26 Dec How to Prepare for PMP Certification:The Complete Guide

Prepare for PMP Certification Exam:The Complete Guide

PMP certification is one of the most prestigious certification in the world of project management. I see many professionals want to earn this valuable certification however majority of them are unable to earn it because of various reasons. As the project management is my interest therefore I keep interacting with the candidates going to appear or passed/failed the PMP exam and keep asking about their preparation style etc. While doing all these interaction I acquire knowledge how successful candidates generally prepare for the PMP exam. The blog “How to Prepare for PMP Certification: The Complete Guide” is written with best of my own knowledge and the same I suggest to candidates who are preparing for the PMP exam.

Find out why you want to do PMP certification:

The clear answer to this question is important because reason will give boost in your PMP preparation. For most of the preparing candidates the purpose of the PMP certification is career growth. I suggest candidates to write in clear and bold sentence how PMP certification can help your career growth and put it in front of where they spend most of their time.

Consider PMP Certification a critical Project:

You have to consider PMP certification as a critical project. As each project has a definite start and end date you also have to decide start and end date for your PMP certification project.

Do R&D

Now here use your favorite internet search engine and search for the information related to PMP certification. I generally suggest candidates to go through the PMP official handbook first. Join various Google, Yahoo and other PMP certification related social groups to gather the information. In the social group participate, ask, read lesson learned from various passed/failed candidates. Read what most of the candidates suggesting to read and how to proceed for your preparation etc.

Get the stuff

Now collect the material for the preparation. Like the reference book, any preparation software, exam engine etc. BUT be careful at this stage. We are in the information age where we can get lots of stuff for PMP. Do not refer multiple reference books or software for your PMP preparation but stick to few. I still remember one of my relative took two years to pass the PMP exam and from the two years he took 18 months to decide what book to refer.

Note: Please respect copyright. Do not simply ask for the PMP related stuff in social group or do not just download it free. If you are doing this then you are violating PMI code of ethics and professional conduct.

Give a kick-start to your study

Now you have clearly defined why PMP certification is important for you. You also know the probable month to take the PMP certification exam. Start your study now with the reference book. Yes this is what I suggest because I still remember when I started my study directly from the PMBOK3 then I had to struggle to keep my pace as I found it bit dry so my other study partners.

Obtain 35 PMI contact hours

When you have gone through the reference book once you can now join PMP training to obtain 35 contact hours which is mandatory requirement to take the PMP certification exam.  Typically candidates join 4 days classroom/Live online training to get this certificate however there are another way of training to get this. Do not just attend training to get the 35 contact hours certificate but try to obtain knowledge as much as possible. To do that you need to participate actively in the classes/sessions and that’s the reason I have suggested reading the reference book at least once before attending the training.

Schedule PMP Certification Exam

As you have all the required stuff now therefore don’t delay and go ahead and complete all the required formalities to schedule your PMP exam. Why scheduling the exam is important at this early stage? I have seen most of the candidates start taking PMP certification exam very seriously after making the payment and when they know their exam date. As they became serious therefore they have put their real effort in the PMP certification exam preparation too. And this will always help in your preparation when you know you have exam on a particular day. I remember my college days when we used to hang around for months but when the exam date was announced then finding us was difficult as we all were busy in our exam preparation for our exam. And probably this is how most of us behave.3d Man Riding To Success by cooldesign

How to study and prepare for your PMP Exam?

  • After training you have to go through the PMBOK at least three times. Because by reading the books three times you will be able to retain many of the concepts in your mind for longer time.
  • Read the reference book according to your need.
  • Try not to memorize the concept but try to understand them.
  • Understand how the processes interact with each other. Keep referring page 61 of PMBOK5.
  • It’s always good to prepare your own handwritten/digital notes.
  • As the PMP exam is based on PMBOK5 and you can expect the question based on the definition of a term. Therefore keep browsing the glossary to know the definition of the terms. You will find the glossary in page 526 of PMBOK5. This is important and you have to do it from the beginning of your study.
  • Try to form a small group to prepare for PMP certification exam and meet once or twice in a week.
  • Discuss the concept you recently gone through and this way you will be able to understand more and will be able to retain for longer time. Even you can try to explain what the topic you recently gone through to anyone at your home. The more you’ll explain the better you understand.
  • After every chapter answer questions at the end of that chapter in the reference book.  You can browse the chapter related questions on internet and answers them too.
  • When you think you have got most the concept given in the PMBOK then it is time to practice sample questions.
  • Once you are done through your study make sure you have 2 weeks (4 hours/day) to practice sample questions.
  • In real exam you will have to answer 200 questions in 240 minutes therefore speed matters a lot. And to gain better speed you need practice, practice and practice.
  • On internet you will find lots of free online available questions and given answer may not be 100% correct. But yes you can practice them and find your own answer.
  • Avoid attempting each and every sample question you find on the Internet. This way you will be wasting your time.
  • You can buy PMP question bank to practice which I strongly recommended. There are multiple options available for this and you have to find which suits best to you.
  • Two day before your exam – If you have your own notes then go through it.

