How To Prepare For PMP Exam - ITU Online

How To Prepare for PMP Exam

Prepare for PMP Exam

This article is derived from content presented in our extensive Project Management Professional (PMP Certification Prep) 6th edition PMBOK course taught by Pete Matassa, our experienced and expert instructor at ITU Online.

Pete is president of Technology, Inc., a Project Management Training and Consulting company that provides custom Project Management solutions. He has over 30 years of experience in professional/management positions. His professional credentials include an MBA; PMI ® PMP ®; PMI-ACP ®; Agile Hybrid Project Pro Micro-Credential, MCTS – MS Project 2007 & 2010; CompTIA Project+; CompTIA A+; CompTIA Net+; CompTIA i-Net+; CompTIA Server+. In addition to managing projects and IT and Accounting professionals, Pete has over 25 years of experience developing and instructing project management, MS Office, MS Project, and business soft skills courses. Pete’s instruction style emphasizes both learning the required body of knowledge and understanding how to use that knowledge in real-world situations. His style is to integrate his experiences into the training environment to take advantage of people’s  natural inclination to learn through stories.

1. The Importance of PMBOK in PMI Certification Exam

The PMBOK is an essential resource for PMI certification exams. While it’s not the only source used by PMI, it holds significant importance and serves as a compelling reason to become a PMI member. This article explores the role of the PMBOK, its focus on project management best practices, and the value it brings to project managers.

Understanding the PMBOK: A Key Resource for Project Managers

The PMBOK, which stands for Project Management Body of Knowledge, serves as a comprehensive guide for project management practices. It identifies recognized and best practices in the field, emphasizing the importance of tailoring project management tools to suit the specific needs of each project. While the PMBOK touches on portfolio and program management, its primary focus lies in project management.

Standardized Vocabulary and Common Understanding

One of the crucial benefits of the PMBOK is its provision of a standardized vocabulary for project managers. This common language ensures effective communication and alignment among the Project Management Institute and teams. By adhering to the terms and definitions outlined in the PMBOK, project managers can ensure that all stakeholders are on the same wavelength when discussing projects.

Beyond the PMBOK: Multiple Sources and Knowledge Areas

While the PMBOK is an essential resource, it’s important to note that it’s not the only source of project management education and that formal project management training and courses are used by PMI. The exam requires a broader understanding of project management concepts and techniques. Familiarity with various documents, their purposes, and when to use them is crucial for success. PMI emphasizes the importance of documentation, and candidates should be well-versed in different project management documents.

Assumptions and Roles in PMI Land

During the exam, it’s essential to approach the questions with the assumption that you are operating in a project management environment similar to “PMI land.” This assumption involves a project management infrastructure where best practices and rules are followed. Understanding the roles and responsibilities defined in the PMBOK is essential, as project managers in PMI land hold a significant level of authority and ultimate responsibility for delivering projects within the defined constraints of budget, schedule, and scope.

Adaptive and Incremental Life Cycles

While PMI has recently shifted towards adaptive and incremental life cycles, the exam still leans towards a predictive life cycle. Candidates should assume a predictive life cycle unless explicitly stated otherwise. Agile tools are incorporated in an agile hybrid lifecycle where it makes sense. It’s important to be aware of upcoming changes in future editions of the PMBOK, as project management practices continue to evolve.

Formulas and Brain Dump

Memorizing formulas is crucial to prepare for the exam itself, and a brain dump can be a useful tool. Candidates should familiarize themselves during practice exams with formulas such as cost performance index, schedule variance, estimate at completion, and earned value. Additionally, understanding the variables used in these formulas is essential for accurate calculations.

Managing the Exam: Time, Focus, and Mental Exhaustion

The PMI certification exam can be mentally exhausting, and candidates may encounter difficulties while processing questions. It’s important to manage time wisely, answering all questions as they come and marking those that require further consideration for later review. Trusting your instincts with multiple-choice questions is crucial, as changing answers often leads to incorrect choices. Maintaining focus and rhythm throughout the exam is essential to success.

Review for Success Strategies for PMP Certification Exam

The PMBOK serves as a cornerstone resource for PMI certification exams, providing project managers with recognized and best practices in the field. Understanding concepts beyond the PMBOK, such as documentation and multiple knowledge areas, is equally important. By memorizing key formulas and managing time effectively, candidates can navigate the certification exam successfully. Remember to stay focused, trust your instincts, and aim to complete the exam within the given timeframe.

