This guide will teach you how to pass PMP certification in as little as 6 weeks. Be sure to download the companion guide below and follow along.
What is PMP?
The ExamsPM Approach
Roadmap to Becoming a PMP
Watch Lectures Online: Week 1-3
Submit Application: Week 3
Practice Questions & Webinars: Week 4-6
The Shocking Truth No one Talks About: Why Most PMP Aspirants Fail
You Need Someone to Hold You Accountable
Register for a Free Class
Project Management Professional (PMP) is the most well-known project management certification that is recognized worldwide.
By having this certification, you demonstrate that you understand the standard framework and terminologies for managing projects. By having access to the Project Management Institute (PMI) network, you will increase your network and job opportunities.
Some recruiters pre-screen candidates for this certification before granting them an interview.
This guide will go through the complete step-by-step process on how you can pass your PMP certification in 6 weeks.
PMI has very high and strict criteria for selecting candidates to write the PMP exam. This certification is for seasoned project managers who have at least 3 years of experience leading projects.
If you are wondering whether your experience counts as project experience or not, refer to PMI’s definition of a project. A project is a “temporary endeavour undertaken to create an unique product, service, or result.”
The size of the project does not matter. You can have 1 person or 100 people on your project team. You can have a budget of $100 or $1,000,000 to complete your project’s deliverables. Projects – both small and big ones – count towards your project management experience.
(If you do not have enough project management experience, you can consider taking the CAPM certification, which targets junior project managers or project manager assistants.)
There are two ways that you can qualify for your PMP certification. See chart below for qualification criteria:
Obtaining your PMP certification is a big commitment. It takes roughly 100-150 hours of studying and thousands dollar to obtain this certification (see cost breakdown in chart below). It is both a big financial and time commitment, so before you begin – ask yourself “are you ready?”
Before you move further in this journey, ask yourself seriously:
When you buy a traditional online PMP training course, you will just get a DIY course and some practice questions, but no one to check in on you to see how you are doing. The problem with this approach is that many of you will not end up completing the course, and you have no one to turn to when you have questions?
ExamsPM’s PMP training combines live training with online training at a fraction of the cost. You will get a live coach who checks in with you weekly to hold you accountable. S/he will make sure that are staying on track to reach your goals.
You will also be able to attend live webinars weekly where you can not only network with our students in the course, but also ask questions to PMP certified instructors.
Visit www.examspm.com/free and register for a free class today!
Before you start studying for the exam, register as a PMI member. The benefit of being a PMI member is that you can write your exam at a discounted rate AND you will get a free soft copy of the latest PMBOK guide.
In addition to the savings you will gain on your exam, you will get access to all of PMI’s resources, including newsletters, webinars, and job boards.
The PMI membership offers you amazing cost savings and value for the first year, and you should get it before you begin your studies.
See below for a price comparison.
One of the criteria you need to fulfill to qualify to write your PMP exam is finishing 35 hours of project management training. Depending on how much time you have allocated to studying per day, you should be able to finish the training in 2-3 weeks.
During this stage, you will understand the material that is covered on the exam and how the exam is structured.
Since the PMP exam is based on PMBOK guide, you need to understand how the guide is structured. The PMBOK guide consists of 47 processes that can be categorized in 5 Process Groups or 10 Knowledge areas. It is important that you know all of these 47 processes and what they do. Click here to download ExamsPM’s free process guide.
You also need to know how the different processes interact with each other, and the ITTO (Inputs, Tools and Techniques, Outputs) for each process. Although you don’t need to memorize the ITTO for each process, you should have a good understanding of where they come from.
Although you may use different terms on your actual projects, for the exam, you need to understand and speak “PMI-ism.”
ExamsPM’s PMP Training Course is based on PMBOK 5th edition, but it also goes beyond that. The course is based on the PMBOK guide, and will teach you what you need to know for the exam.
After you finish the course, you will obtain your 35 Contact Hours certificate, which you need to qualify for your exam.
