How to study for the PMP exam

Taking the PMP examAs a PMP (Project Management Professional) certified project manager, I often get asked by other project managers (or by others who are interested in getting into the field of project management) what the PMP examination is like, how difficult it is to pass, and how I prepared for it.

Even outside the field of project management, the PMP examination has an almost mythical status – many people that I’ve talked to who work in Information Technology or other project management-heavy fields have heard from friends or co-workers about the many challenges involved with applying to, studying for and taking the PMP examination – but don’t worry; in reality, it really isn’t all that difficult!

While it is indeed a worthy challenge to pass the PMP exam, with some hard work and proper preparation it is an achievable goal. Below are the methods that I used to prepare for and pass the PMP exam on my first attempt.

1. Study a variety of different sources

While preparing for the PMP examination, I consulted a variety of different sources. Below are three of the texts that I personally studied during my PMP exam preparation time; I’m not indicating that these are necessarily the best PMP references by any means – I do not have enough familiarity with the other PMP resources to be able to make that call. What I can tell you is that they seemed to work well for me.

The Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK)

The Project Management Body of Knowledge, or PMBOK (pronounced pimbok), is the official source of information for the project management framework managed by the Project Management Institute (PMI). As the PMP examination is based on the information contained in this book, the PMBOK is an essential read when studying for the PMP exam.

Unfortunately, the Project Management Body of Knowledge is rather dry… you might need to down a few coffees during study sessions with this weighty textbook. Also, although the various process groups and knowledge areas are each explained in full detail in the book (with process inputs, outputs, and tools and techniques clearly identified where applicable), PMI’s illustrations of important process flows can be somewhat hard to figure out, and the book is laid out more like a reference manual (its primary purpose) than a teaching tool.

The PMBOK also does not cover all of the information that you will need to learn to pass the PMP exam; some concepts that are tested in the PMP examination (ethics being one) are not covered in detail in the PMBOK. As such, in order to study properly for the exam, you’ll need to consult secondary sources.

The PMP Exam: How to Pass on Your First Try by Andy Crowe

The PMP Exam: How to Pass on Your First Try by Andy Crowe of Velociteach is a good, basic introduction to the PMI process areas and knowledge groups. In this book Andy lays out the PMI processes in an easy-to-understand manner, and the way he presents the logical flow of the combined processes is more comprehensible than the manner used in the PMBOK.

Andy’s book also features a variety of practice exam questions; however, I found them to be relatively simple, and not up to the level of difficulty that is found on the actual PMP exam. As such, if you find that you are acing the questions in this book, do not assume that you will perform similarly well on the actual examination.

PMP Exam Prep by Rita Mulcahy

PMP Exam Prep: Eighth Edition by the late Rita Mulcahy is probably the best known of all PMP exam preparation textbooks. Rita goes into a great deal of detail when describing the various processes found within the PMI framework. In fact, one of the drawbacks to this book is that it is extremely wordy (and at times perhaps even a bit preachy), and will take you a long time to study. However, the time spent studying this book is time well spent, as Rita will bring to you a thorough understanding of what the PMP exam is all about. She also introduces the concept of PMI-isms; areas that PMI exam creators tend to focus on when creating PMP examination questions that you should understand and focus on when studying for the PMP exam.

Whereas Andy Crowe’s book’s questions are much simpler than those found in the actual PMP exam, Rita’s book features many challenging sample questions that are comparable to those you might find on the exam itself. As such, to get a good idea of what the PMP exam questions will be like when you are taking the actual examination, this is a good book to consult.

Studying all three sources

If I were to study all three of these books in preparation for the PMP examination (which in fact I did), I would recommend that you study them in the following order:

  • First: The PMP Exam: How to Pass on Your First Try (a solid introduction to PMI’s framework)
  • Second: The Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) (a must-read that you might find be easier to digest after perusing Andy Crowe’s book)
  • Third: PMP Exam Prep (for a comprehensive understanding of the material, featuring realistic example examination questions)

2. Memorize the PMI processes and Earned Value formulas

Each of PMI’s processes contain one or more of the following:

  • Inputs
  • Tools and Techniques
  • Outputs

These are often referred to as the PMI ITTO (or ITTOs), and if you’re studying for the PMP exam, you will likely spend a great deal of time poring over these. You will discover that some processes are inputs for some processes and outputs for other processes; other processes do not seem to fit together with the rest of the processes very well, and need to be understood as somewhat separate from the others. Confusing, yes – but much easier to understand if you diagram the PMI process flows.

While preparing for the PMP examination I used rote memorization to get two pages’ worth of important information into my head. The first page showed a flowchart of the PMI processes, with arrows indicating how one process might be an output for another process, and an input for a third. The second page had a list of the important Earned Value formulas that you will need to know for the PMP exam: PERT, Cost and Schedule Variance, Net Present Value, and the To Complete Performance Index, among others.

On exam day, when I arrived at the Prometric testing center and sat down beside the computer terminal to take the PMP exam, the first thing I did was write out all of the PMP process flows and important Earned Value formulas onto a blank piece of paper (both blank paper and pencils were provided to by the Prometric testing staff). This is a perfectly legal and in fact recommended way to approach taking the PMP exam – perform a brain dump of all the important information you’re going to need to know for the exam right as the exam starts, and then consult this brain dump throughout the examination. I highly recommend this approach!

