Be a PMP on the First Attempt – How to Prepare for the PMP Certification Exam

To Test or Not to Test?

I’d been toying with the idea of getting the esteemed PMP designation for a few months. I don’t really know whether toying is the right


verb; maybe procrastinating is more accurate. Anyway, one sunny day in July, I decided to pursue it. So, I:

  • Created an Exam Plan
  • Inculcated New Habits
  • Chose the Most Effective Preparation Media
  • Answered Practice Quizzes

Create an Exam Plan

Passing an exam is a project. Therefore, create a plan. In my case, I planned for an effort of 200 hours. However, I was confident enough to take the exam after about 140 hours. The preparation effort will vary depending on your experience. In addition, it is good practice not to crash the preparation schedule. The human mind requires time to digest new information and make it stick. I spread the schedule over three months.

Inculcate New Habits

Here are some changes I made to my lifestyle:

  • Acquire knowledge daily: I exposed my mind to the PMBOK daily, even if it meant reading a page. I also used blogs and Internet websites, such as Bright Hub PM. This is important because the part of your brain that stores project management-related data experiences daily revitalization. Over a three-month period that’s quite a lot of revitalization.
  • Create and stick to a routine: I used my lunch hour and the time taken to get to work effectively. This is important because you aren’t a full-time student. Your time is very precious and should be used effectively.
  • Create incentives for reaching milestones: Mine was to go spend a weekend up in the mountains.

Choose the Most Effective Preparation Material

Everyone has a unique way of acquiring knowledge. Therefore, you should know what is most effective for you. I used a mixture of audio and visual preparation aids. Here is a list of PMP preparation material that I used:

  • Project Management PrepCast by Cornilius: I know it’s boring, but the PMBOK has all the defined Inputs, Tools and Techniques, and Outputs (ITTOs). I used the PMBOK for reference. My daily dose of PMBOK knowledge came from the podcasts. I listened to the podcasts every day going to and from work.
  • Internet Sources: Read a couple of articles on project management every day. I’d take out fifteen minutes a day at work to read up. Bright Hub PM has a large and rich selection of project management articles, artifacts, and practice questions. Also, try joining a discussion forum for offline query resolution.
  • Books: I really enjoyed the Head First PMP and Pass PMP in the First Attempt books. Both books come with practice questions after every chapter.

Answer Practice Quizzes

I practiced enough for me to gain confidence. Here is a list of practice questions that I did:

In addition to these, each chapter in the Head First and Pass PMP in the First Attempt books has about 20 questions. So, that makes about 400 questions from these books. In total, I did slightly under 1,000 practice questions. The following links contain some of practice questions you'll find on Bright Hub PM:

Last Word

Take your time in letting the information sink in and use the preparation as a way to improve your project management skills. Don't go overboard with the practice questions; do only enough to give yourself confidence. Most importantly…don’t procrastinate and do have fun!