Different people learn differently. Some students learn by hearing, some learn by seeing, while others learn by doing. You need to tailor your study plan to your learning style.
If you are a visual learner, consider reading a PMP study prep book (e.g. Headfirst or Rita’s PMP study prep).
After you finished the course and obtained your 35 Contact Hours, you are now ready to submit your PMP application.
The first part of the PMP application is quite mechanical, and should not take more than an hour. You fill in your basic information (e.g. name, address, education, employer, etc.) The tricky part of the application is writing your project descriptions, which we will talk about next.
See below for a screenshot of the PMP application:
For more information on how to fill in your PMP application, click here.
Writing the project descriptions is the trickiest part of the PMP application. It is difficult because you only have 550 characters (not words) per project. You may have spent years working on a particular project, and now you have to condense all your experiences down into one short paragraph.
After helping numerous students write their project descriptions, we’ve developed a proven structure that works. Let’s take a look at this structure and an example from one of ExamsPM’s students.
First sentence = description of your project and your role on it
2nd – 6th sentence = one sentence about what you did in each of the 5 process groups
If you claimed hours for a process group, you need to write a sentence about what you did within that process group. Although your organization may have different names for things, make sure you use PMI terminology for your application descriptions. Below is a list of activities found in each process group that you can use a starting point:
Just follow this template, and your project description will be good to go. For more information about this process, click here.
Note: If you are a student of ExamsPM, we will edit your PMP application for free! Before you submit your application to PMI, you have the option to export it as PDF. Simply send the PDF to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will get back to you with our comments.
Below is a real project description sent to us from one of our students. Before our edits, the description is confusing and wordy. After our edits, the description is much more concise and clear. You want to do the same for your project descriptions.
“The project is an ongoing project where I am required to be part of the initiating stages, extensive input during the planning stages, fully responsible for the execution of the project, partly responsible controlling and closing out the projects. The project varies from network planing to new software development. I am responsible for ensuring that all internally developed and outsourced mission critical applications within the organization are operational at all times and required to design, build, test and deploy new applications.”
“This project automates the company’s manual process for accepting work requests. The end result is an online information management system. My colleague and I defined the scope of the system, created delivery schedule, conducted weekly update meetings. We also procured service providers to launch the web portal. When the project ended, I helped create an online knowledge-base to archive all pertinent documents and reusable codes.”
PMI’s computer system will choose a random number of applicants to audit. You will know if you are audited or not when you submit your application. Most candidates (over 90%) will not be audited.
If you are chosen for an audit, you need to send in 1) proof of your education, and 2) signed audit forms from your contact person.
Proof of education
You need to mail PMI a copy of your college or masters degree (if applicable) and a copy of your 35 contact hours certificate. ExamsPM is a project management education provider, and we can provide the 35 contact hours certificate that you will need to pass a PMI audit.
Signed audit forms
For each project on your application, you referenced a contact person who can validate your experience. If you are audited, you need to print and mail an audit form to your contact person. The audit form will include your project description and number of hours you claimed for the project. Example of audit form on next page.
Your contact person needs to sign the audit form and mail it back to you. Once you have the audit forms from all of your contact person, you need to mail all of them to PMI.
Here’s a summary of the steps you need to take:
This entire process can take several weeks.
Can I do everything via email?
Nope – PMI wants actual signatures from your contact person for each project. Scanned signatures are not accepted.
Who should my contact person be?
The contact person for your project is usually your manager. S/he probably has the most visibility into your work and can vouch for what you did.
What if my manager left the company?
That’s fine. Your old manager can still validate your project experiences.
What if I don’t know my manager’s contact information?
In this case, use another teammate or manager’s contact information for your application. It is important that this other person knows what you did and can vouch for your work.
What if my contact person refuse to sign the audit form?
In this case, you will not be able to write your PMP exam. PMI will think you did not have the project experience necessary to qualify to write the PMP exam.
