PMP Application, Requirements and PMP Exam Preparation
What is PMP according to Wikipedia?
Project Management Professional (PMP) is an internationally recognized professional designation offered by the Project Management Institute (PMI). There are currently 658,523 active PMP certified individuals and 274 chartered chapters across 204 countries and territories worldwide.
How much does PMP earn?
PMP Requirements: Are you ready for PMP yet?
Before you can apply for PMP, you need to meet PMP requirements from Project Management Institude (PMI). Your education background will determine the minimum PMP requirements you have to meet.
If you have a high school diploma or equivalent
- You need at least five years of project management experience, with 7,500 hours leading projects
- 35 hours of project management education credit.
If you have a bachelor’s degree (4 years study) or equivalent
- You will need at least three years of project management experience, with 4,500 hours leading projects
- 35 hours of project management education credit.
You can read the official PMP Handbook for further details. If you do not meet the PMP requirements, you may want to look at the Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)® certification. But my suggestion will be to collect your hours and get the highest accreditation possible. And that will be PMP. Let us get the best and not settle for less.
I will proceed to talk about the application process. The PMP exam prep and study process will be covered in the PMP Exam Study Guide. If you find this helpful, please leave a comment and help me improve the site content going forward.
Having completed the PMP exam, I am looking at all the PMP exam prep materials in the internet differently. you will have sufficient materials to help you prepare for PMP exam with confidence. However the one thing I would suggest you to do is to start with a game plan!
The fastest you can get from collecting your PDU hours to completing your exam is comfortably at about 4 months. If you can preparing for the PMP exam full time, then you may be able to shrink the study time down to 30 days.
I feel lucky that I managed to request for company sponsorship for my PMP certification and PMP exam prep. So the amount of time I spent on preparing for PMP is significant shorter but two-three times more intensive. Harwinder at Deep Fried Brain Project has posted his game plan to prepare for PMP in four months. Everyone will have different schedule.
Here is the plan I had and I’ve referred to the self-study plan Deepfriedbrain shared online:
If I took self-study path, I would adopt the study strategy inspired by on the total-immersive bootcamp I attended. The core strategy can easily be scaled to longer period that suits you easily.
I am always a supporter of studying smart instead of purely studying hard. I studied intensively for 50 hours for my PMP exam. However, I know that I were to do self study, I will need at least 150 hours over a course of 2-3 months. The study time will spread through the work week so the learning effectiveness is different than the intensive boot camp style.
Everyone studies at slightly different pace and you should make your own game plan for passing PMP exam. You can use the strategy and the game plan above to help you decide your overall timeline. Tune to your strength and allow time for your weaknesses. The amount of study will determine your confidence when you walk in to the exam room. May the success of PMP be with you.
Now that you have a game plan, what’s next?
1. Collect 35 PDUs
Since the investment on PMI and PMP related costs is rather significant, I have decided to prioritized learning activities that I can use for my day-to-day work first. When I have the complete contact hours, I can then comfortably schedule for exam and sit for it right away. Of course, you can also do this after you have signed up for PMI membership and PMP exam.
There are several ways to earn contact hours in general and they do not have to be PMP specific. I earned my contact hours mostly through project management related internal and external trainings I have attended over the years.
If you are in similar position, you can already start identifying relevant training course from the past and respective attendance certificates . What you need to do next is then just going straight to applying for PMI membership, PMP certification and focusing on your PMP exam prep.
Otherwise, you may want to look for an online or classroom PMP exam prep course that can help you collect your contact hours. If you choose this approach, it will be wise to keep your PMP exam prep course end date as close to your intended PMP exam date as possible, while buffering about a month for PMI membership and PMP certification application.
2. Sign up for PMI Membership
If you have set a game plan, your first step should be signing up for PMI membership. For a game plan over 3 months, you need to have your PMI membership 3 months before your target exam date. In reality, you can start studying without the PMI membership and exam registration. However, it will only distract you until you hit the critical path to schedule for exam and cannot proceed without the PMP application work.
Why pay extra PMI membership? It just makes financial sense.You pay extra to pay less:
- As PMI members, your investment for PMP exam and PMI membership will be USD$544
- PMI Membership costs USD$139
- PMP Exam Application fee (for members) costs USD $405 or EUR340
- As non-PMI members, your investment will be $555 on PMI exam fee.
