you prepare the right way without wasting too much time.

Give Yourself Time for Each Topic

There’s a huge amount of information in PMI’s PMBOK® Guide, and each part of the book is heavily influenced by the part that precedes it. That’s why you need to make sure that everything is clear for you in the part you’re studying before moving over to the next one. 

You also need to understand the big picture of how the PMBOK® is structured. We teach this in our free PMP® training, which you can sign up for here.

Use the Pomodoro Technique

A proven theory states that the human mind can stay fully focused for just 20-30 minutes. After that, your mind won’t be able to process the information as efficiently as it did during the first 20-30 minutes.

Instead of continuously studying for the PMP® exam for 3 or 4 hours straight, you can divide that time into 25-minute intervals with small breaks between them. This is called the Pomodoro technique.

As we’ve mentioned earlier, the PMBOK® is rich in topics that require you to fully understand them if you want to be able to answer the tricky, situation-based questions in the PMP® exam.

PMI Prerequisites for PMP® Certification

Before studying for the PMP® exam, you need to ensure that you meet the minimum requirements set by the PMI for potential PMP® candidates. First, you need a minimum of 36 months of leading projects as a professional project manager if you have a bachelor’s degree or global equivalent. 

If you aren’t a degree holder, then you need a minimum of 60 months. Moreover, you have to acquire 35 hours of project management training regardless of your own study efforts.

Final Thoughts

Now that you’ve developed a better idea about how long to study for PMP®, you can create a study plan for yourself. 

Remember, the earlier you start preparing for the exam, the more likely you’ll succeed, but try not to spend more than 3-4 months preparing. Your memory will fail you, and you may even start losing interest in the whole thing. 

Last but not least, It’s not about how long you take to study, but about how effective you are in comprehending the study materials.

Ready to get PMP® certified? Sign up for a free class to learn how to do it in 6 weeks.