Step By Step Guide For Project Management Certification

PMP Study Plan 

This study plan will review the Project Management Professional exam preparation journey in detail, it’s suitable for professionals managing projects, and PMP exam candidates. I have passed the exam on Aug, 2016, and according to my personal experience i have prepared this study plan, which you can rely on 100% to get prepared for the PMP exam.

By Shadi Al-Sha’er, PMP®, RMP®, PRINCE2 Practitioner ®, August,5th,2019


In the past few years, I have been involved with hundreds of professionals who would like to have the PMP certificate, the frequent asked question is: From where should I begin the PMP journey?

The Detailed study plan explained below was created by myself, referring to my own experience when I was preparing for the PMP Exam and from the lessons I learned am receiving from my students passing the exam.

The Plan below is divided to 14 Steps, with busy professionals who cannot give more than 10 hours a week, the journey below is expected to take 12-14 weeks.

Take an hour to read the Study plan carefully, this hour will save a lot of your time and efforts!

Step one: Do you want to be a PMP Certified?

How much time and money are required?

First of all you should have the serious intent to be a PMP Certified, this intent might come from the career path you have in the project management field, or from your passion to improve your knowledge in this field, wherever it’s coming from, the PMP is a great career enhancement for professional project managers or people who would like to build a career in project management. Once you have this intent and you are willing to invest your time and money,  you can be a PMP Certificate holder after three months from this moment.

Are you eligible for the PMP exam? As per the PMI Standards you must have a secondary degree (high school diploma, associate’s degree or the global equivalent), 7,500 hours leading and directing projects and 35 hours of project management education OR you should have a four year Degree, 4,500 hours leading and directing projects and 35 hours of project Management education.

The PMP exam fees is $405 for members and $555 for none members, so it’s better and money saving to register through the PMI with the fees of $139, especially if you are willing to have more than one certificate from the Project management Institute. For more details about the PMI requirements for the PMP Exam and the exam fees, you can check the PMI.org website.

The total cost of this journey will be the exam fees, reference books cost, 35 contact hours training course and miscellaneous costs of supportive documents. If you have the self-learning ability, I will guide you how to get 100% prepared for the PMP Exam with only $100 including the 35 contact hours training course! So the total cost of the PMP preparation journey will be around 650$ (including exam fees, 35 contact hours, reference book and simulated tests), if you prefer going to a live classroom in your city to get the educational 35 contact hours training course, then the cost of the journey might reach $1,500 to $2,000.

Most of the project management practitioners can afford the $1,500 to get ready for the exam and apply for it; the real issue is the time investment! Most of us are committed with full time jobs and with our families, so you want to find the most effective way to get ready, this step by step study plan I prepared based on my experience will save your time, no need to search the web for tons of useless data, 10 hours per week for 12-14 weeks following exactly this plan will guarantee your success in the PMP exam from the first attempt.

Step two: Get your reference book.

Pick your reference book! You will hear from other PMP credentials that having the 35 hours of project management education before reading the PMP reference book is better, but in my opinion reading the reference book you selected for one time at least will be much more effective, this is what I advise my students to do before they attend my workshops. Why? Once you start reading the reference book you will start pointing the topics where you have weaknesses, you will have a good general knowledge of the content and you will select the knowledge areas you want to focus on during the 35 hours training. This is the reason why I advise you to read the book first, to know what is the content of the training before joining it and to highlight the topics you need to improve your knowledge in then start your educational training. For sure you heard about  the PMBOK 6th Edition , A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® 6th Guide), For me, It was not the perfect reference to depend on, It is more useful for project management practitioners rather than people preparing for the PMP exam. The way and the approach of this book doesn’t make things easier, for a lot of PMP Credentials who I know personally, It was not the reference they used, even when I read it after I passed the PMP Exam, it was just to make the study notes for the PMP Exam. But still it’s not my recommendation!

The best in the market is the PMP Exam Prep for Rita Mulcahy’s , This new ninth edition is the worldwide best-selling PMP® exam preparation book, and It’s my first recommendation. I used this book and I read it twice before the PMP Exam, an amazing book using an approach which encourage the reader to read more and more. This book focuses on the PMP Exam requirements with a lot of tricks and notes from the author which are mentioned clearly, at the end of each chapter you will find a group of questions which in my opinion you will find same level questions in your exam, so practicing these questions will increase your probability to pass the exam from the first trial, for me this is the best reference and you can depend on it 100% to pass the exam. The price of this book is reasonable, you can purchase it at a price of $55 from amazon which is the best price in the market, or you can have a  used  book for $42 .  Reading the reference book for the first time should not take more than 2 weeks, during the first round, highlight the important topics, have a note of points you didn’t understand in order to focus on in the 35 hours training. Remember that you are reading the book now for the reason of highlighting the points you didn’t understand before the class (which you should do). Make sure you have this list! I have wrote a detailed review of books i used to prepare for my PMP exam which you can find in the reference book/guide page .

