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The Self-Prep Study Plan for the PMP® Examination

Written by Faheem Hussain, PMP


The journey towards obtaining the Project Management Professional (PMP)® certification is not an easy one. It can be an uphill task with numerous sleepless nights – at least that’s how it was for me. But if you prepare yourself, you too will see the word, “CONGRATULATIONS” flash across your computer screen.

If you decide to forgo a formal training course, here are some of my tried-and-true tips.

Step 1: Figure out the Why to Figure out the What

There are many reasons to obtain your PMP. To be a better Project Manager, to work on more exciting projects, to get a promotion, to land a new job, or to learn something new – these are just a few of the most common. By identifying why you want to take this exam, this will help determine what motivates you.

Step 2: Familiarize Yourself with the Basics

To become familiar with the components of the test and learn simple test-taking strategies, start with Head First PMP, 2nd Edition: A Brain-Friendly Guide to Passing the Project Management Professional Exam. I personally reviewed this book cover to cover multiple times before registering for the prerequisite 35-hour class, which I completed with ProXalt – an online web based training.

Step 3: Get Serious

I recommend carving out a solid month or more for preparation. For “serious” preparation, go for the PMP Exam Prep, Sixth Edition: Rita’s Course in a Book for Passing the PMP Exam. I have no hesitation recommending this book because of its AEC industry-based management tips on time management, cost management, and quality management, various quizzes, short-cut methods, and tips for how to eliminate the wrong answers.

Step 4: Try Different Formats

By reviewing different formats – online videos, practice tests, and a variety of hardcopy books – I kept myself challenged and did not get bored from one single source of material on repeat.

Just before the examination, I had an opportunity to use a web-based training site,, which allowed me to watch training videos. This site contributed a lot to my success.

I also purchased several of the recommended books, such as How to Get Every Network Diagram Question Right on the PMP® Exam and How to Get Every Contract Question Right on the PMP Exam by Aileen Ellis, McGraw-Hill’s PMP Certification Mathematics, and the PMP: Project Management Professional Exam Study Guide by Kim Heldman.

Step 5: Know Your Limits

The 4-hour exam is mentally exhausting. Despite relaxing the day before, I still felt drained throughout the exam. It’s important to pay attention to your body so that you don’t burn out on test day.

Ready to take the exam? I wish you well during your journey towards PMP certification!