The Four Best PMP® Exam Studying Tips

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This blog post is written by Joe Czarnecki, Strategy Execution VP of Product Development and Sales Support.

You cannot take and pass the PMP® Exam without preparation. Taking the exam is a time commitment and making sure you schedule enough time to study is paramount.

As mentioned in The Four Steps to Become PMP® Certified, you will need to complete your application first, schedule the exam, then start to study for it. In this article, we will dive into the best exam studying tips so you will be prepared to pass and become certified.

To begin, you will need the Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide), which will be your ultimate handbook while studying for the exam.

However, the PMBOK® Guide is a reference book and is not designed to be read cover to cover. Instead, approach it as discrete chapters – like a collection of short stories. Below we outline an overview of the guidebook and how you should approach reading it:

  • Chapters 1-3: Consider these as an overview to set the tone of what it means to be a project manager and the process. Just glance through them; we do not suggest trying to read them the first time for complete comprehension.
  • Chapter 4 -13: These chapters are the separate short stories laid out as the project management process steps.
  • Then go back and re-read chapters 1-3 for comprehension.
  • Finally, read Part 2 – the Standard for Project Management – to learn the sequence of events.

Four study tips to get the best result from the PMP® Exam:

  1. Find your study routine, whether it is solo, groups, teams, or a combination – do what works best for you.
  2. Expect to spend 80-120 hours or more in self-studying this content – not counting the time in a formal class. Taking this exam is a huge commitment so make sure you schedule enough time for yourself to review, understand, and retain the content.
  3. Create a cheat sheet for yourself of all the ‘hard to remember’ bits that you want to keep in your short-term memory. Some of the elements that we have found vital to have memorized for the test include:
    • All equations (Earned Value, Communication Paths, Risk decision trees, etc.)
    • Table 1-1 on page 556 of the PMBOK® Guide, Sixth Edition.
  4. Enroll in one of our PMP® Exam Power Prep courses, a 4-day course including two online practice tests (to simulate the environment in which you will be taking the test).

What to expect when you take the PMP® Exam

When you walk into the test center, you will be allowed to bring in only the Letter of Eligibility and an ID. When you go into the actual testing room – it is just you, your ID, and the key to a locker where all your belongings are being stored.

Once in the room ask right away for writing materials (scrap paper and pencils). Then, between starting the tutorial and starting the exam, take five minutes and write out the cheat sheet that you created in the studying phase. Then take a few deep breaths, relax, focus on what you learned from the PMBOK® Guide, take a few more deep breaths, and begin.

When you are done with the exam and hit submit, you will receive a printed copy of your test results immediately while you are still in the test center.

Once you pass the exam and become PMP® certified, 60 professional development units (PDUs) are required every three years to keep the certification active. Strategy Execution has a multitude of PDU awarding courses and content to help you transform your certification into action, to put all your knowledge into practice and keep you on top of the ever-changing world of project management.

Read our previous blog post to learn about Why You Should Get PMP® Certified Before the Exam Changes.

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TwentyEighty Strategy Execution, the global authority in project leadership training, equips your people with the complete package of technical and leadership skills — the mindset, adaptability,
and expertise to lead and execute projects in any context. With curricula in adaptive strategic execution, project management, business analysis, contract management, and more, Strategy Execution partners with your organization to build skill sets and change mindsets. It’s time to declare a new standard of performance. For more information, visit
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