For more information about application audits, click here.
Why do you need to do as many practice questions as possible? To answer this question, let’s take a look at how the PMP exam is created by PMI. The certification is developed and improved upon by project management professionals.
Over the past decade, its value and prestige has grown substantially, and PMI now has more bodies dedicated to certification development than ever before.
Since it would be chaotic to have everyone working together, PMP certification development is divided into smaller teams with specialized functions.
One of the teams is responsible for updating the PMBOK guide (side note: a new version of the PMBOK guide comes out every 4 years). Another team is responsible for developing exam questions through interpretation of the PMBOK guide.
The project management professionals who are developing the PMBOK guide are different from those who are writing the exam questions!
Thus, there is a disconnect between the exam and PMBOK guide. You probably didn’t realize that the professionals writing the exam are just interpreting the PMBOK guide, just like you.
Additionally, while the PMBOK guide is very theoretical, the exam contains many situational questions. You wouldn’t know the answer to these questions even if it was an open-book exam.
Reading guides is important for you to understand project management fundamentals, but read alone will not allow you to pass the exam.
While your experiences are absolutely necessary to qualify for the exam, they will not help you pass the exam.
PMI advocates specific ways of managing projects, which is referred to as “PMI-ism.” Without understanding what “PMI-ism” is and what it looks like on paper, you will not be able to pass the exam.
All this to say, 1) reading and memorizing the guide and other study material will not allow you to pass the exam, and 2) relying on your real world experience will not allow you to pass the exam.
You must must must do as many practice questions as possible! That’s the only way to pass your PMP.
Thus, from weeks 4-6, you should focus on doing as many practice questions as you can. Utilize any time you have. Stuck in a line waiting to talk to your bank teller? Waiting for a bus? Bored during a lunch break? Pull out your mobile device and do a few questions.
During this stage, you should be doing practice questions daily. Through practice, you will discover your “blind spots,” and you can go back to your video course to re-watch the portions that you may have missed the first time.
Before you sit for your actual exam, you should have completed a minimum of 3 full length exams (200 questions each) in less than 4 hours and score a minimum of 70% (80%+ is preferable).
(Please note that if you took the same practice exam multiple times, it is your score on the first try that counts.)
We host weekly webinars where we will do practice questions and analyze answers together with you. During these webinars, we go over specific strategies for approaching “PMI-ism.” By attending these webinars weekly, you will understand the style of questions PMI asks and what the right answers are.
You can also use the weekly webinars as personalized coaching sessions. You can ask questions during these webinars to PMP-certified instructors. The continued interaction with instructors can mean the difference between a pass or fail for you.
These webinars are at the core of ExamsPM’s approach, and we encourage all of our students to attend weekly.
How Does Exam Simulators Compare to the Actual Exam?
Of course, no R.E.P.s have access to the exact questions in PMI’s exam bank. However, the questions in exam simulators are quite similar in terms of difficulty and style to the actual questions you will get on the exam.
1. Time yourself
Keep a close eye on the time. Pace yourself. Remember that you have 4 hours to complete the exam. Although you are allowed to take breaks during the exam, breaks will count towards your total exam time (in other words, the timer doesn’t pause when you are on break).
There are many different strategies you can employ to pace yourself during your exam. You can choose to take no breaks, or you may choose to take 5. Explore what works best for you during your mock exams. Below is a sample plan:
2. Prepare a “cheat sheet”
When you enter a Prometrics exam centre, you will be given 2 sheets of blank paper for your exam. Use these 2 sheets of paper wisely.
Before your exam begins, you have 15 minutes to go through a tutorial on how to use the Prometrics testing system. Most of you will not need a full 15 minutes to learn how to press “next” or “mark for review.”
We recommend that you use this time to create a cheat sheet for yourself to refer back to during your exam.
