The PMP® (Project Management Professional) exam preparation can take a lot of time.
Although I don’t usually encourage a hurried approach—”how to pass PMP in 30 days”—there are valid reasons forcing you to take the exam as soon as possible.
For example, if a great position you’ve been eyeing suddenly opens up but requires the highest qualification as PMP, you need to act quickly and take it as soon as possible.
Or maybe you postponed the exam even though you registered for it, and you now only have 30 days before you have to sit the exam.
You’re wondering where to start? You’ve found the right article. Keep calm and continue reading. You’ll need to commit daily to studying and preparing for the PMP exam in just a few weeks.
Besides your commitment, take note of the tips and tricks listed below. But let’s cover the basics first.
What is PMP?
The Project Management Institute (PMI®) offers the PMP® (Project Management Professional) certification in order to prepare high-capacity professionals by validating project leadership skills that employers seek, especially now in light of the Great Resignation of 2021.
The PMP includes three key approaches, namely predictive (waterfall), agile, and hybrid.
With a PMP certification, you stand out from the crowd since PMP-certified professionals have a reputation for working in highly successful businesses worldwide. Nevertheless, you must put in a lot of work to obtain your PMP certification.
But knowing the benefits will put things into perspective, i.e., whether to spend time and money to obtain it.
Is the PMP certification worth it?
First of all, the PMP certification has the potential to advance your career. Consider the growing market and the need for qualified project managers, and you can see the value of a PMP certification.
- It creates fantastic networking opportunities, boosts your earning potential, and gives your resume a competitive edge over other applicants.
- The PMP certification can give you the know-how to master standardized processes and improve your project delivery skills.
- With a better grasp of project management, you will be more effective in completing tasks quickly and effectively, earning the respect of your superiors in the process.
- You might also get the promotion you deserve.
- The PMI salary study demonstrates that project management certification offers significant earning potential. Having a PMP certification puts you ahead of your rivals in terms of pay scales.
So instead of stressing about the cost of getting your PMP certification, think about why it’s beneficial to your career growth.
Is the PMP certification difficult?
I wouldn’t say difficult. What’s tricky is that time management is the main hindrance while studying for the PMP.
On the one hand, you cannot prepare for too long, say six months or a year, because your focus and commitment will wane.
On the other hand, you cannot cram everything over a few days. You need time to process the information, even more so when the terms aren’t quite easy to grasp.
Optimizing your preparation is, therefore, crucial. So, let me give you some steps on how to prepare for the PMP certification:
How to study for the PMP Certification in 6 steps
1. Check your eligibility
First, make sure you are eligible for a PMI® certification for project managers. You need a high school diploma, an associate’s degree, or any internationally recognized equivalent.
Second, make sure you have non-overlapping professional project management experience.
You need at least 60 months leading projects and 35 hours of project management education/training or CAPM® Certification. If you hold a four-year degree, that number drops to 36 months.
Non-overlapping means that having supervised two projects in a year still counts as only 12 months, not 24.
Do you pass these two requirements? If so:
2. Check the timeline
Every person has different study habits and practices, so just counting the number of hours won’t be enough. Having said that, you’ll have to study intensely for the next 30 days.
Some people learn more quickly than others. There are several reasons for this, such as biological factors, brain functions, cognitive abilities, a good study routine, a good learning environment, sleep, nutrition, and exercise—everything plays a role.
Nevertheless, in both cases, time management is crucial. A reasonable estimate would be anything from 3 to 10 hours a day. See what works for you.
Set up tasks in Paymo’s Calendar view, include milestones if you wish, and add due dates for each study session:
3. Make a study plan
You’ll probably have a lot of study material to cover in a short amount of time. Don’t freak out when you see the workload that keeps piling up, especially when you’re tired after work. Relax. Breathe deeply. Focus.
Start decluttering your schedule to make room for enough study time every day. Cut down on social interactions and nights out to maximize your study sessions. Leave one day of rest right before the exam. Remember, the road to success is never easy.
Set SMART goals and always have a measurable objective for each study session, such as “cover 5 new concepts”. To learn how to set actionable goals, read this guide on the OKR methodology. Don’t worry; it’s not as complicated as it sounds.
Also, avoid generalizations. For example, instead of “study for PMP,” plan to “read and take notes on chapter 2” so that the plan doesn’t feel ambiguous.
Here is a list of productivity methods where you can find the right technique or approach for your learning style:
- Some people like to start with the most challenging task first thing: Eat the frog method
- Others like to process every little task systematically: Getting Things Done method (GTD for short)
- A vast majority study in 25-minute intervals followed by short breaks: Pomodoro technique
4. Keep time entries of your study sessions
Now that you’ve established weekly SMART goals, keep yourself accountable by tracking your time spent studying.
Use a time tracking app for this: create a task—it can be something like “Monday study session”—and then start the timer. At the end of the day, you can mark the task as complete.
Or create a task, e.g., “finish chapter 5”, and start the timer. This way, you’ll know how long it took to finish that chapter so you can better plan for the next one. Time tracking has a ton of benefits, which have been covered in the latter part of this extensive guide.
But the week may not go according to plan. Maybe you’ve procrastinated. Nevertheless, you should make an effort to reach your weekly goals.
If you’ve set unrealistic expectations, be flexible and set doable goals so you won’t feel the urge to procrastinate again. As this article confesses, procrastination is an emotional issue, not a time management problem.
If this still doesn’t work, figure out why. The worst-case scenario is that you will take the PMP without adequate studying, but chances are it won’t pan out as you want it to.
You can either take it for the experience or put it off for a later session. But don’t take the test hoping for a miracle if you studied zilch.
5. Understand, then memorize the concepts
You’ll encounter terms and formulas when you practice the PMP questions. Don’t learn by rote without understanding the concepts. Spend as much time as you need on each term.
Having said that, it’s good to put some time constraints on your study sessions. Most PMP exam questions involve scenarios where you’ll need to think carefully and analyze information. You’ll need to act fast and decisively.
To be quick on your feet, study with a timer. It’ll help you improve your capacity to plan, make decisions, and carry them out under a time constraint.
Another good study tip is to ask—and answer—questions based on the newly learned concepts. You can also attend PMP boot camps for regular assessment and practice.
6. Read extensively on PM topics
Whitepapers and articles are frequently uploaded to the PMI website. They cover all of the current trends in the industry, both old and new.
It’s best to visit the website once a week and study the most recent articles until the day of your exam because they cover such topics. I cannot stress this enough.
In this respect, make Thursday’s study session, for example, one in which you cover five to ten different articles.
This is crucial—set a day in your study week, maybe Friday or Saturday (if you’re putting in extra hours), when you take a few mock exams. This way, you can end your study week feeling accomplished.
You can use several PMP exam simulators to get a feel for the questions and testing environment of the actual PMP exam.
A PMP certification is not easy to obtain; on the contrary, it is a challenging exam to pass. Despite your busy schedule, passing the PMP certification in 30 days may be possible if you are intentional and consistent with your study schedule. Try to follow our tips and adapt them to your routine.
The 30-day strategy includes studying, exercising, taking practice tests, and doing a short review. Whether you obtain the PMP certification or not, you’ll reap the benefits of having studied intensely.
First published on October 26, 2022.
Laurențiu started his marketing journey over 18 years ago and now leads a marketing team. He has extensive experience in work and project management, and content strategy. When not working, he’s probably playing board games or binge-watching mini-series.