Mostly people are interested in PMP certification but don’t have proper knowledge about the exam and things to be done. So let’s walk through the complete process from starting to end for the exam.
Who can apply for PMP Certification?
Anyone fulfilling below mentioned eligibility criteria can apply for it:
Practically most common question that people ask is whether only project managers can apply for it. The answer is that, this exam checks your practical understanding of project management process. So if you are already managing and directing projects, it would be easier for you to get through it, but it doesn’t mean that if you are not project manager, then you cannot go for PMP. If you are associated with projects for around 3 years and understand the processes, then you can also apply for it. I am also working as a Software Developer and have cleared PMP.
PMP Exam Pattern
- Duration : 4 hours
- No negative marking
- 200 questions (25 pilot questions)
Out of 200 questions any 25 can be pilot questions; it means that while calculating the result, pilot questions are not considered. It states that your result is actually calculated by 175 questions. Also, you can never guess in the exam which questions are pilot questions. So for preparation, consider that you need to solve all 200 questions.
Passing Criteria for PMP
Passing percentage and criteria are nowhere mentioned by PMI. It’s a rating based system and is calculated by combination of rating in each process group.
Once you know you are eligible and have decided to take the exam, then what next?
Look for PMP Training
Training in case of PMP is not only desirable, but also mandatory. You have to provide training details in the application form. Also, it’s very helpful in preparation. Most of the training institutes provide mock tests and questions, which will give you enough practice for the exam.
So, as a first step search for a good training institute and join it.
Apply for PMP Certification
Even if you are planning to appear for exam after 4-5 months, it’s advisable to apply for it as soon as training completes, since it’s a bit long process.
Step 1: Go to PMI’s website and apply for PMP certification. It will ask your personal and professional details. In the application form you need to fill how many hours you have spent on each project management process from initiation to closing. You need not to give all the details, but just the number of hours ex: initiation 900 hours, planning 1100 hours etc.
Step 2: Once you have submitted the application, PMI would take up to 5 working days to review the application. They would inform you through email whether your application is accepted or not. If it’s not accepted, then you need to make required changes in the application and submit again. If it’s accepted, then you need to pay the fee. You would be given a window of one year to pay the amount. So you can pay anytime within this duration. It is again advisable to pay early since only then you get to know whether the application is under audit or not.
Fees for the exam
For PMI Members: $405
For Non Members: $555
Membership fee: $129 Membership fee + $10 Registration fees.
Step 3: Before paying, you need to decide whether you would take membership or not. It’s beneficial if you become a member. Reasons are:
- Exam would cost you less.
- You will have access to “guide to PMBOK” pdf and other reference material.
- There is no hassle involved in the process. As soon as you pay, you become a member.
Once you pay the fee, either you would get an eligibility Id or your application would go for audit process. It’s a random audit and anyone’s application can be chosen for it. It doesn’t mean that there is some problem with the application; it’s just a random process. If your application goes for audit, you would get a mail explaining all the steps that you need to follow. To summarize, you need to download audit documents from PMI website and get them signed by your supervisor/manager and send the artifacts to PMI. They will check and would provide you eligibility id.
Book Exam Date
If you have eligibility Id, you can go to Prometric website and book the exam date. There is only one center for Delhi/NCR people (Iris Infotech, Sohna road, Gurgaon). Exam centers can be searched on the website.It is good if you book the exam date in advance, since you will easily get slot and also you would have a target date that would help you in better preparation. You can reschedule your exam anytime. It’s free if you reschedule it before 30 days of the booked date, otherwise you need to pay $70 for the same.
Time required for preparation
You should not delay your exam beyond two months, after the training ends. This is because; you would lose focus and forget things. The minimum time required for preparation is one month. Total two months are enough for preparation. It includes 3 hours of preparation daily.
How to prepare for PMP certification
Once you complete training, you would already be having a roadmap for exam preparation, but let’s understand some important study material. You must read PMBOK and one reference book.