Step Two (Alternative)

During my experience helping professionals being PMP certified, I met portion of people who don’t want to start reading about a topic which they know nothing about, so reading the reference book without having a high level background is not a good option, however attending the 35 educational hours now isn’t my recommendation! The best is to attend a short training course to have a high level knowledge about the exam content, iCertify Institute have created a 3.5 hours of recorded videos going through the 10 knowledge Areas of the PMP , It’s highly recommended to start with , you can enroll here for this course with $11.99 .

Once you are done with it, get your reference book before you move to the next step .

Step Three: Attend the 35 educational Contact hours ( Live Class , Webinar or Udemy )

Nowadays getting the 35 contact hours is very easy, it’s your call! Do you prefer attending a live class around you? Do a simple search in the place you are living in and register for a live class training, usually it costs from 500$ to 1,500 $ depending on the place you are living in (currency and instructor’s reputation). The issue of attending such classes is that you need to fit your timing to suit the instructor’s timing and such classes are usually intensive which means that the instructors will be teaching the whole material of the PMP Exam within 3 to 7 days and sometimes students will not be able to acknowledge this amount of data within such short time, but still I personally know some students who prefer having a live class/workshop .

The second option is registering for interactive online workshops, the instructor will do the 35 contact hours through online webinars while having 10-15 students, it saves money and It’s more flexible. The most famous program is the one provided by simplIlearn , it will cost you around $800 to get 36 hours instructor led training with 8 case studies and access to around 1,400 PMP questions, it’s a good program with money back guarantee .

In my point of view, there is no need to pay for any of the above IF you have the self-learning ability, you can be eligible for the PMP Exam with a $11.99 online course on Udemy , at the end of the course you will have 35 contact hours completion certification. this training should improve your knowledge in the Project management field and prepare you to pass the exam, here is udemy PMP best seller course provided by Joseph Phillips , PMP Exam Prep Seminar , PMBOK Guide 6th edition includes 35 PDU’s . You can enroll through the link for only 11.99$. It’s a huge money saver comparing to the other options, you have more flexibility in attending the course content, and whenever you have a question you can post it on the course Q&A or directly contacting the instructor .

Now it’s your decision, you can attend a live class , online interacting class or a recorded course on Udemy , the most important is to take the maximum benefits out of the course, understand the exam content, Process groups, knowledge areas and processes and take a certificate of attending 35 hours of PMP education at the end of the course.

Note : For Arabic Native Speakers , i recommend PMP Preparation Course 6th Edition includes 42 PDUs

Step Four : You have the clear image now, read the reference book again!

Now It’s the time to read the reference book again, with more focus on the important topics, you have the clear image of the PMP framework, what are the 5 process groups, the 10 knowledge areas and the 49 processes, how do the project flow from initiating to closing. Reading the book again will make you 80% ready to pass the PMP exam, this time with more focus and slow reading .

Step Five : Master the PMP Math Formulas! Guarantee 25-30 Questions in Real exam!

This part is considered the most difficult part of the PMP exam for the majority of the PMP candidates, the calculations and formulas questions. for all the PMP courses I provided this part have its own lecture with not less than 4 hours of detailed explanations in addition to 50 math questions. Mastering the math concepts will take some time and efforts but it can guarantee 25-30 correct answers in the real PMP exam which is a good share out of the 200 questions, now it’s the time to revisit the following topics, memorize their formulas for the exam and practice some questions:

  1. Project Selection Methods : Present Value , Net Present Value , Cost Benefit Analysis & Payback Period
  2. Activity Cost & Duration Estimates: Simple Average, Weighted Average, Standard Deviation and activity range of estimate .
  3. Critical Path Method: Early Start, Early Finish, Late Start and Late finish , Float calculations , Critical path determination .
  4. Earned Value Management: Cost and Schedule Variances , Cost and Schedule Performance Indexes , the 4 formulas of Estimate at Completion , Estimate to Complete , To Complete performance Index and Variance at completion .
  5. Numerical Risk Analysis: Expected Monetary Value , Decision Tree analysis , Contingency Reserve Calculations .
  6. Communication Channels : Communication Channels Formula
  7. Contracts Management : Make/Buy Analysis ,Contract fees and Profit , point of total assumption .

