When Will You Be Ready To Take The PMP Exam?

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155 UPDATED 9/25/2014 – When it comes to the PMP Exam, one of the most common questions out there is “when do I take the exam?” And while there is no “one size fits all” answer, I can give you some guidelines.

While there are many factors that might influence when you take the PMP exam, there are two key components you should consider. They are:

  1. How well do you understand the processes and their inputs, tools, and outputs?
  2. How well do you understand PMI’s biases and question structure?

Let’s take a brief look at each of these.

Assuming you have started your study, you should know a couple of things by this point. First of all, the PMBOK® Guide is not a great study reference for the PMP exam. It is an ANSI spec, and while I recommend you own it, you’ll need to prepare with a book designed specifically for the exam. I believe that the best one is here. Also, you likely already know that the exam covers more than just the (currently 42) processes. It also covers professional responsibility, theories of motivation, and other topics covered nowhere in the PMBOK® Guide.

So why the focus in #1 about processes? Because my belief is this: if you answer all of the pure “process questions” correctly, that would be enough to get you a passing grade on the exam. That is not to say that you should skip the other material – only that you should focus the bulk of your study on the processes.

Now, the second point might even be more important than the first. You have to understand PMI’s biases and question structure. This is an important point, because I have seen people who were incredibly good at taking standardized tests do well on the exam even when they did not have a proper understanding of the material. The questions do have a similar flavor to them, and once you understand what they are looking for, you can almost always quickly narrow it down to 2 possible choices. Chapter 14 in the aforementioned book gives you techniques to eliminate the wrong answers.

So how long does this preparation take? If you take a good class and use a good book, you could theoretically cram it into about a week. Most people stretch it out over a four or five week timeframe to give them time to study around their life and job. Whatever way you choose to prepare, make sure you have mastered the two points above, and you’ll greatly increase your chances of PMP exam success.