- PMBOK (Mandatory)
Anyone from these two:
- Rita Mulcahy (Reference book)
- Headfirst (Reference book)
Now, the question is which reference book to choose:
Rita Mulcahy: It explains everything in great detail. You may find many terms and topics that are not in PMBOK , but are explained in this book. Also, when you would try online mock tests you would find many questions/concepts out of PMBOK, and most of the times you can find them in this book. So, if you want to read the things in details you can refer to this.
Headfirst: It explains topics with the help of stories and pictures. You may find it childish, but it will build good concepts. Although it doesn’t explain things in extreme detail, but will cement the concept with the help of light examples.
My suggestion is that you read any one chapter from PMBOK and then from both the reference books. After this you would be in a better position to decide, which book you should refer. To prepare for the exam you need to do below:
- Study from PMBOK and reference book
- Take mock tests (online/scordo questions/training material).
PMP Mock tests
Mock tests are very very important to clear the exam. This gives you an idea about the exam pattern and type of questions. Also, sitting continuously for four hours is also a challenge, which you can practice through mock tests. There is no dearth of questions available on the internet about PMP. Make sure you don’t go for each and every website and questions. Because you may end up getting wrong answers. Below is the list of mock tests that you must take:
- Mock tests given by the training institute.
- Question provided in the reference book. ( Rita Mulcahy /Headfirst)
- Scordo Questions. (Once you are a member, you have access to these questions, from PMI Website).
- Oliver Lehman (75 questions) – http://www.oliverlehmann.com/pmp-self-test/75-free-questions.htm
- Oliver Lehman (175 questions) – http://www.oliverlehmann.com/contents/free-downloads/175_PMP_Sample_Questions.pdf
These mock tests will give you enough practice and confidence to take the exam. Make sure you are getting above 80% marks in easier tests like scordo and above 75% in slightly tough tests.
So now you are completely prepared to take PMP. Now what next?
At Exam center
You much reach exam center an hour before the test because you need to complete a few formalities like biometric test, identification and getting locker keys. Bring very less things with you at the center because you won’t be allowed to take anything with you inside. Anything that you have with you, needs to be kept inside the lockers. Size of locker is not too big, so avoid taking laptops or any bulky thing, as you will have to keep it outside locker. Also, eatables are not allowed inside test center. You will have to keep it outside, but in between test you can come outside to have it. You would be given scratch papers and pencils by the center personnel. You can only bring those scratch papers, pencils, id proof and locker key with you.
So now you are inside test center, ready to give the exam. What should be your strategy to attempt questions?
Strategy to take the PMP Certification test
Duration of PMP is four hours. Before starting it, you will get 15 minutes to read the instructions. You hardly require 5 minutes to read it. You can use the rest of the time in writing down the formulas or any other thing, which you might forget, on the scratch paper or you can directly start the exam. Most of the people divide time by the number of questions like 50 questions in one hour. This strategy is not very good because you don’t know the difficulty level of subsequent questions, so it might happen that you complete first 50 questions in one hour and for next 50, it took 1.5 hours. It will spoil your further time management. My suggestion is to take exam in three passes:
- First, navigate through all the questions, answer those that you are sure of and those that do not need more than one minute to solve. Mark for review, rest of the questions.
- In the second pass, solve the questions that you have marked for review.
- In a third pass, review all the questions.
You cannot identify the pilot questions in the exam, that’s why you should attempt all the questions and try to get the correct answer.
After completion of test, you get a 15 minute online survey to complete. After completion of survey, you get to see the result. There is no score or passing percentage mentioned in the score card. You would only get results as pass/mail and grading for each process group (as Proficient, Moderately Proficient and Below Proficient).
Difficulty level of PMP
If you try searching for it on the internet, you would surely get responses like it is very difficult and hard to crack. In reality it all depends on your preparation and understanding level. If you are getting above 80% marks in mock tests, you are well prepared. Trust me, if you are well prepared you won’t find the exam too difficult to crack. So rather than be scared of the difficulty level of the test, concentrate on preparation.
You are PMP certified now, what to do next
PMP certification is valid for three years. After three years, you can either reappear for the exam or you can maintain your PMP credentials by getting 60 PDUs in three years.