The 7 topics should be mastered, each terms I listed above have it’s own formula which must be memorized for the exam. The below table lists the formulas you need for the PMP Exam.

I have prepared a course on udemy which was above the students expectations with more than 250 enrollment and a rating of 4.7. It contains 4.5 hours of recorded videos, going through each of the 7 topics and all math formulas. In this course I will be solving with you 50+ exam questions, I recommend you to master the mentioned above topics and formulas , you can enroll here for 19.99$

Note : For Arabic Native Speakers , enroll here for the PMP Detailed math course – Arabic .

Once you feel you mastered the PMP math formulas , you can test your self with those 150 tough math questions here . 

Check here all formulas you need to memorize for the PMP Exam , a complete free recourse .

Step Six: Know the PMP Exam Structure and each domain Shared in the exam

Knowing the exam structure will help you highlight the important domains and processes, know where to focus and from where the biggest share of questions will come. The PMP exam is composed of 200 multiple choice questions  which you have to complete in 4 hours. Now to get to my point in this step, below is the table in which it shows the process groups & Processes share percentage and exam content outline as per the PMI latest information :

Process Group No. of Processes Share % No. of Questions
Initiating 2 13% 26
Planning 24 24% 48
Executing 10 31% 62
Monitoring  and Controlling 12 25% 50
Closing 1 7% 14

You will also encounter 5- 10 questions about the professional responsibility and Project management framework which will be distributed within the process groups. The difficulty level will be as following:

Process Group                                      Difficulty Level ( upper is higher in difficulty ) 

Monitoring and Controlling

Executing

Planning

Initiating

Closing

From the table above, you can have the following conclusion:

13 Processes (Initiating, Executing & Closing) will have a share of 102/200 Questions while 36 Processes (Planning, Monitoring & Controlling ) will have a share of 98/200 Questions.

Yes , you need to master those 13 processes! Understand deeply each one of them, memorize the Inputs, tools , techniques and outputs. In addition to all related terms , give those 13 processes a lot of time, this will increase your probability of passing the exam from the first attempt. That doesn’t mean you should neglect the remaining 36 processes, but mastering and giving attention towards the 13 out of 49 processes that have a share of 50% of the exam does make sense .

Now to have a better picture of how does the PMP exam look, I have a created a 5 hours Videos Course, Solving 200 Exam Questions divided as per the table above. I will walk through each domain questions separately and explain why I selected the best answer , enroll here for 19.99 $  In the current stage of your journey, it’s not a good time to start practicing alone… Few more steps to start practicing timely tested simulated tests .

Note : For Arabic Native Speakers , enroll here for the PMP 200 questions by domain- Arabic .

Step Seven : Highlight your weaknesses and PMP Exam hot Topics

Now you know how the real PMP exam will look like, and you have been through 200 Questions divided on 5 processes groups , What are the areas of weakness you have? you can answer this question once you are done with the course I mentioned in the previous step. It is very normal to have few weakness points which you need to give more attention to. Now in addition to the points you highlighted and you want to refer back to the reference book for, I’m listing below the PMP hot topics which you will encounter them as multiple choice questions in the exam:

Organization Structures, Projects are impacted by, and have an impact on, the cultural norms, management policies, and procedures for the organizations of which they are apart,  are one of the Main forms of influence to know how the company is organized. Since the organizational structure will dictate who the project manager goes to for help with resources , how communications must be handled , and other aspects of the project management. Organization Structures are : Functional , Matrix , Composite & Projectized , Matrix Organizations can have the following forms : Weak, Balanced & Strong .

Perform Integrated Change Control, as Managing changes in your project is a key of success, expect to see a lot of questions asking you about this topic, read about the steps of how a professional project manager should deal with the changes, most of the questions related to this topic will be situational and wordy (long) questions. Example: What’s the Best practice a project manager should do ? What’s Next ? What did the project manager forget to do? In order to answer such questions, you need to understand the process of dealing with changes. You can refer to my article Dealing with changes , Being a Proactive Project Manager for better understanding of this topic .

AGILE Practice for PMP Candidates , refer here to practice the 10 most asked questions about AGILE life cycle in the PMP exam.

Creating the Project WBS and Scope Baseline, It’s not even ethical to start a project without having a clear WBS , put this statement in your mind, even for your practical life, for the PMP exam, you need to understand the WBS structure , all possible levels such as Control accounts and Work Packages , the decomposition tool and how it will be used to create the WBS. The scope baseline contains the Scope statement , WBS and WBS dictionary ,therefore it will be the major output to Create WBS process. Expect to see 5 questions in the PMP exam about the scope baseline and the WBS creation .

