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Ace the PMP Exam

Author, Instructional Designer and Project Manager, Jack Risos, brings you the premier guide to the Project Management Professional Exam

Ace the PMP Exam

'Everything you need for the exam is here' Elizabeth Harrin, A Girls Guide to Project Management

PMP Exam FAQs

PMP and CAPM Certification

The Project Management Institute (PMI) was founded in 1969 and first offered the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification exam in 1984. The PMP (Project Management Professional) credential recognizes demonstrated knowledge and skill in leading and directing project teams and in delivering project results within the constraints of schedule, budget, and resources.

PMI also offers the Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) certification, an entry-level certification for project practitioners. It is designed for those with less project experience to demonstrate understanding of the fundamental knowledge, terminology and processes of effective project management.

The Project Management Professional (PMP) certification is an internationally recognized professional designation offered by the Project Management Institute (PMI). There are currently more than 800,000 active PMP certified individuals and over 200 chartered chapters across 210 countries and territories worldwide.

The credential is highly valued by government, commercial and other organizations seeking to improve the success rate of projects.

You can obtain certification by fulfilling the eligibility criteria and passing the PMP Exam.

The eligibility requirements for sitting the PMP Exam depend on your education level. You need to satisfy the following:

1. Project management education - 35 hours, and;
2. Professional project management experience. The amount depends on the level of your education:

* If you have a four year degree the requirements are a minimum of three years (36 months) unique non-overlapping professional project management experience during which at least 4,500 hours were spent leading and directing the project.

* If you have a secondary degree (high school diploma, associate’s degree or global equivalent) the requirements are a minimum of five years (60 months) unique non-overlapping professional project management experience during which at least 7,500 hours were spent leading and directing the project.

The project management experience is defined as where you led and directed projects as identified with the tasks, knowledge, and skills specific in the Project Management Professional Examination Content Outline.

There are five process groups identified in the outline, and you need to have experience in all of them across your required number of hours.

Note that there is no minimum requirement for the number of hours for a process group, and on a single project you do not need to have experience in all five process groups.

Note that this does not mean that you must have had the title of “project manager”, more that you can demonstrate that you performed in that capacity.

You can find full details of the criteria in the PMP Handbook.

The Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) certification is an entry-level certification for project practitioners. It is designed for those with less project experience to demonstrate understanding of the fundamental knowledge, terminology and processes of effective project management.

The eligibility requirements for sitting the CAPM Exam are:
1. Secondary diploma (high school diploma/global equivalent), and
2. One of the following:
    - 1,500 hours of professional experience on a project team
    - 23 contact hours of formal project management education

Unlike the PMP, the project management experience is being part of a project team, not necessarily leading a project.

You can find full details of the criteria in the CAPM Handbook.

This definitely depends on whether or not you satisfy the eligibility requirements to sit for the PMP Exam. If you can do so it’s a much more valued certification, but if not the CAPM is definitely a good stepping stone.

The content you need to study is almost the same, and most study materials don’t differentiate, so just study as if for the PMP Exam.

The format of the exam is the same, but the CAPM Exam is three hours and 150 questions, compared to four hours and 200 questions for the PMP Exam.

About the PMP and CAPM Exams

You need to submit an application to PMI. Refer to the PMI website for details, including the latest information regarding certification and to find your closest testing site.

The PMP exam is based mainly on the contents of the PMBOK® Guide, but not solely, and includes material from the wider Project Management Body of Knowledge not in the PMBOK® Guide.

However the exam does not require you to memorise every one of the inputs, tools and techniques, and outputs that are in the PMBOK® Guide (there are over 1400) but instead tests demonstrated knowledge and skill in leading and directing project teams and in delivering project results within the constraints of schedule, budget, and resources, or at least attempts to do so within the constraints of its multiple-choice format.

Instead of requiring you to memorize inputs, outputs, and tools and techniques, it requires you to have a sound understanding of Project Management concepts, and of the Project Management processes: what they are used for and how they are applied. This needs to be your focus when studying for the exam.

All of the above are relevant to the CAPM Exam as well.

The Project Management Body of Knowledge is defined as the sum of knowledge within the profession of Project Management. That means that it is constantly evolving, includes proven traditional practices as well as innovative practices, and also includes both published and unpublished materials.

The PMBOK® Guide, published by PMI, identifies and documents a subset of that body of knowledge, the part generally recognized as good practice. It is a framework document and a reference guide. It has not been written or designed for learning or instruction—that has never been its purpose. The PMBOK® Guide is the major source of material in the PMP exam, but not the only source.

The first PMBOK® Guide was published in 1996, with subsequent editions published in 2000, 2004, 2009, 2013 and 2017 (version 6, the current guide).

Here are a few more points to consider about the exam:
* It tests knowledge, application, and analysis.
* It is mainly comprised of situational questions.
* It has about 8 to 10 formula-related questions.
* It has about 10 to 12 Earned Value questions.
* Acronyms are almost always spelled out; so don't waste your time trying to memorize a large list of acronyms.
* You need to answer 60% of the questions correctly to pass.

The following question types appear frequently on the exam:
* Situational questions
* Questions that seem to have more than one correct answer
* Questions with extraneous information
* Questions with made-up terms

Ace the PMP Exam has tips for recognising the type of question, and strategies for answering the questions correctly on the exam. It also has over 300 practice questions presented in an interactive fashion like the PMP Exam.

PMI has a random audit process which requires anyone being audited to present evidence to validate all information submitted with their application. About one in five people are audited.

While the auditing process may appear intimidating just from the phrase, it is not as long as you follow the steps outlined by PMI. If you haven’t falsified anything (make sure you haven’t) you will be fine. If PMI finds that you have this will result in banishment from all future attempts to obtain any PMI certification.

The PMP certification is valid for three years. If you want to maintain your credential you will need to earn a sufficient number of PDUs (professional development units).

You will need to earn 60 units within three years.

You can claim maximum of 8 PDUs for being a project management practitioner as part of your job, and 17 PDUs by means of "Other Giving Back”.

You need to earn a minimum of 35 PDUs as part of continuing education.

Check the PMI website for the most up-to-date information on earning PDUs.

The CAPM certificate is valid for 5 years from the time of exam passing. You will need to sit the exam again for re-certification.

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