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Preparing for the project management professional (PMP) exam can be daunting. With a wealth of PMP prep resources available across the internet, you might feel overwhelmed, uncertain or confused about which resources are the best.
Creating an effective personal study plan with goals and deadlines and using the best exam prep resources will help to ensure your PMP certification success.
In this article, we share some strategies and PMP exam prep resources to help you prepare to take the test. Options vary from short practice tests to PMP prep courses. Let’s dig in.
Prepping for Your PMP Exam
With the PMP exam costing up to $555 per attempt, intentional preparation is critical for saving money, time and energy. The Project Management Institute (PMI) administers the PMP exam. PMI states that successful test-takers spend 35 hours or more on exam prep.
The following considerations can help you pass the PMP exam on the first try.
Obtain Minimum Contact Hours
PMP candidates must complete at least 35 contact hours of formal project management education before they can take the certification exam.
You can build these contact hours through the following avenues:
- PMI-authorized training partners
- Employer/company-sponsored programs
- Training companies or consultants (e.g., training schools)
- Distance-learning companies, including an end-of-course assessment
- University/college academic and continuing education programs
Create a Reasonable Test Timeline
Once you complete your contact hours, it’s time to set a test-taking timeline.
The American Psychological Association suggests stretching your study time over a more extended period to help you better retain information. For example, if you aim to complete 35 total hours of studying, it is better to study for three to four hours per week for nine to 11 weeks rather than 12 hours per week over three weeks.
Last-minute cram sessions can be helpful for short-term information retention, but spacing out your study sessions results in better recollection.
After you determine how long your preparation should take, schedule out study time and practice tests leading up to exam day.
Take Practice Exams
Practice exams are a great way to track your progress and test how well you recall the exam material. You don’t need to take the full 200-question test every time. Shorter, more focused tests can help you identify improvement areas and strengthen your knowledge of specific subjects.
Toward the end of your preparation period, make sure you are ready for exam day by taking the paid, PMI-authorized practice exam. This practice test follows the same format as the PMP certification exam, giving you a true feel for the official test’s design, questions and time frame.
PMP Exam Prep Resources
The following resources, excluding PMI’s official Project Management Body of Knowledge Guide (PMBOK® Guide), are completely free and can be used for self-study and reference purposes.
The PMBOK Guide is the foundational resource for all things project management. It details the best practices, terminologies and guidelines that all project managers should know. The PMBOK Guide is a must-have resource for any project manager. It costs only $99 and is free to PMI members.
PMPPracticeExam.org is a free, no-frills resource that helps you prepare for the PMP exam. The site offers four practice PMP exams, each of which contains 50 multiple-choice questions covering three domains: people, process and business environment. This practice test reflects the same proportions found on the official PMP exam.
Each practice test is instantly scored and provides detailed explanations for questions answered incorrectly.
PM PrepCast offers a free, 120-question practice test. Each question connects to a specific project management knowledge area and domain. This resource includes a test-timer and a marking feature for self-review. If you are struggling to answer a practice question, you can use the hint button.
PM PrepCast also offers a project management exam simulator for $149. This resource includes over 2,280 sample questions with detailed answer notes and helpful references to further your learning.
As a PMI-authorized training partner, the Project Management Academy offers a free 50-question training exam to all users. The organization also features 2,000 additional practice questions for Project Management Academy students.
The Project Management Academy’s practice exam is based on PMBOK Guide topics. Your exam results include explanations for every answer. Keep in mind that to receive your exam results, you must input your name and email address.
Quizlet’s user-created study set includes over 1,500 terms and definitions. Quizlet is free, does not require an account and offers multiple self-study options, including a flashcard feature.
With an account, you can use Quizlet’s term-matching feature. You can also generate a test that includes written-answer, multiple-choice, true-or-false and matching questions. If you want a more advanced learning experience, the Study Path feature uses your individual goals to create a study plan.
BrainSensei offers two PMP training modules and a mini practice exam. This resource offers a seven-day free trial.
Each module uses an interactive slide deck and videos to teach project management concepts. The first module is an overview of project management, and the second focuses on initiating a project. Each unit offers self-assessment opportunities, which require users to drag and drop the appropriate vocabulary terms into their correct respective spaces.
This practice test resource is free and comprises 25 questions. Tests.com organizes its PMP practice questions into five sections, aligned with the five steps of the project life cycle: initiating, planning, executing, monitoring and controlling and closing. Each question is multiple-choice and includes a short description.
This resource is best for quickly testing your knowledge of the project life cycle.
The Simplilearn practice test is free and based on the PMBOK Guide. It includes 200 multiple-choice questions. Test-takers have 240 minutes to complete the practice exam. They can pause and continue the test at any point and attempt the exam as many times as they want.
Taking this lengthy test from beginning to end can help build your mental stamina in preparation for the real deal. Skillup by Simplilearn offers a free PMP basics course if you need more study time before taking the practice test.
Udemy’s free PMP exam prep course covers various introductory project management concepts. The five-unit course—plus one paid self-promotion unit—walks through each topic using short video lessons that total just 1.5 hours.
The Udemy course can be helpful for those who are just starting project management careers or seeking more information about the PMP exam.
This free 200-question practice exam uses Google Forms. Once the test is complete, your results include a final score and provide feedback that references specific sections of the sixth-edition PMBOK Guide.
Some practice questions address concepts covered in the PMBOK Guide, and some refer to Agile or adaptive methodologies. This test can give you a broad sense of the questions you’ll find on the PMP certification exam. Those interested in the PMI Agile Certified Practitioner exam can benefit from this practice test as well.
Unlike the other free practice exams on this list, this resource offers three difficulty levels. The easiest level is not timed and gives instant feedback after each question. The second has a two-hour time limit and provides feedback at the end. The third and most difficult level limits your time on each question.
This exam comprises 90 questions and explains the correct answers after submission. The test also shares your accuracy on each of the PMBOK Guide performance domains, helping you identify areas that might require more study time.