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How to prepare for the PMP exam part 5: study tips and techniques

Cornelius Fichtner, PMP | Nov. 15, 2010
The amount of material you need to master to pass the PMP certification exam may see overwhelming, but it's possible to accomplish provided you follow a simple, four-step process for studying for the exam.

Since the PMP exam is based largely on the PMBOK Guide, use the structure of the Guide as your roadmap for your studies.

Plan on studying one PMBOK Guide Knowledge Area each week. First study it in the Guide itself, then study the same topic in all of your other study materials . This will increase your comprehension because the other study materials will present the same concepts from different angles.

You can further break down your studies of the PMBOK Guide Knowledge Areas by studying one Process from each week's Knowledge Area every day. Doing so gives you a clear daily and weekly focus and allows your studies to progress at a reasonable and achievable rate.

It is not enough to simply read the study materials. Go through everything with focus and concentration. Internalizing each concept is critical because the PMP exam consists of 200 questions that will test how well you apply the principles and ideas found in the PMBOK Guide. Many questions are situational descriptions of a problem. These situations contain enough information to arrive at the best answer, but they also include irrelevant information to purposely throw you off course.

If you don't adequately study the principles of the PMBOK Guide, you will be unable to identify the concepts illustrated in the exam questions. You may also find it particularly difficult to determine exactly what is being asked and what information is applicable to the answer.

Since the PMBOK Guide can be so boring, you may need some extra help staying motivated to study. To that end, I recommend keeping a log file or a burn-down chart. These visual representations of your progress show you where you are on your path. Seeing your progress—and the distance from where you are to where you need to go getting smaller and smaller—will keep up your morale and motivation.

One last suggestion: Once you have studied the PMBOK Guide a first time, you must study it a second and possibly even a third time. You will understand it much better the second time, and it actually gets easier to read. It is so important to know how to apply PMBOK Guide concepts because the PMP exam questions test your ability to recognize situations and apply the right concept.

In my next article, I will give you tips on how to use PMP exam sample questions in your preparation.


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