Estimation Techniques, When it comes to Activity Cost and duration estimates, there are few estimating methods you need to be aware of for the PMP exam. Expect to see few questions testing your knowledge in the estimation techniques used for this purpose, which are the most accurate ? which can be applied on the project level and which can be used on the activity level ? You should be able to answer such questions easily for the PMP exam. I have prepared an article explaining the estimation techniques in deep details, refer here for more information about this topic .

Critical Path Method, It’s the longest duration path through a network diagram and it determines the shortest time it takes to complete a project. For the critical path, you need to answer exam questions which will ask you about one of the following:

  • A. The longest path through the network diagram (Critical path) of the Project
  • B. Early Start & Early finish of activities.
  • C, Late Start & Late finish of activities.
  • D. Project Float & Activities Float.

Earned Value Management, Earned value is used in performance reviews to measure project performance against the scope, schedule and cost baselines, integrates Cost, time and scope ( work done ) and can be used to forecast future performance and project completion dates and costs. It’s performed in Monitor and control process group and usually results in change requests to the projects. Earned Value Management includes the following terms :

  • Planned Value (PV) , As of today , what is the estimated value of the work planned to be done .
  • Earned Value (EV), As of today , what is the estimated value of the work actually accomplished.
  • Actual Cost (AC) , As of today , what is the actual cost incurred for the work accomplished.
  • Budget at completion (BAC), How much did we budget for the total project effort .
  • Estimate at completion (EAC) , What do we currently expect the total project to cost …. Forecast .
  • Estimate to Complete (ETC) , From this point on , how much more do we expect it to cost to finish this project … Forecast
  • Variance at Completion (EAC) , As of today , how much over or under budget do we expect to be at the end of the project… Forecast

Refer here for more detailed explanations of the PMP Math Concepts . 

Control Quality tools, Basic Quality tools are important for the PMP exam. You need to understand each of them and the way it shall be used in Controlling projects quality, the basic quality tools are : Check lists , Check sheets , Statistical sampling , Questionnaires’ and surveys, performance reviews , root cause analysis , Inspection, product evaluation, cause and effect diagrams, control charts, histograms and scatter diagrams.

Validate Scope Vs Control Quality, Simple, control quality process is performed internally to ensure that deliverables are without defect, complete, and fulfilled all stated requirement. Its performed by the project team, The validate scope process is performed by the project manager with the client after the deliverable or the product is completed. The purpose of this process is to ensure that the client accepts the product formally. For the exam it’s very important to understand the difference between these processes. One tip for the exam: whenever you are checking the product’s quality with the client/customer, it’s the validate scope process.

Conflict Resolution Techniques, The Seven sources of conflict in order of frequency: Schedules ,Project Priorities ,Resources ,Technical Opinions ,Administrative procedures ,Cost and Personality. The Conflict Resolution techniques used are:

  • Collaborating ( Problem Solving ), Parties discuss differences and try to incorporate, leads to a win-win situation.
  • Compromising ( Reconciling ), Involves finding solutions that bring some degree of satisfaction of both parties , leads to lose-lose situation.
  • Withdrawal ( Avoidance ), parties postpone a decision on a problem , leads to lose-leave situation
  • Smoothing (Accommodating), emphasizes agreement rather than different opinions , leads to lose-yield situation .
  • Forcing (Directing), Involves pushing one viewpoint at the expense of another, leads to win-lose situation.

For the PMP exam, Collaborating choices are generally the best answers, Forcing is the worst. This topic is very important for the PMP exam and you need to understand each resolution technique.

Reporting Formats / Performance Reporting, Part of the management communications process, very applicable in your real life. In the exam you will face questions describing the report and it will ask which report did the project manager use? The reporting formats are :

  • Status Reports , Describes where project currently stands
  • Progress Reports, Describes what has been accomplished.
  • Trend Report, Examine project results overtime to see if performance is improving.
  • Forecasting Report , Predicts future project status
  • Variance Report , Compares actual results to baselines
  • Earned Value report , Integrates Scope , cost and schedule measures to assess project performance.
  • Lessons learned documentation, reports on performance are used as lessons learned for future projects.

Expected Monetary Value, The concept of expected monetary value is used to determine what the overall probable circumstance will be as results of the events. It’s a simple calculation of a value such as weighted average or expected cost or benefit when the outcomes are uncertain. It’s the probability weighted average of all possible outcomes and is calculated as EMV = P*I , it helps determine which risks need the most attention and should therefor move into the plan risk response process., After calculating expected monetary value of the individual risks, you should determine whether the expected monetary value of the project ( Risk Exposure ) is within the threshold set by management, very important concept for the exam and you need to master the math calculations of the expected monetary value, the Decision tree analysis and contingency reserves calculations are based on the expected monetary value concepts as well , For the Risk analysis detailed math explanation you can refer for the short course on Udemy here for $19.99 .

