pmp study plan

PMP Study Plan and How to Make Your Plan Effective

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January 1, 2022

In this post, I’ll tell you how to make your own PMP study plan. Step by step. We start with a broad overview before diving into over a dozen best practices that we’ve found. You’ll know just what to do next!

To be clear, no two people have the same experiences or knowledge, and no two people learn in the same way. As a result, the ideal approach to prepare for the PMP test will be determined by your personal learning likes and needs.  Furthermore, there is no need to be overwhelmed by the thought of creating a study plan because test candidates have access to a variety of resources that allow you to mix and match materials to meet your specific needs, learning style, and personal circumstances while you prepare for the exam.

The wisdom acquired from studying the lessons learned from hundreds of successful PMP candidates that may help them pass their PMP test is just one example. Successful exam candidates have used the following ideas and best practices to maximize their time and resources in order to pass the PMP exam. Let’s get started!

pmp study plan
PMP Study Plan


What is the Best Way to Prepare for PMP Exam?

There are a variety of ways to prepare, including joining your local Project Management Institute (PMI) Chapter, which is full of people free to discuss their knowledge and experience on how to prepare for and pass the PMP test. There are also a variety of published books and online resources that give essential insights and ideas on how to pass. The majority of these resources provide study guides, topic clarification, study suggestions for passing the PMP test, and practice tests to measure your comprehension and learning progress.

How to Prepare for PMP Exam?

  • First, the basic fundamentals

The examination consists of 200 multiple-choice questions that must be completed in four hours. Furthermore, the distribution of test questions is based on the relative importance and frequency of usage of the five Project Management Process Groups, with three of them, Planning, Executing, and Monitoring and Controlling, functioning as the source areas for the vast majority of the questions.

  • Second, some practical information

Project Management Process Groups and Knowledge Areas do not generate questions consistently during the PMP test. This information is crucial to building a study plan and a test-taking approach.

  • Third, reality

Only 175 out of the test questions count toward your score; the remaining 25 are being “beta tested” for future tests; you will not be informed which 25 questions do not count toward your score.

Another vital aspect of understanding the test format is “PMP vocabulary”

Thoroughly Prepare for the PMP Exam

Starting by thoroughly studying and reviewing the whole PMBOK® Guide is the best approach to prepare for the PMP test. The PMP certification is based on what is included in the PMBOK® Guide, which cannot be emphasized enough. Completely read the guide, especially if you have a lot of project management experience. One of the primary reasons unsuccessful applicants have given for failing to pass the test on their first attempt is that they believed their years of project management experience would be enough.

The PMBOK Guide does a great job of defining fundamental aspects of project management, particularly the ITTOs (Inputs, Tools, Techniques, and Outputs) linked with the Project Management Process Groups and Knowledge Areas.

Understanding the hows, whys, and links between ITTO is more important than trying to memorize them. Understanding ITTO connections, not memorizing information, is the key to passing your PMP certification test.

Be Aware of How to Study for the PMP Exam and Pass it

Studying entails much more than just “reading” the PMBOK® Guide and other resources.

Studying necessitates dedication, patience, and a knowledge of your learning style, all of which will influence how well and successfully you prepare for the test. Do you learn best by reading (books, internet, etc. ), seeing (graphics, video, etc. ), hearing (podcasts, books on CD, etc. ), or combining all of these methods? Knowing what sort of learner you are will go a long way toward helping you in developing your PMP study strategy.

There are many resources tailored to your learning style, whatever it is that works best for you (s). Candidates should review as well as some published and/or online PMP study guides and exam preparation tools that best match your learning style – there are many to choose from, including Greene and Stellman’s Head First PMP, Rita Mulcahy’s PMP Exam Prep, and The PM PrepCast’s complete suite of PMP examination resources.

How do I Create a PMP Study Plan?

Listen to your needs, determine the scope, and personalize your strategy to what your unique approach necessitates. There are several common PMP exam study plan best practices, according to an analysis of lessons learned from successful exam candidates:

  • Being aware of what to study
  • Understanding how to study
  • Creating a study plan
  • Creating a study schedule 
  • Understanding the vocabulary
  • Find a study buddy
  • What study notes make a difference is something you should be aware of
  • Learn how to use practice tests to your advantage.

It’s no surprise, therefore, that an analysis of these lessons gained from the experiences of thousands of certified PMPs concludes that the best approach to prepare for the PMP test is to create a study plan matched to your skill, experience, and project management knowledge. Getting ready for the PMP test is similar to getting ready for a project:

  • Define the scope of the project (material to study)
  • Create a list of deliverables (milestones of understanding based on Project Management Knowledge Areas and Process Groups)
  • Make a plan to finish your PMP certification studies on time.

