Dr. Jimmie Flores

Month: April 2017

Having a Plan is Essential to Passing the PMP Exam

Having a Plan is Essential to Passing the PMP exam

There are far too many people preparing for the PMP® exam who lack a plan. If you ask them how many hours they are going to study, they might respond as follows: “I guess I’ll know it when I’m ready.” This means they could literally study 200 or more!

The 1,000 Hour Study Plan

Not long ago I heard that a PMP® trainer was promoting a 1,000-hour plan to prepare for the exam. If you do the math, 1,000 hours translates to 25 weeks of study time. Heck … you might be able to earn all the PMI certifications by putting in this amount of time. If the PMP® were so hard that one needed to invest half a year to prepare, I doubt that many people would take it. Thus, you can see that I’m not a fan of this study approach.

Time to Get Serious

Before you decide to prepare for the PMP® exam, it’s critical that you are serious about going through the process. I remember teaching a PMP® prep course to a group of 10 employees. The business owner told me that she was paying for the training, and that the attendees were planning to take the exam shortly after the session. The students were eager during the class, and I felt that with a concerted study effort most of them could pass the PMP®.

Here’s where it gets interesting … a month after the training, one person contacted me and asked if I could remind him of the key areas he should study. He also mentioned the following: “I’m pretty sure that none of us has opened the books since the training.” From my experience, people are far less likely to submit the application, sit down and study, and take the exam, when someone else pays for the workshop. Because it’s other people’s money (OPM), the pain of losing an investment is of little importance.

The 30-Day Plan

The point I’m making is that before engaging in any study plan it’s imperative that you’re ready to make the commitment. Once you’re set, I recommend a 30-day plan where you commit about 10 hours per week. Let’s say that you study an hour per day during the week, and another 5 hours on the weekends. By taking this approach, you can complete about 40 hours over a month.

Of course, make sure that you’ve taken a PMP® prep course. The information shared in these workshops is invaluable. For example, I spend about 30% of my time teaching test-taking skills. While knowing the concepts matters, one must also know the steps necessary to pick the BEST answer. The exam writers are taught to make questions hard and tricky. By doing so, they maintain the rigor that PMI wants to see.

How to Select the “Best” Answer on the PMP® Exam


How to select the best answer on the PMP Exam

I remember the day I took the Project Management Professional (PMP)® exam. It was a hot Friday afternoon in San Antonio, Texas, when I walked into the Prometric testing center. My study plan was 30 days, and I hit the books every day leading up to the exam. Even though I committed more than 200 hours to prepare, I still felt there were many gaps that could be exposed on the exam. I was right!

Studying Too Much is a Problem

As a PMP® test prep trainer, I inform my students that 60-to-80 hours is more than sufficient to get ready for the exam. My take is that people who spend more than 100 hours are wasting their time. The point here is that if one uses the right material to prepare, and learns test-taking skills, they can do well with a condensed study schedule.

I also made the huge mistake of taking 200 sample questions on the morning of the exam. I thought this was going to be a smart move because I could review questions and concepts that might arise on the exam. The problem with this approach is that I was wiped out by the time my 12:30 p.m. exam started. It felt like taking two major exams in one day. Today, I recommend that students avoid taking any practice exams 24 hours prior to their test. Instead, this time should be used to ensure one knows the major concepts, such as the 5 process groups, 10 knowledge areas, and 47 processes.

The Exam

The key to doing well on the PMP® requires that you have excellent test-taking skills. You are asked to pick the best answer, and not the right answer. There’s a notable difference between the two.

Here’s an example:

The following is responsible for collecting lessons learned:

  1. Project manager
  2. Stakeholder
  3. Vendor
  4. Team member

Here are the right answers: (1) Project manager, (3) Vendor, and (4) Team member. However, the best answer is (2) Stakeholders. Why? Stakeholders includes the rest of the roles noted here. To get this question right, you must know the concepts and terminology in the PMBOK® Guide. The more you are familiar with how PMI words questions, the easier time you will have selecting the correct answer.

Think Before Answering

There are many test-takers who fall in love with an answer before thinking through the remaining options. It’s imperative that you read all the possible answers to determine which ones can be eliminated. The exam writers purposely include at least one item known as the distractor. This is the option that is absolutely wrong, but it might look good. The art of eliminating an option can make a huge difference on your overall score. From my experience, there are generally two answers that you can discard. Make sure to take your team before making the final selection.


The people who pass the PMP® exam know that preparation is mandatory. You cannot walk off the street and do well on this test. I know some people who say the following: “I’ve managed projects for 30 years, so this exam will not be a problem for me.” By engaging in this lackadaisical and overconfident attitude, these folks will fail. The PMP® is a standardized exam, which means that we must take a methodological and procedural approach to every question. The technique is easy to learn, but it requires significant practice.

About the Author

Dr. Jimmie Flores is the CEO of Kool Derby Academy. We are committed to helping individuals earn their PMP® credential. For information about our program, please visit us here: http://www.koolderby.com/pmp-pass-suite/

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