In 2017 I made up my mind that I wanted to become PMP certified. I had been working on projects for about 5 years at the time and wanted to take my career to the next level. I had two years left to complete my undergrad degree and immediately after I would be ready to start the process. Spring of 2019 I began to research everything I needed to clear the exam. A good friend of mine had already cleared the exam 4 years prior and helped me to understand the kind of effort it would take to pass. So, I purchased the PMBOK and two other books that I will link below. My reasons for wanting to become PMP certified were to become more marketable in the workforce, an increase in salary, and to have a more methodical approach to accomplish any goal I have in my life.
The first thing you want to do is decide that PMP is something that you really want. This one may seem weird but, having a strong desire to become PMP certified is literally half the battle. To be very clear, this is not an exam that you’d want to put minimal effort into preparing for. I believe it’s somewhere around 50% of people who attempt the exam do not pass on their first attempt. So, make sure you’re willing to put in the time and effort to study for it. I took a full 6 months to prepare; 3 months of familiarizing myself with the material and 3 months of burying my head in the books, no social life and basically becoming obsessed. This is because I wanted it so badly that I didn’t want to leave any pages of my study material unread and no concept misunderstood. The material is dry as hell so unless you’re a genius who can pass any test just for fun, you need to be ready to sacrifice a lot. You need to have an overwhelming desire to pass.
The next thing to focus on is framework, it’s so important to really understand the 5 process groups and 10 knowledge areas. You want to memorize them first, then you need to go back into each section and understand every single input, output, tool and technique. Understanding is very important because this exam evaluates how well you’re able to take what you’ve learned and apply it to real world situations. Use flashcards for definitions, theories, charts and formulas. I took an entire two weeks just to study formulas; it’s also a good idea to watch YouTube videos on how to solve the formulas and how to pick out which formula to use with a given situational question.
Most importantly, you need to read the PMBOK, I can’t stress this enough. If you’re a member of PMI, you get a free electronic copy. The PMBOK stands for project management body of knowledge; the language used in this book is the same language used on the exam. My honest opinion is that I would not have passed without reading it and to be completely transparent, I tried to get away with not reading the PMBOK simply because people were raving about two other books that I purchased and read; Andy Crowe’s How to Pass PMP on Your First Try and Andy Stellman’s Head First PMP. Both are very good books to prepare for the exam especially if you are new to project management; however, these are not to be read in place of the PMBOK if you are serious about passing on the first attempt. It was only after I read the PMBOK that I began to pass the practice exams. Also, take as many practice exams as possible; you want to go into the exam already understanding the structure of the questions and how to pick out key words to select the correct answer.
Lastly, relax. Impossible right? Haha I know, I told myself the same thing the night before exam day. There’s nothing to prepare you for this monster but try your best to not overthink and not stress too much. Manage your time so that you can take at least one break. Use the restroom and get a drink of water. This will help you to relax and return to the exam with a bit of clarity.
Hope this helps, good luck!
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