3. Answer as many sample exam questions as possible

The PMP examination is a standardized test, and therefore you should familiarize yourself with how to approach it and the sorts of questions it will contain. The best way to do this is to answer a whole bunch of sample questions that are comparable to the questions you will face when you take the actual exam.

Most PMP exam preparation books (and courses) provide sample questions for you to answer; some books provide more realistic questions than others. Even if you only study one or two PMP exam preparation books thoroughly, it’s not a bad idea to hit your local library or bookstore, take a variety of PMP exam prep books off the shelf, and answer a selection of sample questions from each one. Doing this will give you an understanding of how prepared you are for the actual PMP examination, and will show you in which areas you may be lacking knowledge and should allocate further study time.

Is it necessary to take a PMP exam preparation course?

A lot of people may tell you that it’s important to take a PMP certification course before you sit for the PMP exam, and in fact a great many people use a PMP certification boot camp course as their required education hours when applying to take the exam. I personally do not believe that a PMP boot camp course is necessary for passing the PMP exam; my own project management education hours that I used to prove eligibility for the PMP exam came from project management education outside of the realm of PMI’s framework. I found that by studying textbooks and diagramming process flows to come to a thorough understanding of the PMI process groups and knowledge areas, and by taking a series of practice examinations, it was relatively easy for me to pass the test itself.

All that being said, if you’re the sort of person that learns best by taking courses in a classroom setting, you should certainly look into taking a PMP exam prep course. Also note that you do have to have 35 hours of formal project management education in order to apply to take the PMP exam; it just doesn’t necessarily have to be in the form of a course teaching PMI-related project management material.

Preparing for the PMP exam

I hope that I’ve given you some good advice for how to prepare for – and pass! – the PMP examination. If you have any further questions about the test itself or about how to succeed on it, please let me know. I’d be glad to offer whatever advice I can.

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91 Responses to “How to study for the PMP exam”

  1. This is very insightful information.

    • Thank you Michael – I’m glad you found it helpful.

      • Hello,

        I am interested to take the CAPM exam and have signed up for a PMP prep course. Do you think that someone with no previous experience can take the prep course and pass the exam?

        • Hello Leo,

          I definitely believe that someone without any project management work experience can pass the CAPM examination. In fact, the CAPM is designed to serve those people who are interested in project management, and want to become project managers, but who do not have the necessary qualifications (such as years of work experience or education) to apply to take the PMP exam. With some hard work and studying, PMI’s framework is not too difficult to understand, and knowing the processes that PMI lays out might help you start out on the right foot to becoming a project manager. Good luck to you!

    • Hi Brian,

      Without taking 35 hrs classes,how i will appear for PMP certification Exam?


  2. Superb !!! lot of information

    • Hello Sangeetha, thanks very much for your comment… I appreciate it! I’ll do my best to continue to provide helpful posts about project management in the future.

      All the best to you.

  3. Very good one. Please keep on writing this type of posts as it is very helpful.

  4. Great post, Brian.

    I agree with you on the learning resources, the PMBOK is essential and one good study guide to complement is the best approach for a PMP aspirant.

    I have referred the guides, and found the PMP Study Guide by Kim Heldman as a great resource, as it not only includes ample cases, but also a bonus CD with some great audio’s and simulation tests which I found missing in the other guidebooks.

    I would have to say here, that a 35 Contact Hour PMP Prep course has been most beneficial to me, since I have hardly been able to digest the topics before reaching the session and in such short time, covering it was an exciting approach that I took; especially with an experienced instructor.

    Again, I understood the instructor’s expertise and know-how of the field is equally important to keep the batch engaged and I wish all aspirant success in their PMP.

    Great tips here one could use in their prep.

    • Good morning Jaz,

      Thank you for your comment – I appreciate it!

      I have not yet read the PMP Study Guide book by Kim Heldman… looking at the reviews on Amazon, it appears that it does get quite good reviews. Plus, the sample cases and the bonus CD with the audio files and simulated tests sounds extremely helpful; completing a bunch of practice exam questions was one of the keys to success that I found while studying for the exam.

      I also appreciate your feedback on the PMP prep course; as I never took a PMP prep course myself I am unable to give any judgment on how useful those prep courses might be. I do find similar training courses are usually quite helpful, and also often a lot of fun. Having an experienced instructor with good teaching skills does sound key.

      Thanks again for your tips based on your own experiences! Best of luck with your project management endeavors.

  5. Shivayog Kallapur Reply July 19, 2012 at 3:12 pm


    Many thanks. Great post.
    I have Rita book and now planning to buy book by Andy Crowe.

    Can you share your views about Agile.
    Are there any Certificates for Agile.

    Shivayogi Kallapur

    • Hello Shivayog,

      Thanks for the feedback! I hope that Rita’s PMP study guide and Andy’s guide help you to prepare properly for the PMP exam – I do think that they are both good reference books.