Contingency Reserves Vs Management Reserves, A reserve is an amount of time and/or cost added to the project to account for risks , there are two types of reserves :

  • Contingency Reserves, To deal with known unknowns like residual risks .
  • Management Reserves, To deal with unknown unknowns like risks that have not been identified .

For the exam , you need to understand all methods you can apply to find out the required reserves ( Time/Cost) for your project .

Risk Responses Strategies, Strategies to deal with project threats are : Avoid , Mitigate , Transfer , Accept and escalate. Strategies to deal with opportunities are : Exploit , enhance , Share , accept and escalate. For the exam , most of the questions related to this topic will describe a risk response strategy used in a project situation planning for a risk, you need to know the risk response strategy used in the question.

Risk Identification tools, Risk identification is the first process applied once you are done with planning the risk for your project, tools and techniques used in the identify risks process are very important for the PMP exam, some major tools are : Assumptions Analysis , Brainstorming , Cause and effect diagram , Checklists , Delphi technique , FMEA , Influence diagrams , Force field analysis , nominal group techniques , Root cause analysis , SWOT analysis and Pre-mortem .

Contracts Types, during procurement management, generally there are 3 broad categories  of contracts to be used: Fixed Price (FP), Time and Material (T&M) and Cost Reimbursable. usually the procurement manager will select the contract type based on considerations such as: What’s being purchased, the completeness of the statement of work and the level of effort the buyer can devote for managing the seller. For the Exam, you need to understand the contract types and be able to recognize the difference between them, you will encounter situational questions that require you to pick the most appropriate contact type based on the situation described in the questions , Fixed Prices Contracts can be : Firm Fixed Price (FFP) , Fixed price Incentive Fee ( FPIF) and Fixed Price Economical Adjusted (FPEA) , Cost Reimbursable Contracts can be : Cost Plus Fixed Fee (CPFF) , Cost Plus Incentive Fee (CPIF) , Cost plus award fee (CPAF) and Cost plus percentage of costs (CPPC) , the risk on the buyer/seller associated with each type of contracts should be recognized for the exam.

Stakeholders Analysis Models, Stakeholder analysis technique is used to analyze each stakeholder potential impact or influence to manage effectively throughout project life, Classification tools which can be used include Power/Influence grid, Power/Interest grid, Influence/impact grid & salience Model , Salience Model which describes stakeholders based on Power, Urgency, and Legitimacy.

Step Eight : Key ITTO’s to memorize for the Exam

As per the PMBOK, Input is any item, whether internal or external to the project that is required by a process. It may be an output from a predecessor process, Tool is something tangible, such as a template, or software program used in performing an activity to produce a product or result. A technique is a defined systematic procedure employed by a human resource to perform an activity to produce a product or result or deliver a service and that may employ one of more tools. An output is a product result or service generated by a process. Expect to see around 20 Questions in the PMP exam asking you about Inputs too, Outputs of and tools used in different processes, It’s not possible to memorize the inputs, tools and techniques and outputs of the 49 processes as there are hundreds of them, Therefor I created a table with the KEY ITTO’s you should memorize for the exam, Make sure memorizing the mentioned ITTO’s in the table for the exam .

Refer to the Table Here

Step Nine : It’s the time to test your self

At this stage you are almost ready to go for the real PMP exam, one step remains before you schedule your exam date. Test your readiness for the exam, at this stage you are done with the 35 contact hours , have read the reference book, highlighted the hot topics of the exam, done with detailed math concepts , and familiar with the exam structure mentioned in step six. I have created a course on Udemy platform that contains three simulated tests each with 200 questions which you need to complete in four hours, overall the course contains 600 questions, my practice tests questions types I used are similar to the real exam. PMP exam questions are not short and direct to the point ! the majority of the 200 questions are situational Such as: Which of the following describes the best action? What’s next ? What’s first to do, else than situational questions you will have long wordy questions, the concepts of Step nine of this study plan is to check if you are ready to schedule your exam or not, Enroll first to the three simulated tests course here for $19.99. Sit in your room, open the laptop, have a plain A4 paper, with simple calculator, turn off your mobile and be away from any possible interruption. You have to finish the 200 Questions in 4 hours with a passing score of minimum 150 out of 200. Go for practice test # 1, you will practice the second and third exams of the course in later stages.

