Taking a certification exam can be a daunting experience for anyone, but in particular for candidates who graduated from school more than a few years ago or are anxious about the learning process. But when studying for the PMP exam, you can take steps to make the process a less anxiety-invoking and more effective one.
Gather Information about the Exam
To achieve a good outcome on examination day, carefully plan your exam preparation process. Before you begin to study, visit the website of the certifying body, the Project Management Institute, to gather information about the exam. The website provides the details you need to plan your study program, including who administers the exam, the locations and test dates and times the exam is administered, the registration period and process, and the exam fee. The PMI also states exam eligibility requirements, in terms of on-the-job experience and education, as well as the test structure. You’ll also want to know the question format, the number of questions included in the exam and the time allowed to complete the exam. The more you know, the better you can prepare.
Consider How You Best Learn
You can use a number of different methods to study for the PMP exam. You might enroll in a study course offered by a local PMP chapter or a registered education provider. You also might join a study group with business colleagues or friends. Choose the format, such as e-learning on demand or instructor-led e-learning, that suits the way you learn. And don’t discount the importance of your level of motivation, as it will influence how hard you will work to learn the material.
Determine Your Study Requirements
Review the PMP exam syllabus to understand the material you’re expected to know. Use this information to assess the knowledge you possess and that which you’ll need to acquire. Your findings should guide the creation of your study plan and time line, as well as the selection of a test date.
Plan Your Study Schedule
When you’re aware of the information you must learn, you can plan your study time and test date. Select a test date that will allow you the time you need to register and prepare for the exam. If you wait too long to register, you may be unable to sit for the exam on your preferred test date. In that case, you’ll need to select an alternate date and test location. Create a study schedule, setting aside a time period for individual blocks of information you must learn. In the process, remember that people tend to overestimate their current knowledge of a curriculum, their test testing skill and the difficulty of the exam, so overestimate the time you’ll need to prepare for the exam. Plan carefully, for if you must reschedule your exam, you’ll be charged a fee.
Use Effective Preparation Strategies
Make use of a variety of study tools and strategies. As you read, highlight main points and later recite the points out loud. You might also write down the main points in the text and recite the information as you recognize the connections between the ideas, which are made clear by topic headers. As you read, you might also predict possible test questions and note them in the text margins and underline the answers in the text. It’s also helpful to outline the material for ready review and construct self-tests to evaluate your knowledge as you study.
Practice Your Test Taking Skills
As you study the review materials, learn and perfect your test taking skills. If your exam preparation materials include practice tests, take advantage of them. You can do so by taking practice tests under exam conditions. For example, budget your time to ensure you complete the entire exam during the allotted time. When you complete the exam, grade it and take the time to understand why you answered a question incorrectly. This will help you recognize what you know and what you don’t know and what areas require your focus. Just recognize that test taking is not a substitute for study. And don’t bother memorizing questions and answers, because the questions on the exam will be different than those in your study materials.
- Project Management Institute: Examination Administration
- Project Management Institute: How to Schedule Your Exam
- Project Management Institute: PMP Eligibility Requirements
- Project Management Institute: PMP Examination Information
- Project Management Institute: Tips to Help You Prepare for the Exam
- Project Management Institute: Find a Registered Education Provider (R.E.P.)
- Project Management Institute: Learning Methods
- Project Management Institute: Domain I -- Initiating The Project
- CIO: How to Prepare for the PMP Exam Part 3 -- Build a Project Study Plan
- Orientation to College Learning: Dianna Van Blerkom
- Photo Credit Digital Vision./Digital Vision/Getty Images
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