      There are several certifications available for Agile Development. I myself am a Certified ScrumMaster; I took that course through work, offered by the Agile Alliance. I thought it was a really good training and helped me to use Agile methodologies in my job as a program manager in the United States.

      There is also the PMI-ACP (Project Management Institute Agile Certified Practitioner) certification available. I do not know much about this certificate myself, but it is offered through PMI, who are also behind PMP certification, which I have talked about in this post. It definitely shows that PMI is interested in keeping up with the latest trends in project management. I’ll be looking into it to see what it’s all about.

      Best of luck to you!

  6. Thank you for the gift sharing your experience with all Brian

    I am considering this exam just to challenge myself once again…maybe will pay later…I’m planning to read and practice exercises only and sit for 4 hours…

    All the best for you

    • Thanks Paulo – I appreciate it.

      I do admit that preparing for and taking the PMP exam was quite a worthy challenge – that is one of the reasons that I completed it myself. It is also well respected in the field of project management (or even in the more general field of Information Technology) to have passed the exam to become a certified PMP.

      Good luck with your studies and exam preparations.

  7. Great post, Brian. Thank you .

    I was in double thoughts before going in for the investment.. Most doubts cleared now.

    Ready to take on PMP Study Guide book 🙂

    PS :

    Other great to read post : “Is it worth getting PMP certified? “

    • Hi Anirudha,

      I am very glad that I was able to help you decide to invest in the certification! If you are in the field of project management, I do think it will serve you will in your career. Also, good luck with the PMP study guide book – make sure to do lots of sample practice questions! I am sure that will diligence you will be ready for the examination when the time comes.

      All the best to you in your preparations.

  8. Thanks Brian. I am currently studying for my PMP certification in 2 weeks time, can you share with us how did you structure your study plan? Did you study topic by topic? Thanks for your advice.

    • Hello Lionel,

      When studying, I believe it’s a good idea to go over something, give your brain some time to digest what you’ve learned, and go back to it at a future time. As such, when I study for something, I don’t usually study single topics in big blocks (for example, the Earned Value formulas over a period of two days) – rather, I study bits of information periodically over a period of time.

      When studying for the PMP examination I would go through one study guide book, do all of the practice questions after each chapter, and then at the end of the book I’d take the practice exams featured in the textbook. Then I’d move on to another book and start from the very beginning, going through the same process. Finally I did a series of practice questions that I found online as well as some other practice exams that I had access to.

      Remember to give your mind breaks after you’ve studied the hard stuff – you don’t want to burn out, and it’s much easier to “get stuff in your head” if you study it, put it down for a little while, and then pick it back up again later.

      I hope this helps – best of luck with your preparation!

  9. Hi Brian,

    Very nice and insightful article. I would like to know how much time, in days, is required to complete the certification. Will 1 month of prepartion will be sufficient to do it? Looking at current market scenario, gloomy mostly, do you think it will be good idea to do the certification?

    • Good evening Shailesh,

      I definitely think that a single month is enough time to study for the PMP examination, if you dedicate a few hours to your studying efforts each evening. With a few hours a night you can work your way through several reference textbooks, study the earned value formulas, and work your way through several PMP practice tests.

      Regarding whether or not I think that it would be a good idea to complete this certification, I do believe that for people who are interested in continuing their careers in project or program management, it is well worth getting PMP certified. I have written a separate post about whether or not it’s worth attaining the certification here. Let me know what you think!

      Thanks very much, and best of luck to you in your project management studies.

  10. Hi Brain,
    I am working as Technical Training Manager and my work is focused more into Training and Development management, for upgrading my skills, people suggest doing for PMP, would be BEST option, cos I am a Gradute Computer Engg.
    Can you pl. guide me, on whether PMP certification will help in boosting my career?

    • Hello Kishoree,

      Whether or not PMP certification is right for you depends on what you’re interested in doing in the future. If you’re interested in managing projects, then PMP certification might be a good choice for you to consider. If you’re more interested in managing teams of software developers (as a functional manager), then perhaps PMP certification would not be as worth your time and effort as some other certification more geared toward managing software development teams.

      That being said, I believe it is a very good idea for anyone to learn how to manage projects effectively… even if you’re not working under the title of project manager, you will still be managing projects throughout your career, and if you’re going to manage projects, you may as well manage successful projects! As such, if you’re interested in project management and want to do it right, it might be worth considering PMP certification!

      Best of luck to you.

  11. I somehow stumbled on this site and find it quite insightful. I’ve written about my experiences taking the PMP on my site, reviewing the strategies and tips for passing and found your post comparable. Will subscribe and keep up with your site! 🙂

    • Thank you very much Don – I appreciate the kind words!

      I’ll check out your project management site… I’m always happy to meet and share ideas about project management best practices and methodologies. I’m looking forward to speaking with you about the topic in the future.

  12. Thanks a ton . Brain

  13. Hi Brian,

    what a wonderful blog filled with enriching knowledge.
    I was just casually wondering about PMP as a few of my collegues have taken classes recently, you blog got me hooked into PMP.
    Can you please help me with these doubts:

    1. I am a SAP software consultant, Will it be a good idea to go for PMP certi? or is there anything else that you recommand?