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2. Understanding the PMP Exam and Qualifications

The PMP exam is an important step for project management professionals looking to enhance their credentials. In this article, we will delve into the actual of pmp certification exams, the pmp certification exam prep, certification exam prep the part itself itself, the qualifications required to take, the various other practice of pmp certification exams, the pmp certification exam preparation, pmp certification exam prep, and resources and resources for it, and the recent changes introduced by PMI. Understanding these aspects will help you to prepare for the next pmp certification exam more effectively and increase your chances of success.

Qualifications for the PMP Exam

To be eligible for the PMP exam, you need to meet three types of qualifications: educational background, hands-on project management experience, and formal project management education. The educational requirement varies depending on whether you have a high school diploma or a bachelor’s degree. For instance, with a high school diploma, PMI requires 7,500 hours of project management experience over a five-year period, while a bachelor’s degree reduces the requirement to 4,500 hours over three years.

Clarifying Hands-On Project Management Experience

Many candidates worry about meeting the hands-on project management experience requirement. It’s important to note that PMI does not solely focus on the title of “project manager.” Being part of the project management team and contributing to the initiation, planning, execution, and other project phases qualifies as hands-on project management work experience. This means you can count relevant experience even if you haven’t held the title of project manager.

Understanding Project Lifecycles

Project management lifecycles, project lifecycles, and product lifecycles are interconnected but have distinct focuses. The project management lifecycle involves processes such as initiation, planning, execution, monitoring, controlling, and closing. The project lifecycle includes the actual work and deliverables of the project. The product lifecycle encompasses the project’s proposal, execution, handoff, and ongoing operations. Understanding these lifecycles is essential for documenting your hands-on experience accurately.

Changes in the PMP Exam

In January 2021, PMI updated the PMP exam, shifting from five domains to three: people, process, and business environment. The new exam places increased emphasis on soft skills, agile methodologies, and tailoring approaches to suit different project environments. PMI aims to ensure that PMP holders bring value to organizations and possess the skills required to communicate effectively with stakeholders.

Preparing for the Exam and Application Process

When preparing your application, refer to the PMI PMP Examination Content Outline to align your experience with the outlined tasks and enablers. This helps ensure that your application reflects the desired criteria. It’s important to be honest and fair in documenting your hours, as PMI may conduct audits and require verification from individuals you’ve listed. While PMI membership is not mandatory, joining can provide access to valuable resources and reduce the exam fee.

Approaching the Exam with Confidence

The PMP exam is challenging but passable with proper preparation and confidence. Many candidates do not pass on their first attempt, but this should not deter you. Analyze your performance, identify areas for improvement, and retake the exam with a revised strategy. Passing the exam is a significant achievement, and with determination and diligent enough study sessions, you can succeed.

A Worthwhile Endeavor

The PMP exam is a rigorous assessment of your project management knowledge and skills. By meeting the qualifications, understanding the exam’s requirements, and preparing effectively, you can enhance your professional standing and open doors to new career opportunities. Remember to approach the exam with confidence and utilize available resources to increase your chances of success.

3. The Format of the PMP Exam: What You Need to Know

The Project Management Professional (PMP) exam is a crucial step for professionals seeking to advance their careers in project management. Understanding the format practice questions self to study, plan for, and requirements of the exam is essential for success. In this article, we will discuss the structure of the same format practice exams and questions of the PMP exam, the types of the various practice questions, exams and practice questions that you can expect, and important guidelines to study plan follow during the examination process.

The Format of the PMP Exam:

The PMP exam primarily consists of multiple-choice questions, with a total of 180 questions to be answered correctly. However, out of these 180 questions, five are pretest questions that do not count towards your final score. The purpose of pretest questions is to evaluate the knowledge based questions on their difficulty and suitability for inclusion in future mock exams afterwards. The Project Management Institute (PMI), which administers the PMP exam, continuously updates and modifies the formula based questions in the question bank to ensure relevance and fairness in mock exams.

The Importance of Understanding the Material:

It is important to note that no one can teach you the exact content of the PMP exam, as PMI closely has mock tests, guards its question bank and regularly updates the actual exam and questions. Therefore, any claim by a training company, study group or individual that they can teach you the test is false. PMI does not expect candidates to memorize information from mock tests, but rather seeks individuals who can understand and apply project management principles to real-world scenarios.

Types of Questions:

The majority of the questions in the PMP exam are multiple-choice, with one correct answer. Some questions may require you to select multiple correct answers, while others may involve matching, hotspot, or limited fill-in-the-blank formats. While we will delve deeper into these question types shortly, it is crucial to recognize that multiple-choice questions dominate the exam, and understanding how to analyze and select the best response is vital.

