Create a Study Plan for PMP Exam Certification

By Vinai Prakash

Online PMP Training
Online PMP Training

You can start your studies for the PMP Credential today! Simply follow our Step-by-Step PMP Study Plan, and prepare for the exam easily, without hassles.

PMP Exam Study Plan
Preparing for the PMP exam is quite unlike what you did in school and college. Here the focus is not on memorization, but understanding the concepts, best practices, guidelines, and project management framework, as per PMI’s PMBOK Guide (currently Sixth Edition).

The PMP Exam is changed, and the distribution of PMP questions is now updated.

Most of the people I come across have heard about PMP from their friends or colleagues and are interested to gain the professional certification in Project Management.

However, they mostly lack the experience of project management. Most have worked on small projects, and may not have been in a Project Manager position for a significant amount of time. I have written previously about the eligibility criteria for the PMP Exam.

Further, they may have limited knowledge of all the project management knowledge areas, as not all are required for most small day to day projects. No wonder the casualty rate for first time PMP exam takers is so high.

So, when it comes to preparing for the PMP Exam, you need to have a plan that is specific, practical, time-bound and achievable. Without a good game plan, you may simply be overwhelmed by the sheer amount of work, or just run out of steam mid-way…

One good Study Plan for PMP that I often recommend to my students is as follows.

1. Quickly enroll in a PMP Exam Preparation Workshop in your city. You can most certainly find one, and  PMI has local chapters in major cities in almost each country, so you can ask the local PMI chapter for assistance, recommendations or suggestions of upcoming PMP boot-camps.

Online PMP Training

These boot-camps may be 4 day or 5 day in length, are are quite intensive. Some companies even run them on weekends, so you don’t have to take leave from your busy project schedule.

Another alternative to Classroom Training is to Study Online for your PMP Exam. Yes, you can do this now, and study at your own time and convenience. Using Online PMP Exam Preparation Classes, you can also get the 35 PDUs or Contact hours, and they are considered valid for the PMP Exam.

2. Assess the gap in your knowledge: After you’ve attended the PMP Exam Preparation training of usually 35 contact hours ( a per-requisite of PMI before you can take the exam), you will realize how big is the gap in your knowledge and the PMI’s project management framework.

You should ask questions such as:

  • In which knowledge areas do I have the least knowledge?
  • In which kind of organization types have I never worked at?
  • Do I have experience in Quality Control, Cost Control, Procurement Management etc?
  • What kind of HR theories do I follow, and which are new to me?
  • What kind of professional and social ethics are the norm in my company and my country?
  • Is there a significant difference in my understanding and the best practices?

With the answers, you will be able to assess the amount of study you need to do, and how close or far you are from the PMP Certification exam.

3. Filling up the PMP Certification Application Form: The next thing you should do is to fill up your PMP Certification application at the PMI website. It generally gets approved within a week, if not audited, and you can then straight away take the Code given to you to schedule your exam at the Prometric website.

UPDATED May 2015: In  Singapore, there are now 2 Prometric centers, and it takes at least 6 to 8 weeks before you can get a free slot for the exam. This is a boon in disguise, because you DO need at least 6-8 weeks of earnest study time, to fill the knowledge gap, and prepare for the PMP exam properly. After all, you do want to pass it in your first attempt. It isn’t cheap (USD 555 for the PMP exam) and you are probably stealing time away from your family, so get it right the first time.

4. Firm up Your Study Plan in earnest: Once you know your PMP certification exam date, you can then work backwards to today, and calculate the amount of days you have left at hand. This is all you have now, so use it wisely.

A good study plan is to ensure you have enough time to read, understand, and try your hand at mock PMP exam questions.

Get the PMP Exam Preparation Books, and start reading. You can also start with the PMBOK Guide, but it not a very easy read, and is commonly known as the remedy to cure insomnia. If you can’t sleep, start reading any chapter, and within a couple of pages, you might be fast asleep.

My recommendation is to read Rita Mulchahy’s PMP Exam Prep Book which aligns to the PMBOK Guide Sixth edition. By the way, both books are easily available at Amazon or your nearest bookstore.

5. Suggested PMP Exam Study Plan:
Assuming that you have at least 6 weeks before the exam, spend the time as follows

First Round of Basic Study – Rita’s PMP Exam Prep Book

  • 2 Days for Project Management Framework
  • 20 Days for the 10 Knowledge Areas (2 days each)

For each day of study, read the base material, and create a mind map or write the key points on 4 by 6 index cards. You must attempt a few mock exam questions from each knowledge area, as you finish reading it. This will give you an idea of the kind of questions that come in the PMP exam.

Second Round – Test the Knowledge
Now that you have done one full round, start every morning and spend 5 minutes drawing the 47 Project Management processes on a piece of paper – just like on the PMBOK guide. Initially it will be hard, but with daily practice, you will be able to make it very quickly.

The second thing you need to do daily is to write down the Earned Value Calculation Formula on a daily basis too. Soon you will be able to write them out quickly. Make this a habit, and it will prove to be of immense use in the exam.