    2. is taking classes necessary? if not how to show required study hours?(i guess we have to show 30-40 hours training)

    3. I am on technical team lead position. working for now 6 years in all. Does that makes me eligible?

    4. any other feedback you deem fit?

    Once again, Kudos for writing such a well informative blog, with information presented in such a lucid language.


    • Hello Ankur, thanks very much for your note! Apologies that I only just noticed it now.

      In response to your questions –

      I do think that as an SAP software consultant, PMP certification would be a good idea. The fact that you are in Information Technology means that you’re in the right field – PMP is well recognized in IT. You are working on SAP now, but you might not be working on SAP forever, and having a good, solid project management credential can help you in many areas.

      Taking classes is necessary, but the classes do not have to be PMP study classes. For example, I completed some project management classes at university as part of a Masters program that were not PMP-related in any way, but as they were project management work experience hours, they were valid hours when it came to applying to take the exam.

      Meanwhile, if you’re a technical team lead, you may have the required hours to take the exam, but only you would be able to find that out! Check out this post to find out if that is the case. On the post you will find an Excel spreadsheet where you can document and tally all of your project management work experience hours.

      As for other feedback, I would simply say to study hard and, if you do have the required work experience to take the exam, go ahead and do it! Having the PMP and other credentials look great on a resume, and will certainly help more than they hurt.

      Good luck!

  14. Hi Brian,

    I am working as a automation maint. engineer in metal industry and also involved in project activity going on in my work area since last 4 yrs….i come to know about CAPM and curious to know about job prospect of doing CAPM in project management or PMP is necessary?

    • Hello Ravi,

      Neither CAPM nor PMP certification is necessary to get involved with project activity, or to become a project manager. In my experience I have found that PMP certification is very helpful when it comes to applying for jobs in information technology project management; many employers and recruiters value and in some cases require that applicants to their project management job offers are certified PMPs. The CAPM I do not feel is as useful when it comes to getting jobs – CAPM certification doesn’t hold the weight that PMP certification does, nor do you need to have earned any project management experience before applying to sit for the CAPM examination, so it is not as powerful a credential as the PMP.

      Best of luck with your project management career!

  15. Some very useful information on here Brian, many thanks
    I am wondering if you could maybe throw your input into my situation.
    1. I have been a project manager for many years now for my own company; i have the necessary project hours in the process groups and knowledge areas. What is your take on the PMP examination criteria for which project hours are taken from?
    2. I have used Rita’s PMP exam prep book for he past few months, how do you feel the content aligns its self with passing the exam? Are there questions on the exam which relate to information not in the content of the book?
    3. Online full length exams – I have undertaken a few of these, and scored well however each time i have finished the 4 hour exam with a self estimation of 30% – scary right?
    What are your thoughts on the points above, and do you have any advise that will help in passing the exam? As at times i have considered the possibility of dropping down to CAPM
    Many thanks
    John Barnes

    • Hello John, thanks for your questions! I really appreciate it. I’d be glad to answer.

      Regarding your first question – I, too, had a large number or project management work experience to draw from when I applied to take the exam. In my case, I simply filed all of my most recent hours. The reason for this is was that it was easier to pass those project management hours by my manager before applying to PMI to take the PMP exam. In general, this is the most important part – pick those hours that you think will be most easily vouched for should you be selected for a random PMI audit of your application. And as I mentioned, make sure that your former employers agree with the hours that you are filing before sending in your application.

      As for your second question, I found that Rita’s PMP exam prep book aligned well with the exam. The questions weren’t the same, but I found that Rita and her team supplied some very difficult questions that were more in line with the difficulty of the questions on the PMP exam. She also supplied some good tips and tricks for passing the test. However, her book didn’t supply all of the information you need to take and pass the PMP exam, so make sure that you consult several different sources.

      Finally, in response to your third question, I absolutely think that you should go for PMP certification and not CAPM certification. The PMP is a much more valuable credential. In fact, in my experience, the only people who take the CAPM exam are people without project management experience, so you might find that the CAPM exam is a detriment in your career as people who see that you have the credential will think you are not an experienced project manager. I may be wrong about this, but that is my own personal experience. My advice to you would be to keep studying. Make sure you really understand the processes. Draw a chart to show how the outputs from some processes are inputs to others – I found that having a graphical representation of the process flows was extremely valuable, and I consulted my “brain dump” of my graphical process flows frequently when I took the PMP exam. Know the ITTOs, and study your Earned Value formulas. I know you can do it.

      Best of luck to you – let me know how it goes!

  16. Hi,

    Very resourceful ! Just wondering how long did you spent preparing for the exam? 3 months a good bet?


    • Hi Yusri,

      That’s a good question – I didn’t indicate a “How many hours should I study for the PMP?” section because I think that the answer to this question will be different for different people. For example, if you are an experienced project manager, have a good memory or high IQ, or are particularly good at taking tests, you will not need as much time to study compared to someone who has difficulties taking tests or is not very mathematically minded and may have issues with the Earned Value formulas or the process flows.