Time Allocation and Breaks:

You are given 230 minutes (approximately three to four hours) to study, plan and complete the exam. Additionally, two 10-minute breaks are available during the test. The breaks are optional, and you can choose to take them or your study session, test timer or study plan continue without interruption. It is important to consider your own study session or study plan, schedule self and study group sessions beforehand, personal preferences and energy levels during practice tests and exams when deciding whether to take the breaks. Remember, the breaks do not count against your exam time.

Scheduling the Exam:

Once you are ready to take the exam, you can schedule your exam at a convenient date and time through the PMI website. Upon completion of the exam, you will receive immediate feedback on whether you have passed or not. You will also be assigned a unique PMP number, and a confirmation email from PMI will follow within a week.

Applying for the Exam:

To apply for the PMP exam, you need to visit the PMI website ( and register for free. Although PMI membership is advantageous, it is not mandatory for application submission. Registering on the website is necessary to access the online application. You will find helpful resources on the website, such as the PMP handbook and exam content outline outlines, to aid your understanding of the certification process. You have 90 days to complete the application, and once certified to take the exam, you have one year to schedule and sit for the test.

Preparing for the Exam:

The PMP exam requires thorough preparation to increase your chances of success. Here are some essential pmp exam prep day tips how to prepare for pmp exam day:

  1. Schedule the exam at a time that aligns with your peak performance hours. Consider your energy levels and personal preferences to determine the ideal time for you.
  2. Ensure you get a good night’s sleep before the exam to be mentally alert.
  3. Follow a balanced diet in the days leading up to the test. Research optimal nutrition to enhance cognitive function and reduce fatigue.
  4. Identify key concepts that require memorization, such as formulas, and perform a brain dump at the beginning of the exam to have them readily available.
  5. Practice with sample questions to build stamina, familiarize yourself with situational questions, and understand what constitutes the best answer.
  6. Read and familiarize yourself with the examination procedures outlined by Pearson VUE, especially if taking the test remotely. Stay updated with any rule changes.
  7. Dress comfortably in layers for on-site exams, adhering to the rules and guidelines provided by the testing center.
  8. Complete a systems test before starting the exam if taking it remotely. Choose a quiet location and have all necessary identification ready.
  9. Follow the rules and guidelines provided by Pearson VUE, including restrictions on food, drinks, and personal belongings.

Wrapping up Format of the PMP Exam: What You Need to Know

Understanding the format and requirements of the PMP exam is crucial for effective exam preparation and success. By familiarizing yourself with the exam structure, types of questions, and guidelines, you can approach the exam with confidence and maximize your chances of a passing score. Remember to allocate sufficient time for preparation, practice with sample practice exams, tests and questions beforehand, and adhere to the rules and procedures outlined by PMI and Pearson VUE. Good luck on your PMP exam journey!

4. Tips for Taking the PMP Exam: Formulas, Concepts, and Time Management

Preparing for the Project Management Professional (PMP) exam requires a solid understanding of the PMBOK (Project Management Body of Knowledge), knowledge of important formulas, familiarity with project management concepts, and effective time management skills. In this article, we will explore key considerations for the practice exam and provide valuable tips to help you succeed on the practice exam.

Understanding the PMBOK:

The PMBOK is an essential document for project management professionals. It outlines recognized and best practices, provides a common vocabulary, and has study material that focuses on project management knowledge. While it is crucial to read and familiarize yourself with the PMBOK, it is not the sole resource for the whole exam preparation. PMI uses multiple sources to make exam material and develop the test questions, so memorizing the PMBOK alone will not guarantee success.

Exam Considerations:

  1. Formulas: Know the formulas for each knowledge area, such as cost performance index, schedule variance, estimate at completion, and more. While calculations are not the primary focus of the exam, understanding and interpreting the formulas are essential.
  2. Terminology: PMI uses specific project management vocabulary. Familiarize yourself with the terms and definitions to ensure a clear understanding of the concepts addressed in the exam.
  3. Document-centric Approach: PMI emphasizes the use of various project management documents. Be familiar with these documents, their purpose, and when they are used.
  4. Palm Island Assumptions: During the exam, assume you are in an ideal project management environment (Palm Island) where best practices are followed, historical information is available, meetings are conducted properly, risk assessment is done, and formal change control processes are in place.

Brain Dump:

Create a brain dump list of important formulas and concepts at the beginning of the next exam day. This list should include formulas related to earned value, present value, critical path analysis, risk assessment, and more. While you may not need to perform calculations, recognizing the formulas and understanding their implications is crucial.

