Preparing for the Project Management Professional (PMP) exam requires a strategic approach and the right study materials. One of the most essential resources for PMP exam preparation is a study guide. A well-designed study guide can help you understand the exam content, focus your studies, and increase your chances of passing the exam on your first try. In this article, we will discuss the importance of choosing and using a PMP study guide and provide tips on how to select the best one for your needs.
What is a PMP study guide?
Are you currently prepping for your PMP exam? Or, maybe you’re still trying to choose a training program that will help you obtain the required 35 project management education hours? Maybe you’re still deciding when to start preparing for your project manager certification. No matter what the case is, a PMP study guide is a great tool for you to use in your preparation strategy. Let’s start by learning more about the PMP.
PMP Certification Details:
4-year bachelor degree
36 months leading projects
35 hours of project management education (or a CAPM certification)
A high school diploma or associate’s degree
60 months leading projects
35 hours of project management education (or a CAPM certification)
4 hour time limit
$405 for PMI members
$555 for non-members
$139 PMI membership fee (includes PDF of the latest PMBOK)
Once you meet the PMP exam eligibility requirements, you can begin applying for the PMP application on the PMI website.
PMP Application Process
The Current PMP Application Process is as follows:
- Submit your application online
- Wait for approval from the PMI
- Once you receive your approval, you’ll be required to pay the PMI charges online. You can choose to get a PMI annual membership. If you take advantage of the annual membership, you can also take advantage of a discounted fee of $405 for the exam.
- At this time you will either receive notice that you are eligible. If you have an eligibility ID and you can arrange your exam within one year. As of May 2020, you can now take the PMP exam online!
Or, you may get a response telling you that the PMI has chosen your application for an audit. This is simply a typical step that is part of PMI’s quality assurance. Follow the auditing instructions and it should be a quick process.
PMP Certification Exam
If you decide to opt for taking the exam in person, you have to take the PMP Certification examination at a Pearson VUE facility. You are able to choose which facility; most choose a center which is closest to their location. Taking the exam online is how we’d recommend you take the PMP Exam. You’re more likely to perform well in the comfort of your own home.
Next, you may be wondering about the exam itself. How long does the PMP exam take? How many questions are on the PMP exam?
Let’s answer these questions now:
You will need to answer 180 questions, within a timeframe of 230 minutes. Many of the questions on the exam will test your understanding of general project management concepts.
For example, after receiving specific scenarios, you may need to spell out answers to questions such as:
- Which procedure would you be utilizing when you are told to define the scope of a project?
- As a project manager just assigned to a new project, what is your next course of action?
- Would you plan to ‘Develop WBS’ or ‘Collect Requirements’ at the initiation stage of the process?
Be prepared to address details of these sorts of questions! It is important to understand the project management processes. While the PMBOK Guide is the core reference, it is important to keep your chosen Study Guide on hand as well.
Some questions might test your understanding of the terms and interpretations used in PMBOK. Once again, your study guide can help you in understanding the definitions, terms and the way that they are being used in the specific example outlined in the question. Therefore, your study guide can assist you in recognizing these interpretations, terms and their use in projects with examples.
Application of concepts for managing project:
It is important that you have a good understanding of the PMBOK framework and also understand how those concepts apply to managing projects. These questions are based on application, not theory alone. For example, you may be given a situation and asked:
As a project supervisor, what would you do in a particular circumstance?
Data analysis questions:
Along with these, the exam will also have questions that will require you to interpret data. Based on the information presented, you will need to determine whether data is on budget, and that the project is falling into place on schedule. Occasionally, graphs may also be offered. You may need to analyze the performance of a project based on these graphs.
PMP Study Guide: What is the PMP Study Guide and how does it help?
It is key that you complete the 35 education hours in project management and one of the best ways to do this is through a PMP certification training course. Often, project management training providers will include a PMP study guide along with the training. But if not, it’s not overly complicated to create your own plan.
What is a Knowledge Area and what does it cover?
1. Scope Management: You’ll need to understand the full breadth of work that needs to be done in order to fully understand how the project will be completed.. You’ll also need a method to determine that all work is completed accurately. As a Project Manager, it is your job to ensure that no additional unauthorized work is added to the scope of the project as well (also called “gold plating”)l. The Scope Management Knowledge Area is where you will learn how to manage the scope of a project, step-by-step.