      That said…

      If you’re thinking of planning out your PMP studies (not a bad idea), it also might be a better idea to form an answer in number of hours rather than days, weeks, or months, as people may be studying different amounts of time per day. I have heard some people say 100 to 200 hours is enough time to study for the exam, from the outset… I recommend studying at least some time every day, and it’s probably more effective to study in the mornings rather than in the afternoons or evenings, as your mind will be fresh and your memory prepared to ingest new material. I personally spent a lot of my weekends preparing for the exam at Barnes & Noble, but I didn’t solely study on the weekends – your mind memorizes best if you continually feed it information every day rather than cram it all in there at once.

      I’d say if you have a good three months of studying for an hour or so a day, with extra time on the weekends, you’ll be well prepared when exam day comes – but like I said, a lot depends on your own situation.

      Whatever the case, take it seriously, study hard, and good luck!

  17. Hi
    Thanks so much for your insight. One question I have is about memorization. I have memorized all of the process maps and formula’s however the boot camp that I attened suggested “NOT” memorizing the ITTO’s. They more so taught that trying to understand the processes and the logic behind the inputs and outputs was better than actually memorizing them all.

    What are your opinions on this?

    • Hello Nadia,

      I’m not sure who gave you this advice, but it doesn’t seem like great advice to me. True, understanding the processes and the logic behind the inputs and outputs of the ITTOs is very important. However, the PMP exam is at its heart a multiple-choice test, and as such questions will be “fact based”, requiring highly specific answers rather than descriptive answers in the form of essays. Memorizing the ITTOs will help you to quickly answer these sorts of questions, especially if you memorize them in the form of a graphical flowchart showing how the outputs of some processes are the inputs for other processes.

      Furthermore, just because you understand PMI’s framework doesn’t necessarily mean that an input or output will be completely “logical”. There are some inputs or outputs that someone might logically argue could be inputs or outputs for different processes than the ones they are inputs or outputs for… the PMP exam is not testing project management logic, but PMI’s specific framework. As such, a thorough understanding might not help you to answer specific questions about the ITTOs.

      In my opinion, the best approach is to thoroughly understand the processes, and then to memorize the important specifics. That is only my opinion of course, but I can tell you that it worked well for me!

      Best of luck to you.

  18. Hi Brian,

    Thanks for this site and your help! Question please. I am applying to take the PMP exam and I’m planning to send my application the traditional way – hard copy via mail. Now, I’m thinking of sending copies of my diploma, project management classes that I took including the Six Sigma Greenbelt to prove that I did meet (or in my case, exceeded) the required 35 contact hours of project management education/training. I know that PMI doesn’t require these documents upfront, but only when one is audited. What would be the disadvantage or repurcussions, if any, for doing this.

    Basically, my reasoning is to prove that I have the education and possibly avoid the hassle of delay due to audit and stuff. I travel a lot (international/domestic) and I want to avoid being delayed or lose days because I wasn’t able to respond right away to a PMI-initiated audit (bec. I was out of the country). Do you think it will count against me if I do send those copies of my project management training along with my application? Thanks

    • Hello Andy,

      I do not have any insight as to what goes on behind the scenes at PMI headquarters, but I do not believe there would be any advantage to sending your documentation to PMI if PMI has not indicated that they are putting you through the audit process. From what I understand, PMI’s audit process is completely random – I don’t think that they pick out people to be audited based on red flags or on any particular thing that they’ve indicated on their applications. As such, sending in documentation may not be useful, and I’m not even sure if they’d know what to do with it if they received it – I somehow doubt that they keep hard copy files on every applicant.

      Furthermore, it seems to me that what PMI is most interested in is making sure that PMP exam applicants have sufficient project management work experience. In my experience, getting this project management work experience is by far the biggest obstacle for most people who are interested in applying to sit for the exam. As such, if you send in documentation but do not include documentation to support your project management work experience, this may in fact send up a BIGGER red flag than if you sent in nothing at all. Does this make sense?

      I think that your best bet would be to send in your application, but to make sure that you have all of your documentation ready in the event that you do get audited by PMI. This would mean making sure that your former employers understand that you are going through the PMP exam application process and that you may need them to vouch for the hours you’ve worked in the field of project management should you happen to go through an audit. I talk more about this process here.

      Thanks for your question, and good luck to you!

  19. Hi Brian,
    I am reading from a variety of sources and they all say that you should try a Exam Simulator — a Paid one.

    If I had to pay for one is there one that you would recommend?


    • Hello Raj,

      I’m afraid that I never did try to take a paid-for PMP exam simulator. I took the PMP exam without taking any online simulations, and I aced that thing. In my experience, working out the various process flows, writing out a brain dump of the information I’d learned, and also memorizing the various Earned Value formulas were all I needed to do very well on the PMP exam.

      That said, if you do stumble upon any high quality exam simulators, or any other sites that will help people study for the PMP exam, please share – I’d be glad to learn about them (especially about free ones – free resources are always best)!

      Good luck to you.

  20. Hi Brian,

    This article is helping me a lot to take decision to go for PMP Certification.

    I have total 6.5 years of experience including assisting my project manager in project management work. So, will you suggest me to proceed with PMP Certfication though I am not a Project Manager till now?

