Certifications become a complementary part for formal academic education. In many cases, talented professionals who did not receive academic education in specific industry areas utilize certifications to compensate lack of formal education. Many well-known, trusted and respected organizations provide recognized certifications. Project Management Institute (PMI) is one of those organizations. PMI has the well-known project management body of knowledge (PMBoK). PMI provides several certificates in project management arena. One of them is project management professional (PMP) which became widely recognized more recently.
This post is concerned with providing a fast track and concise method to get PMP certification based on my experience in this field for more than 10 years.
The following plan maximizes the possibility of getting successfully certified within 16-20 weeks maximum for non-dedicated full-time professional. This plan works fine provided that the professional is already practicing some sort of project management activities in real field.
The plan has major 4 phases: Study, Practice, Review, and Take the exam.
Phase 1 – Studying [requires 90 hours]: Passing the exam requires significant amount of deep reading and studying. The first thing to study carefully is the PMBoK latest 4th Edition. The PMBoK has around 350 pages without appendices. This amount of studying will require around 60 hours of studying (10 minutes per page) and active reading. This could span 60 days with one-hour a day.
I highly recommend to have another book or at least selected chapters in some topics such as planning, scheduling, risk management, and leadership. Those additional reading will enrich and support PMBoK Material. Those additional material will require around 30 hours.
Using Mind Maps is very helpful in building summaries and provide active reading. As you study, build mind maps to fasten what you just read through writing and building visual relationship between concepts you just read.
Phase 2 – Practicing [requires 36 hours]: PMI requires 35 contact hours of education at any of Registered Education Providers (R.E.P.). This can be easily achieved through online training with very reasonable cost around $190 to achieve the qualifying contact hours. I would recommend PM Campus (that I personally tried and found it balancing quality and cost). Also you can find PM Study is another cheaper (around $90) and accepted R.E.P. (I tried for CCR PDU’s collection).
You will require around 3-4 exams simulation with real timing in order to get used to sitting for the exam for consecutive 4 hours (like the real exam). You need to pass 2 consecutive exams to be sure that you will pass the real PMP exam. This will require around 16 hours for full exams. In addition, 20 hours will be required for R.E.P. training and mini exams.
Phase 3 – Reviewing [requires 20 hours]: You need to have another review for the material. Here comes the role of building mind maps that will help a lot in fast reviewing of previous readings. The review will focus on formulas (especially in scheduling techniques and cost estimations). Get more exercises on what is called a memory dump where you practice to recall all major formulas and definitions from memory.
Phase 4 – Taking the Exam [requires 4 hours]: You need to populate PMI online application and intent for setting for the exam. I recommend populating the application breakdown into an Excel sheet in order to easily distribute each project management phase professional hours using standard distribution percentages.
You need to register in one of prometric centers. You will select the center in your city. You need to give a visit for this center before the actual date of exam. This will make you more comfortable at the day of exam. Estimate the time required to commute to the location and give yourself a plenty of time ahead.
Bring a simple calculator with you and ear phones to minimize noise (since exam labs are shared among other participants).
Start the exam with the brain dump you already exercised so you can use it directly once you need them without wasting precious time in recalling. Provide 2 minutes for each question and move on to the next one (no penalty for wrong answers so do not leave blanks!). You can mark the question in doubt so you cant revert back at the end (if you have time!). Results of exam appears after minutes of completing it.
I liked to share above information with those intending to have PMP certification and encourage other professionals for it. I hope this helps.