Home Project Management General Training So you want to be a PMP? Part 2
US FTC Compliance
Yes, all these ads are some kind of affiliate link and I get paid a commission if you click or buy.
Not enough to quit my day job, but it keeps the site alive.
- Jeb Riordan, Editor, PROJECTmagazine
So you want to be a PMP? Part 2 Print
Last month we discussed applying for the PMP exam. This month we will look at the most critical part of getting your PMP - the study plan.

Part 2 - Study Planning

Last month we discussed applying for the PMP exam. This month we will look at the most critical part of getting your PMP - the study plan.
A good study plan will help you just like a good project plan will help you in your projects - it will maximise your chance of passing and minimise your time requirements. After all, successful project managers tend to be busy project managers!

I explained last month that I would tell you about one more thing to consider in your applying. And that is, to agree to abide by PMI's code of conduct. Most sources I read about the PMP do not tell you about this, nor do they really bring it to your attention. However, I think it is important, as it affects what you can and cannot do and good ethics should under-pin everything we do as project managers. But that is a very different subject!

One thing that PMI's code of ethics means is that you have to agree not to tell anyone any details either in part or in whole about the exam.

This in turn means two things:

Firstly that you should decide for yourself how much trust to place in anyone who tells you about the exam. There is a considerable amount of information about the exam available from many sources. I would however, trust the information from the PMI site explicitly. It is their declared aim to promote project management - so they will not be looking to mislead you.

Secondly, it means I cannot comment on the content of the exam itself. What I will do instead is comment on the resources that I used, those I found - some free, some not - those I developed and what you should consider for your study plan.

So, I'll turn my attention to resources later. This article will consider your study plan.

Present Level of Knowledge

One of the first things you should do is assess your own level of knowledge. This is important, because to plan effectively, we need to understand not only where we are heading, but also where we have come from.

You need to be honest with yourself. How honest? As honest as you want your project sponsor to be with you!
Consider the following:


  • PMBOK Knowledge - remember the PMBOK provides the framework around which everything is structured. How well do you understand it? Could you recite the processes by knowledge area? Did you even understand that last question!?
  • PM Training - what level of PM training have you had?
  • PM Experience - how long have you been a PM? How many of the PMBOK areas have you actually used in the field? Have you been mentored by excellent PMs in the past?
  • PM knowledge - how much PM do you know by rote? Do you depend on your company's forms and sheets, or could you develop a PM structure yourself?


I am not saying that you need to be able to do all the above, nor that you need to have it all in place. However, you need a good understanding of where you are starting.

A word of caution is due here.
I have had people asking about PMP who are looking to get into project management. This is not the intent of PMP.
PMP is intended to certify that project manager with a modest amount of real life experience has a standard level of knowledge. It does not replace a good project management education.
And you will need experience to answer some of the questions. If you cannot provide sufficient experience to satisfy the PMI's criteria, and are having to be creative in your application, then you will have failed poorly in the above criteria.
In this case do yourself a favour. Gain more project experience before revisiting the subject of PMP certification.


Next you need to be clear about your objective. This is very important, because just like on a real project, if you do not have your objectives clearly defined you will find it too easy to get sidetracked.

I would suggest that your only objective be to pass the exam. Not to become a better project manager. Not to get a job as a project manager. Nor any other objective.

To pass the exam.

If you feel you need to become a better project manager to pass the exam after a period of self analysis, by all means go for it. However, I would suggest that you treat this as a separate exercise. I will assume from now on that you are looking to pass the exam.

Once you have defined your objective - your scope statement if you like - you need to perform Scope Definition (see the PMBOK if you do not know what that means!!).

You might end up with a list like this:


  • Memorise key parts of the PMBOK
  • Identify and memorise key PM terms likely to be used
  • Work to set existing knowledge and methodology into PMBOK's framework
  • Etc.


Now, I know what you are thinking. Where do I even start in terms of defining those? Well, you will be selecting a key study resource (we will talk about that later), and you will use that to guide your objectives. But do it in terms of where you are now, as well as where you need to be.

Study Plan

Once you know where you are starting from, the next thing you need to do is create your study plan. Again your study resource will help with this. However, there are a couple of other things you need to consider:


  • Are you going to find a study group? Are you just going to study alone?
  • What resources are you going to procure?


My slant on the first of these - I studied alone.
But then I am fortunate. I can do this. The couple of study groups that I did try to work with I knew nobody in, I learnt nothing, and one group had no real leadership. Rather than step up to the plate myself, I went it alone. If you are the sort of person who works better learning in a group, then try and find one that is serious and you will be able to get to know the people.

One thing to be aware of: PMPs can gain Professional Development Units (PDUs) for assisting study groups. (PDUs help PMPs keep their certification). If you know any PMPs, and can convince them to help you, then this might be a really valuable help.

On resources, I have already indicated that you need to find a single resource that will form the centre of your studying. Then use other resources to fill in the blanks.

Your study plan should include:


  • Resources to procure
  • Other Resources identified (e.g. in company or local libraries, study groups, etc).
  • Project management knowledge areas with time allocated to study them.


Over the next couple of months, I will review some resources (primarily the ones I used), and give you some feedback on what you should be looking to procure.

Meanwhile, if you have any questions, please e-mail me at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it and I will respond to the best questions in a later article.

2001 © Brian Simpson


About the Author:
Brian passed his PMP in February 2001. He is married to Tina and the father of Daniel. Brian has been managing IT projects for over 11 years both in the UK and New Zealand. He is in the process of returning with his family to the UK. Brian can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . 

Comments (1)Add Comment
written by Pass the PMP Exam, July 17, 2009
There is a great deal of information out there on passing the PMP exam. However, they generally boil down to: plan your work and work your plan.

Pass the PMP Exam]http://www.pmtrainingonline.com/site/1648622/page/888106]
Pass the PMP Exam

Write comment
bold italicize underline strike url image quote Smile Wink Laugh Grin Angry Sad Shocked Cool Tongue Kiss Cry
smaller | bigger

Copyright © PROJECTmagazine (c) 1998 - 2019 for practical project management information. All rights reserved.