The PMP certification is a good certification but it is NOT the best certification in project management. Also, it is not the best route for organizations that want to enhance the performance of their projects. This is a view we have shared often.
Why the above opinion and if that is our view then why post on how to prepare for this certification?
Read on …
Our views on the PMP
The PMP certification is as we said: it is valuable but it is OVERSOLD.
In terms of marketing, and for individuals wanting something on their CVs, the PMP is the most recognized and therefore, is highly popular. However, popularity does not equal great value or quality. McDonald, Burger King, and others are highly popular and profitable companies but that does not mean they make a great burger or even good burger. Some even consider them junk food. Unfortunately, we have reached a point where many consider the PMP as junk.
McDonald, Burger King, and others are highly popular and profitable companies but that does not mean they make a great burger or even a good burger. Some people even consider them junk food. Unfortunately, we have reached a point where many professionals and senior managers consider the PMP as junk.
Why have we reached this status despite the popularity?
Of course, the above is our opinion and a critical one and will continue that route. When I did my PMP in 1998, it had significant value. It was tough to get, not many or almost no cookbooks at that time. when I approached PMI on how to prepare they told me you want the lite version or the full? The lite version means 10 books and the full version 16 books. I read them all. However, a few years back I decided not to renew my PMP and technically now I am no longer a PMP.
When I did my PMP in 1998, it had significant value. It was tough to get, not many or almost no cookbooks at that time. when I approached PMI on how to prepare they told me you want the lite version or the full? The lite version meant 10 books and the full version 16 books. I read them all, the full version. At that time I had 8 years of PM experience and I prepared for about 2 months. However, a few years back I decided not to renew my PMP and technically now I am no longer a PMP.
Because today the PMP has become a commodity. Therefore, everyone wants it, even those with no project management experience. I know, I know that PMI mandates 4500 hours of experience in “leading and directing” project tasks, but are they really enforcing it? Do not believe me, just next time you see someone posting on LinkedIn that they have achieved the PMP and look at their profile. Quite often you will notice that they might have worked on projects but in a technical role not project management role. These include designer, programmers, etc. So the pre-qualification is questionable, if not a joke.
Then here comes the exam cookbooks. I use this term because there are a few good resources out in the market but the majority are cookbooks and often by people who know how to fry eggs but do not know how to make an omelet. I guess I am hungry this morning so forgive the food examples. I have seen many questions posted on social media and some of them make me wonder if the person writing those questions know how to spell project management.
The problem with the above, is that many professionals who are desperate for the PMP — AND — do not have proper experience in managing projects, try to get as many cookbooks as they can, especially if illegal copies are available online for free. I have read posts by people saying that they have done the exam practice from so many sources that I lost count. Some solving thousands of questions and taking many months and even a year or more. They think that solving questions is the way to learn PM and pass the PMP. Maybe that will help pass the PMP but learn PM? I do not think so. Which takes us to the second part of this post.
How to prepare for the PMP and learn PM while at it?
As the image shows: If you are studying for the PMP and you are solving more than 1000 questions; you are doing it WRONG!
Then, some ask, what is the right way.
The following is our proposed program and what we think is the right. Since 10 sounds like a nice number will call it the #10_Steps_to_PMP_Success.
- Make sure you have 3 years of experience in a project management role; this is a PMI requirement but unfortunately many bypasses it and no one is enforcing. If you do not have enough experience then consider postponing or take a good workshop on the fundamentals of project management. We are biased toward methodology courses but if your goal is the PMP then a course the PMBOK Guide but with a focus on the knowledge and how to apply it rather than exam prep.
- Read Annex 1 of PMBOK Guide 5th Edition – or – Part 2 of the guide 6th edition (depending on when you read this post or plan to take the exam). This is the ANSI standard. Read it well, understand, identify areas you do not fully understand, and go read them in Part 1, the guide part. I know this advice goes against the conventional wisdom, but do not read the full guide until AFTER the exam.
- Study the exam prep materials, with a focus on those things you do not do at work. What we mean here, read, imagine, think, do the exercises (not exam questions), and if you still do not understand seek professional help; or take an exam prep course. As you study, identify your gaps and write them down on a sheet of paper to review later.
- Do practice exams as you study per chapter, but no more than 20-30 questions per chapter. Assuming you are using a system like what we mention next, this would lead to 240-360 questions.
- Once done with the book (we prefer RMC Learning Solutions– Rita’s PMP Exam Prep System) then do one full practice exam – 200Q.
- Identify your overall score and weak areas from the exam.
- If you scored well but not enough in the exam (above 60%), go back over the book and focus on your weak areas. If you did not score well (below 60%), then go through the whole book, AGAIN.
- The above should get what you need. Therefore, a week or two before the real exam, do the full practice exam again. Another 200
- Go over your gaps and weak spot; only!
- Go take the exam; the real one
The above program is about 640 to 760 exam questions only.
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