Project management success requires the same kind of discipline and sacrifice evident in great sports people. Consider for instance the London Olympics. It’s always amazing to watch the talent, strength, and skill the athletes have when they compete in the events. One thing you can be sure of is that the Olympics were not their “first rodeo”. These athletes have trained, sacrificed and competed, won and lost for many years. Some started when they were very young, others came to their sport later in their life. Regardless, they all invested a considerable amount of time to earn the Gold, Silver, or Bronze medals.
Project management also requires a high level of planning: dedication and determination, focus and sacrifice to reach your goals. This is especially true if you are preparing to take the PMP (Project Management Professional) Exam. To just sit for the exam you need to have a four-year degree and 4,500 hours leading and directing projects or 7,500 hours leading and directing projects if you do not have a four-year degree. That’s a lot of time that has been dedicated to mastering the art of project management! To help you make the most of the time invested here are some suggestions for PMP exam success.
Read the PMBOK
Yes, unfortunately there is no way around reading the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK). The reading is very dry and devoid of real-life examples. There are no pictures other than charts and graphs and other technical illustrations. But, it is what the exam is based upon and something you will have to get behind you.
When you read through the PMBOK you will come across areas and scenarios that will make you pause and say “we don’t use those project management tools around here.” You are probably right if you have been in project management for a number of years. The PMBOK lays out the best case scenario that would take place in a perfect world. The world in which we perform project management is far from perfect. You will have to ‘unlearn’ how certain things get done around your place and learn how the PMBOK says they should get done for your PMP Preparation. The questions on the exam are based upon best case, not your place.
Read Supplementary Information
Another important part of PMP Preparation is to read supplementary information. There are volumes upon volumes of other books that you can read to help you study for the PMP exam in addition to the PMBOK. These are extremely helpful because they bring the PMBOK to life. They will provide examples on how some of the concepts in the PMBOK will be applied in the real world. They provide shortcuts and memorization techniques that can help you remember the most important formulas, processes, techniques, inputs, and outputs.
You may benefit from PMP Preparation by taking advantage of a study group. Study groups are great for a number of reasons. First, they generally will have material and resources that have been compiled over the years. These tried and true resources can make PMP Preparation much easier. Also, for those who may not be quite as disciplined when it comes to studying, the regular schedule and face-to-face meetings make sure that you don’t get behind on your studying. Where can you find these PMP exam study groups? One place to start is with your local PMI Chapter. They will be able to point you in the right direction for study groups that meet close to your work or home.
This is one of the best things you can do for PMP Preparation. It’s important to get an idea of the types of questions that will be asked early on in the study process. The PMP Exam questions have a tendency of putting in a lot of extra information that really has nothing to do with the answer. It’s up to you to weed out what is relevant and what is not relevant. Also, taking sample tests will give you an idea of how close the answers may be to each other when it comes to the one that is right and the one that is wrong. It can be just a simple thing that makes one answer right and one answer wrong.
Take the sample tests early and often for your PMP Preparation.
Make sure you are not being asked the same questions or get into the situation of memorizing the answers and not thinking through them. The purpose of taking the sample test is to understand how the exam will be structured and provide you with the ability to hone your thought process to get to the right answer. Aim for a consistently high score of 85% – 90% on the PMP sample test and you’ll have plenty of leeway when it comes to taking the real exam.
Another helpful and time saving tool for PMP Preparation is to listen to audio courses. There are courses that are broken down by each chapter of the PMBOK that talk you through the concepts and give you examples of how the questions will be asked on the exam. These are excellent to listen to while you are driving to work or traveling by plane to visit clients. Use these early on in the process of your PMP preparation study. You may zone in and out while you are driving or get to thinking about other things, but over time the material you are studying will soak in and you’ll benefit more than you would think.
Study Up on Taking Tests
Go back to your high school days and think about how you were trained to take tests in school. The process of elimination works for the PMP exam just like it did when you took multiple choice tests in school. There’s going to be 1 or 2 answers that are clearly not correct. This will allow you to focus on picking the right one out of the answers remaining. Also, your first answer is typically the right answer. Don’t second guess yourself. Finally, if you do get stuck on a question, you can mark it and come back to it later. Don’t get so bogged down on one question that you put the rest of the exam at risk.
A helpful thing to do during your PMP Preparation is to memorize the formulas. Once you get ready to take the exam, write them down immediately on the paper you are provided. This will be one less thing you have to worry about and allows you to focus on the rest of the exam.
PMP Preparation takes a lot of work. It requires effort, persistence, and dedication to successfully pass the PMP exam. But, you’ll find the outcome is worth the effort you put into as you excel in your project management career. You will validate what you already know, learn new skills, and ultimately make more money as you move forward in your career.
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