3. Don’t leave anything blank
PMI does not do negative marking. There is no risk to you to just guess an answer if you don’t know – you have a 25% chance of being right anyways! If you are short on time, use the last minute to fill something in for all the questions.
Again, leave nothing blank.
As we mentioned at the start of this guide, you can customize our study plan to suit your individual needs. You can shorten one section or extend it. You can also choose to add in one or more of these optional steps to help you comprehend the information.
Read 1 book
If you are a visual learner and reading the PMBOK guide was just too dry for you, you may want to read a PMP study prep guide. Two of the most popular ones are Rita and Headfirst. Pick one. Don’t read more because you don’t want to overwhelm your brain with information, and remember the #1 thing you need to do is still practice questions. Reading more books is not a substitute for practice.
Take an in-person training (if your budget permits)
You can also choose to take an in-person training if your budget permits. Keep in mind that a 1 week in-person training range from $1000 – $5000 depending on the provider.
Join a study group
Studying can be a lonely task. If you want to interact with other students who are also in the process of getting certified, you can look for them in a number of ways:
Join a PMI chapter
You can also look into joining a local PMI chapter in your area. They can provide support for students as well as local networking opportunities. To find out more about PMI chapters, visit http://www.pmi.org/membership/chapters-pmi-chapters.aspx
When PMP aspirants start their journey, they tend to want to do everything. They go out and get a mountain of study material from their friends and colleagues. They buy a dozen books and courses. Sound familiar?
But this is unnecessary. Material will start to repeat. The definition of Work Breakdown Structure, for example, does not change from one book to another.
Reading through too much material will confuse and overwhelm you.
This guide gave you a simple, step-by-step process to follow. Now you have the road map to success, but it’s not enough…
R.E.P.s only report on the success rate of students who ended up taking the exam, and they exclude the students who didn’t make to the exam room in their statistics.
Most R.E.P.s will report on their website that they have a first time pass rate of over 90%. Although these statistics are true, they are also slightly misleading.
What they don’t tell you is that half of their students (that’s 50%+) never make it to the Prometrics exam centre after they finish their training!
And these students are excluded from the statistics.
If R.E.P.s report on their “true” statistics of how many students pass the exam, it would be less than 50%.
Why does this happen? Is it the R.E.P.s fault?
Not at all. R.E.P.s provide students with the knowledge they need to pass, but after the course ends, students procrastinate.
The most common excuse that we hear is “I just have too much work to do. My boss needs me to do [fill in the blank]. My kids need me to [fill in the blank].”
Work and life always seem to get in the way, so they don’t do the required practice exams and they don’t do the required readings.
A few months pass by, they wake up and realize they forgot everything they learned in the course and have to start over again. That’s why you need someone to hold you accountable.
That’s why we are here to help.
If I asked you, how can I lose weight, stay healthy, or gain muscle? Your answer is probably involves a mixture of diet, sleep, and exercise.
But do you eat an optimal diet, get 8+ hours of sleep, and exercise regularly? If you are like most of us, the answer is no. You get busy; life gets in the way.
Even though you may know what you need to do to stay healthy, you probably don’t follow your own advice 100% of the time.
The best plans fail because they are implemented people, and people are emotional creatures with wants and needs.
Having the map to success is not enough. You need someone to hold you accountable to follow the plan.
You need someone to check in on you to make sure that you are watching your lectures, doing your practice questions, and staying on track to get PMP certified.
That’s one of the ways that ExamsPM’s training is different.
There’s a live PMP-certified coach checking-in on you every week for 6 weeks to make sure you are doing what you need to do to get your certification in time.
The coach will make sure you are watching lectures, doing practice questions, and offer suggestions.
Your success rate will sky rocket when you know there’s someone who cares about your success, and that person will check in on you regularly.
It’s the difference between a pass or a fail. It’s the ExamsPM advantage.
If you are interested in obtaining your PMP certification, take the next step. We would like to invite you to a free class where you will learn:
… And much more!
To register, go to www.examspm.com/free