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How to prepare for the PMP exam part 3: build a project study plan

Cornelius Fichtner, PMP | Nov. 1, 2010
Studying for the exam toward PMP certification will be a much less daunting task if you apply your project management skills to it and create a project plan. In this third article in's series on preparing for the PMP exam, you'll learn the essential elements to include in your project study plan.

FRAMINGHAM, 1 NOVEMBER 2010 - Project managers seeking PMP certification will serve themselves well if they approach preparing for the PMP exam as a project and create an appropriate project plan. Like any project plan, your project plan for passing the PMP exam needs to outline your mission, schedule, weekly goals, and communication efforts. Putting in place a project plan for your PMP exam preparations will help you stick to a study schedule and greatly increase your chances of earning that coveted PMP certification. Here are six essential elements of your PMP exam preparation project plan.

1. Assess Your Mission

Ask yourself, "What is my motivation for earning the PMP certification? How will being PMP certified affect my life, my job, my self-esteem and my bank account?" Understanding why you want to become PMP certified will be a great motivator in reaching your goal. Take some time to write down what having a PMP certification means to you.

2. Establish a Daily Study Schedule

A daily commitment to studying for the exam can make a big difference in your progress and greatly enhances your chances of passing the PMP exam with flying colors. Set aside study time on your calendar for each day, and organize your study materials so that they are ready to go when you are. Take into consideration major personal and professional events that will affect your ability to study and schedule your studies around them.

Also, set goals. For example, decide how many pages of the PMBOK (Project Management Body of Knowledge) Guide you will study each day, what chapters in your PMP prep book you will read, and the number of sample exam questions you will answer every day.

Make time for study breaks, too. Cramming too much into a study session can be counterproductive. Find a balance between the quantity of material you cover each day and what you can reasonably retain from daily your studies.

3. Set Weekly Study Goals

Set reasonable goals regarding the amount of material you hope to cover each week. Feedback from my students shows that you'll be able to get through one main chapter of both the PMBOK Guide and your prep book each week if you devote two to three hours to in-depth study each day. This will also give you enough time to test yourself on about 200 sample questions and complete your exam preparation in around 10 weeks.

Creating a burn down chart—a graphical representation of work left to do versus the time you have left in which to complete it—and hanging it on your refrigerator so that you and your family can track your goals and progress can be a great visual motivator. It's also a fun way to create buy-in for your family, so that they can support you in your goal of earning PMP certification and help keep you accountable for achieving it. Meeting your weekly study goals are small victories that you should celebrate on your path to PMP certification.


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