What to Consider for Exam Prep

You've decided to sit for the PMP® exam... now what? There are some things to consider when choosing your exam prep course.
Jan 19 / John Connolly, MLIS, PMP
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You've made up your mind. The PMP® exam is the next hill you want to climb to fuel your career. What should you do next? The first steps are to review the certification requirements and make sure you meet them. A key component will be getting 35 hours of educational contact in preparation to sit for the exam. There are a lot of options to meet the requirement. How should you choose?

Here are a few things to consider as you evaluate preparation courses.

Is the Course Aligned to the ECO?

It might seem like a basic thought, but the very first thing to consider is alignment to the PMP® Exam Content Outline (ECO). The ECO is the list of topics that are going to be tested on the exam, and should be a guiding star as you prepare for exam day. If you're not learning the concepts and vocabulary you will encounter on the exam, you may struggle to succeed.

Many courses online will meet the 35 hours requirement but are far more introductory to basic project management principles. They may not go deep enough to set you up for study success. While many of these courses are inexpensive, you may find yourself paying for additional study guides and courses to supplement your preparation beyond the 35-hour requirement.

Does the Course Meet PMI's Requirements?

A bit of misinformation that is sometimes circulated online is that the PMP® application requirement is for 35 Professional Development Units (PDUs). That is not the case. PDUs are required to maintain PMI certifications and can be acquired through many different courses, events, and other education.

To sit for the PMP® exam, applicants must have 35 hours of structured coursework in project management and there are several avenues to meet PMI's requirements:

  • PMI Authorized Training Partner Courses
  • PMI Chapter Courses (PMI Chapter Meetings do not meet the requirements)
  • Employer/Company-Sponsored Programs
  • Training Companies or Consultants
  • Distance-Learning Companies (if they include an end-of-course assessment)
  • University/College Academic and Continuing Education Programs

Self-directed learning (reading books, watching instructional videos that do not include an end-of-course assessment) are specifically identified in the ECO as not meeting the requirements. Make sure you meet the requirements before applying, as you must meet the 35 hours education requirement before you can be approved for the exam.

Will I Get Study Resources?

While many applicants for the PMP® are concerned with cost, they must balance that consideration with the additional support they may get through the purchase of a course. Look at additional materials, specifically study guides and sample exam questions or simulators. A solid PMP® exam prep course will include these items as a way to prime you for your study for exam day.

Don't neglect to consider whether or not live courses might suit you better, too. Live courses allow for interactive discussion with instructors who specialize in teaching the content in the ECO. Further, live instruction will give students the chance to form a network with classmates that could lead to mutual support during prep for the exam.

Bringing it All Together

When considering your plans for the PMP® exam, it should be a holistic decision that takes many factors into account. Your study and preparation style will influence the decision, as will the nature of the course. Find something that works for you and gives you the best possible chance to succeed on exam day. The course you choose will be an investment in yourself; taking some time to consider your options will help you maximize that investment.
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