PMP Exam Success

The Countdown to PMP Exam Success

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Rules for PMP Exam Success

Passing the PMP (Project Management Professional) exam requires a combination of thorough preparation, strategic study habits, and a deep understanding of project management principles.

Here are some key strategies to help you succeed:

  1. Follow the Guidance of an Experienced Trainer or Coach

    Attend a training class or coaching program that introduces you to terminology, methods, and the overarching ‘philosophy’ of project management, as it is understood inside PMI. Use the seminar or coaching to collect your 35 contact hours as a pre-requisite for exam eligibility.

    Then create a realistic study schedule that fits your lifestyle and stick to it. Break down the material into manageable sections, and set goals for each study session. Discuss the plan with your trainer or coach.
    • Note: It goes without saying that my support as a trainer includes mentoring until the exam. This is true for many of my colleagues, but not for all. Be picky!
  2. Understand the Exam Structure

    Familiarize yourself with the format of the PMP exam. It consists of 180 questions covering three domains:
    – People
    – Process
    – Business Environment.

    Knowing the structure helps you manage your time effectively during the exam.
    • Note: My PMP prep class tightly follows this structure.
  3. Study the PMBOK Guide

    The Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide) is a fundamental resource for the PMP exam. It provides the standards for project management and covers the knowledge areas and processes you’ll be tested on.
    • Note: Join PMI as a member to download the book for free.
  4. Use Additional Study Materials

    While the PMBOK Guide is essential, it’s also beneficial to use additional study resources such as practice exams, study guides, and courses focusing on areas where you might need more understanding.
    • Note: Follow the Reading Plan. Once you have joined PMI as a member, you will not need to invest money in literature.
  5. Join a Study Group

    Participating in a study group can provide support, enable knowledge sharing, and help clarify difficult concepts. Discussing topics with peers can enhance your understanding and retention.
  6. Practice by Answering Prep Tests

    Regularly taking practice exams can help you get used to the format and time constraints of the actual test. Analyze your results to identify areas where you need more focus.
    • Note: Find tons of Practice questions at
  7. Focus on Understanding, Not Memorization

    While memorization might help with some aspects, understanding the concepts and being able to apply them in various scenarios is crucial for passing the PMP exam.
    • Note: PMI’s source literature (and PMI in general) focuses on internal projects and ignores the existence of project business, where customer projects are profit centers and project managers have responsibility for the project’s profitability and cash flow. However, the authors of exam questions are practitioners and write questions based on their backgrounds. Many of them manage customer projects, so expect situational questions in a project business context despite the sources’ silence on the topic.
  8. Stay Updated

    The field of project management and the PMBOK Guide evolve. Ensure your study materials and methods are up-to-date with the latest version of the PMBOK Guide and the PMP Exam Content Outline.
  9. Take Care of Yourself and Ask Your Employer to Do that too

    Don’t underestimate the importance of good physical and mental health during your exam preparation. Get enough sleep, eat well, and take breaks to keep your mind sharp.

    Ask your employer for support to allow you to focus on your exam preparation.
  10. Manage Your Exam Time Wisely

    During the exam, keep track of time and pace yourself. Make sure you have enough time to review your answers, especially for the more complex situational questions.

By following these recommendations, you can enhance your chances of passing the PMP exam and advancing your career in project management. Remember, persistence and dedication are key to conquering this challenging certification.


11 responses to “The Countdown to PMP Exam Success”

  1. H.J. Kuhn Avatar
    H.J. Kuhn

    Great source. Thank you, Oliver F. Lehmann!

  2. Frederic Fox, Chicago Avatar
    Frederic Fox, Chicago

    Helpful. 👍👍👍

  3. K. Gupta Avatar
    K. Gupta

    I‘ll have my exam next week.

    Thank you for providing this last-minute resource.


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