    I believe PMP certification will help me to get opportunities to utilize my project management skill. Appreciate your comments/suggestions.


    • Hello Chenai,

      Thanks for the feedback – I’m glad that the article is helpful!

      As long as you have the 4500 hours of project management work experience, I do think you should go for your PMP certification. It doesn’t matter if you did not hold the actual title of project manager, as long as you have the proper amount of project management work experience.

      I do think that having this credential could help you find project management job opportunities in the future. Good luck to you!

  21. Practice Practice practice do as many practice exams as possible

  22. Hello Brian,
    Your article is very inspiring. Thank you.
    I need your advise in picking the rite certification program that would help me grow as an efficient project manager. I have about 10 years if IT experience mostly into development, I have in many cases led the development teams. I do not have any experience on the PMO front. I want to know what could be the apt program for me…CAPM/PMP. Is PMP only for those people who already are project managers?
    Please do let me know your thoughts on this.

    • Hello Swaroop,

      Indeed, the PMP credential is for people who already have some experience leading and directing projects, while the CAPM is for people who have some experience working on projects, but are not necessarily already project managers. This means that the CAPM is more of a certification that is used to get people into the field of project management and working toward getting their PMP certification.

      In my opinion, if you have the ability to earn project management work experience without getting the CAPM, you should go straight for the PMP… otherwise, you might consider the CAPM. I wrote an article about the pros and cons of CAPM certification here.

      Good luck!

  23. Thanks Brian for all the tips and tricks. I need to complete 35 Hr of formal education before i take the exam, should i go for any online training available. What would you suggest, any recommendations?

    • Hey Brian, Great article. I followed exactly the same steps that you’ve mentioned! Great Job!

      • Hello Shilpi,

        Thanks very much for your feedback on the article – I really appreciate it! I’m happy to hear that you’ve followed the steps and (assumedly) have earned your PMP certification. Great job!

        All the best to you.

    • Hey Sidhu, online training is a good option as it is convenient and cost effective. I took my training from Simplilearn. You can check their website to know more about them. Good Luck!

      • Hi again Shilpi,

        Thanks very much for the feedback about the online training – I appreciate it! I’m happy to hear that it was cost-effective and that it worked for you.

        Best of luck in your project management career!

    • Hello Sidhu,

      Best of luck completing your 35 hours of formal project management education. I don’t have any particular ideas on what particular training you should choose – I myself completed my project management education using courses from my graduate degree. That said, remember that your courses do not necessarily have to be PMI-related. That is to say that you can complete project management education studying any sorts of frameworks or methodologies – for example, plain project management, ITIL, Agile (Scrum), or Prince2 would all apply here.

      Best of luck!

  24. Very interesting topic, however I have one question. PMP Handbook explicitely states that 35 contact hours of formal education are a prerequisite for the test and self directed learning is not accredited as such. How would it be possible to proceed with the test if a course is not taken to amass the education hours?

    • Hello Marios, great comment. You are correct that you do have to have 35 contact hours of formal project management education in order to apply to take the PMP exam. However, my point was that these hours do not necessarily have to be in the form of a course teaching PMI’s material (the material that you’ll need to know in order to pass the PMP examination). Many people believe that a PMP prep course is required in order to take the PMP exam; in fact, that material can be any formal project management education (general project management principles, Agile, and so on).

      My text on the matter seemed a bit vague so I’ve changed the article to clarify this point. Thanks very much for bringing it up!

  25. Thanks a lot for your sharing. The lessons learned by fellow PMP help PMP aspirants like me! Your article is just great!

    • Hi Ed,

      Thanks very much for this and for your other feedback – I really appreciate it! I’m glad to be able to help out aspiring project management professionals wherever I can.

      All the best to you.

  26. Thanks a lot for this write up. I myself am preparing to write my PMP exam soon. I meet the experience requirement but I need to get my 35 hours PDU and to get that I am taking a 30-day online course with simplilearn. I also have Rita’s course and my 5th edition PMBOK.

    This post has given me new info that hitherto I never had. Thanks for sharing.

    • Hello Mawuko,

      Glad to hear that you’re taking a 30-day online course. I hope that Simplilearn works out well for you! I’m also glad to hear that you have Rita’s book – that certainly worked well for me; I appreciated the more challenging practice questions that she offered. As for the PMBOK… well, that goes without saying!

      I’m really happy that you have found some useful information in this post – I’m always happy to hear that I’ve helped others in this way! Thanks again, and all the best to you on the PMP exam.

  27. Thanks for the wondeful,n helpful article.
    I bought Rita’s book to get a feel about the course before enrolling.

    My question is around showcasing 4500 hours of project management work experience. I have total 9 years of work experience. Please tell me is it necessay to have the experience in all phases of project. I have most of my experience in Executing phase

    • Hello Vijay,

      This is a great question. In the PMP handbook, it indicates:

      “Leading and directing the project as identified with the tasks, knowledge, and skills specific in the Project Management Professional Examination Content Outline.

      You should have experience in all five process groups across all your project management experience submitted on the application. However, on a single project, you do not need to have experience in all five process groups.”