That’s how to create a PMP study plan. Below, we go over the best practices and feedback from the students.

Develop a PMP Exam Preparation Plan

The easiest approach to build a preparation/study plan is to compare your project management knowledge to the PMBOK® Guide. It’s critical to identify your areas of strength and weakness (gap analysis) in relation to the PMBOK® Guide, as this will tell you where you just need to brush up on your knowledge versus where you’ll need to put in more effort and/or serious study to bridge the gap between what you know and what you’ll need to pass the exam. It’s also crucial to keep track of your progress in order to ensure that your baseline knowledge gap is closing.

Adapting the guide’s chapters as ‘phases’ of your PMP test preparation strategy is also a great best practice.

Taking a PMP practice exam to assess your current knowledge is the most effective approach to determine what you need to study and how you should learn. While there are many “free” PMP practice tests available, they are seldom reviewed, validated, or confirmed for accuracy and consistency with the examination subject outline; instead, use a trusted source of PMP exam questions.

Once knowledge gaps have been discovered, the best approach to answer the question “how do I earn my PMP certification?” is to make some ideas for a study plan and stick to it.

If you want to dig deeper on how to prepare for the PMP exam, read PMP Exam Preparation

Prepare a PMP Study Schedule

Every day, management “truisms” are validated on projects all around the world:

  • What can be measured is manageable
  • What can be scheduled is completed.

What does this mean when it comes to studying for the PMP? Prioritize learning and stay with it. Studying for the PMP test should be approached like a project – organize the work and execute the plan. This entails creating significant goals and a realistic timetable for putting your study plan into action, as well as determining what you will study, when, and for how long. Also, keep in mind that, like any other project, your study plan may be disrupted by unforeseen events that need you to adapt, adjust your schedule, and move on.

Many successful PMP test applicants devised creative methods to carve out “extra time” in their days to study for the exam, such as listening to a PMP Podcast during their daily commute and/or lunch breaks.

How long does it take to study for the PMP? It’s been proven that studying for an hour or two every day is more effective than studying for long periods of time on weekends. It has been proven to be highly effective to combine daily individual study with weekly group study activities (where available and practical) on weekends.

Whatever plan you create, it’s important that you’re honest with yourself about your ability to keep it and bridge the knowledge gap. Because life occurs, it’s preferable to re-evaluate your study plan and/or reschedule your exam than to hurry through your studies and risk failing the exam.

Studying for PMP as well as Vocabulary Drills

A foundational lexicon that offers a common vocabulary used by project managers globally is one of the features of the PMP Certification that gives it cachet and value across borders, technical disciplines, and industries. One of the most common reasons for candidates failing the test on their first attempt is a lack of understanding of the PMBOK® Guide vocabulary. As a result, it is critical that applicants thoroughly learn and understand this language.

Learning a new vocabulary is similar to learning a new language in that it requires the same amount of effort and, frequently, frustration. Learning a new vocabulary requires time, discipline, and dedication, but it can be broken down into “bite-sized” pieces and addressed in a systematic manner, just like any other major job. Again, the sort of learner you are will determine which approach is best for your particular vocabulary development; you are the only one who can decide which way is best for you. All good vocabulary building strategies, however, have a few common traits as follow:

How to Learn and Remember Every Glossary Term

  • Practice and repetition on a regular (daily) basis
  • Build your vocabulary in small steps, whether by alphabetical or topical grouping
  • Add new words to your vocabulary in a systematic manner, and examine older terms to ensure that they are kept in your memory
  • To help them “sink in,” include the new vocabulary in your regular job.

Your PMP Exam Study Plan Succeeds with a Study Buddy or Study Group

Almost without exception, a partnership or team of like-minded people is far stronger, more productive, and competent than any one person.

It’s no coincidence that graduate Business Schools or Law Schools use study groups to encourage more learning, improved individual performance, and higher graduation rates. These study groups meet once or twice a week to supplement and reinforce individual and group learning activities, develop team-building and leadership abilities for all group members, and foster long-term relationships.

As a result, it should come as no surprise that what works in higher education is also one of the exam’s Best Practices: Study in a group or have a study partner who can help you “push” yourself to dive deeper and strive more, as well as give encouragement when the effort seems overwhelming, or share in your accomplishments as you progress toward your certification.

A local exam study group can be formed with coworkers or colleagues from your local PMI® Chapter. However, in today’s world, it’s almost as easy to find a study partner on the internet. You just place a comment on online forums seeking a study buddy and may receive many answers!

Earning your certificate is a big accomplishment, so seek the help of others to improve your chances of passing the test.

PMP Study Notes that Definitely Make a Difference

There are as many philosophies as there are subjects to study when it comes to how and what kinds of note-taking are “best.”

