This question popped up in my class numerous times in the last one month, so I decided to pen down the strategy that has been most effective for my students who have been able to crack the PMP exam in less than 30 days. Even though, I am a proponent of thorough and slow absorption of concepts, there have been times when my students have had reasons which are akin to an existential crisis. You may have taken it up as a challenge or it may be a prerequisite for a position that you want to apply for. Whatever is your reason to prepare for a PMP exam in 30 days, if you have the will, dedication and clarity of thought you will succeed. Now, sit easy and carefully read through the article which could change your life.
Prepping for the prep
To begin with, you must know that Project Management Professional (PMP) certification is not the easiest exam to crack. It takes a lot of smart work besides a lot of hard work to do it and do it in 30 days is a lot more than icing on the cake. Here are a few steps you should take before you even take the dive –
Ensure that you are eligible to take the PMP exam – There are stringent criteria set by PMI that decide your eligibility for PMP certification exam (We can hyper link it to another article or to the page on PMI website). PMI clearly outlines the role, experience and other elements required to write the exam. Make sure you have gone through it and are eligible.
Take up a formal PMP certification training course – You are required to have at least 35 hours of training to qualify for the exam in addition to other requirements. Make sure that the education provider is certified by PMI as you would need to submit a proof of training. More importantly, invest your money in quality training. Check online reviews and do the necessary checks before you commit.
Make certain that you are ready – Take a deeper look at your personal and professional commitments before you pledge to prepare for PMP certification in 30 days. It is an expensive exam and it will leave you with lesser time for professional and personal commitments. Let your family, friends and colleagues know that you are preparing for the exam and you would need their support and then hope you get it.
You will need to take some hard measures to ensure that you pass the PMP exam at the end of 30 days. Yes, not all good things are free. You would need a structured and a hardcore plan of action which is realistic –
Number of hours – I advise my students to set aside 160-210 hours over a period of 30 days. Set aside 6 hours of focused study time (Assuming, you would need to dedicate an average of 180 hours over 30 days). You may devote extra hours over the weekend to make up for the time lost during the week. The actual number of hours may vary from person to person but most of my students have been able to pass the PMP exam in 30 days with suggested hours. Talking to your family, friends and colleagues will help you to take aside that time for the prep but nothing is more important than your own will power so make sure you have it in place. However, a good training and coaching support could help you dramatically reduce those hours.
Official study resource only – There are plenty of good PMP study resources in the market but in my experience, nothing beats the official PMBOK guide and the best part is that it comes free with the registration. I will be honest, PMBOK is not the most interesting book to read, in fact it could be quite boring at times. But it will give you access to the most up to date material on PMP exam given the time limitation. Moreover, the diagrams used in the book makes it very easy to digest the content which is hard to find in any other book.
Follow what works for you – You might have to go back to the last time you took an exam and recall what helped you most in remembering the concepts. It could mean writing down key points in the traditional using a pen and paper, creating visual diagrams or making audio notes. Whatever you do it is important that you remember all the formulas and PMBOK processes by heart.
Mock tests are the key – Simulations are the best means to prepare for the PMP exam. PMP certification is a 4-hour long exam and this could be very cumbersome if you have not developed the stamina to sustain it. Mock tests not only help you to strengthen your concepts but also develop the mental stamina for the exam. I provide my students with mock tests which are relatively harder than the actual exam. This allows us to factor in the stress on the day of test, which may play a big role. I recommend taking 4-5 mock test to prepare for PMP exam in 30 days with a score range of 80-95%
Sleep, food and no study zone – No matter what, do not compromise on any of these. Make sure you are eating healthy and getting an average of 7-8 hours of sleep every day. A healthy diet and sleep time are pivotal in ensuring your brain functions properly. Also, make sure that you take out at least 30 mins everyday to release any stress. This could mean spending time with your family, friends or yourself (Not with your devices though).
Efficient bifurcation of your hours as per the domains – There are 5 domains in PMP – Initiation, Planning, Executing, Monitoring and Controlling and Closing. Each of these carries different weightage in the exam (13%, 24%, 31%, 25%, 7% respectively). You should devote relative number of hours to each. However, do not hesitate in spending extra time on the concepts that are important and leave enough time for the mock tests.
Finally, be mindful of your strengths and weaknesses. Make sure that you are not under any peer pressure or unnecessary stress to prepare for the PMP exam in 30 days. PMP certification is an amazing learning experience that can move your career trajectory northwards and the focus should be on learning and not just the exam result. The techniques and tools that you will learn will stay with you for the rest of your life. So, make sure you give your best shot. Good Luck!