Sitting for the PMP exam is no small feat. In this week’s blog, we hear from a marketing manager on her process behind studying for and passing the PMP exam.
**As of April 2020, the PMP exam is now being offered online and from home in response to the effects of Covid-19. To learn more about this recent change, visit the PMI website via this link.**
Author: Meisha Bochicchio
So you want to take the PMP? Great news—you’ve come to the right place.
I’m Meisha, marketing manager by day, dog-mom and pretend wino at night. I embarked on my PMP journey in the fall of 2019 as a way to formalize processes in my current marketing role and to provide a framework to seek new opportunities in the future.
Below I share my personal process for preparing for the PMP exam. Everyone is different, so this particular approach might not work for everyone. As the PMP is known to be a rather challenging exam, it’s worth sharing what has worked for some as it could ultimately help others.
Knocking Out The Required 35 Hours of Training Through An Online Class
As you probably already know by this point, there are several requirements for getting your PMP Certification, and those requirements (degree, years of experience, project hours) vary based on your education and background. The one thing that doesn’t change is the 35 hours of formal project management education or training; there’s no getting out of that.
I personally did my class online with the Technical Institute of America (TIA)—though they do offer in-person classes in certain cities.
A few notes on the class experience:
There are several different instructors, and each instructor offers a very different experience. I highly recommend my instructor, Michael Monteverdi. He 100% coached us on how to pass the exam, and hey—I passed my exam, so it must work.
Be realistic about your workload. I chose to take an extended approach with night classes twice a week. The classes were four hours every Tuesday and Thursday, and the entire process took six weeks. This worked great for me personally because I work full-time and I manage freelance marketing projects on the side, so I didn’t want to become too overwhelmed.
The TIA also offers week-long classes or weekend classes, so my biggest piece of advice is to think about how much information you can realistically take in (it’s A LOT) over any given period of time.
For what it’s worth, I had a colleague that did a week-long class that highly regretted that decision. They said it was way too much info crammed into a short amount of time, and they have yet to attempt the test.
Take the test as soon as possible after your class. I cannot emphasize this enough. The biggest reason people fail the test (aside from generally not being prepared enough) is that they wait too long to take the test. My class instructor recommended taking the test within 4-6 weeks.
Study Schedule & Helpful Test Tools
I personally scheduled dedicated time each day during the week to study outside of class. I spent this time reviewing online materials, re-reading class materials, reviewing book test questions and taking new practice questions, and practicing chart memorization.
I literally blocked off time on my calendar each day from 4 pm – 5 pm so no one could send me meeting requests. This was extremely helpful for me personally to keep the information top of mind.
Here are a few other helpful tools and resources:
- PMP Exam Prep, Sixth Edition: Rita’s Course in a Book for Passing the PMP Exam
- Pocket Prep’s PMP Study App: A mobile app with 800 exam practice questions & various study modes and features for the PMP exam
- Oliver Lehmann’s Multiple Study Resources: His website features a handful of different resources for those studying for the PMP, from self-tests and practice questions to recommended LinkedIn groups to join
Instructor-Backed Tips for Passing the Exam
As I noted earlier, my PMP class instructor truly coached us on how to pass the exam. Here are some strategic tips to help you do the same:
Memorize the process chart. Yes, this will take some time. Yes, it’s worth it. You should be able to quickly write out the entire process chart provided in the PMBOK. How do you do this? Practice makes perfect.
Dedicate time every day to write out the chart a few times. I was overwhelmed by this at first but, sure enough, over time I got faster, the processes became faster, and I was eventually able to bust out the entire chart in under 5 minutes. You can do it, I promise.
Memorize each of the formulas. Yes, ugh, more memorization. But your brain will thank you during the test! Dedicate time each day to writing out each of the test’s 13 formulas. It will get easier over time and will totally save you on test day to have these readily available as a handy list.
Do a brain dump as soon as the test starts. The point of tip #1 and #2? You’ll be given scratch paper in the test room to use however you see fit during the test. Use this to your advantage and do a ‘brain dump’ before you start answering questions.
Write out the entire process chart, write out each formula, and write down any other important info you don’t want to forget. This way, you don’t have to worry about trying to remember this information in the middle of individual questions.
Take 2-3 full practice tests before you take the actual exam. When I took my PMP course with TIA, the format included a day to take a full practice test and review the results. After that, I took another full practice exam prior to signing up for the actual text.
Determining an actual ‘pass/fail’ cut off can be difficult because of the way the test is designed; harder questions are worth more points. In general, my instructor recommended trying to score at least 60%-70% on the first try and get to at least 80%-90% before taking the real exam.
Take the exam within four weeks of taking the class. I covered this idea earlier, but I cannot stress how important this is: DO NOT WAIT TO TAKE THE TEST. Ideally, you should schedule your exam within 4-6 weeks of taking your training course.
There you have it—my personal approach for preparing for and passing the PMP Exam.
Yes, it’s a lot of work. And yes, it takes up a lot of time. However, if you spend the time necessary to actually prepare for the exam, the actual test should be a breeze.
Just kidding, the test was actually very hard. But you’ve got this! 🙂
About The Author:
Meisha Bochicchio works full-time as a Content Marketing Manager at Wistia, a video marketing company. She also works part-time as a freelance marketer. She just recently relocated from Charleston, South Carolina to Boston and runs her own website at www.marketingmeisha.com.
Looking for PMP Study Resources?
If you’re studying to take the PMI PMP exam and are looking for meaningful study tools, consider downloading the PMI® PMP Exam Prep App from Pocket Prep. Complete with 800 practice questions and multiple different study modes and features, the app is free to download and explore. Over 160,000 people have already used the app to help them pass the PMP!