Test Prep Tips for PMP Certification
Studying for the PMP exam is time consuming and demanding. Following are some suggestions on how to make the test-prep process easier and more enjoyable:
- Keep your study materials handy wherever you go. Any time you're waiting or have a few minutes to kill, read your material.
- Take practice exams and look at what you got right, what you got wrong, and what you've learned since your previous attempt.
- Use the simulation exam from the Computer Based Training (CBT) course on the accompanying CD. Because the exam format is also computer-based, the simulation exam will help prepare you for the real exam.
- Keep the scores as a motivator to do better. Try making your study session a quiz to challenge yourself.
Do your homework
Because you need to know many ordered lists and definitions for the exam, concentrate your efforts at the highest levels. The high-level ordered lists are
- The five process groups
- The nine knowledge areas
- The 39 component processes
When you start memorizing the ordered lists for the nine knowledge areas and the 39 component processes, the first step is to become familiar with the definitions. Don't focus your energy on memorizing the definitions just yet. Focus your effort on memorizing the lists, in order. Later, you can dive into the definitions.
Following are some key terms you need to know:
- Every management (subsidiary project) plan and its supporting detail
- The feedback loop for (subsidiary or knowledge area) project plan updates. (They may be called something else depending on their knowledge areas — for example, schedule updates rather than time updates.)
- Historical information (always an input)
- Organizational policies (always an input)
- Organizational procedures (almost always a technique)
- Corrective actions
- Change requests
- Lessons learned (always an output)
- Work results (output of execution, an input to control)
- The work breakdown structure
- Expert judgment
- Project charter
- Scope statement
- Statement of work
It's easier to learn these ordered lists as pairs or groupings of terms. For example, it's easy to see the logical grouping among corrective action, change requests, and lessons learned. An example of pairing is with any subsidiary management plan in any knowledge area; it's paired with some type of supporting detail. Other pairs include assumptions and constraints, work results (exact definitions change in different knowledge areas), and change requests.
Be on the lookout for how the processes for each of the following terms flow, how the output of one process becomes the input of another:
- Assumptions and constraints
- Change requests and corrective action
- The management plans (as an output of planning and an input to both execution and control)
Make note of their exceptions — for example, where change requests are an input or where they are an output.
Execution outputs include the paired items' work results (the exact definition may be different in different knowledge areas) and change requests. Know in which process the subsidiary project plan for that process starts or first appears. It will generally start in a planning process. Be careful because some planning processes don't necessarily include planning in the term. For example, the schedule management plan is an output to Schedule Development.
In the controlling processes, the only two processes that don't include the word control are Scope Verification (Scope) and Performance Reporting (in Communications). Both are overall processes.
Make sure that you know the differences between the core and facilitating processes in each knowledge area. Know the tools and techniques, especially where they involve further analysis. Know the tools and techniques of the risk area especially, including Performance Reporting in Communications, Time, Quality, and Cost.
Look for question patterns
Being able to detect patterns in the questions helps you eliminate bad choices and select the correct answer. Here are our guidelines for deciphering repeated patterns:
- Is the question looking for a match to the pattern or the exception to the pattern?
- Is the question looking for an input, tool and technique, or an output?
- What process group does the question cover?
- What are the process results? These objectives are outputs.
- What knowledge area does the question cover?
Two basic types of patterns are matching and exception:
- Matching: A question that calls for a matching pattern names a series of items and asks you to pick the item in the responses that's most nearly like the others. For example, banana is a match for apple, orange, and grapefruit.
- Possible exam question: Which of the following processes belongs to Risk?
- Exception: The exception pattern presents you with a list of items and asks you to identify the one that doesn't belong: Among apple, brick, orange, and grapefruit, brick is the exception. Another term for an exception pattern is a mismatch.
- Possible exam question: Which of the following processes does not belong to Risk?
Look for key words and phrases in the question such as:
- Best or worst
- First or last
- Belongs to or does not belong
- Must or except for
- Most effective or least effective
- First or last
- Greatest or least
- Most helpful or least helpful
- Not including
- Key activity
- Preferred response