      So according to this, you do need to have experience in all five process groups. However, it doesn’t indicate how much experience you need to have in all the process groups. So if you have at least some experience in all five groups, it shouldn’t matter that most of your work experience is in the Executing phase.

      Hope this helps. Good luck!

      • Hi Brian:

        I was hoping to hear opinions from other Canadians and I found your link.
        Have you heard about learnsmart? they offer exercises and readings, etc in preparation for exam.


  28. Hi Brian,
    I am new to this field, your help and advise would be much appreciated, I have more than 5 years experience working in Network Operation Centre (Service Provider), should my work experience count for PMP exam application with Task, Knowledge and skills of my day to day job in NOC?

    • Hello Munir,

      As long as the experience in your Network Operation Centre is experience leading and directing projects, it can count. You can also include some experience that you spent working on projects, but you do need to have experience in all five of PMI’s process groups.

      Good luck to you.

  29. Thank you for sharing with me such a powerful strategy.

  30. Jacob Varughese Reply May 28, 2014 at 4:40 am

    Hi Brian,

    Firstly, Many Congratulations in clearing the PMP. I’m a Prince2 Practitioner and now have my PMP exam slated to be held late June. I’ve just begun studying(today to be more precise),and wondering if a month would be enough to earn this much-coveted credential. I also possess Rita’s PMP Exam Prep(Eighth Edition) as my study material.
    Appreciate your thoughts on the aforesaid. Thanks in advance.

  31. Thank you very much for this clarification and helping.
    i thought to pass the exam; it should be to get preparing course but after i read your advice i become more enthusiastic to do that by myself and hard work.
    i already have experience and master degree to do that in addition to my adore of reading 🙂
    so i have one simple question.. if it is required to register to take PMP exam to get preparation course training to i can study by myself and then take exam.

  32. Wow!Thank you Brian! I read all your articles/posts.I got a lot of great information from you. Very encouraging:-)
    I have a question for you:
    I have MBA in Healthcare Management and names of my courses, I thought could be relative to PMP 35hr/formal ed are:
    Management and Strategy (service line development), Organizational Management and Capstone with me playing most important role as Financial manager. Do you think that I can present it as 35hr?

  33. Hi Andy,

    which is Best PMP Exam simulator in market?
    I am planning to give exam in October 2014.
    I am currently using PMBOK and Rita’s Exam Prep Book.

  34. Hi Brian,

    Thanks for the informative articles.
    Any idea if the project management related courses completed as a part of college degree can be added to the required PDUs ?


  35. Hi Brian
    Thanks for the heads up,
    And for taking the time to assist & give guidance.

    Good luck to all, i know i need it 🙂

  36. Exam simulators are eventually a good resource. But the best first step to passing the PMP exam is to start with memorizing the 47 project processes and why they are done. If you do that first – all the rest of the study is much easier. You really need the big picture first to make the most of the time you invest in studying. Check out this website for memorization help and a sound study stategy that will make the most of your time:

  37. Hi Brian,

    I appreciate much your efforts on transferring Project Management knowledge to us.

    I would like to know one thing for sure. I worked for 5 years with one Government Agency and now it has ceased to operate following its end of tenure of operation. The staff of that Agency were terminated. So what should I do to verify my project management hours with that organization? I am about to prepare my application for PMP exams.


  38. I really suggest you do as many practice exams and pmp sample questions as possible has a ton of pmp sample questions.

  39. Dear Brian,
    I have 6.6 years of Experience in sales & support as a manager for software product.
    Please guide me that weather PMP course is worth for me. But I dont have any Project management experince.
    I am an Computer Engineer with MBA in Marketing.
    Waiting for your reply

  40. Brian:

    I’m currently studying for my PMP exam, do you still recommend reading “PMP Exam Prep: Seventh Edition by the late Rita Mulcahy?”

    The reason why I ask is that you first wrote this “How to study for the PMP exam” article in June 3, 2012..Just want to make sure that I’m not studying outdated reading materials..Your help is greatly appreciated…


    James Rockmore

  41. Hi Brian,

    Your website is very helpful. I have a question? I only have a strong Customer service background and now i’m studying For the PMP certification. How does one with no Project Management experience move forward if I successfully get certified?

    Kind regards,

  42. Diahann Campbell Reply March 15, 2015 at 7:33 pm

    Thank You for you generosity in sharing your personal experience/journey. I totally agree with your assessment and importance of the PMP Certification. I completed my PDU March 4th 2015 and applied to the PMI as per the process. I’m hoping to sit the exam the 1st week in June.

    Couple questions (1) Which edition of Rita’s text should we be using as I see feedback on the 6th and 8th editions?

    (2) I’ve been a classroom learner all my life and the push to self learning is getting my very frustrated. Any suggestion or tips on this for me

    (3) Heard the questions are now more situational and less text book oriented, have you gotten any updated feedback?

    Thanks again

  43. Hi

    I am an MBA and already studied Project Management as one of the subjects in the final year. Is it Ok to be counted against 35 hours of formal project management training requirement? I contacted one training institute and i was informed that the subject studied in a full time MBA program like mine will not count. Please clarify. thanks.