One day before your exam

  • If you have never visited the locality of your testing center earlier then visit it once.
  • Keep yourself relaxed.
  • I generally suggest playing games.
  • Avoid indulging in any of the activity which tenses you.
  • If you want you can browse your own prepared notes.
  • Sleep early or make sure you have required hours of sleep. This is important.

On the day of the exam

  • Keep an extra cloth so that you can wear it if you find it’s cold inside the exam room.
  • Make sure to start early to reach on or before time. Many of candidates feel tensed or nervous when they reach late.
  • If you want you can carry energy drink to the examination center.

At the real Exam Center

  • If the testing center provides you locker then lock your belonging there including your energy drink
  • Complete the required small formality and enter in the examination room.
  • You will get 15 minutes before your exam starts so that you can understand how examination software works which you can complete in 3 to 5 minutes.
  • In the remaining 10-12 minutes you can write the Project Management Process Group and Knowledge Area Mapping from the page 61 of PMBOK5 and then all the formulas and anything you may feel is required.
  • Why I am asking to write all these stuff in 10-12 minutes is because it will help you answering questions and saves your time answering the question.
  • Start answering question. If you don’t know the answer or not sure about any given choice then don’t think too much, mark it for review and proceed further.
  • Generally 1st time what you pick in your exam is probably more accurate. Therefore when you are not sure about the correct option then pick the one which stuck first in your mind and then mark it for review and proceed further.
  • It is very important to keep your cool in the exam.
  • At any point of time you feel tensed or nervous then take a break. Yes break is allowed but the timer of the exam doesn’t stop on your break. At break you can sip your energy drink etc.
  • Once you are done with question then you have to complete the question kept under review.
  • The exam doesn’t give you any negative marking on wrong selection of answer. But if you leave any question unanswered then that will be marked as wrong answer. Therefore I suggest not leaving any question unanswered.
  • When you are done with the entire question then you can submit.
  • Once you will submit it will take short survey and then it will display your result.
  • For candidates who passed the exam, their names will be displayed in the PMI Certification Registry within 24 hours.


I hope this blog will help you in your PMP certification preparation.


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  • Amit
    Posted at 03:46h, 19 January

    Thanks for sharing this post.

    I think this post is one of the best explained tips for PMP preparation spanning known, unknown, experienced as well as tested tips.

    Appreciate your PMP expertise and efforts to publish it.

  • Rishi
    Posted at 08:28h, 19 January

    I found it really good and shared the blog among my friends. Good post.

  • M Ali
    Posted at 08:29h, 19 January

    Thanks Amit.

  • M Ali
    Posted at 08:30h, 19 January

    Thank you Rishi

  • Tayyab Gulam
    Posted at 11:17h, 16 April

    Very useful blog! I enjoyed reading it! Wonderful work! detailed and informative! best start off for an individual who needs PMP certification! .. Hats Off!

  • Pradeep
    Posted at 14:28h, 16 April

    Great information and skillful write up .. keep up the good work Mr Ali !

  • Ajay
    Posted at 08:32h, 18 April

    Explained in depth…great job

  • Jasminder Singh Sethi
    Posted at 10:48h, 04 May

    worth it, good suggestions and very practical

  • Ramesh Seshadhri
    Posted at 12:15h, 25 May

    This article sounds like a better plan to prepare for PMP

  • hareesha
    Posted at 10:44h, 07 June

    Excellent details. Infact I was looking for this info. You explained the details from 1st day to last day pmp life.

  • Shivendra Kumar
    Posted at 08:56h, 20 June

    Very informative. I saved this weblink in my favorite as I am thinking to start my PMP prep. Thanks

  • Vineet
    Posted at 19:37h, 08 July

    Basic Information but very well organized and presented. ! Great! Thanks!

  • Mansi
    Posted at 23:37h, 10 July

    Thanks , This is really helpful

  • Manish Taneja
    Posted at 21:51h, 13 September

    I am keen to do a PMP certification, can you please help guide me how Trainings24x7 can help me to attain this certification.

  • M Ali
    Posted at 13:08h, 17 September

    Hi Manish,
    Thanks for approaching us. It might be difficult to write how would Trainings24x7 will help you but let me try to write down.

    You can join 4 days PMP classroom OR Live online classes which will provide you quality training by experienced trainer.
    We assure you will enjoy the training.
    After the training you will get 45 days support whenever you need (on pre-scheduled basis)
    • 40 PMI PDUs(valid for eligibility requirement of the PMI PMP Exam)
    • Mobile App (Android/IOS)
    • 4+ Hours of High Quality Videos
    • 4 full length simulated PMP tests (4 hours, 200 questions each)
    • More than 1,000 Chapter test questions for all knowledge areas
    • High quality and comprehensive study guides
    • Flashcards, Terms and Concepts and much More

    I think these will help you alot in your PMP preparation.

  • Subhash
    Posted at 09:37h, 08 December

    This is really good and very helpful for me. Which book you will suggest as reference book. Thanks in advance

  • Shiwana
    Posted at 13:14h, 09 December

    Subhash, as a reference book I generally suggest PMP exam prep by Rita Mulcahy.

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