Useful tips for the PMP aspirant

After undergoing the PMP certification process myself, and after training over 3000 PMP aspirants…here are the key tips for the PMP aspirant;

  • Project Management Professional (PMP) certification by PMI, USA, is a well known project management certification, recognized world wide. In most of the developed nations, it is even difficult to get a job as a project manager, without PMP certification. From my experience, no one has ever regretted by getting the PMP certification, and on the contrary their career progression was much faster (during recession, most of them could at least retain their jobs).
  • If the method of preparation is right, it is not very difficult to become a PMP certified project manager. One must budget at least eighty hours of their time for this, and it include the 35 contact hours training and the self study required before the exam.
  • Since, most of the questions are scenario based, relying blindly on mock tests, without having a fair understanding of the key project management concepts and their application in real life project management can often end up in failure in the exam, and interviews for better positions.
  • The preparation must be demarcated into two logical phases, the phase-1 focusing on understanding the project management best practices as per the project management body of knowledge (PMBOK), from a real life project perspective. The phase-2 should be dedicated to preparing for the exam, by doing exam practice. This is the sure success formula. If you go for the exam without a sound understanding of the project management concepts or without practicing the exams, you can end up in trouble.
  • Do not follow every other PMP book available in the market. Choose your own material and stick with it.
  • One must read the project management body of knowledge a couple of times. The first reading must be just to understand the structure of the document. The second reading must be an in-depth reading to understand the concepts in detail. If you read PMBOK, wihout undergoing a formal training on PMBOK based project management, you will sleep off. So read it, after attending the formal training by a trainer who has in-depth understanding of the concepts. Please avoid the trainers, who will just read out from the slides, the inputs, tools and techniques and the outputs of all the processes of PMBOK. They can make your preparation difficult. So look at the profile and the track record of the instructors, before enrolling for a course.
  • During the exam, you will have to answer 200 questions in 240 minutes (objective type, online, no negative marking), and score 61% for becoming a PMP certified project manager. So approximately we get 1 minute per question. This is quite sufficient because for some questions we will take only a few seconds, and the time thus saved can be used for difficult questions. For some questions could be quite confusing, and you will forced to gamble a bit. Since there is no negative marking, the risk associated with it is minimal.
  • More than anything else, during the test, what is tested to the core, is your ability to concentrate for four hours in a single stretch.
  • During the test, there can be moments of self doubt. Do not give up. After all it is a test, and you must win. When I took the test, when I was on the one hundredth question, I thought I am going to fail, but the very thought of preparing for the exam once again, pushed me to a ‘never say die’ attitude, and the questions started becoming easier and easier. Please play the game to win. It is only as difficult as one paper of your graduation, and it is never as difficult as your graduation.
  • After the 35 contact hours training, you can write the exam within the next five years (please check the PMP hand book for the latest information). From my experience as a trainer/mentor, I urge you to write the exam within 60 days of the completion of your 35 contact hours program, else you may forget the concepts learned during the training, and your PMP certification can become a never ending ending story. So do not take a break after the 35 contact hours, just continue with your studies and finish it off.
  • Very often, people ask me about the material to be purchased for preparation. Please do not buy any book which costs hundreds of dollars. It is not worth it, because as soon as you become a PMP, these PMP only books are a waste. There is no substitute for PMBOK, so please read it. You can try the ‘PMP exam simulator’ at, which comprises of 400 good questions which is a good sample of the questions you will get for the final exam, and it is priced only USD 10/-.
  • In order to understand the steps involved in becoming a PMP certified project manager, please refer to the PMP hand book by PMI, USA. This is very elaborate and authentic. Please make it a point to read the section ‘Professional responsibility of a PMP certified project manager’ carefully. These are very important things for a practicing project manager. Apart from it, it can act as a great checklist to filter out the right answer, during the exam. If your answer is in violation to any point mentioned under the professional responsibilities, most probably it is a wrong answer.
  • PMP certification ensures that you have the right understanding of the basic project management practices. It is not a guarantee for your project management skills nor for your passion to demonstrate those skills. Conversion of the knowledge to skills depends on your passion towards project management as a career. This is the reason why all PMP certified project managers are not great project managers and vice-versa. This certification provides you with the basic foundation required to catapult your career into an exciting world of professional project management.

to be continued….

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