  44. plz suggest some web sites to practice PMP sample questions for free
    I have exam scheduled on June 3rd, 2015 and currently reading PMBOK 5th edition

  45. Hello All,

    Need your advise !!

    I’m a software professional with 8.5 yrs industry experience as Java Developer. Till now I do not have any management experience. I want to go for management courses and wanted to find a career in management rather than software industry.

    Please advise If i complete PMP, Will i be able to get a job in management ? If not PMP, what are the other management courses widely accepted by the companies and have better prospects in getting a job in management.

    Thank in advance.


  46. Hi Brian,
    i have gone through your post, it is very much informative. Thanks for posting such helpful information.

    Basically i am a mechanical Engineer working in a Steel Fabrication & Erection company. I have the experience as a site engineer for 3 years which is involving direct handling of workers, arranging resources, fabrication and erection, preparing the Bills for executed works.

    After that i am shifted to Planning department as a engineer. my work is planning steel raw material required to purchase based on the drawings. After Procurement, releasing cutting schedules to the site for cutting.

    I am doing this work since 7 years for all the projects our co. has.
    And the major problem is that i don’t see the future in this field.
    But, I am interested in handling Projects independently involving with the work directly in sites. So, i am planning to go for the PMP certification.
    is it worth doing PMP for me or not ?

    Please advice me as i am in confusion to choose the right path.


  47. I would say, choose any one of the following 3 books:
    Rita’s PMP, HeadFirst PMP or PMBOK Guide whichever suits you.

    And then pick:
    Brainy People’s Guide To PMP® Credential

    I think this combination should work.
    Especially any book with Brainy People’s guide as it summarises everything.

    Rita’s PMP is excellent, but it fails to clarify ITTO sometimes, HeadFirst PMP is good, but to focus on the drawings and simplicity, it skips many important points. On the other hand, Brainy People’s Guide summarises everything in 255 points, amazing simple.

  48. I agree with @Sam here. However, few steps which I recommend –

    * Have a timeline in mind when to take the exam.

    * Submit the form and pay the fee ($555) as soon as you firmly decided to take the PMP exam.

    * If you dont like to pay the fee then atleast get the PMI member by paying $129 and this amount will be (to say) discounted from your total fee. How, will tell you.

    * Once you are PMI member you will have access to PMBOK5. Read PMBOK three times.

    * You can refer any reference book of your choice. I suggest Rita Mulcahy.

    * Practice all questions of Rita Mulcahy (average 30 questions per chapter)

    * Then as a PMI member you will also get the PMI digital library access which has few very good books and few of them contain only questions. You can practice from there.

    * After all these start working on PM Fastrack simulator (v8). (Optional because of price). This software has almost 1600 quality questions.

    * When you think you are ready then take three tests

    * If you scored 75% and above in all three test means you are ready to rock in PMP exam.

    You may like to read blog on how to prepare for PMP certification here

  49. Hi Brian,

    I am ashish , Having almost 10 years of job experience in power plant engineering . As I have done engineering management so I want to be PMP certified . I don’t know how it help me in my work are (Either to switch in Project Management).

    I heard that from November 2015 , The PMP examination pattern or syllabus will change . Now I am really confused , Whether this (July -2015) is right time to prepare or should have to wait November 15 . Kindly Help me


  50. Hello, I would like to recommend for online pmp prep and it qualifies for the pmi 35 training contact hours. At primelearning we also offer mentoring which means you study on your own time, but you are never on your own. Let me know if anyone would like more information.

  51. Hi Brian,

    One of my managers I worked with in the past agreed to provide me with work experience reference required towards my 4500 hours. However he no longer work at the same company where we both worked 6 years ago.

    Is it is still okay? If not what you suggest?


  52. I read the article “Is it worth getting PMP certified?” and “How to study for PMP exam”.
    I am working as an attrney in an LPO. Can i take admission in the PMP certification? Is it really necessary to have project management experience? I want to pursue PMP and not CAPM. How can i do PMP?

    If I study for 8 hours regularly for 15 days, will I be able to crack the PMP exam? Please help

  53. Hi Brian,
    I read a lot of the great info.

    I was curious as I am about 3 chapters into the PMBOK book. I’m thinking of enrolling in an online self learning course through greycampus ($150, which includes the 35 hours). I’m thinking of doing this while I am reading the book for clarification as I find this will help me understand the concepts better.

    Would you recommend doing this?

    FYI, I’m going to get the other books you recommended and spend some time on those ASAP.

  54. Hi Brian,

    Had a couple of questions..I have opted for pmp certification but have few doubts
    1)I have taken the course from use my..So will that 35 hrs of learning count for the eligibility criteria?
    2)I have 10 years of experience with TCS.Will this suffice for me to opt for the PMP exam?
    3)Also from your knowledge and experience how much time should I take for preparation before I sit for the exam?

    Thanks for your time…

  55. Completed the pmp course from Udemy..

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PMP Exam Prep:  Seventh Edition

About the Author

Website: Brian Crawford
I'm a Canadian and British dual citizen with an internationally-focused American MBA and an MS in International Project Management from a French business school. I am PMP, ScrumMaster, and ITIL Foundation certified. I'm particularly into travel, writing, and learning about different languages and cultures.