How to Create a Study Plan for the PMP Exam
Studying for the PMP Exam is no small feat. The Project Management Institute (PMI) estimates that PMP candidates spend a minimum of 35 hours
of their own time studying for the exam. However, some candidates may dedicate 150 hours or more to properly prepare for the exam! Estimates vary wildly, but hearing these numbers can be daunting, especially if you are not sure where to begin.
Putting together a study plan does not have to be an arduous task, especially with help. In this article, I will go through tips and tricks to help you create and maintain a personalized study plan with the help of School of PE's Personalized Study Plan Tool
. This tool is available to all EduMind Ondemand subscribers.
Creating Your Study Plan
We will first go through how to create your own study plan. Once you have your study plan up and running, we will later talk through best practices to ensure that you stick to your plan and are prepared to take the PMP.
- Do not take a "one size fits all" approach. When studying for the PMP, no two individuals will have the exact same experience. The number of hours you spend studying, as well as the content you need to review, should be based off of your individual needs. My advice would be not to find a generic PMP study plan online and follow it exactly. These cut-and-paste study plans may be a good starting point to understand which knowledge areas you need to focus on. Once you know what you need to study, you need to be able to tailor the plan to your needs!
- Begin by ranking your knowledge. There are ten core knowledge areas covered in the Project Management Book of Knowledge (PMBOK). School of PE's Study Plan Tool will help you obtain a holistic understanding of your own knowledge gaps. You will begin by ranking your knowledge of PMP topics from 1-5. Based on your answers, the tool will adjust to what you need to focus on the most.
- Determine how often you need to refresh your knowledge. Based on your knowledge rankings of certain subjects, the Study Plan will help you determine how often you should refresh your knowledge. If you have previously studied a topic and feel you have a solid foundational understanding, you can specify how often you would like to refresh those knowledge areas. The tool will have suggestions for your customized plan, but you will also have the option to specify for yourself how often you would like to refresh. This "refresher time" will be built into your personalized plan.
- Schedule dedicated time to study. Commit a consistent amount of time each week that you will set aside for studying. For the next couple of months, studying for the PMP will be your second job. Make sure you show up for work! The Study Plan Tool has a scheduler built in, allowing you to select dates and times you are available, as well as blackout dates to help keep your calendar organized. After selecting these dates, the tool will automatically create a completely customized study plan designed specifically around your availability.
- Use various study techniques for each knowledge area. Okay, so you've sat down for the first time to study a certain knowledge area of the PMP. There are three levels of understanding to master in order to properly prepare yourself for this exam - or any exam, for that matter. Here are some techniques to help get you started on building your foundation of knowledge. Of course, you should adjust this as needed based on your own study habits and needs.
- Fundamental understanding: Read and highlight important concept information. Take note of important vocabulary words. This gives you a baseline of concepts you will need to understand.
- Practical understanding: After reading and highlighting, take key concepts and turn them into flashcards, so that you can quiz myself later and solidify your understanding. (Note that you will have flashcards provided for you with Edumind's PMP training course).
- Applied knowledge: The best way to prepare yourself for the scenario-based questions you will encounter on the PMP exam is to answer practice exam questions. Once you understand the fundamentals, begin to take practice quizzes and sample exam questions. These questions should assess your knowledge, often by having you think about multiple knowledge areas at once.
- Review with a partner. If possible, review your understanding with a peer who is also studying to take the exam. Go over practice questions you missed, and quiz each other on flashcard concepts.
- Adjust as needed. You may find that after the first few days or weeks of studying, you need to change your plan. You need to focus more time on a subject you previously thought you had a better understanding of. If you don't retain knowledge very well when studying late at night, then other scheduling implications or personal things can come up. Do not punish yourself for this. Be flexible to your needs. It is unlikely that you will have created the perfect study plan on day one. Remember to tailor your plan into something that works for your study habits and schedule.
The personalized tool
available to Edumind students is extremely helpful when studying for the PMP exam. There are many additional benefits offered with the study plan:
- Adaptive planning: subjects can be easily modified, availability can be flexible, or even create multiple study plans if needed
- Easily toggle between Calendar View and List View of your plan
- Get a daily breakdown of subjects to study and number of hours to dedicate
- Time tracking and progress monitoring: the Study Plan tracks your hours and will automatically adjust your schedule based on your study habits.
- Mobile App available: view your study plan on the go with the School of PE app
Best Practices when Studying for the PMP
- Thoroughly Prep - but do not over-prepare. Because you set your own time limit when studying for and scheduling your exam, it is easy to fall into the trap of thinking that you will never be ready. If you are scoring consistently well on practice exams, you are ready to take the exam.
- Make sure you have the latest version of the PMBOK. The Project Management Body of Knowledge changes every few years. When there is an update, the change is significant - it is different from those "new" versions of textbooks you had to buy every year in college (didn't it always seem like the introduction was the only thing that changed?) The field of project management is changing constantly, and in order to meet the demands of growing businesses, best practices are often modified. The most recent version of the PMBOK should always be used to make sure that you are following practices in line with industry standards. And do not forget, the PMP exam is always modified when an updated version of the PMBOK comes out to accurately reflect new best practices for project managers.
- Do not answer the same practice exam questions over and over. Your brain is really good at remembering things that are familiar to it. When we see questions, we have already answered, we tend to remember what the right answer was. While you may get the right answer the second time you answer a question, this will not teach you anything new. The PMP exam will require you to think critically over rote memorizing answers to questions. When assessing your knowledge proficiency in a certain study area, try your best to find questions that you have not seen before. Edumind's Question Bank allows you to receive a mix of practice questions when studying for the exam.
- Incorporate your unique learning style into your study plan. Most people learn the best through some combination of visual stimulation, reading, and auditory input. Some may find different types of learning more beneficial than others. Make sure you understand your learning style and play to your strengths when studying for the exam.
As you may be able to see, preparing a PMP exam study plan is a remarkably similar experience to preparing a project plan. You must:
- Define the scope of knowledge to study
- Identify deliverables: when do you know that you have prepared enough in each knowledge area
- Develop a study schedule
What an excellent opportunity to practice project management as you prepare! Treating your exam preparation as its own project is a perfect opportunity for you to take note of the phases and activities involved in managing a project, from the initiating phase all the way to the closing phase. If you treat taking the PMP exam the same way that you would treat a project at your day job, you will be well prepared to take the PMP come exam day.
A study plan is essential to preparing for the exam! If you would like help putting together your own study plan, make sure to check out the Personalized Study Tool
available on School of PE.