Having a Plan is Essential to Passing the PMP® Exam

By | April 18, 2017

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There are far too many people preparing for the PMP® exam who lack a plan. If you ask them how many hours they are going to study, they might respond as follows: “I guess I’ll know it when I’m ready.” This means they could literally study 200 or more!

The 1,000 Hour Study Plan

Not long ago I heard that a PMP® trainer was promoting a 1,000-hour plan to prepare for the exam. If you do the math, 1,000 hours translates to 25 weeks of study time. Heck … you might be able to earn all the PMI certifications by putting in this amount of time. If the PMP® were so hard that one needed to invest half a year to prepare, I doubt that many people would take it. Thus, you can see that I’m not a fan of this study approach.

Time to Get Serious

Before you decide to prepare for the PMP® exam, it’s critical that you are serious about going through the process. I remember teaching a PMP® prep course to a group of 10 employees. The business owner told me that she was paying for the training, and that the attendees were planning to take the exam shortly after the session. The students were eager during the class, and I felt that with a concerted study effort most of them could pass the PMP®.

Here’s where it gets interesting … a month after the training, one person contacted me and asked if I could remind him of the key areas he should study. He also mentioned the following: “I’m pretty sure that none of us has opened the books since the training.” From my experience, people are far less likely to submit the application, sit down and study, and take the exam, when someone else pays for the workshop. Because it’s other people’s money (OPM), the pain of losing an investment is of little importance.

The 30-Day Plan

The point I’m making is that before engaging in any study plan it’s imperative that you’re ready to make the commitment. Once you’re set, I recommend a 30-day plan where you commit about 10 hours per week. Let’s say that you study an hour per day during the week, and another 5 hours on the weekends. By taking this approach, you can complete about 40 hours over a month.

Of course, make sure that you’ve taken a PMP® prep course. The information shared in these workshops is invaluable. For example, I spend about 30% of my time teaching test-taking skills. While knowing the concepts matters, one must also know the steps necessary to pick the BEST answer. The exam writers are taught to make questions hard and tricky. By doing so, they maintain the rigor that PMI wants to see.

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