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Wednesday, 04 February 2015 14:13

PMP® Exam: Do I or Don't I?

Are you thinking about applying for and taking the PMP® exam? Have you heard tidbits on what may help you in this process? Does the whole thing seem overwhelming causing you uncertainty on how to begin? Following are recommendations for taking the PMP® exam. Note that these are not guarantees; however, these are from people who have passed the exam. Each person studies and tests differently so consider what will work best for you.

      Plan to take the PMP® Exam within 30 days of class completion.

      Consider taking a training class or self-study course for complimentary discussions to the PMBOK® Guide material, such as training classes PMP Prep Training and self-study material PMP Prep Self Study.

      Purchase the PMBOK® Guide <current> Edition prior to the training class. Acclimate to it so that the class can be used reinforcement of your current knowledge, rather than as an introduction to the PMBOK® Guide materials.

      Complete the application to sit for the exam (on PMI®’s website) prior to the training class, if all pre-requisites have been met. If staff members require a training class to fulfill the pre-requisite for “contact hours”, complete as much of the application as possible prior to the training class and save it online. This reduces the amount of work after the class completion to submit the application, and reduces the overall duration to receive PMI® approval to take the PMP® Exam.

      Budget for the PMP® Credential Fees and PMBOK® Guide fees.

      Some individuals find it easier to print out the application form and draft the information required prior to entering online.

      Spend the last 2-3 days prior to the PMP® Exam only (or mainly) taking questions.

      Set aside at least one 4-hour block of time to complete 200 questions and simulate the actual Exam.

      Supplement this material with another Test Bank, providing different styles and types of questions for practice prior to the actual Exam.

      Visit the test center in advance so the facility is familiar prior to the day of the Exam.

      Review PMI® website tips regarding exam preparation

You can do it - organize your approach and stay the course!


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If you studied to take your Project Management Professional (PMP)® exam using A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) fourth edition and had to reschedule your exam date to on/after July 31, 2013, then you now have to take the PMP Exam based on the new PMBOK® Guide fifth edition. The Project Management Institute (PMI)® will not make any exceptions to this rule.

There are notable changes between version four and version five of the PMBOK® Guide. For instance the number of Knowledge Areas has been increased from 9 to 10 and the number of processes has been increased from 42 to 47. But this change is only simple if you look at it numerically. It is much more complex under the hood. Here’s an example:

The new Knowledge Area is called Project Stakeholder Management and was added to emphasize the importance of good stakeholder management on all projects. It contains four processes. Two of these processes were renamed and moved here from Project Communications Management. Two are new processes. That leaves three new processes that were added in other Knowledge Areas throughout the guide. In addition many more processes were renamed.

Appendix X1 in the PMBOK® Guide fifth edition describes the bulk of the changes. A number of authors have also described these changes and made their analysis available on the web. A quick search for “PMBOK 5 changes” will find them. It is, however, important to note that these articles don't list all the detailed changes. For instance, the inputs, tools & techniques and outputs of almost every single process have changed. Some ITTOs have been removed and new ones have been added. You will therefore not find a complete description of all the changes.

Because of this large amount of changes throughout the PMBOK® Guide it is impossible to simply "study the difference". The changes are sometimes conceptual, sometimes dramatic and sometimes minor. But they are here and your PMP Exam may require you to know them. "Upgrading" your knowledge from the fourth to the fifth edition can therefore not be done "change-by-change". You have to apply a holistic approach.

However, it must also be said that just because the PMBOK® Guide has changed, project management itself hasn't changed. The fundamental way in which projects are managed is still the same. The PMBOK® Guide is simply our general framework describing the activities & techniques that are commonly accepted to be good practices on most projects most of the time. And just because the PMBOK® Guide has changed its Project Cost Management Knowledge Area from three to four processes doesn't mean that Earned Value systems need to be changed as well.

But in order to pass your PMP exam you will need to be aware of the new definitions in the PMBOK® Guide. Studying them takes effort, dedication and time. Here is a possible study approach to "upgrade" yourself to the PMBOK® Guide fifth edition:

1) Study Appendix X1 and familiarize yourself with the changes. In particular: Familiarize yourself with the processes that have been added, moved or renamed and learn the new process names.

2) Study Appendix X3 and familiarize yourself with the Interpersonal Skills a project manager should have.

3) Study Annex A1 - The Standard for Project Management of a Project. Here you want to Study the short descriptions for each of the five process groups and for each of the 47 processes.

4) Study table 3-1 on page 61 and know which process belongs to which process group. (You will find that it contains the same information as Table A1-1 in Annex A1). For the exam it is a good idea to be able to start with a blank piece of paper and draw this table from memory.

5) Study table 4-1 on page 78 and know which documents are part of the project management plan and which ones are "just" other project documents.

6) And finally (and unfortunately): Study the complete PMBOK® Guide 5th edition twice.

When studying the new PMBOK® Guide familiarize yourself with the new inputs, tools & techniques and outputs of all the processes. A good approach is to study the Data Flow Diagram for each of the 47 processes. These diagrams illustrate the flow of the inputs and outputs and will strengthen your understanding of how they move between the many processes. It will also help you understand the integrated nature of all the processes in the PMBOK® Guide.

You should also get to know the new processes that have been added and make special note of the new Earned Value Calculations Summary Table 7-1 on page 224, which looks suspiciously close to a table that I developed and have published since 2009 for our PMP Exam Formula Guide…

As you might have guessed by now, "upgrading" your knowledge to this new version of the PMBOK® Guide is not something that you can do in just a day. While your PM experience is the main focus of the PMP Exam, it will also be necessary for you to have an in-depth understanding of the PMBOK® Guide fifth Edition to be able to correctly answer many of the questions the test.

I therefore recommend that you plan a minimum of two weeks of intense study.

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