So you see that non-member PMP exam fee costs more than PMI member’s total investment. You pay more for PMI membership so that you pay less overall. It is a smart strategy to capitalize on the savings, and obtain access to members-only PM resources for your future recertification needs.
3. Apply for PMP Certification Exam
At this point, you should already have collected your 35 contact hours and met all the eligibility criteria set by PMP certification. The details of PMP certification application is rather comprehensive and is guided step-by-step by PMP handbook.
- The PMP application process is now all done online and quite straight forward. You can save your PMP application progress. I saved my PMP application twice because I missed my referral’s confirmation. So, it is helpful to have a digital or written list of projects that you want to use for this application close by.
- Regardless if you decide to collect your 35 contact hours first or applying for PMI membership first, both of them need to happen before you apply for your PMP certification exam.
- After your application is submitted, you will receive a confirmation email from PMI.
- When the review of your PMP application is complete and positive, you will receive an email with instruction to pay for your exam.
- Once the payment has gone through and everything goes well, there are two things that might happen,
- You will receive the most critical component for your PMP exam – the eligibility ID. This eligibility ID will stay valid for one year. If you do not schedule your exam in a years time, you will have to re-apply all over again.
- You might be randomly selected for PMP audit. That is a topic I will cover separately on how to get through PMP audit smoothly.
In the bootcamp I attended, we were scheduled to sit for the exam at the end of the 5 days. Unfortunately there were some people that did not get eligibility ID in time and could not join a group scheduled PMP exam. As a lesson learned, please do make sure you receive your eligibility ID way in advance than you need to.
4. Schedule your exam
PMI partners with Prometric Testing Centers to host all PMP exams globally. So with the eligibility ID you received from your PMP application confirmation, you can now go to Prometric website, accessible from your PMI members portal and schedule for your PMP exam date.
Remember that your eligibility ID stays valid for only one year. You need to make sure that you schedule your exam within a year from the PMP approval date.
Several tips to keep in mind that worked well for me:
- Schedule your exam early in the day when your mind is fresh
- Choose a non working day or a working day you are prepared to take full day off so that you can focus 100%.
5. Study, study, study
I have listed the best and recommended PMP prep study resources on this website. I have also specified the ones I have used and reviewed personally. Here are the top summary:
Forum: There are a lot of free tips and questions posted by fellow PMP students. So join at least one forums online to get yourself immersed in the PMP exam prep mindset. I have used PM Hangout by Deepfriedbrain and I want to be PMP by Oliver Lehmann on LinkedIn. Both have quite a large community that can support you along the way.
Practice Questions: This is one of the most helpful part that helped me succeed in PMP exam. I would suggest you to complete at least 1500 PMP practice questions from the top recommended PMP question banks. You will notice that the quality of the questions do vary across various websites. And it will be better use of your time to work on quality practice questions than average ones.
Mock Exams: The difference between PMP mock exam and PMP practice questions is the timer capability and questions distribution that mirror real PMP exam. So it is necessary to invest in a good PMP exam simulator after you have covered full PMBOK materials. My personal favorite will be PM Exam Simulator from PM prep-cast. This simular will help you to get a good sense of the actual tool used in real PMP exam.
6. Relax, focus and sit for your exam.
Now that you have done all you can. It is the judgement day. Let me share with you some lessons learned from the actual exam day from my own experience and my observation of others:
- Take breaks and rehydrate yourselves. Sitting in an ( usually) air-conditioned room can be exhausting. So do allow yourself to take breaks. I had headache about 1.5 hour into the exam. Forcing myself to take a break was the best decision I made that day.
Lastly, according to PMP Handbook, there are 200 questions with only 175 questions that are scored, and the remaining 25 questions are new questions for evaluation purpose. Based on official PMI information, here are the split of Questions for your PMP certification exam:
- Initiation – 13%
- Planning – 24%
- Executing – 30%
- Monitoring and Controlling – 25%
- Closing – 8%
- TOTAL – 100%
I will share more about where to focus in a separate post.
Tip: PMI announced recently that they will change the exam questions distribution after November 2015. The main chunk of PMBOK domain groups and knowledge areas will stay the same with addition of tasks to some knowledge areas. Once these changes are know, I will update this EasyPM website accordingly.
If you find this post helpful or has any discrepancy, please leave me a comment below so that I can continue to update it. Thanks!