Step 1: Read the PMI Credentials Handbook. The PMP Credentials Handbook, available from http://www.pmi.org, explains in detail the process of becoming PMP certified. Reading it should be the first 20 minutes on your PMP certification journey.
Step 2: Make sure you are eligible. The Credentials Handbook also details eligibility criteria. Depending on your educational background you must show 4,500-7,500 hours of PM experience and 35 hours of PM related training.
Step 3: Become a Member of the PMI and your local PMI Chapter. Becoming a member makes financial sense. Members receive substantial discounts on the PMP exam and local events – in particular on PMP Workshop that many local chapters offer throughout each year. In fact, the discounts are bigger than the membership fees.
Step 4: Sign up for the Exam. “I want to become a PMP” is a good plan. “I want to become a PMP and my exam is in 3 months” is a much better plan because we all work a lot better when we have a deadline. Sign up online via the PMI website.
Step 5: Read the PMBOK Guide. Twice. 75% of PMP Exam questions come from the PMBOK Guide. You must know it. And the only way to know it is to read it twice.
Step 6: Read a PMP Preparation Book. To learn about the 25% not covered in the Guide you need third party products like PMP Prep Books or online self-study courses. You can find these books easily in online or local bookstores. These products will also “translate” awkwardly described PMBOK Guide concepts and give examples from everyday PM life.
Step 7: Attend your local chapter’s PMP Workshop. The workshops from your local chapter are usually much less expensive but of similar or higher quality than those offered by commercial training companies. The volunteers involved as your instructors will mentor you in your studies and ensure that you know all there is to know.
Step 8: Answer Sample Questions. Successfully passing any test means knowing what you will be asked. The PMP exam is no different. Answer as many free and commercial PMP sample questions as possible and keep score. The rule of thumb is that if you consistently answer new questions 80% correctly, then you are ready to take the exam.
Step 9: Study Hard and have a Plan. Studying for the PMP exam is a serious endeavor and requires personal dedication. Manage your road to becoming a PMP like a project and create a plan – a study plan. It defines how many hours you study, how many chapters you read and how many sample questions you take every day.
Step 10: Take the Exam. After all that hard work, taking the exam almost sounds like the easy part. Consider the following to make the day of the exam a successful experience: Get a good night’s sleep the night before. There is no need to study until 3am. You have studied long and hard and you are ready for it. Bring two forms of official identification with a photo, water, snacks, a sweater, a simple calculator and earplugs with you to the exam site. Before the exam take the short tutorial explaining how to use the computer. Now click the “Start Exam” button. Good luck!
Finally, be prepared for ups and downs in your studies. Some concepts will be easy for you to comprehend and others will be hard. Don’t despair or think that you are never going to understand them. Thousands of people have passed the exam before you and you can pass it, too!