  • 2 Days to review the entire mind map or cards, and make sure you still remember the key concepts.
  • 1 Day to do a full mock test of 200 questions. There are many free or paid tests available that you can use to access your level of understanding, speed of answering and depth of knowledge. I found this online test to be a very Good PMP Exam Simulator.

Third Round – Strengthening

  • 10 Days to review the framework and 10 knowledge areas each from PMBOK Guide, Sixth Edition. Each day do 30-40 mock exam questions
  • 1 Day to do another full mock test of 200 questions. You should see huge improvement from the past test, or else you need to identify the knowledge areas where you seem to score the least.
  • 4 days – study only the weak knowledge areas again, and attempt to fill the gap in your knowledge.

These 3 stages alone take about 40 days, which is about 6 weeks.

Take Action – Write Down Your PMP Study Plan
Like everything else in life, Success is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. Go ahead, get up and take some action. Don’t just keep reading post after post and get overwhelmed by the exam.Online PMP Training

One of the best things we have seen that really works is to write your Study Plan, and then share it with your spouse, friends, and inform me. You can Post your PMP Study Plan in the comments below for all to see and encourage you. Once you share it with someone, you have shown your commitment, and you are more inclined to follow through. Your friends, spouse, and I will encourage you and make sure you have the time to study, and get the PMP Credential to boost your career options and credibility.

Ultimate Objective of this PMP Study Plan
You need to think differently to gain the PMI’s perspective of answering questions. We have written several posts in the past, which show you how to think and act in the correct way, the best way, which aligns with the PMI’s way of thinking, to get the most out of any situation, and ace the PMP exam easily, on your first attempt, and be qualified, certified with PMP

Study Plan Questions?

If you still have questions like this, click & read on the PMCHAMP Mega Post Article on How to Study & Prepare for the PMP Exam.

View at:

Related Posts to Prepare for PMP:

All The Best For Your PMP certification studies! – Vinai Prakash

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Vinai Prakash, PMP
Founder of
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17 thoughts on “Create a Study Plan for PMP Exam Certification”

  1. Thank you so much. I have been having problems managing time and have been postponing my exam date for about 6 months now. with your studyplan and perfect disection of my exam fear, your comment about the PmBok being a cure for insomnia is so funny but true. I am certain i will write my exam by Feb 2011. Thanx. Keep this up.

  2. Thank you for an awesome study plan and for helping us out. The blog is very comprehensive and direct – keep posting!

  3. I feel HF PMP to be mush better in terms of understanding & relevancy. Kindly let me know if Rita’s PMP is better than HF PMP

    • Jomu,
      You need to study atleast 1-2 hours daily, for about 6weeks at the least. Even for the PMChamp Daily Coaching Program, we recommend the same approach. Of course we provide them with a daily 1 hour video, and sample questions related to the topic. This way, you do not get overwhelmed by the sheer volume of study required, and do it easily, in byte sized pieces – 1-2 hours a day.


  4. Hi Vinai, You are doing a great job by assisting people to pass the PMP, I have seen your youtube videos for solving the difficult questions , I will appreciate if could load more similar kind of videos, really thanks for the great tips you have provided.



  5. I just found what I was looking for. A systematic way of going about at the PMP exam preparation. Thank you very much. Very informative post.

    Can you help with one more piece of information? What are the top 3 institutes for PMP training in India? Include at least one that offers the exam prep course in Mumbai also.

  6. Hi Vinai, I have few questions :
    1) Is it advisable to go for a class room training ? Can I not go for an e-learning course to earn PDUs as my company is ready to sponsor only for the certification exam and not for training ? e-learning may work out cheaper for me.
    2) I am planning to take up Agile PMP too..CAn the training hrs/PDUs earned 2 years back suffice for application ?

    • hi Sneha,
      generally, classroom training is good, but the issue is that it is difficult to focus for prolonged periods, and the mind wanders to office/home and other issues.
      Smaller, byte sized videos, online training, e-learning is what works for me, as I can study at my own pace, and can revisit any video/lesson again if not clear.

      you can go for agile too. And yes, old PDUs are still valid.

      cheers – Vinai
      founder Online PMP Training Videos

  7. Hi Vinai,

    Your PMP study plan is really good. Currently going through ‘Rita-Mulacahy’s Exam Prep 8th Edition Book’. Will that be sufficient?

    Please advice.

  8. Hi Vinai,
    It’s actually 47 processes, you mention only 42.
    I like your study guide and will be using it to study for my second try. Do you have more questions I could practice with?

  9. Hi Friends,

    Currently I am preparing for PMP exam. How is “Head First PMP, 3rd Edition” for preparation ?

    Please let me know, is this book is sufficient to pass the exam ?


  10. Great site. One problem I had was cleanly remembering the Knowledge Areas – so I created a sentace I could easily remember & I had it down instantly:

    It Seems Tim Can’t Quite Hit Cal Ripken’s Pitches.

    The first letter of each word reminds you of a knowledge area.
    Just a thought . . .


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