When you survey the landscape of training opportunities for the Project Management Institute's Project Management Professional (PMP) certification exam, you'll be faced with a lot of options. The PMP exam has indirectly created an entire market for training, certification, and continuing education providers. In fact, there are more than 1,400 registered training providers.
Before you decide on a training option, I encourage you to set a target date to take the exam, pay the exam fee, and create a plan for reaching your goal. It's also important to factor in your budget and your learning style when planning your training strategy.
PMP exam prep and training tips
Below are possible ways to prepare for the PMP exam. You might choose to go with one of these options or incorporate more than one of these suggestions into your training plan. I also found that scheduling time for studying was an important part of my PMP prep work.
1: Attend a PMP boot camp
If you learn best in a classroom setting, consider going to a 3-4 day PMP preparation course. You can participate in exercises that reinforce the course learning objectives and ask the instructor questions face-to-face. These boot camps provide accelerated learning, which also comes at a high cost. (Tip: I don't recommend completing a 4-day boot camp and then taking the PMP exam the next day.)
These are three providers of PMP boot camps: RMC Project Management, Inc., International Institute for Learning, Inc., and Cheetah Learning. You can also search PMI's database of the Registered Education Training Providers.
2: Take advantage of online training
If traveling to a boot camp doesn't fit your schedule, budget, or learning style, consider taking an online training course or incorporating online quizzes and study materials into your plan. PMI offers a variety of online learning options, including sample quizzes, on-demand training, and instructor-led training.
The PM PrepCast provides 140 PMP exam prep videos that play on PC, Apple, and tablet platforms. The podcast is a useful study aid to play during your drive to work. The PM PrepCast is $179.99, which makes it an affordable option if you have to use your personal funds to pay for your training.
Udemy is another good resource for online training. It's an innovative platform where you learn from self-published authors, teachers, and practitioners. You can find PMP courses for under $100 by searching udemy.
3: Join a study group
If you're looking for peer support, search for a study group to join in your area. PMI members, your local PMI chapter will have information about study groups, as well as other training materials and tips on passing the PMP exam.
Another option is to start a study group with project managers at your workplace. I was fortunate to find a work-based study group of aspiring PMPs. We met for eight weeks and reviewed the core areas of the PMBOK, took sample quizzes, and discussed PMBOK concepts. I found the study group very helpful, especially when we reviewed earned value (EV) management in detail. It took me a long time to understand the EV, planned value (PV), and actual cost (AC) concepts.
My approach to training and studying for the PMP
After setting a target date to take the exam, I followed these steps to prepare for it.
- I purchased a web-based training program with sample quizzes for each knowledge area and two comprehensive exams.
- I developed a study plan that included reviewing the PMBOK and taking sample quizzes.
- I joined a study group to review the PMBOK processes, tools, and techniques and take more sample quizzes.
- The weekend before I took the exam, I spent four hours on Saturday and Sunday reviewing the past quizzes and sample exams.
Two hundred questions later, I walked out with a passing grade and a smile on my face.