However, one approach has shown to be highly effective for exam candidates: replicating a “data dump” of essential information, ideas, and formulas in the first few minutes after your exam has officially begun. To be more specific, the ability to recall and produce:

  • The Project Management Process Group and Knowledge Area Mapping matrix (PMBOK® Guide, Page 25)
  • The key equations from Project Management Knowledge Area: Project Cost Management (PMBOK® Guide, Chapter 7)

Being able to write this knowledge down on two pages of paper before the exam when your mind is still fresh can save you a lot of time and stress during the exam.

However, in order to do so at that moment, you must have completed this exercise several times rapidly – during your study sessions, long before you reached the exam center. For two reasons, successful exam candidates usually state that this is one of the most crucial abilities required to pass the exam:

  • You may be so well prepared that you will not need to refer to this information if you practice it sufficiently to be able to replicate it at the start of the test
  • When you write down the data dump in the first few minutes of the test, you won’t have to worry about remembering these facts when questions come; instead, you’ll just “look up” the knowledge and apply it.

In any case, having these study notes will make a huge difference in your ability to pass the exam.

Your PMP Preparation Plan MUST Consists of Practice Exams

Take advantage of as many practice PMP exams as you can. Use a PMP Exam Simulator, in fact!

Review your exam results, paying special attention to the questions you didn’t get right and why the right answers are correct. The capacity to think and respond as a project manager, not how well you remembered project management “facts,” is what determines whether you achieve your PMP certification.

Practice tests are used for much more than just answering “typical” questions; they are also used to ensure that you are fully prepared for the exam. An applicant should set aside a four-hour block of time (exactly like the test) and work their way through the exam, either methodically answering the questions or marking them for future consideration, until the exam is completed or the four-hour block of time has passed. When doing this way, the candidate gets to experience simulated exam situations so that when it comes time to take the real exam, he or she is comfortable with the testing environment, understands and has practiced answering 200 questions in four hours, and has already dealt with the relatively random mix of question types and topics – there is no substitute for experience.

PMP Exam Timetable

Starting with the goal in mind also applies to taking the exam and planning how you’ll use the four hours you have available.

There’s no replacement for thorough preparation for the exam and the use of practice tests to fine-tune your knowledge and test-taking approach. Most successful applicants, on the other hand, have a straightforward approach and timeline for taking the exam.

They not only have a clear timetable in their heads before they enter the test room, but they have also practiced it. As a result, a timetable should be created well in advance of the exam date, and then used and updated every time the student takes a complete preparation exam.

Making numerous passes through the test, for example, has proven to be a successful strategy for many candidates:

A Timetable for the PMP Exam:

  • First Pass: They answer just those questions that are short and for which they have an immediate answer on the first pass, which usually takes one to two hours
  • Second Pass: Longer questions, as well as those that require understanding and responding to a situation or solving equations, are marked during the first pass and reviewed during the second pass
  • Third pass: The student goes through the questions that are still marked as well as those that are still unsolved in this third and final pass. This third pass’s major goal is to ensure that no questions are left unanswered. It’s possible that you’ll have to make educated guesses.

Candidates that follow this technique do not accidentally leave “low hanging fruit” questions unanswered (i.e., questions to which they already know the answers). They don’t devote time to more difficult problems for which they don’t have a quick response until later in the exam when the “easy wins” have already been claimed.

Use a PMP Study Plan Template

When you need to build a new project plan, you generally go back through the ones you’ve already created and utilize the one that most closely matches my current project as a template. And if you don’t have one, you’ll most likely be able to find a PMP study plan template online.

PMP candidates should do the same. As a starting point, they should use a PMP study plan template.

Reading lessons acquired from successful PMP students is the best way to find such a template. Here’s how you should go about it:

  • At least 25 lessons from other students should be read
  • Make a list of their strategies, study methods, timetables, and pointers
  • Create your own PMP study plan using your notes.

The best part about doing it this way is that you will have studied 25 lessons from other students by the end of it, and you will have become an expert in planning and scheduling your own PMP exam study. This method is really useful to you!

However, no one wants to spend that much time reading the lessons learned, regardless of how useful they are. As a result, the second way is a little less time-consuming: you may utilize someone else’s plan as a template for your PMP study plan.

Apart from how to create a study plan, you can read our PMP Study Guide to get higher score on your PMP test.

This detailed approach to developing a PMP Study Plan and PMP Exam Study Schedule should have answered all of your questions regarding how to approach and plan your certification studies.

Now you know everything there is to know about making a study plan. Don’t be hesitant to start putting together your own PMP Study Plan right now using the material in this article. 

Visit our websites to get more information and free PMP Practice Exam. To download the free PMP Practice Test, visit our website for your IOS or Android device.