It is always good to have a detailed plan for a accomplishing a task such as clearing a certification exam. Being the gold standard in Project management, the PMP certification exam requires commitment from a Trainee in terms of serious and detailed preparation to clear the PMP exam. Given below are detailed steps on earning your PMP credential with great ease:
Step 1: Sign-up for Project Management Institute (PMI) membership
The first priority for any Trainee looking to get certified as a PMP professional is to set up a target certification exam date, and sign-up for Project Management Institute (PMI) membership. These tasks are to be done before beginning preparation. Further information about the membership and the exam is accessible to all users on the PMI website
A Trainee should ideally sign up for PMI membership keeping the preparation time in mind. For Example, f it will take 6 months to prepare for the PMP certification exam, you will have to sign up 6 months prior to the target exam date.
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With the PMI membership fee being $139 which includes the $10 application fee, one might wonder if it is necessary to sign up for the membership in the first place. But there are in fact several advantages to signing up for the PMI membership. For starters, one has to keep in mind that the PMI membership along with the PMP certification together costs less than just the PMP exam fee for Trainee who are non-member.
PMI Membership = USD 139
PMP Exam Fee for members = USD 405
Total cost for Membership and Exam = USD 544 (Member cost)
PMP Exam Fee for Non-members = USD 555 (Non-member cost)
As you can clearly be seen the cost for a member is lesser than for a non-member .The PMP Handbook can offer more detail regarding the fee structure.
Members will also receive a free soft copy of the latest edition of Project Management Body of Knowledge or PMBOK, Member Trainees will also receive free access to certain Project Management Books (for example PMI Books24x7 which actually has been currently discontinued); this is also coupled with access to what are recognized as award-winning and highly informative publications.
Step 2: Earn 35 Contact Hours of Project Management Education
This is a very essential step on the path to obtaining a PMP certification, wherein a Trainee is expected to attain 35 contact hours of Project Management education. This can be either in the form of classroom training sessions or online training sessions that are accessible to Trainees through various institutes and can help Trainees achieve these educational hours. The best forms of training have both online and classroom training included in the course plan.
Most training institutes will use the PMBOK Guide as a training tool to help the Trainee to achieve the required educational hours and at the same time.
Step 3: Apply for PMP Certification Exam with PMI
After earning the required 35 contact hours of PM education, the next logical step would be to apply for the PMP certification exam with PMI. It is best for Trainees to have a good grasp of how to go about applying for the PMP certification exam. Trainees can apply for the PMP certification on the web by utilizing PMI’s online certification system. They will then have to report the acquired project management experience in terms of ours to PMI as a part of the application. PMP aspirants will be pleased to know that PMI has simplified the online application process for the PMP exam by a great deal.
PMI will then go through and review the Trainee’s application, and based on the determination of whether the application is complete in all respects –PMI will send the Trainee an email to submit the stipulated exam fee. PMI usually takes around one week to approve a Trainee’s application. Once the Trainee’s application is approved, the said approval is deemed to be valid for one whole year from the date the Trainee receives the approval email.
After the Trainee pays for the exam, PMI is bound to send the Trainee an email which may either indicate the examination scheduling instructions to aid the Trainee in the scheduling of the examination. The other possibility is that the application may be randomly selected for audit.
In case the Trainee receives scheduling instructions, he/she can proceed to schedule the exam with Prometric. In case the application is selected for an audit, then PMI will send the follow-up instructions to comply with the said audit.
It is important for Trainees to remember that PMI does not ask for any kind of documentation or other proof during the time of the application. But if the application is selected for the audit, the Trainee will be asked to send copies of degree or diploma certificates and signatures from their respective managers and or supervisors which verify project management experience. Trainees are also supposed to verify their contact hours of PM education with signatures from the appropriate people.
Step 4: Book the Exam with Prometric Testing Center
You can book the exam after you receive the email from PMI with exam scheduling instructions. PMP exam is administered by Prometric. Book the exam with Prometric well in advance (at least 2 months in advance), as slots are always limited. Having a clear target date will also bring focus into your preparation. Note that you have exactly one year to take the exam from the date your application is approved. It is your responsibility to ensure that you book and take your exam with Prometric within that one-year eligibility window.
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Step 5: Get the right Exam Prep Material and Study
For the Trainees to earn a PMP certification by clearing the certification exam, they will need to access the right study material and learning resources, online or otherwise. Online forums, books exam simulators, and mock tests are all great ways to prepare for the certification exam. Some such resources that are needed by Trainees are given below:
- Books: The PMBOK and the PMBOK guide are absolute essentials when it comes to preparing for the PMP exam. Rita Mulcahy’s PMP Exam Prep is a great book that can contribute to Trainees learning needs. Finally the free online books available should be sufficient to pass the exam.
- Online Forums: It is highly advisable for PMP aspirants to join one or more of the online forums that are mentioned on the PMP Certification Exam Online Forums page. By joining such online forums, users and Trainees can exchange views on the PM material, concepts and methodologies and even tips and tricks on how to ace the PMP exam. They can also help in networking which is always highly beneficial to working professionals. Trainees may also find question banks on such forums which are great for practice.
- Free mock exams: Mock exams mimic the testing environment of the PMP exam in terms of questions posed for answering. The PMP aspirants can prepare for the pressures they may face in the actual PMP exam, by facing new questions in the same format as the exam, well in advance. This is necessary so that once the Trainees take up a set of mock exams; they will be used to the pressure that comes with answering a given set of questions in a fixed time limit. So once such Trainees take up the actual examination, they will perform as intended and clear the exam with high scores.
- Other exams simulators: to augment free mock exams, it is advisable for Trainees to invest in a great commercial exam simulator such as the Rita Mulcahy’s PM Fastrack program. Now, one has to remember that even though there is an initial cost to a paid exam simulator, the ROI on such efforts are quite rewarding. Also, the standard of such paid exam simulators is quite high and almost comparable to the actual PMP certification examination.
If you as a PMP aspirant do not want to shell out money on expensive exam simulators such as the on mentioned above, then a more frugal option would be the PMP Exam Simulator with 1800 questions. Finally, attempting even a fraction of all the tests available will mean increasing the chances of your ace, or at least clearing the PMP exam.
Trainees will have to set aside some time in the beginning to research content and validate said content so that the preparation is on solid ground. It is best to check and cross check the veracity of the study material before referring to and studying it.
Step 6: Take the PMP Exam and Ace It!
This is where it all leads to, taking the actual PMP exam. If you as a Trainee have religiously followed the steps mentioned above in order, then you are bound to clear the PMP exam without any issues. As a Trainee, one can take up the exam when he/she feels ready, and this can be done by finding an exam slot with Prometric.
The PMP exam is four hours long, which means most people who are used to two to three-hour examinations will already be used to the length of the exam duration. For those Trainees who are not used to the duration of the exam, they will need to condition their body and mind with the sufficient mental and physical stamina needed to endure the said exam. To condition oneself, it is recommended to try out at least a few full-length mock exams.
The exam consisting of 200 multiple choice questions, out of which only 175 questions are scored in actuality. The 25 questions that remain are “trial” questions which won’t be scored. It is assumed that questions that are not referred to in the PMBOK are most likely not to be scored.
The distribution of exam questions across different project management process groups is (updated for PMP Exam 2016):
The PMP Handbook is great for referencing the exam details in their entirety which is analogous to accessing the blueprint.
Following the steps of preparation for the PMP exam in their entirety ensures that a Trainee will be well prepared to face the exam, equipping PMP aspirants with the best chance to clear the PMP exam.
You May also like to read: 7 advantages of PMP certification for the much-needed breakthrough
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