When you work full-time and have a busy home life, studying for an exam can feel daunting.  Although the PMP® exam is not easy, a combination of the right PMP® exam preparation course and efficient studying will greatly increase your chances of passing the first time.  A PMP® study plan will help you to stay organized and motivated, while minimizing stress.  This article outlines how to create a PMP® study plan and complete your PMP® exam preparation in less than 6 weeks.

The big picture

One of the biggest regrets from PMP® exam takers is failing to study more efficiently for the PMP® exam.  Avoid this by working backwards and starting with the end in mind. 

Set a date in the future for when to take the exam and schedule the date.  Try not to put this too far into the future, nor too close to today.  Both are time traps. 

Try instead to schedule an exam anywhere from 6 weeks to 3 months into the future, depending on your time commitments.  Knowing your exam date will help to keep you on track with your study plan.

Just like your day to day life as a project manager, treat studying for the exam like a mini project.  Set milestones, define what you want to achieve by when, and aim to hit these targets.  By planning out your studying, you will maximize your time and resources.  As you achieve the milestones, you will stay motivated to continue. 

Understanding your learning style

Everyone has a preferred way of processing and retaining information that defines their unique learning style. Our PMP® study plan is uniquely designed to work with learners of all styles.

Before you begin your study plan, it is important to identify your learning style and how to use it to your advantage.

The four key learning styles are:

Visual learners — learn when information is presented in a graphic manner and can visualize concepts.

Auditory learners — learn information by listening and responding verbally to questions.

Reading/writing learners — learn information through reading, writing, and seeing words on a page.

Kinesthetic learners — learn information through a physical activity to help see concepts demonstrated.  Writing notes also helps.

Once you know your preferred learning style(s) you can develop an efficient study plan. 

If you aren’t sure which learning style you are, look around your workspace.  Do you have post-it notes with key information?  You may be a reading/writing learner.  Have YouTube videos bookmarked online?  You are likely a visual learner. Keep in mind that you may have a combination of one or more learning styles.      

Once you have identified your unique learning preference combination, you are ready to tackle the key components to developing your PMP® study plan.

Do you want to get your PMP® certification in the next 6 weeks? Sign up for a free class below and learn how.

The 5 key PMP® study plan components:

1.    Prepare for the process

Before you invest too much time into the process, check that you meet all the requirements for the PMP®:

Minimum qualifications: For those with a college degree, you require 3+ years project management experience.  Everyone else requires 5+ years project management experience.

Review the requirements: The PMBOK® outlines all the requirements needed to qualify for, obtain, and retain your PMP® credentials.  Ensure that you meet these.

Become a member of PMI: Becoming a member not only saves $20 on the exam, but also provides you access to a free downloadable copy of the latest PMBOK® Guide.

Access exclusive PMP® exam tips: ExamsPM offers a free PMP® class loaded with tips to help you successfully pass your exam (examspm.com/free) including how to:

  • Memorize the process table
  • Understand ITTO’s
  • Fill the application properly

2.    Self-testing and studying (50% of your study plan)

Now that you have set yourself a timeline, prepare all your resources in the first week of your timeline.  Collect any pdf’s, books, and sign-up for your online course. 

Why in the first week?  Not only will it help you organize your resources, but it also helps you to adjust any over or under time and resource estimations.

What about study format? Just like the real exam format, this study plan follows the chapters in the PMBOK® Guide.  After studying the PMBOK® content in each chapter, it is critical to complete a post-chapter test. 

Why are the post-chapter tests so important?  These tests will check your understanding of the material. 

After finishing a post-chapter test, pay attention to any chapters on which you scored less than 80%.  You will need to review these chapters until you feel more comfortable with the material.  Also ensure that you review “Professional Responsibility” content.

Where can you access the post-chapter tests? Although the PMBOK® Guide doesn’t have quizzes or tests available, ExamsPM has an industry leading online test simulator. You can access it through the required 35-hour preparation course.

3.    Apply to the PMI

If you haven’t already done so, begin an application to the PMI.   The application can only be submitted once you have completed the required 35-hour exam preparation course.

If you need help with the applicaiton, the free course at examspm.com provides tips on how to properly fill out the descriptions.  Here are some examples of application descriptions.

4.    Full-length practice exams (30% of your study plan)

Completing a full-length practice exam will take up to 4 hours. Using an exam simulator, such as  ExamsPM Free Questions, ensures you can successfully complete 200 questions in less than 4 hours. 

Practice makes perfect, and you should aim to complete as many full-length practice exams as possible in your study plan.

5.    Complete a final review (20% of your study plan)

A final review is not to be taken lightly.  This is your opportunity to categorize your strength areas and weak areas.  Review the PMBOK® one more time.

Begin the review by strengthening your weak areas – you don’t want to be caught off guard in the exam!  Understand why you might be struggling with these areas. It helps to work out your underlying reasons, and how these might be leading you astray. 

Then ensure you have memorized your formulas, process groups, knowledge areas and processes. 

Finally, if you haven’t already done so, register for your exam date. 

The day before

Exam day is nearly here. You have done all the hard work and stuck to your study plan.  You now know the PMBOK® backwards and forwards, have the formulas on the inside of your eyeballs, and you dream of process groups.  This is a good place to be! 

Don’t lose all the hard work you have put in. The day before the exam, make sure to give your brain a rest the day before the exam.  Do not study anything.

Ensure you sleep at least 8 hours the night before your exam, and eat something light the morning of.

If you follow these guidelines, you should be well on your way to passing the PMP® exam. 

Good luck!

Do you want to learn how you can get PMP® certified in the next 6 weeks? Sign up for a free class below to learn how!

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Learn how you can get PMP certified in the next 6 weeks. Sign up for a free class & get our free study plan.