Dealing with the Wall:

During a long exam, you may hit a point where it becomes challenging to process questions effectively. This is commonly referred to as “hitting the wall.” Recognize your personal signs of hitting the wall and take impromptu breaks, such as deep breaths or quick relaxation exercises. Utilize the scheduled 10-minute breaks wisely to recharge and refocus.

Time Management:

Answer questions as they appear, marking those you’re unsure about for later review. Trust your instincts when answering multiple-choice questions and avoid changing answers unless you’re certain. Maintain a steady rhythm, and if inspiration strikes for a marked question, address it immediately before continuing. Avoid reviewing answered questions unless you have spare time at the end.

Wrapping up Tips for Taking the PMP Exam: Formulas, Concepts, and Time Management

The PMP exam preparation also demands a solid understanding of the PMBOK, knowledge of formulas, familiarity with project management concepts, and effective time management skills. While the PMBOK exam prep resources are essential, it is important to supplement your own pmp exam prep resources and study materials with other relevant sources. By following these tips and strategies, you can approach and prepare for the pmp exams, practice pmp exams and pmp exam prep resources, next prepare for the pmp exams and practice pmp exams and pmp exam prep resources, with confidence and increase your chances of success. Good luck on your PMP exam preparation journey!

5.Question Formats

Let’s discuss the types of questions you’ll encounter. Primarily, these will be situational questions.

Situational questions often include irrelevant information, or ‘noise’, designed to test your understanding of the core issue. You might receive several sentences unrelated to the question. You’re expected to distinguish between noise and relevant information.

Common terminology is another aspect to consider. The PMBOK Guide provides a lexicon for project managers. PMI uses its terminology in their questions, so understanding this lexicon is essential.

Another challenge with situational questions is too much information, which is different from noise. Noise is entirely irrelevant, while too much information might seem relevant but is actually unnecessary. For example, you might receive the value of a variable and, a few sentences later, an explanation of how to calculate that variable. If you’ve already been given the variable, you don’t need to calculate it. So, don’t get distracted by excess information.

There will also be select questions, which I call ‘flash card’ questions. These are quite straightforward. For example, “What is the duration of a milestone?” The answer is: it has no duration. However, PMI generally doesn’t focus on flash card questions; most sample questions are situational.

You might also encounter ‘select, not accept’ questions. These require you to identify the odd one out. These questions often trip me up, and if I see that most of the answers look either correct or incorrect, that’s a hint to reread the question.

Another variant involves choosing either all the options or none of them, or a combination of answers. Sequential questions want to know the order of processes. For instance, in resource management, the process before controlling resources is managing the team.

The majority of your questions will be situational. Let’s consider an example: June Pulele of the PMO has been tasked with a presentation on risk. She starts by defining risk in a project management context. The bulk of this question is irrelevant – the real question is how risk is defined in project management, and the answer is that it can be either a negative or a positive scenario based on an event.

You’ll also encounter calculation questions, such as determining the Schedule Performance Index (SPI). In a test situation, you’ll likely receive a situational question about determining schedule efficiency and need to know that the SPI is the key to this. You’ll also need to know how to calculate and interpret it.

You may also face questions asking you to choose all correct responses. For these and situational questions, I suggest reading the question twice and focusing on the last two sentences during the first and last elements of the second reading, as that’s usually where the real question lies. However, be aware that the critical part of the question isn’t always at the end.

For all these question types, first determine which project management concept is under consideration (cost, schedule, risk, etc.). Then consider the best practices for that concept and eliminate the two least suitable answers. The best answer will usually align with best practices.

In the updated PMI exam, new question types have been introduced. While most will still be multiple choice situational questions, PMI has added new formats such as drag and drop, hotspot, and text box answers. These won’t make up the majority of the test, but it’s important to study and be prepared for them.

The exam will cover two primary areas: the project management framework and the project management knowledge areas. The framework involves the process and business environment domains, while the knowledge areas cover the rest of all the knowledge areas, process domain and the people domain.

The project management framework includes processes, disciplines, the triple constraint, and organizational structures. The knowledge areas comprise ten project management areas, namely: project management integration, scope, schedule, cost, quality, resource, communications, risk, procurement, and stakeholder management.

6. What Comes After Passing the PMP Exam: Code of Conduct and Continuing Education

Congratulations on passing the PMP exam and becoming a certified Project Management Professional (PMP). However, the journey doesn’t end there. After achieving this milestone, there are important considerations and responsibilities that come with being a PMP. In this article, we will explore the PMP Code of Professional Conduct, the requirements for continuing education, and tips for maintaining your certification.

