Earning the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification is tough. There is a difficult exam to take and you need a disciplined approach to your preparation in order to pass it. But even if you are working full-time, it can definitely be done! I was able to accomplish this even though I had extra responsibilities in my full-time role due to my colleague being ill. I would like to share my experience and insight into how I managed it. I’m confident that with the right approach you can pass the exam too.
The first step to success for me was to sign up for an exam prep course with Project Management Academy (https://projectmanagementacademy.net/). The course guidelines, study tips, content, and delivery set me on the right track to study on my own. It is crucial to take a proper study course when preparing for the exam because the instructor can guide you to the right resources and practice tests. There is a vast amount of information covered in the PMP so the course is very helpful in determining the information to prioritize learning and what knowledge gaps you have. After the two-week course, I used this information to develop my study plan and jumped right in. Here are the steps I took to study successfully:
Step 1: Organize your day by establishing separate study and work hours.
Working from home can be especially challenging because you are always expected to be online. So, it is important to maintain separate hours for work and studying. Plan work priorities and set focused hours of work to do more with less time.
Step 2: Pick your best hours to study.
I study best during the morning and afternoons so I woke up early to put in two hours in the morning and one hour during lunch break. If I found time to study in the evening, I used that as well. It was full-fledged dedicated study mode. I had one goal for those days – to pass my PMP.
Step 3: Cancel unnecessary commitments and activities.
I canceled social commitments during the time period I was preparing for the exam. I also canceled weekend naps, TV shows, leisure reading, and long phone calls. It can get tough but remember that it will not last forever. Plan a celebration after you pass your exam.
Step 4: Treat exam prep like a project.
I created an overall study schedule and a checklist of tasks to accomplish. I then developed a detailed study plan and tried to stick to it.
Step 5: Adjust your study plan to keep it focused.
I studied from textbooks, notes, and videos throughout the week. On the weekends I took practice tests and based the next week’s plan on the outcome of those tests. The test results showed the areas of the material that I was weak in and needed to study more. I passed only two of the recommended three practice tests before I attempted the final test.
The PMP exam can be taken in a testing center or at home. The exam center I had selected was closed due to pandemic lockdowns so I had to choose the home-testing option. That afternoon during my exam, there was a big storm and the neighbourhood club decided to play some loud celebration music – all this during the test. I submitted my exam 10 minutes before time was up. The screen flashed to the results – you have passed your PMP certification. It was one of the most rewarding of experiences! Despite the changes and distractions, I was still able to succeed through diligent preparation. I hope that the lessons I learned in my PMP journey will help you with yours. If so let us know! All the best to you becoming a certified Project Manager.