It’s okay if you were not able to complete the 200 questions within four hours in the first attempt, what’s important is to get a score of +150 out of 200 questions. If you got this result, move to step ten, if not , Don’t worry, just refer back to step four of this study plan and repeat tell you reach step nine again, and this time use practice test # 2. Go forward with this study plan once you get a result of 150 or more . I made a video on how to enroll and make use of the Simulated tests course which you can check in the link below.

Step Ten : Schedule your exam 2 weeks ahead

Now it’s the time to schedule your exam date, go for the PMI.org website and follow the steps below to fill your application online :

  1. Visit the Website pmi.org, Select Membership from the home page upper bar. Choose the individual membership type which will cost you 129$ + 10 $ . Press on Join Now, fill in your information and create your account.
  2. Now once you are done with the PMI log in and membership process, go back to the home page and Select certifications from the home page upper bar and choose Project Management Professional (PMP) ®then press on Apply Now.
  3. Fill in your address and work address, then fill your contact information ( Email address and phone number) .
  4. Fill in your attained education information (Bachelor Degree or Diploma)
  5. Start with the Requirements overview then save and continue
  6. Press on the Project Experience Link and fill in your projects experience with the following:
  • Start and End Date of each project
  • Your Role (Job Title) and the industry field.
  • Your Organization name and address.
  • Your reporting manager / Colleague  and his/her contact information ( Email and address )
  • Your experience divided into 5 parts , Check below as an example ( you will fill only the number of hours ) :

Initiating: 60 Hours

Planning: 250 Hours

Executing: 750 Hours

Monitoring & Controlling: 250 Hours

Closing: 125 Hours

Month: 125 Hours

(In) creation of the stakeholder register and understanding the project business case, (PL) Collecting requirements,defining the scope, identifying project risks and analyzing them subjectively, creating of the project baselines , developing project schedule and budget(EX) managing the project team and key stakeholders,conduct all project procurement (M&C) Perform EV Analysis,risk audits and monitoring project work(CL) closing all procurement documents and record lessons learned 

Note : The description shall not exceed 500 characters !

Keep going and mention all the projects you want until you have the sum of all projects as the required hours of the exam 4,500/7,500 hours .

  1. Fill in your project management educational hours , Title of the course , Institute name , start and end date of the course and the number of hours .
  2. Mention your name as how you want it to appear on the certificate.
  3. Read the agreement then click the box “I agree “.
  4. Review your application then submit.
  5. Pay the Exam Fees, $405 as you already a member.

Wait for the notice authorizing you either to schedule your exam or to inform you that your application will be subjected to an audit before it’s approved. Once your application is approved you can schedule your exam date two weeks ahead by checking parametric centers available in your location and their availability . Note that once your receive your authorization notice, you must pass the exam within one year.

In case your application was selected for the audit, relax, they will send you an experience audit form- Verification form – for each experience you mentioned, you should sign it from your supervisor or colleague, and send a copy of your bachelor degree certificate and your 35 contact hours training certificate, if you took one of the above courses, print the soft copy you will have at the end of the course and send it. It will be accepted for sure ( As I did it myself ). You should send a hard copy of all these documents to the address mentioned on the PMI Website and wait for the results, It’s very rare to fail in the audit process, the only reasons of failure are: having false information “ Fraud “ , candidates choose not to attempt audit – one year suspension period or not being able to verify the experience or the educational hours.

Step Eleven : Practice, Practice, Practice

From my experience when helping students pass the PMP exam, one of the core reasons why people fail in their first trial is the shortage of time, solving 200 questions ( Most of them are situational and long ) within 4 hours’ time frame isn’t easy ! I know a student who ran out of time while he is solving question Number 120! the best practice to come over the timing challenge is to practice, practice as much as you can. Practicing the exam questions will get you closer to the real exam environment, you can have an idea about the exam questions through the free resources I included in this blog, you can practice more than 1000 questions through those free resources , the next stage shall be practicing timely tested simulation exams , Practice the real exam environment, through the course you enrolled into in Step Nine ! Have a plain A4 paper, with simple calculator , turn off your mobile and be away from any possible interruption. You have to finish the 200 Questions in 4 hours with a passing score of minimum 170 out of 200 . Practice the second and third exam of the course and be ready with the real exam circumstances. If you didn’t enroll for the 3 simulates tests in step nine , here is the link were you can do with $ 19.99 only , for a complete list of the best simulated PMP exams in the online market , refer here .

Step Twelve: 3 Days before the Exam

Three days before the exam , don’t get confused by bringing out all reference books you used to review the exam content material, It will not work !

