How to Plan Your PMP Study

When I was growing up I was in awe of people who had letters after their name. In my professional field now, it is very common to find people who have post-nominals and you might be going for some too. One of the most common sets of letters that you will find after project managers’ names is ‘PMP®’. This stands for Project Management Professional and it’s a credential that is widely respected.

Because it’s considered prestigious, it is pretty hard work to get. You have to complete a complex application form that covers your experience in the field of project management and there is an exam. If you haven’t taken an exam since you were in school, you’ve probably forgotten how you planned your exam revision – if you were structured in your studies and didn’t take the cram-until-2am-the-night-before approach like me.

However, planning for your PMP application and exam is no different to planning any other project. This time, though, it’s your career on the line so you want to get it right! Here are some tips to help plan your PMP studies.

1. Allow yourself enough time

Don’t underestimate how much time it will Make Time Clock Showing Scheduling And Planningtake to complete the long application form and revise all the material required to help you feel confident for the exam. Real life often gets in the way – children get sick, projects at work need you to stay late in the evenings or family commitments take priority. You would factor in contingency time for any other project, so make sure you do the same for this one.

Be realistic about how much time you can commit to your studies, taking into account your work and personal commitments. Then schedule at least a couple of weeks to give you a buffer. If you don’t need the time, you can always reschedule your exam and bring it forward. This is far easier to do than trying to cram three weeks of revision into the final day before your exam.

2. Set your goals

Once you have an idea of when you want to take your exam, set some concrete goals. These could be about the number of project management concepts that you will revise per week. You’ll also want to set some daily goals, maybe reading through your notes, listening to a podcast or reading relevant project management articles on a website.

Write your goals down and pin them up somewhere that you can see them. This will help you focus on achieving your objective of passing the exam.

3. Create a plan

Goals are fine, but they aren’t achievable study-planuntil you have a concrete plan. Use your favorite project management software to create a schedule for your studies, just like you would do for a project at the office. List out all the tasks you need to do including gathering the evidence you need, filling in your application form, buying any books or other materials and your regular study times.

Add in some milestones to work towards such as the date that you will post your application form and your preferred choice of date for the exam. Tick off the tasks and milestones as you come to them as this will give you a sense of achievement. It will also show you if you are starting to fall behind schedule. If this happens, you’ll want to reschedule your exam date as you won’t be ready!

Share your plan with your friends and family so that they can support you in your studies. This includes helping you find time in your day to study and ensuring that they don’t interrupt you while you are working.

4. Find somewhere to study

Don’t underestimate how difficult it is to study when there is lots of noise and activity around you. The kitchen table when the kids get home from school is not a good location. Could you stay late at the office one day a week and study in a meeting room? Could you use a separate room in the house, or go to the local library at the weekends? Or study at a colleague or friend’s home?

You will find it much easier to absorb the concepts and concentrate (and therefore hit your milestones) if you can create a calm environment to focus on your studies.

5. Use sample exam questions

Add some tasks on your plan for examsample exam questions preparation in the form of taking a practice exam. Get hold of some sample exam questions and time yourself completing them. Some of the exam questions on the PMP exam can be structured in a confusing way so it helps to get familiar with the terminology and style of the question. Even if you know your stuff inside out sometimes the questions trip people up, so practice, practice, practice!

Using sample questions will also help you feel more confident going into the exam as you will know exactly what to expect.

6. Book your exam

Finally, don’t forget to actually book your exam! You will need to find your local test center and arrange a date and time with them. If you have a choice of location, pick the one closest to you to minimize the amount of travel you have to do on the day. Then add the date to your project schedule. This is a good time to check the amount of work you still have left to do and how many days you have to do it in. When your exam is booked, your project becomes one with a fixed end date, so you’ll have to plan backwards from that date to ensure that you have time to complete all your revision.

Approaching your PMP exam studies like a project plan will probably come naturally to you. The most important thing to remember is that you do need a project plan for your exam preparation. Without one, you risk not covering all the concepts required for the exam and not having enough time to thoroughly practice exam questions. Use your project plan to boost your confidence and you’ll approach your exam day knowing that you have done all you can to give yourself the best possible chance of PMP success.

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