Adela Santana Z
How to get a PMP certification
This article explains basic steps I followed to obtain the PMP certification based
on my knowledge, my experience, some suggestions from people who already had it
and information I got surfing.
The first step is set up a goal, it could be personal or professional, but you need
any motivation, something that gives you the courage and the need to get through with
The second step is to read the handbook for PMP where you will find all the
requisites you must complete. Here is important also to check dates for exams, so you
can get an idea the time you want to take to prepare everything. There are always many
options, so decide when it is best for you with a realistic estimation of the time you will
dedicate to preparation. Be aware of the deadline to schedule the exam.
Third, make a plan! This part is very important. Many people have not a plan and
at the end, they will be in a hurry trying to complete everything, depending on what
requisites they are missing.
The fourth step is get in action. This part is where you will read, study, research
and get all the components you need. You need discipline and be constant because as
everything, if you do not have discipline, you will lose time and results will take more
Now, I want to explain how I prepared myself for the exam.
I decide to take the exam so I registered on PMI.org to see the date and be
updated of the last news abut project management. In that moment I did not buy the
subscription because I had taken already a preparation course and I had PMBOK, but if
you have do not had those things I recommend you to take the subscription. With the
subscription you will receive for “free” the PMBOK. And you are asking you what about
the course? Depending on your way of learning, it could be a very good option. The
courses explain you every chapter and give you some additional material and exam
examples that can help you to practice and simulated the exam, so you will be better
prepared. Also, the course force you to read the book and the trick is you will see all the
other topics that are in the exam but not on the book. Yes, it is! The exam always ask for
some topics as needs theories or motivation theories that are not detailed or well
explained on the book.
After registering at PMI I applied for the certification, which means to fill up the
form on line with your personal and professional data. The key here is that the projects
you register cannot have the same period, even if you develop 2 projects
simultaneously, you should register one of them for that period. You need to know what
activities, process and time you developed on each project. The form account your
experience hours and when you reach the requisite automatically you continue with the
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next step. My advice is to start with the oldest because you only are allowed to register
experience form 7 years ago. Then, you latest experience can be used to earn PDU for
keeping the certification.
If your application is approved, you will receive an e-mail confirmation. There is
a probability they ask for an auditory. If that happens, you will need documentation to
support your experience.
The next step is reading, practicing, researching. In my case, I had to read again
the PMBOK for 2 reasons: first, there was a new edition and second, it had been 4 years
since I did the course. Anyway, you must read the PMBOK!
Other resources are friends who already have taken the exam, books written
focused in preparation for the exam and web sites that offer you questions and exam
simulators. Of course, it is supposed you have already the experience and knowledge,
even for formal or empirical learning.
There are many free offers online but limited time, so what I did was take some
free options that looked good but in different time, so I could practice with each one in
different periods. And I really recommend you take at least 2 complete exam simulators.
You have to be prepared for the 4 hours and time your race.
On other hand, I also borrowed a book for a friend that have an extract and gives
you some tips of every chapter. That book complement my reading of the PMBOK
because it also had questions on every chapter to evaluate your level of preparation. In
this way, I answered them before and after reading the chapter.
The main fact on practicing is not cheating. Be honest with you and answer the
questions in the form and time that are asked. It is the sole way you have know what
are the areas or process you need to improve or be focused.
An important fact of all these activities is I did them every day after work for six
weeks approximately. At the beginning it was very hard for me because I was tired and
got sleepy on the second page, but then I started to use some tools, as taking a short
nap (20 or 30 minutes) before start, drinking a cup of coffee or just fighting with the
desire of sleep! My goal was to complete a chapter in 2 days as maximum, knowing that
2 days for me were just between 6 and 8 hours.
Finally, I completed my study journey and I reached the exam day. My advice is
not try to keep studying that day, be calm and do not drink to much water before and
any during the exam. The rule is you cannot bring anything to the exam, just your ID and
maybe a coat in case the room be too cold. And trust me, you will need all the time to
During the exam be focused on yourself and do not being distracted for the noise
or movements that the other people do. Review the time, not every second or minute,
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but do it every 50 questions maybe, so you can see if you are taking too much time
answering the questions. I tried to answer 100 questions per hour and I had 5 minutes
to review. Be careful of the tricky questions, they put a lot of things just to distract you,
so you have to identify the relevance elements and focus on those to solve the problems
and answer the questions. And remember formulas at the beginning, I suggest to write
them down on one of the paper they give you.
Then, you have to wait to receive the e-mail where they congrats you for
obtaining the certification and that’s all! J