Adhering to the PMP Code of Professional Conduct:

As a PMP, you are expected to follow the PMP Code of Professional Conduct, which emphasizes responsibility, respect, fairness, and honesty. These principles guide your professional behavior and reflect the ethical standards of the project management profession. It is essential to uphold these values and abide by the code to maintain your PMP certification.

Continuing Education Requirements:

To maintain your PMP certification, you must fulfill continuing education requirements. Every three years, you are required to earn 60 Professional Development Units (PDUs). Each PDU is equivalent to one hour of formal training courses or an approved activity. This ongoing education ensures that you stay updated with evolving project management practices and enhance your professional skills.

The PDU Triangle:

The PDU requirements are divided into three categories: technical project management, leadership, and strategic and business management. Out of the 60 PDUs, at least eight hours must be dedicated to each category. This approach resembles a college-like core curriculum, allowing you to develop a well-rounded skill set.

Technical Project Management:

Technical and project management training focuses on the knowledge, skills, and behaviors related to the project management institute and work. It includes areas such as project planning, execution, and control. Ensure you allocate a sufficient number of hours to enhance your technical and project management education and training competencies.


Leadership PDUs focus on developing effective leadership skills and managing project teams. These hours help you cultivate your ability to motivate and guide your team members towards project success. Investing in leadership development is crucial for advancing your career as a project manager.

Strategic and Business Management:

Strategic and business management PDUs focus on understanding your industry and organizational context. These hours help you gain insights into the business environment, enabling you to align project objectives with strategic goals. It emphasizes the importance of being business-savvy as a project manager.

Meeting the Requirements:

To earn PDUs, you have various options. One highly recommended source is, a platform owned by PMI. It offers webinars and archived content, including premium content available for PMI members. By logging in with your PMI credentials, you can access free webinars and automatically report your participation to PMI.

Pacing Yourself:

It is crucial to pace yourself and accumulate PDUs consistently over the three-year cycle. Aim to earn around 20 PDUs per year, which ensures you stay current and avoid a last-minute rush to fulfill the requirements. By staying proactive and investing time regularly, you will find it easier to meet the education criteria.

Wrapping up:

Becoming a PMP is a significant achievement, but it also comes with responsibilities. Adhering to the PMP Code of Professional Conduct and fulfilling continuing education requirements are essential for maintaining your certification. By embracing ongoing learning, staying up to date with industry trends, and investing in your professional development, you can continue to grow as a project management professional and excel in your project management career.

PMP Exam Preparation Guide : Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best way to start preparing for the PMP exam?

The best way to start preparing for the PMP exam is by understanding the eligibility criteria and ensuring you meet them. Then, familiarize yourself with the content outline of the Project Management Professional (PMP) exam and obtain the PMBOK (Project Management Body of Knowledge) Guide. Creating a study plan that includes dedicated study hours, practice exams, and engaging with study groups or forums can significantly enhance your preparation

How long should I study for the PMP exam?

The study duration for the PMP exam varies depending on your background in project management and your familiarity with the PMBOK Guide. However, a general recommendation is to allocate at least 150-200 hours of study time over a period of 3-6 months. This allows you to thoroughly understand the material, take practice exams, and review areas that need improvement.

Are there any recommended resources for PMP exam preparation?

Yes, there are several resources recommended for PMP exam preparation. The PMBOK Guide is the primary resource, and it’s essential to study it thoroughly. Additionally, consider enrolling in a PMP prep course, which can provide structured learning and insights from experienced instructors. Online forums, study groups, and practice exams are also valuable resources to test your knowledge and readiness for the exam.

Can I take the PMP exam without professional project management experience?

No, professional project management experience is a requirement for the PMP exam. The PMI (Project Management Institute) requires candidates to have a specific number of hours leading and directing projects. The required experience depends on your educational background. For those with a bachelor’s degree, 4,500 hours are needed, while those with a high school diploma or an associate’s degree need 7,500 hours.

What are some tips for passing the PMP exam on the first try?

To pass the PMP exam on the first try, it’s crucial to understand the PMBOK Guide concepts thoroughly and apply them to real-world scenarios. Practice exams are an essential part of preparation, as they help you get used to the format of the questions and identify areas where you need more study. Time management during the exam is also critical, so practice completing exams within the allotted time. Lastly, joining study groups or forums can provide additional insights and tips from those who have successfully passed the exam.

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