2. Cost Management: Next, it is important that you create a method for making sure that the project is completed in a timely fashion, as well as on-budget. How will you define a plan for spending? What plans do you implement to make sure that the project is moving along at the correct pace? These are the items covered in the Cost Management area of the PMP Study Guide.
3. Schedule Management: Understanding how to build a schedule and deal with change or delays is the topic covered under schedule management.
4. Quality Management: This is the point where you learn how to prepare and check for high-quality. Quality standards create self-confidence for clients and management alike.
5. Resource Management: Figuring out how to manage and direct the people involved in the project is key to the success of the project.
6. Communications Management: This area covers communications with the team and other stakeholders of a project. What communication methods will be used, to whom the communication is addressed and what triggers the communication.
7. Risk Management: Just how do you determine the risks involved in a project? What will you do to mitigate those risks? It is important that you look ahead and create a contingency plan for any and all risks associated with the project.
8. Procurement Management: This is the point where you understand any and all support you need from vendors outside your organization. How will you manage these resources? How will you monitor and measure their performance. All of these concepts are covered when reviewing this topic.
9. Stakeholder Management: Do you fully understand the concerns and objectives of the stakeholders? How will you keep them apprised of any progress over the course of the project?
10. Integration Management: A full big-picture view of the project is obtained in this project area.
Each area has its own processes, procedures and nuances, and yet all of the different areas work together in harmony to create a fully successful project. You can see the flow of communication between the processes in the Data Flow Diagram (DFD).
PMP study guide
A PMP Study guide can help you to understand the project management procedures. Which is a better way to organize your study guide? By process groups? Or should you organize by knowledge areas? How long should you spend on each topic? Truthfully, any organization method is fine, as long as you continue to maintain the flow in that same organizational pattern that works best for you.
In addition to an overall study schedule for the topics you need to cover, other components of a good PMP study guide may include mind maps or example problems to help you fully visualize the processes and knowledge areas. A PMP study guide helps you to grasp these concepts by laying them out in a visual and organized way.
You can pick between an electronic PMP study guide or printed. In addition, if you are selecting PMP online certification you may also receive PMP training videos that will help you to prepare in a visual way.
A PMP Study Guide should also dedicate time for practice questions that evaluate how well you understand the overall PMBOK structure. There are some great PMP Exam Simulators either as a standalone or included with any good PMP Exam Prep course. These will let you get a feel for what it will be like answering the real exam questions and whether you’re ready for the real exam or not.
What are the various PMP study guides readily available?
There are a great many PMP study guides available to help prepare for the PMP exam. They all are provided in different styles and formats. The one that will help you the most comes down to personal preference and your ideal learning style.
Layouts in which PMP study guide is offered
As we discussed, PMP study guides are available in various formats including hard copy, digital versions. There are also PMP Study Guides available in digital book format, podcast or audio books. However, the best Study Guide is one that you create for yourself in tandem with a quality PMP Exam Prep course or after a cursory review of the material you need to cover in the PMBOK Guide and other resources covered by the PMP Exam.
Additional Considerations for a PMP Study Guide
- Keep in mind, your study guide is a quick reference guide to fall back on when you think you’ve reviewed all the material. Check off each area of the guide when you are confident you’ve learned the material.
- Does your chosen PMP Study Guide include tips and tricks on how to best watch out for pitfalls?
Different PMP Study Guides
Which training provider did you choose? Each training provider offers their own PMP Study guide. If you have already chosen your provider, be sure to review their Study Guide for the above items to help you adequately study for the PMP exam.
Downloadable PMP Study Guide
Does the training provider you chose provide a downloadable PMP Study Guide? These are helpful as you are able to keep them both electronically, as well as print them for easy access.
Flash Cards as PMP Study Guide
Flashcards are a wonderful means for you to practice concepts, meanings, and terms that will be on the exam. Using a Spaced Repetition System (SRS) is an evidence-based approach similar to flashcards. Look for training providers that include that with their material. Brain Sensei is an example of a provider who includes SRS in their approach.
