How to Study for the Project Management Exam ?

How to Study for the Project Management Exam ?

How to Study for the Project Management Exam ?

You are interested in obtaining your project management exam & certification. But how do you study for the project management exam? I want to keep this blog simple and to the point on how to study for the PMP exam. When I was studying for the project management exam I knew I wanted the certification but I had no idea how to study for it. I felt like a new freshman entering high school again. I heard the horror stories on how hard the PMP test would be. I read some blogs and forums but nothing was fully complete. The method I am laying out is not the only way to pass the project management exam but it has proven by me and several of my peers to work. In the end, you have to sacrifice blood, sweat and tears to pass the test for most (there is always that 1% that pass with flying colors) I am not writing this for the 1% but for the mass majority out there. This process took me several months and couple hours each day because when I took 2 days off or more I felt like I forgot information. Think about working out and you want that nice tone body. Takes time and dedication! Again there is that is 1% than are lean and cut with muscles popping out and eating pizza every night. However, if you are like me I have to put in 2 hrs. of work almost every day to see any results.

The Process on How to Study for the Project Management Exam and earn your project management certification:

Bust out your wallet and Order Books

The first step is to order the wholly grail of project management which is the PMBOK 5th edition, which is the latest edition as of this blog. This book is where majority of the PMP test material comes from. PMI wrote this book and PMI is the one who hold the criteria for Project Management Certification or layman terms PMP.

Another classic book to order is Rita’s PMP book which I found very useful and easy to read. The first time you look at the PMBOK book it will look like a foreign language. Rita’s book breaks the PMP information down so anyone can understand. There are multiple exercises to help hone in on your skills as well. One of the most useful things are the questions at the end of each chapter.

Agile Earth Learning The Unofficial Guide to Passing the PMP Exam is great question book to add to your library. There is over 400 questions that range from easy to the real PMP exam questions. Each section is broken down by a process group. You can find that book on Amazon for roughly $10. A steal!

Read, Read and Read

I suggest you skim through PMBOK and Rita’s first taking no more than 4 hrs. front to back on it. This will get your brain thinking about project management certification and how the information is laid out. Read Rita’s book slowly this time and do every exercise and question. Analyze the answers you got wrong by writing the question on blank card and answer on the back. Practice those flash cards and keep them handy!

PMBOK read this book but skim again but take more time 8 hrs. to read from front to back.

Now you are getting a foundation! You should start to dream about this Project Management Certification soon!

Join a local PMI Chapter

Join a local PMI Chapter is a great idea typically low cost of around $100 give or take annually. You will get access to job, posting networking events, discount on PMP boot camps and study sessions for passing the project management exam. When I was studying for my exam I signed up for a local chapter and then a PMP boot camp. In being a chapter member I got a discount on my class so basically I got my annual membership to my chapter for free. One of the most useful things was that my chapter had Saturday morning study session where each week you go over a chapter in Rita’s book. This did wonders! Get to really think things out. I did this session about 4 weeks before my PMP boot camp started.

Sign up for 4 Day PMP Boot Camp

I was nervous to take the class thinking that I might be behind but I was not behind at all. With me doing some leg up work prior to the boot camp I was ahead of my peers. The class was very intense since you read through encyclopedia of material in 4 days. *A note: look for REP PMI provider as these are the legitimate PMP boot camps.

Find a Study Buddy

During the project management exam prep Boot Camp I found a study partner that was in the class as well trying to get their project management certification. We lived to far apart to meet so we did the next best thing virtual studies via Google Hangouts. Each week we would assign some questions to take on our own and then go over the answers together. This help us talk through the problems on the practice PMP exam.

Watch YouTube Videos

I love YouTube videos as you can learn almost anything online. YouTube is not short on any videos on project management training. I have several project management exam prep videos post online as well to help future project managers know what to expect on the exam and teaching them formulas. I suggest you find several great YouTube channels on project management and subscribe to the channel. Any new content is posted you will be notified. Sometimes I was sick of reading the PMP study guide books or stuck on a subject so watching videos help me break up reading and learn from a different way.

Make Flashcards

People say the project management exam is not memorization to certain extent they are right but they are absolutely wrong as well. I know that sentences sounds strange but let me clarify. There are thousands of terms you need to know on the project management exam in order to pass get your certification. The PMP exam will not ask you direct definition question (at least since 2005). However, they will expect you to know the definition based on the context of the question. Some of the questions I was getting wrong was simply I did not know what a certain word met in a question. Once I knew what the word met then it helped me understand the entre question. Make flash cards of the glossary yourself don’t buy the cards as won’t stick in your brain. As you have free time watching TV have the cards next to you. I did this! I wouldn’t fast forward through commercials but I would mute the TV pull my cards out and go through. Every 10 minutes of a show there is 2 min commercial. After a while I started to know the cards in and out. Once I knew a term by heart I did not use that card again since I had plenty of other terms to know.

Start a Brain Dump

On the real Project management exam you have 15 min in the start before the time begins for the test. You are nervous with thoughts going through your head. Take this time to write down all the key items you need to know like formulas, sticky points, keyword, anything that gives you hard time. Now this should not be the first time you have done this. Twice a day you need to write down your brain dump. Write it in the same format every single time! Again twice a day and every time same format. Why? Before you know it, this information will be engraved. You will be able to write it out without even thinking about it.

Project Management Questions in a hardcopy book

I recommend buying a couple question books that are hardcopy so you get that feel and touch to it. I think that is vital when learning new material. A couple of books I recommend is the Unofficial Guide to Passing the PMP exam and Rita’s. There are many more books out there but these will do. If you need more practice then feel free to buy more just make sure you are buying books that correlate to the PMBOK 5th edition.

Practice PMP Questions online

There are several online places to free Project management exams online. However make sure that the material is based off of PMBOK 5th material and not 4th. Most of these websites never updated there information so you could be taking an old exam. Try to find an online exam that when you complete the exam in the end shows your break down by process group. Once you find out where you are weak at then you learn where to study more at. Let’s face it, you have limited time and lots of information to learn. Why spend hours of time on a process group you know. I know it sounds silly but a lot of people do which makes no sense! Once you start making 80% on the online exams then you are ready for the real Project management exam.


Now it is time to read the PMBOK from cover to cover again but slowly. Now this book should not look like a foreign language to you. The material you have been studying should start to make sense and the PMBOK should become easier to read. HINT: Once you can pick up the PMBOK and start reading where it sounds interesting then you are ready for you project management exam.

Read Rita’s

After you read the PMBOK slowly, take the time to read Rita’s book again. This should really drive in any questions you might have. Do any exercise that you struggled in the past.

Road to Passing the PMP or project management exam

I hope this was not information over load on how to study for project management certification but this process guided me to PMP success! I hope this does the same for you. If you found this informational, purposeful and useful please share it!

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