For this purpose I have created the PMP exam study notes which I’m proud of. It’s one of the most valuable FREE resource for the PMP exam preparation, I wrote 52 Study notes  of the project management processes, High level conclusion targeting key terms and concepts of each process. They are written based on my experience passing the exam from the first attempt , PMBOK 6th edition and Rita Mulcahy’s PMP exam preparation book 9th edition , I highly recommend using those free study notes few days before your exam date, you will not have a better tool covering the exam content and can be reviewed in a short period of time.

Step Thirteen : Go and Pass

One Night before Exam , Relax and have a good sleep. In the morning have a good breakfast , be at the testing center 1 hour before the exam, Once you enter the examination room, you will have your own desktop with a simple calculator, few white papers and pencil . Read the exam tutorial which will appear automatically on the screen , It will explain for you that it includes 200 Multiple Choice Questions and that the exam timing is 4 hours. Begin with your exam, you will be able to mark the question you are not sure of its answer in order to review later on, Do Not keep your eyes on the timer, take a look each 50 questions only. A lot of the exam questions will be a case description followed by a question asking what is the BEST to do , In this type of questions you cannot guarantee 100% that you picked the right answer, but trust me , just follow the knowledge you learned in the preparation journey and for sure you will pick the right answer, don’t get confused during the exam, just highlight the questions you are not sure of their answers and go for the next questions.

Once you are done, Click finish, they will ask you to do a short survey about the testing center; once you are done you will have your exam result with a short report of each domain score.

Step Fourteen : What’s next? Maintain your certificate gaining PDU’s

Once you get the PMP certificate, your journey to maintain your PMP certificate every three years will begin, you need to gain 60 PDU’s within three years of time to renew your PMP Status. In this article am listing all key points you need to know about the PDU. PDU refers to Professional development unit. There are two types of professional development units (PDUs) that you can claim towards renewal —Education and Giving Back to the Profession. Under each of these categories are numerous options and, once you’ve satisfied certain educational requirements, the rest is up to you.

PMI PDU requirements for the PMP certification is a quality assurance mechanism to ensure PMP certificate holders are up to date with latest project management field concepts, best practices and trends; simply, the PDU is a system which will encourage PMP certificate holders for continues education.

In general, 1 PMP® PDU equals 1 hour of participation in the PDU activity, PMI accepts PDUs to be recorded in quarterly increment (in the multiple of 0.25 PDU) for Educational activities, for the rest PMP® PDUs must be submitted in multiples of 1 PDU, when you are collecting the PDU’s for the PMP certification renewel ,  in excess of 60 in the 3-year cycle will be wasted as PMI allows you to carry forward a maximum of 20 PDU to the next PMP® certification cycle. The only requirement is that the PDU must be earned in the 3rd year of the cycle.

On the other hand, if you are not able to accumulate 60 PMP® PDU during your 3-year cycle, the PMP® credential will be suspended. PMI gives you 1 extra year to earn the required PDU. But be reminded that the next 3-year re-certification cycle will still be counted from your original credential end date.

For the PMP PDU requirements, you need to consider the following:

  1. Out of the 60 required PDU’s, there shall be minimum 35 educational PDU’s, through courses, eLearning, webinars and self-directed learning , Education PDU’s have three categories : Category A which is courses provided by REP and Chapters , Category B through Continuing education , Category C Self Directed learning , the minimum 35 PDU’s from education can be earned but not more than 30 PDU’s in Category C, moreover , out of these 35 PDU’s , 8 PDU’s should be in technical project management , 8 PDU’s in project skills and 8 PDU’s in strategic business management skills , this is named as the PMI talent triangle .
  2. Out of the 60 required PDU’s , there shall be maximum 25 contribution PDU’s . creating PM knowledge , volunteer service , and working as a professional in project management , It’s also called giving back to the profession PDU’s which can be categorized into three categories as well : Category D with creating knowledge , Category E through volunteering and Category F with working as a professional . only 8 PDU’s can be claimed through category F during the three years .
  3. Once you collect the 60 PDU’s , you can apply for the credential renewal for $60 if you are a PMI member and $150 if you are not .
Best Ways to Earn to PDU’s for the PMP Exam

A.    Your Day Job , Earn 8 PDU’s for FREE .

If you work as a Project Manager this is probably the easiest way to tick out up to 8  PDU’s per three year period. For the details on this and the other PDU categories mentioned below please refer to the CCR section of the Project Management Professional (PMP)® Handbook, which you can find at the PMI Website .