Cheatsheets as a PMP Study Guide
While you are not able to use a cheatsheet on the test itself, organizing your notes into a simple cheatsheet can be an effective study tool. Try creating a cheatsheet to study before the exam and you may just remember the key points easier and in the same format you wrote, read and memorized the information on the sheet.
How to Best Use a PMP Study Guide?
A PMP Study Guide is only helpful in one situation – if you use it!
Start by planning out where you want to take the exam and find out what dates are available. Once you have a date in mind, you can work backward and create a study plan that gets you through all of the material between now and that date. Build in some additional time to circle back to the most complicated or difficult areas, and remember to take notes, set up cheatsheets, flashcards/ SRS, or whatever else helps you to study and retain the information. Everyone is different and your chosen (or created) Study Guide should reflect what works best for you.
Why Use a PMP Study Guide?
A PMP study guide is a comprehensive resource that covers all the topics and knowledge areas tested in the PMP exam. It provides a structured approach to learning the material and helps you organize your study time effectively. Here are some reasons why using a study guide is crucial for PMP exam success:
- 1. Content Coverage: A good study guide ensures that you cover all the key concepts and topics tested in the exam.
- 2. Structured Learning: It provides a step-by-step plan to guide your exam preparation and ensures you don’t miss any important areas.
- 3. Exam Focus: A study guide helps you understand the exam format, question types, and the level of depth required for each topic.
- 4. Practice Questions: Many study guides include practice questions and sample exams to help you assess your knowledge and familiarize yourself with the exam format.
- 5. Time Management: A study guide helps you allocate your study time wisely and prioritize your efforts on the most critical topics.
Choosing the Right PMP Study Guide
With numerous study guides available in the market, it’s essential to select the one that aligns with your learning style and preferences. Here are some factors to consider when choosing a PMP study guide:
- 1. Author’s Credentials: Look for study guides written by experienced project management professionals or PMP-certified individuals.
- 2. Content Relevance: Ensure that the study guide covers the latest edition of the PMBOK (Project Management Body of Knowledge) and reflects the current exam content.
- 3. Study Methods: Consider your preferred learning style—whether you prefer visual aids, practical examples, or concise summaries—and choose a study guide that aligns with your needs.
- 4. User Reviews: Read reviews and testimonials from other PMP aspirants to gain insights into the quality and effectiveness of the study guide.
- 5. Additional Resources: Some study guides offer supplementary materials like flashcards, online resources, or access to an exam simulator, which can enhance your learning experience.
Using Your PMP Study Guide Effectively
Once you have chosen a study guide, it’s crucial to make the most of it during your exam preparation. Here are some tips to help you use your PMP study guide effectively:
- 1. Develop a Study Plan: Create a study schedule that allocates time for each topic and ensures comprehensive coverage of the exam content.
- 2. Follow the Study Guide’s Structure: Use the study guide’s recommended sequence of topics and chapters to ensure a logical progression of learning.
- 3. Take Notes: While studying, jot down important concepts, formulas, and mnemonics that you can refer to during your revision.
- 4. Practice Regularly: Solve the practice questions and sample exams provided in the study guide to assess your knowledge and identify areas for improvement.
- 5. Review and Revise: Regularly review the topics you have covered to reinforce your understanding and identify any gaps in your knowledge.
- 6. Seek Clarification: If you come across any difficult or unclear concepts, refer to external resources or consult a PMP instructor or study group.
Sign-up for a 7-day free trial! Try the first two modules of Brain Sensei’s story-based PMP and CAPM Exam Prep courses and a mini practice exam and see how it all works
Sign-up for a 7-day free trial!
Try the first two modules of Brain Sensei’s story-based PMP and CAPM Exam Prep courses and a mini practice exam and see how it all works
A well-chosen and effectively used PMP study guide can significantly increase your chances of passing the PMP exam on your first attempt. By selecting a study guide that aligns with your learning style, covering all the exam topics, and following a structured study plan, you can confidently prepare for the PMP exam and enhance your project management knowledge. Remember, success in the PMP exam requires not only hard work but also a strategic approach and the right resources.
Remember to use your PMP study guide as a supplement to other study materials, such as the PMBOK guide and practice exams. Regular practice, review, and revision are key to reinforcing your understanding and improving your performance. With dedication, perseverance, and the right study guide, you can increase your chances of passing the PMP exam and taking a significant step forward in your project management career.
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