B.   Learn Deeply Practical Project Management on Udemy , Earn 15 PDU’s @ $12

A Course created by William Stewart , Applying the project management processes into practical life , Highly recommended for project management practitioners , and you can earn 15 PDU’s for the PMI PMP renewal process , the course is 9 Hours videos ,Register here for $12 .

C.   Learn MS Project beginner to expert on Udemy , Earn 9 PDU’s @ $12

Microsoft project is the most commonly used scheduling software in project management; even you are not a planner! you should be aware of using MS Project , Srikanth Shirodkar created the best seller MS project course on Udemy , which you make use of to learn MS project and earn 9 PDU’s for your PMP renewal process , the course is 9 Hours videos ,Register here for $12 .

D.   Learn Microsoft Excel for Project Managers on Udemy, Earn 5 PDU’s @ $12

Microsoft Excel can help you with so much of that! In this course we’re going to explore lots of things that Microsoft Excel can do for project management. We’ll dive into formatting, charting, conditional formatting, and building a custom dashboard and report. If you don’t have a more advanced project management software, that’s okay, you can do much of that business right in Microsoft Excel, this course is worth five (5) Professional Development Units with the Project Management Institute, the course is 4 Hours 30 minutes videos , Register here for $12

E.   PMP Seminar on Udemy, Earn 35 PDU’s @ $12

Formal Academic educational courses related to Project Management is one of the easier categories, Joseph Philips created a course on Udemy which includes 35 PDU’s with 20 Hours of Technical project management , 9 hours of business skills and 6 hours of leadership skills , at the end of the course you will have a certificate of completion which you can submit for the PMI renewal process , this seminar is considered as a great tool to refresh your knowledge in the PMBOK material , the course is 24 hours video . Register here for $12

F.    Volunteer Service

Become a volunteer of your local project management association like PMI Saudi Chapter or PMI Jordan chapter and earn 1 PDU for each hour of service. A letter or certificate from the organization acknowledging the participation is required for confirmation. (To find your local  PMI® chapter, visit the PMI website )

G.    Create new Project Management Knowledge

There is a lot you can do in this category to earn PDUs. You could be authoring or co-authoring articles, books or newsletters, present a webinar or podcast, or create and present a project management course. Each will earn you PDUs. The rule is that every hour spent in preparing and delivering these activities is equal to one PDU. The PDUs claimed in this category count toward the 25 PDU maximum for categories D, E and F.

H.    Self-Study

Do you consume a lot of materials like reading articles or books, watching videos ? If you participated in any of these activities and the topic at hand was relevant to project management, had a specified purpose and used knowledgeable resources then you can claim 1 PDU for each hour spent on this as “self-study”.

How to Submit PDU?

PMI supplies you with an online “Continuing Certification Requirements System” to record your PDU. After you have attended PDU activities, you can submit the PDU activity details through the Continuing Credential Requirements System (CCRS). If you participate in a webinar by PMI or projectmanagement.com, your PDU will be automatically recorded and there is no need to enter it manually.

After you have submitted the PDU request, PMI will review and approve the PDUs. You will receive an email and the PDU will be added to your account once PMI approve your request. PMI may require you to submit supporting documents with reference to the particular categories of PDU you are claiming within 5 days in order to evaluate your claim, after you have collected enough PDUs in your PMP® renewal cycle, PMI will send you an email asking you to complete the form and pay for credential renewal. The PMP® renewal fee is US$60 for PMI members and US$150 for non-members as I mentioned earlier ,the renewal application and payment process must be completed in 90 days after your credential end date in order for your to keep your PMP® status. PMI will send the new PMP® certificate to you within 6 to 8 weeks.

You PDU application might be selected for audit randomly before you are approved for PMP® renewal. You will need to present proof/documentation for all the PDU claimed during the 3-year cycle to PMI for verification.

In Case of Audit

Like the PMP® Certification audit, you may be required to submit supporting documents for the PDU  you have claimed or selected for an audit process of your claimed PDU by presenting documentation for verification after submitting your renewal request. PMI requests PMP®s to keep the documentation at least 18 months after the 3-year cycle.

Documentation for the PDU can be attendance certificate , registration confirmation letter , webinars, self study or during discussion about project management , authored books / presentation materials / podcasts / record of webinars ,blog posts , transcript or grade report of academic courses .

Good Luck in your Journey!

For additional help or guidance , don’t hesitate to contact me on info@eliteminds.co .

Hope those detailed resources described will help you with your exam preparation. If you find any of them suitable  for you and if you enjoy my articles, please consider buying it though the links on this page. I will earn a small commission (at NO extra cost to you) to sustain my website costs. Thank you.



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